Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Great Batman: The Brave and the Bold Rewatch: "Day of the Dark Knight!"

Season One, Episode Five: Day of the Dark Knight!
Written by J.M. DeMatteis
Directed by Ben Jones

Plot Synopsis

Teaser: Batman and Green Lantern Guy Gardner bring a prisoner in to the planet Oa. After depositing him, they bump into Kilowog, who is bringing in a tiny and deceptively cute prisoner of his own, who mouths off at Gardner. Gardner dumps coffee on the prisoner, who grows to gigantic size and punches Gardner into the Lantern Corps commissary. Gardner fights with the creature while Batman builds a device to return the creature to its normal diminutive size, leaving Gardner to clean up the literal mess he has made.

Episode: Opening with an explosion at a prison, various super and regular criminals are making their escape when Batman arrives to stop them, followed closely by Green Arrow. The two heroes make short work of the escaping crooks, and find that they have each taken down the exact same number of them. Arrow comments on this, and while Batman says aloud it's not a competition his internal monologue mentions that the two of them are competitive but it never gets out of hand.

One last criminal appears, and both heroes launch their weapons at him, only for him to use magic to stop the attacks and teleport the heroes away. The "criminal" is revealed to be Merlin, who has called the heroes to Camelot to stop Morgaine le Fey, who has conquered the realm. Only "The One Who Is Worthy" can retrieve Excalibur, King Arthur's sword, and use it to defeat Morgaine. Merlin is unsure which of the two is the right hero. Morgaine, watching this, tells Jason Blood that he must stop this, and releases the Etrigan, the demon who is bound to Blood, to do her bidding.

Riding through the forest, Merlin tells Batman and Arrow that he thinks Batman is the one destined to free Excalibur from the stone, just as Morgaine's monsters and Etrigan attack. Batman fights with Etrigan, but Merlin stops the demon, and Batman and Arrow begin competing again at the highest number of monsters defeated. Merlin tries to get Etrigan back under his control, as Morgaine stole him from Merlin, but the demon bests Merlin. Etrigan then turns his attention on Batman and Arrow, and after nearly crushing them with a boulder. they drive him off. Angry at her failed servant, Morgaine heads off to deal with the heroes, leaving a a stone King Arthur behind.

With Merlin recovered, the heroes head out again, with Batman and Arrow bickering over whether or not it was Arrow's exploding Arrow or Batman's Bat-grenade that stopped Etrigan. A frustrated Merlin tells the heroes that they have arrived at the Tower of Excalibur, and the two heroes rush off to reach the top of the tower and get the sword.They find the tower protected by ogres, and when the heroes defeat them, stairs appear to let the heroes into the tower. Arrow grows more frustrated as Merlin continues to favor Batman.

Morgaine appears and after bantering with Merlin, she takes over Batman's mind, garbing him in dark armor, and sends him to retrieve the sword for her. Merlin fights Morgaine and Etrigan while sending Arrow after Batman to prove his worthiness.

Arrow is able to use a trick arrow with a line and pulley to meet Batman, and after a brief duel, Batman nearly defeats Arrow just as Morgaine defeats Merlin. Standing with Arrow hanging off the cliff by one hand, Batman is nearly swayed by Arrow reminding him of their friendship before Morgaine appears and has him step on Arrow's hand, sending him falling. Merlin, with Etrigan holding him and about to kill him, casts a spell that hits Batman with seemingly little effect.

In the tower, Batman and Morgaine reach Excalibur. But Merlin's spell has freed Batman's mind, and he uses a Batarang to knock Morgaine back as Merlin enters, having turned Etrigan back into Jason Blood, who has been freed by Merlin. Morgaine changes into a dragon, and Batman attempts to draw the sword from the stone, only to find he can't; he is apparently not the One Who is Worthy.

Blood changes back to Etrigan, and he and Merlin try to stop Morgaine the Dragon, but fail as she destroys the tower, sending them all crashing down. She turns Etrigan and Merlin to stone, and is about to do the same to Batman when Green Arrow reappears. He is also not able to free the sword, but Batman and Arrow together are able to pull the sword, and Arrow fires it like an arrow into the dragon, who is vanquished, and everyone returns to flesh and blood.

Heading away from the tower, Merlin says Arthur will knight both the heroes, but when they start bickering again, a frustrated Merlin simply sends them back to the present. Batman and Arrow seem to come to peace with their competition, but when an alert comes through of a bank robbery, the two heroes speed off, seeing who can reach the bank first.

Who's Who

Green Arrow (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode One- Rise of the Blue Beetle

Guy Gardner (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Green Lantern #59 (August, 1968)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Five- Day of the Dark Knight!

Originally designated as a stand-by replacement Green Lantern for the original Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner was initially a fairly bland character. But in the 1980's, writer Steve Englehart changed Guy Gardner's personality, making him a stereotypical 80s guy's guy, full of arrogance and attitude, a personality made even broader during his time on the Justice League International. Gardner's personality has fluctuated since then, some times becoming even more unlikable than many villains, but in recent years, he has evened out, still maintaining his ego and braggadocio, while becoming  more heroic again. Batman and Guy Gardner's most famous comics interaction took place in Justice League #5, where Gardner challenged Batman to a fist fight for leadership of the League, and Batman knocked him out with one punch before simply walking away. Gardner possesses a Green Lantern ring, a weapon empowered by the Guardians of the Universe to tap into the bearer's willpower to generate constructs and energy blasts. It is only limited by the wielder's will and imagination.

Kilowog (Voiced by Deidrich Bader)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Green Lantern #201 (June, 1986)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Five- Day of the Dark Knight!

Kilowog is one of the most famous non-human members of the Green Lantern Corps. The last survivor of the destroyed planet Bolovax Vik, Kilowog is the drill sergeant of the Corps, working to train new recruits to be the best Lantern they can be. Kilowog has been a fixture in every incarnation of the Corps since his introduction, and a trusted ally of all of Earth's Lanterns and their allies.At a time when the Corps was disbanded, Kilowog, whose home planet was destroyed, came to Earth and worked doing mechanic work with the Justice League, but was recruited immediately back to his old position. Aside from the standard powers of a wielder of a Green Lantern ring, Kilowog is stronger and more durable then humans, and has a genius level intellect.

Etrigan the Demon (Voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
First Comic Book Appearance:  The Demon #1 (August, 1972)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Five- Day of the Dark Knight!

"Gone, gone, the form of man/ And rise, the demon, Etrigan!" Created by Jack Kirby, Etrigan was the demonic servant of Merlin (and half brother to the wizard in his demonic fathers side), who depending on which version of his origin you read is either transformed into a human named Jason Blood to help control him, or bound to a man of that name who is his own person for the same reason. The two traveled down the centuries together, resentful of each other, as only one can be in the real world at a time, leaving the other in Hell. In modern times, Etrigan is often a reluctant hero, with Jason Blood transforming at times that leave Etrigan no choice but to fight against threats that are worse than him. The two continually attempt to find a way to separate and leave the other, but every time this happens, they are bound together again. Etrigan has all the standard powers of a demon, but at a higher level, as he is one of Hell's most powerful demons, including super strength, immortality, invulnerability, the ability to breathe fire, and is a master of the magic arts. Jason Blood shares immortality with Etrigan as long as they are bonded, and is a formidable magic user and hand-to-hand combatant.

Merlin (Voiced by David McCallum)
First Comic Book Appearance:  The Demon #1 (August, 1972)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Five- Day of the Dark Knight!

Morgaine le Fey (Voice by Tatyanna Yassukovich)
First Comic Book Appearance: The Demon #1 (August, 1972)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Five- Day of the Dark Knight!

Merlin and Morgaine Le Fey are two important figures from classic Arthurian myth; Merlin is the adviser to King Arthur, while Morgaine is his half sister on his mother's side, and often also the mother of his son, Mordred. There are many different comic book versions of both figures across numerous publishing companies, as they are public domain characters, being mythic figures. In DC Comics, they are usually tied to stories involving Etrigan, but Morgaine does tend to appear as a major magical threat fighting various superheroes. Merlin and Morgaine are two of the most powerful mages in the DC Universe, nearly unmatched in their manipulation of magical energies.

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

It might seem an odd choice to use Guy Gardner as the fist spotlighted Green Lantern, but not if you look at the writer credit for the episode. J.M. DeMatteis is a prolific comics as well as animation writer, and one of the projects he's most famous for is the 80s Justice League International, which he cowrote with Kieth Giffen, where the obnoxious Guy Gardner was one of the principal characters.

The episode hearkens back to classic Batman stories of the 1950s, where both space and time travel were common.

This is the first of many episodes that are crammed to the gills with cameos. The teaser on Oa features many comic book members of the GL Corps in cameos, including  Salaak, Chaselon, Katma Tui, Tomar Re, Galius Zed, Arisia, Ch'p, Stel, Olapet, Medphyll, and Larvox.

The opening jail break not only has cameos by many of the villains who have appeared already in the series including Clock King, Felix Faust and Kiteman, but many of the TV versions of, or original villans, from the classic Batman TV series from 1966, including the Mad Hatter, Minstrel, Bookworm, The Siren, King Tut, False Face,Egghead, Louie the Lilac, and Shame.

Etrigan the Demon speaks throughout the episode entirely in rhyme. While this was not a feature of the character when introduced by Jack Kirby (the only rhyme involved there was the summoning chant), in an early appearance in the DC Universe at large, writer Len Wein had Etrigan speak in rhyme. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Matt Wagner followed suit, and nearly every incarnation of Etrigan has been a rhyming demon since. The exception is the work of John Byrne, who wrote Etrigan in Action Comics, Wonder Woman, and a short lived series called Blood of the Demon, who is anti-rhyme and has only written Etrigan as rhyming to break the spell cast on him by Morgaine to make him rhyme. This plotline has been ignored by all following writers, who continue to have Etrigan rhyme.

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