Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Great Batman: Brave and the Bold Rewatch: Duel of the Double Crossers!

Season One, Episode Twenty-One: Duel of the Double Crossers!
Written by Todd Casey
Directed by Michael Chang

Plot Synopsis

Despero stands on a rooftop, preparing to throw a giant globe down on to bystanders. Batman communicates to the Outsiders(Black Lightning, Katana, and Metamorpho) telling them what to do to stop the villain. The Outsiders, though, are doing things their own way, which mostly involves lots of property damage and not much stopping of Despero. Only when they listen to Batman, working as a team, do they stop the alien conqueror, although the damage to the city is severe. It turns out it was all a simulation, and Batman tells them they'll keep doing it until they get it right, restarting the simulation.

Episode: In front of a large sunset, the bounty hunter Jonah Hex rides, heading towards a saloon. Only when we get inside, and see the saloon is full of aliens and not old west ne'er do wells, do we realize Hex is not in his native time or world. Hex sits down at a card table with an alien named Arges, and proceeds to attempt to take him, but Arges blasts him with an eye beam. Hex, with some help from his robot horse, captures Arges, and is teleported away to Warworld.

Upon arriving on Warworld, Hex confronts its master, Mongul, who welcomes Hex back, pleased with his new captive. Hex is less pleased, and demands Mongul send him back to his own time. Mongul says he will, but only if Hex delivers one more bounty to him, a warrior who will stand up too his sisters gladiators: Batman.

On Earth, Batman easily takes out the villain Zebra Man just before Hex arrives. Batman knows about Warworld, and knows why Hex is there, and the two men prepare to face off. Batman throws a Batarang, which Hex shoots out of the air, and the two face off, but Hex is able to lasso Batman.

On Warworld, Batman is led away by Mongul's guards, and Hex again tells Mongul to send him home. Mongul again refuses, saying that Hex is too valuable, and when Hex threatens to shoot Mongul, the alien warlord reminds Hex that killing him will leave Hex stranded in the present forever. Hex contemplates doing it anyway, but they are interrupted by Mongal, Mongul's sister and competitor, along with two of her guards, Lashina and Stompa, members of the Female Furies. Hex decides to stand down rather than fight the Furies, flirting briefly with Lashina, and threatens Mongul that he will help in Mongul's fall. Mongal scoffs at the idea that Batman could beat her champion, Steppenwolf, but Mongul seems more confident in the Dark Knight.

In the arena, we see Batman led out into the center, along with Arges, a Gordanian, and another alien. Mongul pronounces this to be Battle Arena Warworld, a combat entertainment with no rules and with only one victor. Batman tries to convince the others to work together against Steppenwolf, and they refuse, as the Apokoliptan general, Steppenwolf appears. Steppenwolf attacks, starting to easily take out his foes. Flash away from the arena to an irritated Hex, who shoots the screen showing the battle, as Mongal approaches him. She offers to send Hex home simply to screw with Mongul, and gives him a map to the time machine and the deliverance to send him home. He tips his hat and heads off.

Back in the arena, Steppenwolf has made short work of most of his opponents, leaving only Batman and Arges. Batman gets Arges to agree to help him, only for Arges to use Batman's distraction to escape. Batman now stands seemingly alone against Steppenwolf, but Hex arrives on robot horseback. Hex joins in the fight, and although he shoots his way through Steppenwolf's shield and disarms him of his axe, he is downed. Batman, adding techno-brass knuckles to his fists (which he refers to yet again as the Hammers of Justice), engages Steppenwolf in a fist fight. They trade blows, but Batman's superior fighting skills win the day, leaving Steppenwolf defeated. Hex rises, and the two head off.

Hex leads Batman to free the prisoners of Warworld before he heads home, They are confronted by Mongal and her Furies, and Batman and Hex engage the Furies in combat, Lashina calling Hex out. Batman and Stompa fight, but Hex and Lashina are continuing to flirt as they fight hand-to-hand. Eventually, the Furies are defeated, but that leaves them with Mongal. Hex is able to lasso her and tie her to Hex's robot horse before heading off again. Mongul sees his sister and laughs, but she tells him where Batman and Hex are going as she is dragged away.

At the cells, Batman and Hex arrive. The prisoners are overjoyed to see Batman, but angered by Hex. Hex tells them he's going to spring them and then head to settle his score with Mongul as Mongul teleports in. Mongul is able to sucker punch the heroes, but even after he no longer has the element of surprise, he still has the upper hand. Batman prepares to free the prisoners to join the battle against Mongul, but is told is he does he will destroy the time tunnel platform as well, stranding Hex. Hex agrees to it, knowing the consequences, and with the cells open, the gathered alien warriors attack Mongul and Mongal, who has conveniently ust been dropped off the the robo horse.

With the battle done, Hex prepares to send Batman home. Batman offers to have Hex come with him, and see if Batman can find another way to return Hex to his own time. Hex decides to stay behind, though, and see what's to do. Batman returns home, and Hex finds Lashina waiting by his horse, and the two ride off together.

Who's Who

Jonah Hex (Voiced by Phil Morris)
First Comic Book Appearance: All-Star Western #10 (February-March, 1972)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Eleven- Return of the Fearsome Fangs!

Mongul (Voiced by Gary Anthony Williams)
First Comic Book Appearance:  DC Comics Presents #27 (November, 1980)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty-One- Duel of the Double Crossers!

Mongul is one of the great galactic conqueror villains of the DC Universe. While his origins have changed substantially depending on which timeline in the DC Universe you are following, his story is always tied to that of Warworld, a mobile planetoid battlestation, and the Black Mercy, the plant that attaches itself to a host and gives them a fantasy of their greatest desire. Mongul's best known origin has him as master of Warworld when Superman, travelling the galaxy, finds himself on the planet and forced into the arena to fight. Superman eventually defeated him, leaving him no fallen in the eyes of the citizens of Warworld. Mongul would go on to serve as a lackey to the villainous Cyborg Superman, and took part on the destruction of Coast City, Green Lantern's home town. The original Mongul would go on to be killed and replaced by his son, also named Mongul, who looked identitcal to his father, but more on that below in the notes. Mongul II would continue to be a nemesis of Superman and various Green Lanterns, and would briefly go on to lead the Sinestro Corps. Mongul has most of the traditional big galaxy conquering bad powers, like super strength, invulnerability, and the ability to fire energy.

Mongal (Voiced by Gary Anthony Williams)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Superman Vol.2 #170 (July, 2001)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty-One- Duel of the Double Crossers!

Mongal was the sister of Mongul II, and worked with her brother on various occasions. She eventually became ruler of the planet Almerac, but eventually went back to work with her brother, who in a fit of pique, murdered her because family was a weakness. She had powers identical to those of her brother.

Lashina (Voiced by Nika Futterman)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Mister Miracle #6 (January, 1972)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty-One- Duel of the Double Crossers!

First Comic Book Appearance:  Mister Miracle #6 (January, 1972)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty-One- Duel of the Double Crossers!

The Female Furies are members of the elite guard of Apokolips, the world of the evil gods ruled by Darkseid. Selected by Granny Goodness, the master of Darkseid's orphanage, for their ruthlessness and power, the Furies include Bernadeth, sister of Desaad, Lashina, of the metal whips, the superstrong Stompa, and the claw wielding Mad Harriet, among many others. Lashina is probably the most developed Fury, storywise as she became a member of the Suicide Squad under the pseudonym "Duchess" for some time.

Steppenwolf (Voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson)
First Comic Book Appearance:  New Gods #7 (February, 1972)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty-One- Duel of the Double Crossers!

Uncle to Darkseid, Steppenwolf is one of the generals of Apokolips and its master's chief military adviser. He was one of the members of Darkseid's retinue when Darkseid personally attacked New Genesis, home of the New Gods, and slew the wife of Highfather. He has been one of the evil gods most prominently appearing since the new post-Flashpoint continuity, as one of the chief antagonists on Earth 2, and has appeared in other New Gods related stories. Steppenwolf will also be one of, if not the main, antagonists in DC's upcoming Justice League film. Steppenwolf has all the base powers of a New God, meaning he is immortal and has physical strength, stamina, and durability far beyond those of a mortal. He is also a master hunter, hand-to-hand combatant, weaponsmaster, and military tactician.

First Comic Book Appearance:  Detective Comics #275 (January, 1960)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty-One- Duel of the Double Crossers!

The original Zebra-Man was a one off villain who appeared in one issue of Detective Comics, and is a classic Silver Age science villain, whose own science experiment backfired on him, giving him powers, in his case based on magnetism. Various other Zebra-Mans have appeared over the years, but they are all at best D-list villains who mostly appear in the background as parts of supervillain crowds.

Black Lightning (Voiced by Bumper Robinson)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Black Lightning #1 (April, 1977)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Six- Enter the Outsiders!

Katana (Voiced by Vyvan Pham)
First Comic Book Appearance:  The Brave and the Bold #200 (July, 1983)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Six- Enter the Outsiders!

Metamorpho (Voiced by Scott Menville)
First Comic Book Appearance:  The Brave and the Bold #57 (January, 1965)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Six- Enter the Outsiders!

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!

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

While Jonah Hex is best known for his gritty or occult themed adventures in the Old West, time travel isn't completely unheard of for Hex. Not onyl did the last arc of his most recent series, All-Star Western, have Hex come to the present DC Universe, but his first post-Crisis series, simply called Hex, have Jonah in a Mad Max-esque dystopian future. And in his Justice League Unlimited appearance in "The Once and Future Thing," where he encounters a time travelling Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman, he identifies them as time travelers, and when Batman asks him what makes him think that, he simply replies, "I've had an interesting life."

The origins I gave for Mongul and Mongal above gloss over the somewhat strange connection between the two characters. The original Mongul died during the DC crossover event, Underworld Unleashed, in a way that was clearly set up to show what a threat the big bad of that series, Neron, was. And he stayed dead. When Mongul II appeared, it was convenient that he had the same name and an identical appearance to his father, to the point that the fact that he is technically the son of the original character stopped being mentioned, as if there had always been one Mongul. This is reminiscent to me of the season fifteen episode of The Simpsons, "I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot," where the Simpson cat, Snowball II, dies, and after many attempts to get a new cat, they find an identical one and keep the name, which is played for comic effect. I feel Brave and the Bold made the right decision in simply avoiding that whole mess and combining the two characters into one.

Two of The Brave and the Bold regulars return this episode, with Kevin Michael Richardson, who previously voiced Black Manta and Despero, voicing Steppenwolf, and James Arnold Taylor, who voices Green Arrow, voicing one-off character Arges.

While I list this episode as Zebra-Man's first appearance, he did technically appear before in the dream sequence in episode nineteen, "Legend of the Dark Mite!"

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