Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Great Batman: Brave and the Bold Rewatch: Mystery in Space!

Season One, Episode 14: Mystery in Space!
Written by Jim Krieg
Directed by Brandon Vietti

Plot synopsis

Teaser: Equinox has kidnapped Gorilla Grodd and the Question and strapped them to an elaborate scale trap, telling Batman he can only save one of them, which the Dark Knight of course proves untrue.

Episode: Batman is standing on a shoreline awaiting a zeta beam to transport him to the planet Rann when he hears a strange sound he discovers to be Aquaman emitting the cry of a wounded beluga whale. But this isn’t the happy-go-punchy, bravado-filled Aquaman we’ve grown accustomed to. Big A is despondent, questioning the meaning of everything. At first, Bats stresses he can’t help because he has a solo mission to attend to (“It’s important I stress the word ‘solo,’” his inner monologue says), but the zeta beam ends up transporting both heroes into the middle of a firefight on an alien planet.

In the skies over Rann, they are met by Adam Strange and his wife, Alanna, who take them to their base in the capital where Alanna’s father, Saradath, welcomes them. The introductions are interrupted by a message from General Kreegaar, leader of the lizardlike Gordanians, who shows them a giant spiderlike mech approaching the city.

“All is lost. Woe is us. Perhaps it’s not too late to surrender,” Aquaman suggests, still mysteriously and uncharacteristically crestfallen.

Batman, Aquaman and Adam Strange lead an attack on the mech. Aquaman takes out Gordanian warriors with little effort, and little enthusiasm. Were this any other episode, he’d be laughing heartily and working on some kind of title for a future tale. Kreegaar turns the fight around, however, trapping the heroes in a thermal device meant to boil them alive from the inside. The heroes escape by using Strange’s jetpack to cut a hole in the floor.

Once back at the base, Strange deduces the Gordanians are after the Eye of Zarid, essentially a giant magnifying glass that can be used to fry an entire city. The Eye is located underwater. Batman, Aquaman and the Stranges get their scuba on and find the Gordanians attempting to free the Eye from beneath the waves. Batman suggests Aquaman do what he does best and summon the local sea creatures to their aid. But when they arrive and Strange talks about using them to draw fire, Aquaman shoos them away instead. That’s when he reveals what’s been bugging him all episode: Big A apparently failed to stop whalers from poaching beluga recently, and it’s left him feeling less than heroic.

As Batman tries to snap the King of Atlantis out of his funk, the Gordanians attack. In the midst of the fight, a zeta beam transports Adam to Earth, 25 trillion miles away. Alanna is captured, and the Gordanians free the Eye of Zarid, moving it toward the city. Adam teleports back to Rann just in time for Batman and Aquaman to relay the dire news. Adam sits down, feeling like a failure and declaring the war lost.

That’s when we get the king’s speech.

“What has gotten into you, man?” Aquaman asks Strange. “Alanna is alive! Rann is alive! You’re alive! And where there is life, there’s always hope!” (What could be move Silver Age than exclaiming every sentence?)

Strange: “But we’re outgunned.”

Aquaman: “So what? We don’t even use guns!” (Great line)

Strange: “But the Eye is invulnerable.”

Aquaman: “All the better to prove we are true heroes!”

Strange: “Alanna is their captive.”

Aquaman: “For now! This isn’t the end. It’s an opportunity! Most men wait their entire lives in vain for a moment like this! A chance to matter! A call to adventure! Adam, answer that call!”

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I want to go punch some lizard men in the face after watching that scene. But more importantly, Adam does, and that sets into motion a daring, utterly ridiculous plan.

The heroes steal Earth’s moon via zeta beam and drop it into orbit around Rann, creating an eclipse that depowers the Eye of Zarid and renders the Gordanians impotent. Strange rescues Alanna, Kreegaar screams as the Eye crashes to the ground and Aquaman rides triumphant aboard a pair of Rannian sea creatures, because that’s what you do when you’re a badass sea king.

“A fitting end to The Strange Encounter of the Reptile Men,” Aquaman declares, having truly become his old self again.

As for what happened while Earth temporarily had no moon, that’s never shown. Hopefully it wasn’t too catastrophic.

Number of times Aquaman says “Outrageous!”: Zero.

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!

Adam Strange
First comic book appearance: Showcase #17 (November 1958)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 14- Mystery in Space!

An archaeologist from Earth who is transported by zeta beam to the planet Rann in the Alpha Centauri system, Strange becomes the protector of that planet and marries one of its women, Alanna, daughter of chief scientist Saradath.

The Question (voiced by Nicholas Guest)
First comic book appearance: Blue Beetle #1 (June 1967)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 14- Mystery in Space!

Created by Steve Ditko and acquired by DC in its absorption of Charlton Comics in the 1980s, journalist turned detective Vic Sage’s face is covered by a substance called pseudoderm, making it look as though he has no facial features. The Question is obsessed with conspiracies, and at times his philosophy has run the gamut from Ayn Rand-style libertarianism to Eastern zen. In later years, Sage would be replaced as the Question by Gotham police Detective Renee Montoya. The Question also served an inspiration for Watchmen’s Rorschach.

Equinox (voiced by Oded Fehr)
First comic book appearance: Justice League of America #111 (June 1974)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 14- Mystery in Space!

Equinox is based on a DC Comics villain named Libra, who appeared in a 1970s Justice League story by Len Wein. Grant Morrison brought the character back as a big bad in 2008’s Final Crisis storyline, making him obsessed both with balance and godhood.

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!

First Comic Book Appeearance: New Teen Titans #1 (November, 1980)
First Brave and the Bold appearance: Season 1, Episode 14- Mystery in Space!

The Gordanians are a lizard man species of intergalactic conquerors and slavers. They are often allies of the Citadel, another group of alien conquerors, and in the comics they have little connection to Rann, but are instead mostly seen as nemeses of the planet Tamaran, home of Starfire; they are the race that kidnapped and enslaved her before she escaped to earth to join the Titans.

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

The title of the episode refers to one of DC Comics' classic sci-fi comics of the 50s and 60s, the one in which Adam Strange had a recurring feature for many years. 

The actor who voiced Equinox, another recurring character loosely based on a comic book character but technically original to the show, is voiced by Oded Fehr, an actor best known for The Mummy films, but who does a fair amount of voice work. He voiced Doctor Fate in Justice League Unlimited prior to his work on this series, and would go on to voice Ra's al Ghul in Young Justice.

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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