Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Great Batman: The Brave and the Bold Rewatch: "Terror on Dinosaur Island!"

Season One, Episode Two: Terror on Dinosaur Island!
Written by Steven Melching
Directed by Brandon Vietti

Plot Synopsis

Teaser: In Mexico for Dia de los Muertos, Batman and Plastic Man are pursuing Gentleman Ghost. Plastic Man is distracted by the bag of money Gentleman Ghost stole, leaving Batman to face Ghost alone in a cemetery, where the timely intervention of Fire helps save Batman from Ghost's trap

Episode: A cruise ship sails through the seas, filled with the wealthy. A couple in a tux and evening dress look out over the sea to see something flying towards them. What that something is turns out to be pterosaurs being ridden by gorilla soldiers. A pterosaur sets down, revealing Gorilla Grodd, telling the humans that their time is finished and the day of the ape is at hand. Grodd blasts one of the people on the ship with a raygun that seems to de-evolve him into a caveman form.

On the Bat-plane, Batman lectures Plastic Man about trying to make off with some of Gentleman Ghost's loot, saying that he stuck his neck out for Plastic Man in front of the law and the Justice League. Batman is tempted to use the ejector seat, until a distress signal from the ship calls for his attention.

On the ship, Grodd is angry that his "E-Ray" was not functioning as he wished. Deciding to leave, the pterosaurs attach cables to the ship and begin flying it off. As the Bat-Plane arrives, Grodd observes that Batman in the only human worthy of his intellect, and his arrival is, "unfortunate." Grodd and the gorilla soldiers not carrying the ship begin a dogfight with the Bat-Plane. Batman seems to be winning until Grodd uses his mind powers to enthrall Batman, and one of Batman's own missles strikes the Bat-Plane.

Using Plastic Man as a parachute, Batman and Plas land in Dinosaur Island, to be immediately confronted by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Plas winds up accidentally in the T-Rex's mouth, but once the dinosaur spits him out, he is able to swing through the jungle and wing off with Batman, out of the T-Rex's reach.

Batman looks out over the island, still displeased with Plastic Man, and Plas tries to get Batman to give him another chance to help, reminding Batman that he is partially responsible for common criminal Eel O'Brian becoming Plastic Man: O'Brian was a member of Kite Man's gang, and when Batman confronted the gang in a chemical plant, a Batarang knocked him into a vat of chemicals as he tried to make off with the money instead of simply escaping; this gave him his powers. Batman tells Plas that he has to make the best of his life now and walks off.

Finding Grodd's fortress, Batman and Plas see numerous yachts, and Plas again begins thinking about all the loot that Grodd must have. Batman tells him to focus, and they begin to make their way to the fortress, trying to avoid all manner of detection. They avoid cameras and lasers, but when they seem to be out of danger, Plas leans against the tree arrogantly, and triggers a panel on the tree that sets off an alarm. Soon, the heroes find themselves surrounded by gorillas riding Triceratops and pterosaurs.

Grodd tells Batman his evil plan, that he is going to use his E-Ray to evolve man into intelligent apes that he will rule. Grodd prepares to test the E-Ray on Batman, but Batman spooks the Triceratops Grodd is riding with a smoke bomb, and a Batman versus ape battle begins. Grodd attempts to mind control Batman again, but this time Batman is ready and blocks the mental attack. But the physically stronger Grodd still defeats Batman in hand to hand combat, and Plastic Man is shot across the island by two dinosaurs pulling and releasing him like a rubber band. Grodd sends a search party after Plas.

Alone, Plas remembers Batman saving him from the chemicals and being there for him as he recovered and helped him get out of jail, promising to help him rehabilitate. Plas swears he will save Batman.

Back at Grodd's fortress, Batman awakens to find himself chained to a chair. Grodd gives a speech, asking Batman to join him, but Batman scoffs, secretly working to pick the locks holding him. Plas arrives back at the fortress, and sneaks in. Grodd continues talking about how man is trying to destroy Earth, and baits Grodd and frees himself, again fighting ape soldiers.

Plas, arriving inside the fortress after an unfortunate incident involving shape shifting into a shovel and being used to clean the dinosaur pens, finds himself in Grodd's treasure horde. Unable to resist his base instincts, he shovels as much gold and gems into himself before heading off to find Batman. Batman is still fighting Grodd, and Plas arrives too late; finding Batman transformed into an intelligent ape.

Batape and Plas now face Grodd and his soldiers together, but Grodd has activated a device that will release E-Rays on every human within 500 miles, so the clock is ticking. Batape charges Grodd, while Plas fights off Grodd's soldiers. Realizing it's the only way to keep the apes off Batape , Plas begins using the gold and jewels he swallowed as ammunition, spitting them at the soldiers like he was a machine gun.

Batman is able to fend off Grodd, but too late to stop the massive E-Ray explosion. But the explosion does not have the effect Grodd anticipated. Batman, as well as the de-evolved humans from the cruise ships and yachts, are human again, and Grodd and his apes have been evolved into humans, to Grodd's dismay: Batman reversed the device while Grodd was distracted.

Plastic Man holds out a bag to Batman, telling him he rounded up all the jewels and gold, and offers to let Batman count. Batman tells him he doesn't need to because he trusts Plas. After Batman leaves the room, Plas take a large diamond out of his ear and deposits it with the rest of the loot. Finally, in prison, Grodd, now human, contemplates revenge while hanging from a bar like an ape, eating a banana.

Who's Who

Plastic Man (Voiced by Tom Kenny)

First Comic Book Appearance: Police Comics #1 (August 1941)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Two- Terror on Dinosaur Island!

Plastic Man is the jester of the super hero set. Crated by Jack Cole in the 40s, Plas's origin is portrayed pretty close to what it is in the comics in this episode, only remove him as the sidekick of a supervillain and make Eel O'Brian a typical 40s gangster. Plastic Man stories are known to be as surreal and twisty as the body of the hero, and his supporting cast includes a goofy, over-weight sidekick named Woozy Winks. While Plastic Man hasn't carried a series of his own in modern times, he is often a member of modern Justice Leagues, used regularly through the Grant Morrison/Mark Waid/Joe Kelly era of the title. Plas has defied the trend to make a character grim and dark, remaining light and fun, even thought his characterization has been deepened throughout the years. His powers allow him to change his size and shape into almost anything, even though the color must remain his normal color scheme of red, yellow, and black.

Fire (Voiced by Grey Griffin)
First Comic Book Appearance: Super Friends #25 (October, 1979)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Two- Terror on Dinosaur Island!

Beatriz da Costa was a model and secret agent for the Brazilian government before gaining super powers and becoming a member of the Global Guardians, an international team of superheroes. When the Guardians disbanded, Bea, who was going by the codename Green Flame at the time, joined the newly formed Justice League International along with her best friend, Tara Olafsdotter, the heroine known as Ice Maiden; the two would change their code names to simply Fire and Ice during their time with the League. The two were regular members of the comedic Justice League of the 80s and early 90s, and stayed with the team throughout that incarnation until it was replaced by Grant Morrison's JLA. Fire would appear occasionally for the next few years, usually in JLI reunion stories, but was used very well by Greg Rucka during his tenure on Checkmate, where Fire became an agent of the international peacekeeping organization. She has appeared in modern, post Flashpoint DC continuity as a member of the short lived Justice League International. Quick to anger, Fire's personality matches her combustive ability, able to project high intensity green fire and enrobe herself in it, allowing her to fly.

Gentleman Ghost (Voiced by Jonny Rees)
First Comic Book Appearance: Flash Comics #88 (October, 1947)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Two- Terror on Dinosaur Island!

Gentleman Ghost is the spectre of "Gentleman" Jim Craddock,an English highwayman who, after being hung, rose from the grave and became the Gentleman Ghost. In the comics, while Gentleman Ghost has fought many heroes, including Batman, Superman, Hawkman, the Justice League, and the Flash, he is most known for being a rival of the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, and the Justice Society of America, the original super hero team of the 1940s. Gentleman Ghost has all the typical abilities of a ghost, including flight, intangibility, and the ability to produce weapons from thin air that can damage the living.

Gorilla Grodd (Voice by John DiMaggio)
First Comic Book Appearance: The Flash #106 (May, 1959)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Two- Terror on Dinosaur Island!

Grodd is more than just a gorilla. A resident of Gorilla City, a city hidden in Africa populated entirely by super intelligent, telepathic gorillas, Grodd was the city's one criminal, often doing his best to conquer the city, and from there, the world. A principal rogue of the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, Grodd would also menace his successor, Wally West, on numerous occasions, and would often team up with other villains while fighting the Justice League. Grodd consistently believes himself superior to humans, and believes apes should rule the planet. Grodd was one of the principle antagonists of the Justice League Unlimited cartoon series, where he would lead different versions of the Injustice Gang and the Secret Society of Super Villains. Grodd not only has the physical strength and speed of an ape, but has a genius level intellect and a telepathic "Force of Mind," that allows him to mentally dominate others. You can read more about Grodd in this piece written by Dan Grote right before Grodd's first appearance on The Flash TV series.

Dinosaur Island
First Comic Book Appearance: Star Spangled War Stories #90 (April-May 1960)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Two- Terror on Dinosaur Island!

The name pretty much says it all. It's an island where dinosaurs still lived. Introduced in the war comic Star Spangled War Stories, Dinosaur Island was the setting for a recurring feature, "The War That Time Forgot." It has popped up over time in other DC Comics. ITs most notable appearance for me was as a setting in Darwyn Cooke's brilliant re-imagining of the dawn of the Silver Age, DC: The New Frontier.

Kite Man
First Comic Book Appearance: Batman #133 (August, 1960)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Two- Terror on Dinosaur Island!

If there was an entry in the dictionary for Z-List villain, Kite Man would be the picture used to illustrate it. Charles Brown (yup, his name is Charlie Brown, nemesis of kite eating trees everywhere) was a criminal with a kite themed gimmick. And that's it. No backstory, no deep trauma. He's just a dude with a thing about kites who fought Batman a few times. He is so unmemorable that he was killed off twice over the course of a year by other villains, once by Deathstroke and once by Bruno Mannheim, probably because no one remembered he was killed off the first time.

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

A fun episode, featuring two things that were thought to sell comics during the Silver Age: Apes and dinosaurs. The emotional arc of the episode, about Plastic Man overcoming his criminal tendencies, isn't played for laughs and is done smartly, but never bogs down the narrative.

The teaser for this episode, like the pilot, ties directly into the main plot of the episode, something that will grow less common as the series progresses.

To stop Gentleman Ghost, Batman says he uses Nth Metal knuckles and cuffs. Nth Metal is the anti-gravity material used by Hawman and Hawkgirl to fly, and is known to have anti-magical properties in certain stories.

Plastic Man mentions Superman at one point. Due to rights issues, Superman could not appear in these early episode of Brave and the Bold, along with his supporting cast and rogues, and neither could Wonder Woman. These issues would be worked out by season trhee, allowing DC's entire trinity to appear together.

Grodd is the first character on Brave and the Bold voiced John DiMaggio, one of the premiere voice actors in the world, best known as Jake the Dog on Adventure Time and Bender on Futurama, but it won't be his last. Next week's episode will feature the character that he is best known for on this show so come back to find out who.

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