Batman: The Brave and the Bold

The old DC comic book The Brave and the Bold paired Batman with a new superhero every issue. This is the basis for the new cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Too bad it's almost campy in execution.

The style of Batman: The Brave and the Bold is distinctively retro, from Batman's chiseled features to the swingin' jazz used as background music. Unfortunately, this retro attitude hearkens back as well to the silly Batman TV series with Adam West. The cartoon isn't quite as campy, but the Dark Knight who puts terror in the hearts of criminals is now a more generic crimefighter (voiced by Diedrich Bader).

There's also the setting of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. It's been argued that the Batman comics was weakest in the 1960s and 1970s, when Batman went from battling street crime and colorful criminal masterminds to dealing with super-powered baddies, aliens, and outer-space adventures. The weird adventures are all that show up here. None of Batman's traditional villains -- Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, Penguin, Clayface, Two-Face -- make an appearance. Instead we have Batman having underwater adventures, outer-space travels, or on a dinosaur island.

As for the guest stars, they feel more like a blatant attempt at fanboy appeal than anything to add excitement. (Squeezing in an unrelated superhero appearance before the credits each episode doesn't help either.) The heroes appear just to join Batman in bashing heads, and having Bats as a loner while still working with a new hero each week doesn't quite work. Batman worked better as a JLA member on Justice League -- and best on the Batman Animated Series -- than here.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold may appeal to kids who like the colorful costumes and over-the-top action, but it's pretty weak for those of us who have found cartoons made as much for adults as for children.

Overall grade: D

Reviewed by James Lynch

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