Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Great Batman: The Brave and the Bold Rewatch: Journey to the Center of the Bat!

Season One, Episode Nine: Journey to the Center of the Bat!
Written by Matt Wayne

Directed by Michael Chang

Plot Synopsis

Teaser: DC’s two stretchiest heroes, Plastic Man and the Elongated Man, foil a bank robbery by Babyface and his gang. EM expresses jealousy over PM’s popularity and the hang time he gets with Batman while proclaiming himself the nobler rubber-limbed do-gooder (Plastic Man is a reformed villain, after all). The two get themselves tangled in a trap, at which point Bats shows up and delivers the knockout blow to Babyface, closing with the line “Truth be told, between the two of you, I prefer to work alone.”

Episode: Professor Ryan Choi, the Atom, is in the middle of a delicate experiment when he receives a call from Aquaman, who appears to want to shoot the breeze, only to reveal as an afterthought that Batman has fallen ill after a battle with Chemo, a giant green toxic-waste monster currently attacking the country of Bialya.

To combat the microorganisms ravaging Batman’s system, the Atom volunteers to go inside the Caped Crusader. And Aquaman asks to come with, which Batman agrees to either because he genuinely thinks Atom could use the extra muscle or because he’d rather be rid of both of them for a while. It’s obvious from jump we’re set up for an Odd Couple-style buddy comedy between the two guest heroes. Atom is an easily frustrated man of science, while Aquaman charges ahead, laughs in the face of everything and is generally awesome.

Meanwhile, a sickened Batman, his body growing all manner of warts and losing motor control, continues taking the fight to Chemo alongside the Navy, to little avail.

Inside the Dark Knight, our other two heroes are experiencing difficulties both repelling the invading nasties and working with each other.

“The problem with you, Atom, is that you think when you should feel,” Aquaman says as he slices apart the invading microbes with his waterborne weaponry, only for them to multiply.

Atom then fries the enemy an electromagnetic shock, which does not result in their mitosis.

“See? Thinking’s not so tough. Maybe you should try it some time,” he says before they are surrounded and outnumbered.

Amid the ensuing battle, Aquaman befriends a white blood cell he names platelet (despite, as Atom rightly points out, the fact that it is not a platelet) and rides as if it were one of his seahorses.

Outside Batman, it is revealed that Chemo was after a nuclear missile and was being controlled by the Brain, a villain that is, in fact, a brain with a French accent attached to a computer on wheels. As the Brain makes plain his threat to Bialya, Chemo eats the nuke, and Batman ejects from his submarine and into the mouth of the beast.

And as Batman ventures inside Chemo, Aquaman and Atom journey further into Batman aboard Platelet to the Dark Knight’s brain, where the mutating nanonasties have established their base camp.

Inside Chemo, Batman fries the nuclear missile and throws some bombs to discorporate the monster. He then locates the Brain’s submarine. He attacks the villain, but in his weakened state falls over, knocking the Brain down with him.

Meanwhile, as they watch the bugs lay waste to Batman’s brain, Atom sees every possible course of action as having unacceptable consequences. Aquaman, on the other hand, sees this as the time to charge headlong toward Bats’ brain.

“At least I’ll have one heckuva story,” he reasons. And we all know how Aquaman loves his stories. As the king of Atlantis attacks, the microorganisms claim Platelet, sending Atom into a long-overdue rage full of punches and screaming.

“What about the plan?” Aquaman asks.

“Blah blah blah! Let’s punch ‘em!” he retorts.

Atom uses his weapon on the seed cell, healing Batman in time to defeat the Brain. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the Dark Knight to cry so they can escape out his tear duct.

“But surely Batman never cries!” Aquman muses. Fade to black.

Number of times someone yells “Outrageous!”: Aquaman 2, Atom 1.

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!

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!

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!

Elongated Man (voiced by Sean Donnellan)
First comic book appearance: The Flash vol. 1 #112 (May 1960)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 9 – Journey to the Center of the Bat!

Co-created by John Broome and legendary Flash artist Carmine Infantino, Ralph Dibny is one of two rubber-limbed heroes in the DCU. But while Plastic Man is a reformed villain often mined for comedic relief, Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, is known for his skills as a detective, much like the Dark Knight himself. He acquired his stretchiness by drinking a chemical concoction brewed from a rare fruit found in Latin America. He and his wife, Sue (to whom something quite horrible happened that we need not revisit here), spent the 1960s and ’70s driving around in a convertible solving mysteries. This is not EM’s first animated rodeo; he also appeared in the Justice League Unlimited series alongside pretty much every other DC hero ever created.

Baby Face (voiced by Tom Kenny)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 9 – Journey to the Center of the Bat!

A character created for the show and clearly meant to evoke the spirit of ’66. Baby Face – real name Alfonso Vincenzo Giuseppe Face – is an as-advertised Bat villain, a gangster with the face of a baby, complete with Edward G. Robinson voice. He will appear a few more times during the series.

Chemo (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
First comics appearance: Showcase #39 (July-August 1962)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 9 – Journey to the Center of the Bat!

Chemo (pronounced Kem-O, not KEE-Mo) is a sentient batch of toxic chemicals from failed experiments that originally fought the Metal Men. During the “Infinite Crisis” crossover, the monster nearly destroys all of Bludhaven, the adopted city of Nightwing, the very first Robin.

The Brain (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
First comic book appearance: Doom Patrol #86 (May 1964)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 9 – Journey to the Center of the Bat!

A brilliant scientist who was killed in a lab accident, only to have his brain transferred into a computer, the Brain in the comics is generally paired with his talking gorilla assistant, Monsieur Mallah. Fun fact: In Grant Morrison’s run on Doom Patrol, he had the Brain and Mallah express their love for each other and kiss before exploding, which may be one of the most Grant Morrison-y things he’s ever done.

First comic book appearance: Justice League #2 (June 1987)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 9 – Journey to the Center of the Bat!

Bialya is a fictional country located north of Saudi Arabia and Iran. It was created by J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen during their run on Justice Leauge. At one point, Shazam villain Black Adam kills millions of its inhabitants.

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

The Atom-Aquaman pairing will be mined again later in the series, specifically Season 3’s “Sword of the Atom!” in which Batman, Aquaman and Choi look for the original Atom, Ray Palmer, whom you may know from Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. That episode also contains my favorite cold open of the series, which we’ll come to in due time.

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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