Ink & Paint: OUTRAGEOUS!

Now that Nanowrimo has truly & wholly been failed, it's time to write about cartoons again.  And comics.  And cartoons based off of comics.

To be precise, we're here to pay respects to Batman: The Brave & The Bold as it prepares to bow out and leave only Young Justice & its carnival of well-animated unlikable jerks until the DC Nation block starts.

I will be honest:  I did NOT enjoy most of the first season of this show.  As cool as it was to have Aquaman with a fun-loving personality or see Jaime Reyes in action, it felt like another of Cartoon Network's giant toy ad shows.  Aside from Aquaman, the heroes didn't seem to have a whole lot of personality, the plots were kind of slow & standard-issue, and many of the plot developments seemed like they were designed just to justify molding a chunk of plastic.  It put me off for some time, and it wouldn't be until later that I read an interview with James Tucker explaining that they had to front-load the first season with "toyetic" material to sell enough figures & thus convince the network to continue the series.

(Nielsen families don't matter to Cartoon Network - it's all about plastic crap with them.  I'm sure, if NBC worked the same way, toy & merch sales alone would currenty be keeping Community on the air for the next decade.)

The lightning-bolt moment for me was Bat-Mite.  Suddenly, this show not only developed a rollicking sense of humor but also a knowing sense of history & the ability to make a show fun for geeky parents while not boring the kids.  It also showed that the show had a wonderful sense of the experimental.  Not many action shows on CN would do a musical episode, an adaptation of a vintage Mad Magazine parody, a whole-episode visit in an alternate dimension/timeline/work of fiction masquerading as a regular entry, or use the wonderful old-fashioned dialogue from a classic Silver Age story.  They had a load of freedom to just have fun.  And since "fun" is apparently as much of a taboo in action-animation as it's been in comics, the show has been punished with an abbreviated lifespan.  And one that, judging from comments at Topless Robot, we in the States didn't even get to see in its entirety (apparently CN was afraid of airing the Birds of Prey episode for fear of their plastic crap sales plummeting from the lack of testosterone, whereas Canada's networks have no such worries).

My highlights?  Aquaman's family vacation, especially when his RV rolled into Gotham (and the map, which strangely & appropriately locates it near where Camden is in the real world).  The Bat-Mite episodes and their blissful sense of chaos; each had highlights of their own, be it Joker's goons modelled on silent film comedians or bringing together the "holy trinity of pop culture" complete with terrible laugh track.  The Music Meister episode, especially the wonderful "Drives Us Bats" number.  Making B'Wana Beast not only a decent hero but a noble, self-sacrificing one as well.  Using the last words of the Doom Patrol as Arnold Drake wrote them at the end of the Silver Age.  Keeping everyone they killed off dead, instead of creating some cheap cop-out escape clause.  Making Damien Wayne likable.  Channelling the feel of the JLI stories on TV.  Making Guy Gardner, my favorite GL, the most prominent GL in your series.

I still have about a dozen episodes to watch on my DVR, so I'll probably have more highlights once I watch those.  And I'd gladly buy season sets, if I trusted CN/Warner to release the series in these instead of their rip-off-tastic 4-episode single discs that they reserve for good shows like this & Thundercats while giving boxes to utter shit like Generator Rex.  It feels like a great moment in geekdom has come to an end not over quality but over greed.  The showmakers will be putting a preview of the new Beware the Batman in the finale, and while there's some concepts I like (especially promoting Katana to full-fledged Bat-family member & using the villains from Morrisson's run that I know nothing about), I am wary at best over the quality of the designs & CGI.  It'll have to be at least as excellent as Brave & the Bold to surpass what look like incredibly wonky designs.

Batman: the Brave & the Bold may always be second to Batman: The Animated Series for excellence, but that makes it near-perfect. TAS was perfect.  No matter how much plastic crap it did or didn't sell, it should not be allowed to slip into oblivion.  It has a slow start, but once it found its groove, it was... well... it was OUTRAGEOUS!

Comments

  1. "Menace of the Madniks" is still one of my favorite episodes. Especially when Batman and Booster Gold realize that going back in time and saving Ted Kord ruins the future so they have to go back and LET HIM GO OFF AND DIE in order to save the present, but not before saying goodbye and giving themselves closure.

    And yes, Aquaman's family vacation was amazing.

    This comment really does sum up why I liked it so much. It knew when to be silly, and when to be serious. Plus it helps that no one died off purely for shock value, and they all went out as heroes.

    I'm now reminded of that one person on Gamefaqs who hated the Doom Patrol episode and thought the whole plot was stupid. They were dismissed as an idiot.

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  2. This comment really does sum up why I liked it so much. It knew when to be silly, and when to be serious. Plus it helps that no one died off purely for shock value, and they all went out as heroes.

    Exactly. It didn't always HAVE to have its serious face on, but when it did, it was appropriate. Also, unlike damn near every other action show on CN right now *coughYoungJusticecough*, your heroes weren't a gaggle of unlikable jerks. Every single character had at least one quirk, and for a show with such a huge rotating cast, that really shows that the creators cared.

    Part of me liked how the final "fuck you" to Bat-Mite was a show with a female headliner (a dig at both the network's mindset & that of the sole demographic they court), but part of me also knew that that's the kind of change to the line-up Sam Register would consider evil & hateful for the sin of having a female headliner. It was a reminder why even my dad has switched to Nick & the Hub for his cartoon fix, in a way.

    Still, like a Twitter friend named JonHexLives said, there was a show made in 2011 & it had PREZ and that is awesome.

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  3. Also, unlike damn near every other action show on CN right now *coughYoungJusticecough*, your heroes weren't a gaggle of unlikable jerks.

    The fact that "Generator Rex" found a way to make a talking monkey voiced by John Di Maggio unlikable is mind boggling.

    A talking monkey voiced by John Di Maggio should be one of the best thing ever. The fact that I hate it is a testament to Man of Action's amazing ability to turn gold into crap.

    Part of me liked how the final "fuck you" to Bat-Mite was a show with a female headliner (a dig at both the network's mindset & that of the sole demographic they court)

    My first thought upon seeing this was: "That would never happen. Ever."

    Still, this is the network that greenlit "Super Best Friends Forever", a cartoon staring Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Girl (ALL FEMALE!) directed by Lauren Faust (ALSO A FEMALE!).

    http://static03.mediaite.com/themarysue/uploads/2011/11/Screen-Shot-2011-11-15-at-2.22.49-PM.png

    GODDAMIT THIS IS AMAZING.

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  4. You're so right about the monkey on Generator Rex being the greatest evidence of Man of Action's utter failure to turn out quality animation work. It kills me to think that the same studio that can do such excellent comic book work checks all of their skill at the door and gets away with slacking.

    Still, this is the network that greenlit "Super Best Friends Forever", a cartoon staring Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Girl (ALL FEMALE!) directed by Lauren Faust (ALSO A FEMALE!).

    I'm super psyched for that, as well as Amethyst. But Register had shot down so many proposals from Lauren Faust that she went to Hasbro, and now the only reason he's asking her back is because of the fact that Hasbro was willing to let her do her own thing. I get the terrifying feeling that he's setting her up to fail so he can continue justifying his highly sexist programming practices.

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