Saturday, June 6, 2009

Legends of the Bat-Mite

Batman: The Brave and the Bold
"Legends of the Bat-Mite"

"Batman's rich history allows him to be interpreted in a multitude of ways. To be sure, this is a lighter incarnation, but it's certainly no less valid and true to the character's roots as the tortured avenger, crying out for mommy and daddy. And besides, those Easter bunnies looked really scary, right??" -- Bat-Mite

Of all the characters to give a speech like that, it had to be Bat-Mite? Wow. Funny, because this show has polarized fans and his speech really gives voice to what I've been thinking or feeling rather nicely. I mean, this episode WAS written by Paul Dini after all. Anyways. . . onto the recap and review.

At the start of the episode, we see Catman trying to auction off a rare tiger to poachers and. . . a chef. Batman shows up and puts an end to the animal cruelty and fights off the mob. Then Catman unleashes the tiger. Batman tries going up against the tiger, and he summons Ace the Bat-Hound for assistance! Ace shows up and takes out the tiger. Good boy, now that's one mighty mutt! Ace then hunts down Catman and actually chases him up a tree. Batman tells Catman that there will be a cage awaiting for him at Blackstone Prison and awards Ace with a bat-shaped dog snack. Now where can I get those for my dog?

After the title sequence, we see a bank robbery that is sort of unusual. We have the cliche hoodlums robbing a safe, but there is a narration running in the background telling the robbers what to do. The situation gets weirder when Batman shows up and then the two hoodlums turn into a multitude of hoodlums with machine guns... then THOSE become ninjas! That's right, ninjas. So, of course, Batman fights the gang of ninjas-- until he has had enough and Bat-Mite finally introduces himself. Batman tries to get away, but Mite keeps up via teleportation.

Batman swings down to the Batmobile, but Bat-Mite finds him there too. He explains that he is there to make sure Batman secures his legacy as the greatest hero of all time... but first, Mite thinks Batman needs a costume change. What follows are nods and fanfare that I absolutely loved. First, Mite transforms Batman into the vampire creature from Batman: Red Rain, then something that looks like Batman from another nation, then the Adam West costume (with Mite stating it's too campy, naturally), after that the infamous bat-nipple suit, the Bat-Zebra costume, and finally the Dark Knight Returns attire. Batman seizes Mite and tells him he doesn't fight crime for the glory, he does it because there are criminals that are too dangerous for the police to handle. Well, that gives Mite the idea to summon such a criminal: Gorilla Grodd... who then becomes Solomon Grundy! A few seconds later Grundy becomes the Shaggy Man, then finally Calendar Man.

The use of B and C-list villains is just awesome. The redesign for Calendar Man is not really to my liking, but it's so out there! Mite then transforms Calendar Man into the Calendar King! Now, the Calendar King has an even more ridiculous costume, but has some pretty impressive powers. He summons jack-o'-lantern monsters, biker Santas, and goon-like Uncle Sams. I'd never thought I'd ever see anything like this. Batman gets tossed around a bit, especially by the biker Santas, and then the King summons mutated Easter bunnies.

Wait... Easter bunnies? Yes, Easter bunnies.
Mite doesn't really know what to think of that, so he suddenly appears at some sort of 5th Dimension Comic Con with fans costumed as different versions of Batman. Bat-Mite even takes a question from a fan who complains about how Batman is best suited as the gritty, urban crime fighting detective and how Batman fighting Santas and Easter bunnies just isn't his Batman. Sound familiar to anyone? Mite delivers his speech (see above quote) and we even see a cameo of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in the audience as Harley and Joker! Classic!

Batman continues to fight the rabbits until he takes down King. Then Batman tries to reason with Bat-Mite and to make him leave this dimension and go home. While Batman retreats back to the Batcave, he thinks he's outsmarted Bat-Mite and has sent him home. In actuality, Batman gets outsmarted. Bat-Mite feels insulted and sends Batman to an alien planet to face off with alien monsters. Classic 1950's stuff here, gang. Mite tells Batman that he is his new toy and will play with him until he breaks! So, Batman tangles with the alien beings but quickly figures out that Bat-Mite would never really hurt him and doesn't fight anymore. Batman suggested that Bat-Mite had the power to be Batman... so why shouldn't he be? Live the dream, Batman tells him. So now we have Batman narrating an adventure with Bat-Mite... as Batman. Yes, I realize this episode is VERY trippy. There is another nod to Batman: The Animated Series as the adventure begins. Batman has Bat-Mite go against Gorilla Grodd and Mite must outsmart him, which he does in an ironic way by using a banana peel. That was almost too easy, though.

So Mite falls through this black hole and is surrounded by Batman's classic villains. The Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Mad Hatter, Mr. Zero (that was Mr. Freeze's first incarnation), Killer Moth, Riddler... you get the picture. The best part for me was that they were all in their Silver Age attire. I mean, Two-Face looked like he literally jumped from a Dick Sprang drawing. It's fantastic! Mite starts running from them, with Batman telling him to concentrate, but Mite's imagination has gotten out of control. There is some other pretty weird imagery here, like miniature Kite-Men diving off of Mad Hatter's head, Catwoman as the Sphinx -- just some vividly surreal stuff. Then, Polka Dot Man (yes, that IS a real villain) starts making portals that stop Bat-Mite in his tracks and out of them pop random villains. They eventually surround him again and Bat-Mite breaks down and asks Batman for his help.

Of course Batman takes the villains down one by one, and Bat-Mite finally gets a grip and uses his powers to wipe them all out, transporting him and Batman to a sort of limbo where Mite confesses he could never be the hero Batman is, but Batman insists he could still be a hero. Mite transports Batman back to the robbery from the beginning of the episode and easily takes down the unarmed hoods, going back to the Batcave where he explains to Ace his really weird day.

Cut to Copperhead robbing a jewelry store and being stopped by the Green Arrow, but all of a sudden we hear in a tiny voice "I'm your biggest fan," and sure enough, we have an. . . Arrow-Mite? The episode ends with Bat-Mite popping out of a drum a la Porky Pig: "That's all folks!" Really good stuff here. It's no secret I love this show, and this episode broke the fourth wall and then some talking to all the haters and naysayers of the show and it being "superhero stupid". Like I mentioned, the episode was written by Paul Dini and if he's okay with the show, where is there a problem? Paul Reubens nailed the voice of Bat-Mite perfectly and I loved the cameo by Ace. This has easily been my favorite episode of the show so far.

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