Comics Commentary: RIP Batman: The Brave and the Bold
RIP The All-New Batman: Brave and the Bold – we hardly knew ye. After only 16 issues after your brief (and really unnecessary) relaunch since the first Batman: the Brave and the Bold monthly comic book ended with issue #22, another all-ages Batman title has bit the dust. At least you went out with a bang with a fantastic and fun Bat-Mite-themed episode complete with Bat-Mite lamenting about the comic book series’ cancellation in probably one of the most fun rants I’ve seen. Bat-Mite was featured in the last episode of the animated series – and it’s only appropriate he closes out the comic book as well as only Bat-Mite can.
With the recent final issue of The All New Batman: The Brave and the Bold #16, comic book fans lost yet another excellent series for younger readers which was based on an animated series of the same name. Since the animated series itself recently wrapped up with Season 3, Episode 13 in November 2011, and apparently there’s another animated series in development from DC Comics’ parent company WB for the Cartoon Network, it would seem to be that someone up in corporate thought that no one would want to continue to read the continuing adventures of a light-hearted, sometimes campy, and all-around fun Batman and his ever-changing cast of supporting heroes since the animated series was no more. Wrong.
When the animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold was originally released, I admit I too was one of the minority thrilled to see yet another animated series based on the Dark Knight himself being released. For me, nothing could compete at all with the 1990s Batman: the Animated Series (B:TAS) which has been regarded by many as the best adaption of Batman in an animated form – even better than the motion pictures.
Batman: The Animated Series made the series designer Bruce Timm, writer Paul Dini, and storyboard artist/illustrator Darwyn Cooke practically overnight successes, it made the Joker’s sidekick Harley Quinn permanent part of DC Comics’ continuity, and the voices performances by Kevin Conroy (Batman) and the Joker (Mark Hamill) are so popular decades later, that they’ve reprised their roles on other Batman-related projects, most recently with the highly acclaimed video game Batman: Arkham City – which was coincidentally written by Paul Dini. And, it should be noted that the monthly comic book series of the same name was consistently one of the best-written Batman titles, and many times even better written than the official mainstream Batman and Detective Comics titles in the 1990s and the various incarnations of the series won several Eisner awards over the years in 1996 and 1999. Hmmm…and speaking of trades, DC Comics, why aren’t all of the Batman: The Animated Series stories available in trade paperback collections?
But, you won me over Batman: The Brave and the Bold in both the animated series and in the monthly comic book series. Who would have thought that Diedrich Bader would be a perfect choice for a Batman series that featured many good-humored homages to the Silver Age stories of old and the 1960s Batman show, and feature many team-ups with “B”-list heroes including Blue Beetle, Aquaman, Plastic Man, Guy Gardner, Green Arrow, Red Tornado, even the Joker on occassion. One of my recent favorite issues, #13 of the All New Batman: The Brave and the Bold featured all the incarnations of Robin from the comic books from all timelines working together to save Batman’s life including Carrie Kelly Robin from the Dark Knight Returns to Damian Wayne. Now that’s some pretty fun storytelling.
It’s apparent that this series was cancelled to make way for an impending Cartoon Network-debuting new Batman cartoon and that this incarnation should fade away, but I have to respectfully disagree. As Bat-Mite once said to his toughest crowd ever – the fans of Batman at a comic book convention from the animated series from Season 1’s “Legends of the Dark-Mite” episode:
“Batman’s rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it’s certainly no less valid and true to the character’s roots as the tortured avenger crying out for mommy and daddy.”
Live on on reruns and in trade paperback collections, Batman: The Brave and the Bold – you shall be deeply missed.
Filed under: Reviews
About Mike Pawuk
Mike Pawuk has been a teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 15 years. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he was chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, served as a judge for the Will Eisner Awards in 2009, as well as helped to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee for YALSA. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, and co-author of the follow-up book Graphic Book II both published by Libraries Unlimited/ABC-CLIO Publishing.
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