Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Great Batman: The Brave and the Bold Rewatch: The Eyes of Despero!

Season One, Episode Ten: The Eyes of Despero!
Written by J.M. DeMatteis
Directed by Ben Jones

Plot Synopsis

Teaser: In a surreal landscape, the wizard Wotan flies toward the Library of Infinity, which holds the knowledge of all human experience, preparing to take it for himself. He destroys the guardians, but the mystical hero Doctor Fate appears with Batman to stop him. Fate wonders if even the mystical helm of Fate can help him stop Wotan, but Batman tells him it's the man, not the helmet, that makes the hero. Batman fights the creatures Wotan summons while Fate battles Wotan. When Wotan is able to remove Fate's helmet, the doctor proves Batman right by standing his ground and defeating Wotan with his fists, saving the day.

Episode: Many of the Green Lantern Corps leave the Lantern headquarters of Oa, led by Earth's most famous Lantern, Hal Jordan. In space, they find the three-eyed, fin headed alien conqueror, Despero, waiting. The Lanterns attacks prove fruitless, and Despero mentally takes control of them all except Jordan, who tells him his plan has failed, as the Guardians of the Universe, the alien beings who empower the Corps, have been hidden where Despero can't find them. When Despero sends his fellow Corpsbeings after him, Jordan recites the Green Lantern oath, and with an explosion of green energy, seemingly destroys all of them Corps and himself. Despero departs, confident his plan to conquer the galaxy will still come to fruition, as a lone Green Lantern ring shoots through space.

In Gotham City, Batman finds the Cavalier robbing a bank. Batman makes short work of the villain as the Green Lantern ring arrives, surrounds him in a bubble of energy, which takes off into space. Batman arrives on Oa and begins investigating, finding the planet empty except for three Lanterns in jail cells: Guy Gardner, the obnoxious human, the canine G'Nort, and the Korugaran Sinestro. Gardner tries to grab the ring that is leading Batman around, but Sinestro tells him to back down, which Gardner grudgingly does. Sinestro tells Batman why he and Gardner are in the brig: Gardner for throwing a tantrum in the commissary and Sinestro for excessive force; G'Nort brought the other two lunch and locked himself in accidentally.

Batman and the three Lanterns use a ring to see what befell the rest of the Corps, and Batman heads off with the others, wearing armor forged by the rings of the others, allowing him to travel with them. Batman puts himself in charge of the mission, which Gardner immediately rejects, but Sinestro gets in the middle, as he and Gardner are butting heads. As the three argue, Despero appears, now gigantic. Guy doesn't listen to Batman's plan and is swatted away, but Batman and Sinestro work together, Batman thinking he can trust Sinestro.

Despero gets the upper hand, imprisoning the heroes in rings of force, but Sinestro uses his ring, and Batman his armor, to channel their will and break free. They seemingly defeat Despero, who turns out to be a psychic illusion. Despero psychically tells the heroes that he has distracted them while he heads to the Lantern who will be his ultimate weapon. Batman is unaware, and Sinestro and G'Nort tell Batman that Despero is heading for Mogo, a Green Lantern who is a sentient planet, and if Despero can control him, Mogo will make Despero unstoppable.

Despero arrives on Mogo and begins remaking the world in his own image. He heads the world of Xudar and uses Mogo to conquer all the minds on the planet before heading to his next target: Earth. Batman and the Lanterns are watching, and Batman tells the three they can defeat Despero if they follow his orders. Gardner says no, that he's working alone from here on out, and Batman decks him with one punch. Gardner grudgingly agrees, and Batman tells the Lanterns his plan: drain Mogo's power battery into one of their rings, thus removing Mogo as a weapon for Despero. Batman sends Sinestro to put a protective bubble around Earth, Gardner to distract Mogo, while Batman himself fights Despero, leaving G'Nort to drain the battery. G'Nort os doubtful he can do it, because he's a screw up and his ring is low on energy, but Batman tells him it's not the ring, it's the man.

Gardner creates a giant construct and challenges Mogo, who uses his own surface as a weapon to fight him. G'Nort finds the power battery, but blanks on the oath that will allow him to use his ring. Batman and Despero are in a full power brawl as Gardner awakens from Mogo knocking him out to find Sinestro planting massive bombs on Mogo to destroy the planet and stop Despero. Sinestro believes the ends justify the means, and while Gardner stands up to Sinestro, Sinestro attacks him. Meanwhile, Despero has again captured Batman and is monologuing at him, and in so doing reveals the truth about Sinestro: Sinestro didn't just use excessive force by attacking the Warlords of Okaara after they surrendered. He massacred them and then the planet he had sworn to protect.

Gardner continues to fight Sinestro, who makes his own speech, saying he is better than all the other Lanterns. Sinestro assumes Gardner is fighting to prove himself the best, but Gardner instead says it's about saving Mogo and G'Nort, and is able to knock Sinestro back. Batman is able to break free of Despero's energy bands and fights him as Garnder and Sinestro continue to battle. Gardner is able to defeat Sinestro, and G'Nort finally remembers he has the Lantern oath written on his wrist, and successfully recites it, draining Mogo's battery.

Batman is able to resist Despero's attempts to control his mind long enough to head butt him, and then the awakened Mogo sends a massive rock to knock Despero out. With Despero defeated and Mogo freed, the Green Lantern ring that sought Batman out leaves his utility belt, and a burst of light reveals that Hal Jordan, the Guardians, and the other Lanterns have been in the ring all along, and Jordan sent the ring to Batman for safe keeping. Back on Oa, Batman and Guy Gardner congratulate each other on a job well done, and Batman finds out Guy has Sinestro imprisoned in his ring. Batman gives the credit for the win to the Lantern he says deserves it most: G'Nort, who jumps into Batman's arms, excited, as the Corps cheers him.

Who's Who

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!

G'Nort (Voiced by Alexander Polinsky)
First Comic Book Appearance: Justice League International #10 (February, 1988)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Ten- The Eyes of Despero!

G'Nort, one of a canine species, was allowed to join the Green Lantern Corps due to the influence of a powerful uncle. He became a bungling member of the Corps, often causing more trouble than he ever helped remedy. He met the Justice League during the Manhunter invasion in the crossover Millennium, and tagged along with them on Earth for some time, becoming a member of the Justice League Antarctica, a post where the League would ship off undesirables who wouldn't leave them alone. While occasionally portrayed as having a good and heroic heart, as in this episode, G'Nort is usually simply comic relief. G'Nort possesses a Green Lantern ring, which allows him to manifest constructs on pure will, as well as the heightened sense of smell and tracking abilities of a dog.

Sinestro (Voiced by Xander Berkley)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Green Lantern #7 (August, 1961)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Ten- The Eyes of Despero!

Thaal Sinestro was once considered one of the greatest of Green Lanterns. He was the Green Lnatern of Sector 1417, which included his home planet of Korugar, and would often aid on the training of other Lanterns, including the human Hal Jordan. The two became friends, until Hal learned Sinestro's dark secret: Sinestro had taken complete control of Korugar, believing that the best way to maintain order was through fascism. Hal was able to defeat Sinestro, and the Guardians of the Universe stripped Sinestro of his rank and banished him to the anti-matter universe world of Qward. There, Sinestro had the Weaponers of Qward fashion him a ring that channeled the yellow energy of fear, and Sinestro would go on to be the Corps, and Hal Jordan's, greatest nemesis. He would eventually form the Sinestro Corps, a corps of villains and monsters who used yellow rings, that would challenge the Green Lantern Corps, and while occasionally still acting as an anti-hero, truly believes the universe would be better under his rule. Whether using a Green or Yellow Lantern ring, Sinestro can manifest constructs of intense power. He is a brilliant tactician and a confident and competent leader.

Hal Jordan (Voiced by Loren Lester)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Showcase #22 (October, 1959)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Ten- The Eyes of Despero!

A test pilot, Hal Jordan was a man who knew no fear. And one day, when Abin Sur, Green Lantern of Sector 2814 came crashing to Earth, it was that characteristic that called Jordan to the alien's side and made him the new Green Lantern of the sector. Jordan would go on to make himself the greatest Green Lantern in the Corps's storied history, as well as its greatest failure. He would defeat Sinestro, the Weaponers of Qward, the Manhunters, and many other foes, both cosmic and Earthbound, but after the destruction of his home, Coast City, he would fall under the sway of Parallax, the fear entity, and nearly destroy the Corps. But Jordan would rise again, defeat and purge Parallax, and return to being a standard bearer for the Green Lantern Corps. Hal Jordan possesses a Green Lantern ring, which allows him to create constructs based purely on his willpower. He is also a remarkable pilot.

Despero (Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson)
First Comic Book Appearance: Justice League of America #1 (October, 1960)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Ten- The Eyes of Despero!

Despero was the conqueror and ruler of the planet Kalanor, which brought him into conflict with the Justice League as he often sought to expand his empire to other worlds. Despero would become one of the most consistent thorns in the side of the various incarnations of the Justice League, developing a vendetta against the League and would often test his psychic powers against those of the Martian Manhunter. Despero has appeared in many forms with many different abilities. Initially a more cerebral foe, Despero has a third eye through which he can channel psychic powers almost on scale with those of Martian Manhunter. He can possess the wills of others, cast illusions, and is a telekinetic and telepath. He eventually took magical abilities from the "Flames of Py'tar," which granted him control of his own mass, allowing him to bulk up and gain superhuman strength and durability.

Doctor Fate (Voiced by Jonny Rees)
First Comic Book Appearance: More Fun Comics #55 (May, 1940)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Ten- The Eyes of Despero!

Archaeologist Kent Nelson was exploring an ancient tomb with his father when poison gas killed Kent's father. Kent was able to find the Helm of Nabu, an ancient Egyptian sorcerer and a Lord of Order, and along with the cloak and amulet of Nabu, becomes Doctor Fate, on of the Golden Age's first mystical defenders. Kent, along with his wife Inza, would defend the world against mystical threats for decades, both wearing the helmet, which served as a conduit to the mind and consciousness of Nabum and the helmet would be passed along to others over the years, all would be guided by Nabu to defend order. Doctor Fate is one of the preeminent sorcerers in the DC Universe, able to cast a myriad of spells that not only create magical effects but grant him numerous superhuman powers. Kent Nelson was an Egyptologist of some renown, with an encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Egypt.

Wotan (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance: More Fun Comics #55 (May, 1940)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Ten- The Eyes of Despero!

Wotan has a particularly complicated backstory. Wotan was born a female in ancient times and was raped by the purported servant of a god. She spent her life learning mystical secrets, developing a cult around herself, and eventually learned to reincarnate at her will and choosing. Down the centuries she switches identity and gender until incarnating as the male Wotan of the present. Wotan seeks great power and to supplant all gods, being the only worshiped being in the universe, which often brings Wotan into conflict with the Spectre and Doctor Fate. Wotan is a powerful sorcerer and is equally adept with science, and due to their ability to switch bodies and control reincarnation, is functionally immortal.

Cavalier (Voiced by Jonny Rees)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Detective Comics #81 (November, 1943)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Ten- The Eyes of Despero!

Cavalier is a minor Batman villain whose real identity is Mortimer Drake. A man who obsessively collected rare and exotic historical items, when he started running out of money, he took to crime, never posing a serious threat to Batman. Shortly before the Flashpoint event, he seemingly reformed, working with Leslie Thompkins as her bodyguard. He has only appeared in the background since the New 52 reboot. Cavalier is an expert swordsman and a good hand-to-hand combatant.

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

J.M. DeMatteis returns to write this episode, after writing "Day of the Dark Knight," bringing with him several characters he has written in the comics. Guy Gardner and G'Nort both had featured roles in his run on Justice League International, and he also wrote an extended run on Doctor Fate, both an ongoing and a mini-series.

When Hal Jordan is battling Despero at the beginning of the episode, once of his constructs is a giant green boxing glove, which was a trademark construct of his in the Silver Age Green Lantern stories,

There are comic book precedents for Batman working with not just Earth bound Green lanterns, but the Corps itself, and using Green Lantern rings. In the Elseworlds tale Batman: In Darkest Night, created by Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham (the creators behind the legendary graphic novel, Batman: Son of the Demon) , Bruce Wayne became Green Lantern of Earth. In recent years, Batman has briefly donned a Yellow, Green, and White Lantern ring in stories by Geoff Johns.

The Warlords of Okaara, mentioned in Sinestro's story, are an alien race of conquerors in the DC Universe, and  Xudar, the planet Despero takes over, is the home of Green Lantern Tomar Re in Sector 2815, the neighbor to Earth's sector, 2814.

Batman's knockout of Guy Gardner is directly inspired by a famous scene in Justice League #5. where Gardner challenges Batman for leadership of the Justice League, and Batman knocks him out with one punch, and then just walks off. G'Nort's exclamation of "ONE PUNCH! ONE PUNCH!" and his body language mirrors that of Blue Beetle Ted Kord's in that scene.

Ten episodes in, and we're starting to see a building of an almost repertory cast for the series. Jonny Rees has appeared before as Gentleman Ghost & Dr. Canus, Kevin Michael Richardson  as Black Manta & B'Wana Beast, and James Arnold Taylor as Green Arrow. There are other regular guest voices, who I will call out as they appear, including John DiMaggio who has already voiced Grodd and Aquaman, and Grey Griffin who voiced Fire earlier on and will recur as both that character and Black Canary.

This is another episode where the teaser and the main episode share a specific thematic connection, in this case that it is the man, and not the tool, that makes a hero

No comments: