Securing a spot near the front of the line, I waited patiently for convention volunteers to usher us into the room for the panel on Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I was especially excited about attending this panel because I’ve loved the Batman since I was a wee thing. As a little girl, I would rely on my cousin for summaries and occasional peeks at his books (since I could not get my own). I have since seen everything from Adam West’s campy Batman show to the serious Animated Series Batman (which I would race home to catch). I got to see Keaton’s Batman in the movie theater, suffered through the rubber nipple fiasco, and became absolutely addicted to Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Given my preference for a darker, brooding Batman, I was curious to see how I’d react to a more whimsical hero, who was not campy like West’s, but certainly lighthearted and humorous.
The panel consisted of Michael Jelenic (story editor, The Brave and the Bold), James Tucker (producer, Brave and the Bold, Legion of Super Heroes, and Justice League), Ivan Cohen (executive editor for DC Comics), Phil Morris (voice of Vandal Savage on Justice League, voice of Imperiex on Legion of Super Heroes, John Jones/Martian Manhunter on Smallville), and Todd Casey (writer, The Brave and the Bold).
The Genesis of The Brave and the Bold came about when Tucker decided he wanted to work on a new Batman show, different from the brooding Batman that many of us have grown accustomed to seeing—a throwback to the vibrant fifties-era Batman. Visually, he wished to convey what he thought Super Friends should have been and was not. Tucker added that when he was five years old, he thought Super Friends was the greatest thing he had seen, and as he got older he realized it was far from great. Still, he wanted to capture the look of Super Friends and produce a cartoon that made viewers feel what he felt as a five-year-old. To do so, he would have to present characters who take the situations in which they find themselves seriously, even though some of those situations are a little silly and even absurd. Indeed, Jelenic and Casey draw inspiration for some of the more absurd and fun story lines from the covers rather than the stories in the books.
Despite being a kids’ show, Batman: The Brave and the Bold is not infantile, so adults can enjoy it, too. Casey confessed that when he first started working on the cartoon, he thought it was a little too silly and contributed to the more serious story lines from earlier in the season. He later wished he had worked on the more lighthearted ones and admitted that he experienced a few, “I wish I’d written that one” moments.
Speaking on behalf of DC, Cohen said that he is happy to see the show use comic book characters that people who don’t read comics are not used to seeing or may not even know, such as the Blue Beetle and the Atom. It’s marketing genius, actually, since by using such characters, the cartoon encourages this particular segment of viewership to visit their local comic shops and bring themselves up to speed on character origins. Tucker was particular pleased with using the Blue Beetle since he really wanted a neophyte who was not Robin.
Morris, who will be the voice of grim gunslinger and antihero Jonah Hex, explained that since this is not the dark Batman we are used to seeing (read: the Animated Series Batman voiced by Kevin Conroy), it makes playing Hex an especially refreshing experience. Hex views Batman as “silly and almost foppish, [which is] nice because you’re not used to seeing people react to Batman that way”. The Brave and the Bold Batman is voiced by Diedrich Bader.
Regarding Aquaman, Tucker said: “He doesn’t know that people thought he was lame. He’s never seen Super Friends. Once we saw that Aquaman was not ashamed of himself, we weren’t, either.” I, for one, am happy to see Aquaman reclaim his legacy. It’s about damned time.
Saving the best for nearly last, the panel screened Deep Cover for Batman, in which Batman and Owlman (Batman’s Crime Syndicate counterpart) switch places when Batman tries to stop the Syndicate from taking over the world in an alternate Earth. Tucker explained that the episode is actually a little darker than usual; however, one could still appreciate the show’s general lighthearted tone in the humorous dialogue. At one point, Batman says, “[This alternate Earth is like] a funhouse mirror… of evil”, and the audience laughed gleefully. I could not suppress another laugh when one of Owlman’s cronies whines, “Who IS that guy?” And the scene cuts to the caped crusader, who without missing a beat, answers: “I’m Batman”. The episode airs on February 27, 2009. Fans can also expect Huntress and Black Canary to make appearances in Season Two.