Batman: The Brave and the Blitzen!
By Dave Newman on 18th December 2020
When I reviewed some DC Christmas episodes the other day I forgot that Batman: The Brave and the Bold had a Christmas episode too (aired December 12th, 2008), so figured I’d best review that. Plus, you’re never going to have to twist my arm too much to review some BTATB episodes, so find a few more thrown in for the price of one!
Rise of the Blue Beetle!
Teaser: Time’s running out for Batman and Green Arrow, courtesy of the Clock King, who has them dangling over acid, ready to be dropped in. As much as I liked the BTAS square version, this old Germanic one was good too. The teaser establishes that there’s more of a battle between Batsy and Arrow than they have with the monarch of minutes.
Main episode: Batman fanboy/compatriot Jaime Reyes, AKA Blue Beetle, heads into space with his mentor to stop a meteor heading towards Earth, but loses control of his scarab. This leads them to an alien planet that is being menaced by Kanjar Ro and his GAMMA GONG! Junior hero Blue Beetle is treated like a god, with Batman looked on as his sidekick, meaning he has to live up to that billing to better himself and defend them. One win turns him into a big head, so Ro takes advantage of this, and Batman has to save the day. It’s OK, with some good bits with the friendly aliens and Beetle taking tips on giving an inspirational speech, but far better episodes were ahead. Kanjar isn’t the strongest villain to use, but they get him fairly right here.
Invasion of the Secret Santas!
Teaser: Sportsmaster invades the bowling championship, using the other bowlers as pins with a bomb ball, until Batman and Blue Beetle stop him. I like Sportsmaster, and he has a cool look and voice (by Thomas F. Wilson) here, but he really broke out as a character in Young Justice (“If the minnow’s under the size limit, I’ll go fish for the whale.”).
Main episode: Quasi-Toyman Funhaus is up to no good while everyone’s favourite empty-awaiting-filling emotional vessel Red Tornado is trying to understand the Christmas spirit. Far better and far more fun than the Justice League with Martian Manhunter having the same challenge. Funhaus tries to threaten the world (or at least a city) with evil alien invader toys from Venus. When that fails, robot Santas (“That won’t give anyone nightmares, will it(!)?”). This leads to Batman riding a reindeer horseback… er, reindeerback. We get some flashbacks to a young Bruce being a brat at Christmastime as a kid, now unable to enjoy it properly due to his lack of gratitude one time and that being the last one he enjoyed with his parents alive. As funny as the episode is, it’s also pretty dark. So, it’s a dual odyssey for the pair. Red Tornado eventually gets that “tingling feeling” before he blows up.
I’d forgotten just how good this episode was. I’ve mentioned before that Red Tornado was my preferred character in the show over Aquaman, and I had no good memories of Funhaus, but he and his Presto Playpals are really good, the latter breaking out of the package and becoming little thieves in front of terrified children. There’s a recurring gag of a woman screaming loudly right in front of the camera too that’s never less funny for the amount of times they recycle it. Just a great episode, a lost classic for me.
Fall of the Blue Beetle!
Teaser: Feels suitable to bookend the main episode reviewed with the compatriot episode for the first. Two years ago, Batman and Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) battled their way into a secured building… To be continued in the main episode.
Main episode: In the present, Jaime Reyes as the Blue Beetle considers his legacy, finding the secret base of Ted Kord. His evil uncle, Jarvis, is posing as him, having killed Ted during a battle when he’d gained possession of the scarab.Tim Matheson is the typical slimeball that he’s played in a lot of cartoons like this, which is amazing when you consider he was the original Jonny Quest in the sixties. The flashback and retro element of this episode is the best stuff to me, I would’ve loved to have seen Batman in the past working with Dan Garrett. You can see a lot of the stuff that is utilised in Watchmen for Nite Owl with him. Good, not great this
The Bottom Line: So glad I went back and watched the Secret Santas episode, it was brilliant. A shame they didn’t do many more episodes featuring Red Tornado, although it might’ve diluted the quality overall.