Monday, June 22, 2009

Batman: The Brave and The Bold -- "The Last Bat on Earth"

Batman: The Brave and The Bold
"The Last Bat on Earth"

"It is not treachery to fight for the right of all species, Father." -- Tuftan

Talk about massive amounts of Jack Kirby love! Now it's no secret that the creators of this show are huge Kirby fans, and this episode touched on two of his creations: 1) the Fourth World, with Mr. Miracle, Big Barda and Oberon in the introduction, and 2) Kamandi, the last boy on Earth, who aids Batman in the main story. In the introduction, we see Batman and Mr. Miracle are on some sort of roller coaster and locked up tight. "Only the great Mr. Miracle can get me into a mess like this," Batman quips, and what a mess it is! Dodging darts, hammers and flame-throwers, they're so cavalier about the whole thing, surprisingly. Of course they escape just in the nick of time, and as it turns out, they're escaping for the city's orphan fund. Batman even signs autographs for the kids! The Silver Age just oozes out of this show. What was even cuter was when Mr. Miracle tries to boast to Barda, but she just replies with "You know what would be a real miracle? If you finally cleaned out the garage." Gotta love domestic bliss.

After the theme song, we see things aren't so good in the distant future. It's a world in chaos where intelligent animals are at war with one another and use humans as livestock and slaves. The tiger army (no, not THAT Tiger Army) led by Caesar, clashes with the ape army, all the while, Kamandi and Dr. Canus looking onward, waiting for a moment to free the slaves. Just then, Kamandi witnesses his friend, Prince Tuftan (son of Caesar) being surrounded by apes and Kamandi dives in to help while Canus is yelling for him to come back since he'll jeopardize their mission. Kamandi saves Tuftan and they escape on horseback, which makes me question why horses haven't evolved into intelligent being as well. Anyway, Caesar sees his son leave with a human and summons more troops. Subsequently the ape army retreats, much to the ape general's chagrin. Caesar also fears he's lost his son since he has seen where the prince's loyalty lies.

Back at the ape camp, the ape general is berating his troops about their retreat until a familiar voice speaks up about how the general is the one who is incompetent. It is none other than Gorilla Grodd (voiced by Futurama's John DiMaggio, as well as this series' Aquaman)! Elsewhere in the past (or present, depending on how you look at it), Batman investigates a robbery involving a Professor Nichols and his time machine. Apparently Grodd knew of the professor's temporal experiments and was forced to send him to the future. Batman tells Nichols to send him to go after Grodd and he's given a device so he can return to his time when he's done with the deed. Nichols wishes Batman luck, and with that, Batman is transported to the future. Too bad Jonah Hex didn't have a similar device so he could get back to his own time, right?

Cut again to the ape base where Grodd challenges the general for leadership via brute strength and easily wins. Under his command, he promises to show the world the meaning of "gorilla warfare." Oh, the puns! Meanwhile, Kamandi and Prince Tuftan are observing a new slave shipment and sneak attack the tiger guards, while Canus tries to free the slaves. Too bad the humans have sort of devolved and hardly speak to understand what Canus is saying. Canus, Kamandi and Tuftan are all netted until Batman shows up to save the day. Kamandi is grateful for his assistance, but puzzled on why he would ever go back to that time again. Batman then explains about Grodd being in Kamandi's time. The two heroes fend off the guards until Tuftan and Canus are captured and unless Batman and Kamandi surrender, their friends and the slaves will be killed. Not really given an option, the two heroes step down and go quietly.

Later, in prison, Caesar visits Kamandi and Tuftan and says that it is over for the both of them. Caesar doesn't understand why his son would betray him like this and condemns him to stay in the dungeon and sentences Batman and the rest to be executed. Batman speaks up and offers his service to Caesar but is rejected since he still sees Batman as a lowly human. Batman tries to explain that Grodd has come to their time and is a terrible threat. Caesar blows off the threat, since he feels that the gorillas are no threat. He soon is forced to eat those words as Grodd and his army are at the Tiger Empire's gates. Caesar goes to investigate and angers Grodd by calling him a dirty monkey. Grodd orders his officers to fire some sort of sonic cannon which renders Caesar and his guards weak. Grodd then siezes the opportunity to summon some kind of ape-beast named Tiny to smash the gates to the Tiger Empire and soon, there is a full invasion.

Back at the dungeon, Batman melts his bars with an acid pellet and takes down the remaining guards with Kamandi. Once outside, Tuftan leads them through the back alleys of the city but halt after crossing the path of Grodd. Grodd recognizes Batman's scent and attacks! Batman and his cronies are outnumbered and make a run for it, escaping the gorilla guards after hiding under the sewer. Kamandi disagrees with this tactic since he thinks that they should be fighting and not running. Turns out Batman has led them to a familiar place: the Batcave. Too bad it is now inhabited by the Man-Bat tribe. They attack Batman, Kamandi & Dr. Canus for invading their home (and because they perceived that Batman was mocking them with his costume). Batman defeats the Man-Bat leader and orders them to get out his cave. Batman & Co. now level the playing field with Grodd by repairing his now-old Batjet.

We return to Grodd and his army marching and now using the tigers as slaves. They halt as they see approaching brigades of lions, bears, snakes, and rats led by Prince Tuftan who taunt Grodd and his army by calling them chimpanzees. Of course then Grodd fires his sonic cannons again, and Tuftan's collective army is weakened while Grodd's army charges. In the nick of time, Batman swoops in via Batjet and blows up the cannons and ejects from the plane with Kamandi and Canus in tow. The falling Batjet crashes into the side of a canyon and causes a rockslide on top off the ape army. While Batman, Kamandi and Canus parachute back to the ground, they are joined by the Man-bats who see Batman as one of them and join the fray.

The ape army is no match for Tuftan's troops and Grodd is easily beaten once Tiny is taken out by Kamandi and the Man-bats. Caesar offers Batman and Kamandi his gratitude, apologizing for his actions toward them the human race, in the process making amends with his son (good Fathers Day timing!). With that, Caesar frees the slaves. Kamandi and Batman say their goodbyes and Kamandi hopes Batman doesn't have to come back even though he honors their friendship. Batman jokes with Kamandi about maybe one day, Kamandi will be visiting him.

"The Last Bat on Earth" wasn't exactly the strongest of the season, but it most certainly isn't the worst. This is the second time they've used Kamandi and I'm glad the people behind this show have been true to their word about using lesser-known characters of the DC universe. I especially loved the way Kamandi and Mr. Miracle were drawn in the distinctive style of Kirby.

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