Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Great Batman: The Brave and the Bold Rewatch: "Evil Under the Sea!"

Season 1, Episode 3: Evil Under the Sea!
Written by Joseph Kuhr
Directed by Michael Chang

(Let's welcome Dan Grote to the Great Batman: The Brave and the Bold Rewatch as our regular Aquaman correspondent, for the first appearance of the undersea adventurer)

Plot synopsis

Cold Open: Felix Faust has Batman chained to a pillar while he attempts to open Pandora’s Box. The Caped Crusader appears to use magic to escape his bonds, levitate, and defeat Faust, only for his mystical enhancements to be revealed as the handiwork of shrinking super-scientist the Atom. Specifically the modern Atom, Ryan Choi, making his first appearance on the show.

Episode: Batman tracks seismic activity near Atlantis, giving us our first taste of the show’s version of Aquaman. Something is turning the local sea life against our heroes. Batman ends up in the mouth of a whale that has an octopus inside it. Aquaman is set upon by narwhals. The rogue nautical creatures are being controlled by devices that render them immune to Aquaman’s ability to commune with sea life.
We also meet Aquaman’s two greatest nemeses: Black Manta and Ocean Master, aka Aquaman’s brother, Orm. Orm and Arthur have had their differences, but Aquaman believes his brother is reformed. Except he’s totally not. Orm is working with Manta to knock his brother off the throne and claim Atlantis for himself. That said, Manta, like the version of Joker from The Dark Knight, just wants to watch the underwater world burn.

As the plot thickens, Batman’s distrust of Orm causes a rift between the Caped Crusader and Aquaman, to the point where he has Bats ejected from Atlantis. Finally, however, Orm turns on his brother, declaring himself Ocean Master, revealing himself as the master of the rogue sea creatures and fighting the king. Meanwhile, the sharks guiding Batman back to his submarine start to circle around him, their eyes glowing red with evil intent from Ocean Master’s devices. Sorry, no Bat-shark repellant here.

Just as Ocean Master betrays Aquaman, Black Manta betrays Ocean Master, and the two brothers find themselves chained up together as Manta explains his plot to blow up the kingdom and take its riches. The allegedly obnoxious Fluke, meanwhile, saves Batman from the sharks and leads him back to the city.

As Atlantis crumbles around them, Aquaman gets a bunch of crawfish to lockpick their chains and summons all the creatures of the deep to their aid. The brothers, Batman and the sea life take out Manta’s goons. Aquaman saves his brother from a trident bolt fired by Manta. Asked why, Arthur says, “I’m the king, it’s what I do.” Orm then dismantles Manta’s seismic device.

Despite his moment of redemption at the end, Aquaman keeps Orm jailed and punishes him by recounting his stories. Batman smiles and walks off. Fade to black.

Number of times Aquaman says, “Outrageous!” – 3

Who’s Who?

Aquaman (voiced by John DiMaggio)
First comic book appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 3- Evil Under the Sea!

Aquaman is the king of Atlantis and one of the classic Big Seven of the Justice League. He can commune telepathically with underwater creatures and carries a trident. His classic uniform is an orange scale-mesh shirt and green pants, but for a period in the 1990s, under writer Peter David and artist Jim Calafiore, Aquaman went shirtless, had long, scraggly blond hair and a hook for a hand. This is considered by many Fans of a Certain Age to be the definitive Aquaman run. Aquaman will appear many more times on the cartoon, to the delight of fans, joining Batman’s new Justice League, antagonizing the Atom, singing in at least two episodes, having his voice replaced by that of classic sitcom actor Ted McGinley, and starring in his own episode alongside his family. Some may know John DiMaggio best as the voice of Bender from Futurama, others as Jake the Dog from Adventure Time. To me, he will always be, first and foremost, the Outrageous Aquaman.

Black Manta (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson)
First comic book appearance: Aquaman #35 (September 1967)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 3- Evil Under the Sea!

Like many DC characters, Manta’s origins have been tweaked and retconned over the years, but the important thing to remember is he hates the sea and wants to control it. He may also be autistic. And he’s actually black, because he was created during that period when many major black characters – Black Panther, Black Vulcan, etc., were written with their race as part of their codename. Manta is recognizable by the saucer-shaped diving helmet he wears and the submersible that bears his likeness.

Ocean Master (voiced by Wallace Langham)
First comic book appearance: Aquaman #29 (September 1966)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 3: Evil Under the Sea!

Orm Curry, or Orm Marius, is Aquaman’s younger brother who desires the throne of Atlantis. His lineage has changed a number of times as DC has rewritten its continuity, but his tumultuous relationship with his brother has not.

First comic book appearance: Aquaman #11 (September 1963)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 3- Evil Under the Sea!

Mera is Aquaman’s wife and the queen of Atlantis. She has no dialogue in this episode but will appear later voiced by Sirena Irwin in an Aquaman-centric cold open and in one of my favorite episodes, “Aquaman’s Outrageous Family Adventure.”

The Atom (Ryan Choi) (voiced by James Sie)
First comic book appearance: DCU Brave New World (August 2006)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 3- Evil Under the Sea!

While a paean to the Silver Age, Brave and the Bold substitutes the modern, diverse versions of some legacy heroes, to its credit. Choi, who inherits the mantle of the Atom from Ray Palmer, is a co-creation of writers Grant Morrison and Gail Simone. As he is only in the cold open in this episode for a few seconds, he doesn’t get a whole lot to do, but it’s fitting that his appearance opens an episode with Aquaman, as the two will be teamed up in subsequent adventures, and the tension between the two makes for some great moments as the series progresses.

Felix Faust (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
First comics appearance: Justice League of America #10 (March 1962)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 3- Evil Under the Sea!

A sorcerer who hungers for power and knowledge and has sold his soul to demons multiple times to acquire them, to the point where the demons stopped accepting it as payment.

Continuity, Comics connections, and notes

This episode introduces this series version of Aquaman, aka THE BEST VERSION OF AQUAMAN EVER (Sorry-not-sorries to Peter David). Brave and the Bold Aquaman, voiced by the great John DiMaggio, is foolhardy, perpetually excited, thirsty for adventure, says “Outrageous!” a lot and tortures people by recounting tales of his exploits, all of which have cool titles like “The time I wore an eyepatch to infiltrate a crew of pirates.” Also his dolphin, Fluke, is obnoxious, per Batman.

The version of Orm's origin is similar to the version from the Silver Age and the current post-Flashpoint universe. where Orm and Aquaman share a mother. In the post-Crisis version, they shared a father, who was a lecherous, immortal Atlantian sorcerer named Atlan, who needed to have two sons to keep up with an ancient prophecy saying that two brothers would always fight for the throne of Atlantis. Comics, everybody! Also, Orm does not have the power to communicate with sea life in the comics, another point of contention between the brothers.

Aquaman demonstrates the ability to conjure hard water weapons in this episode, a power Aquaman does not have in the comic. It is instead a variation on the power that Mera, as well as one of Aquaman's pre-Flashpoint sons, Koryak, who he had with an Inuit woman while he was travelling the world as a young man, has, which is to manipulate water into solid, non-ice forms.

Batman mentions Iron Heights as the prison where Black Manta will be imprisoned. Created by Geoff Johns, Iron Heights is the maximum security prison in Keystone City, where the Flash's nemeses are usually imprisoned.

This is the first episode where the teaser does not share any connection to the main story, something that will continue for nearly every episode of the series.

In addition to writing for The Matt Signal, Dan Grote is now the official comics blogger for The Press of Atlantic City. New posts appear Wednesday mornings at His new novel, Magic Pier, is available however you get your books online. He and Matt have been friends since the days when Onslaught was just a glimmer in Charles Xavier's eye. Follow @danielpgrote on Twitter.

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