Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Holy Dynamic Duo bonus material, Batman!

OK, so I haven't written my review of the new animated movie "Batman vs. Robin" (out April 14). Yet.

But it's on the way. Expect my review by the end of the week — gotta watch the follow-up to "Son of Batman" one more time before I get the proper perspective on it.

On the other hand, I did get inspired to watch the rest of the bonus features.

Aside from the two featurettes about writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo's creation, The Court of Owls, the tie-ins to secret societies and the symbolism of owls (grade: B), the most interesting of the bonus material focus on the well, dynamics, of the original Dynamic Duo.

Here are my favorites:

"Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts" trailer: Batman sets up the entire concept in this quote to Red Robin: "Cobblepot is planning something big."

Nightwing, Green Arrow and The Flash join the Dynamic Duo to battle the Penguin's animal militia, which includes Cheetah, Gorilla Grodd, Killer Croc and Man-Bat plus some wild looking animal cyborgs. The inclusion of Tim Drake as Red Robin is an intriguing choice.
The Flash, Nightwing, Red Robin Green Arrow — and apparently Ace the Bathound —
join Batman in the first "Batman Unlimited" animated movie.

I'm not crazy about the wild Batsymbol design in this apparently kid-friendly animated feature, but I'm digging, or at least fascinated by, some of the other aspects. The Batmobile looks quite cool yet menacing and I'm always a fan of having Nightwing and/or Green Arrow team up with Batman. Is the Batcycle resemble Ace the Bathound or is that just me?

Aside from the obvious ploy to get kids to buy "Batman Unlimited" action figures, "Animal Instincts" looks like it could be a lot of fun. (Bats wears two other costumes — one of which is obviously inspired by "Batman Beyond" — besides his standard one in the 1:31 of footage in this trailer.) Grade: B+

"Batman: The Brave and the Bold" episode "The Color of Revenge!": By far, this is one of my favorite episodes of this delightful yet woefully short-lived animated series. And like the next episode reviewed here, "The Color of Revenge!" is just as much as a joy the third time I saw it as it was the first.

Unlike the other "Brave and the Bold" episodes, the opening sequence ties in directly to the events in the main adventure, which deals with Dick Grayson's adult Robin being "the big man in charge" fighting crime in Bludhaven and his unresolved issues with being Batman's partner.

The adult Dick Grayson wears the Earth-2 Robin costume
from the comic books in the "Brave and the Bold" episode
"The Color of Revenge."
Still in that two- to three-minute range, the opening is a unashamed homage to the 1960s live-action "Batman" series — down to the distinct sound effect of the red Batphone ringing in Bruce Wayne's study.

Wayne pushes the so-called hidden button in the bust to have the bookshelves move away from the access to the Batpoles. Wayne and Grayson slide down the poles into the Batcave and are dressed as Batman and Robin as they hop into the Batmobile. And just like Adam West and Burt Ward, the Dynamic Duo buckle their seat belts before Batman peels away. While it may be the 1940s variation with the bubbled canopy and the massive Batfin in the back, the Batmobile still runs over the automatically lowered warning gate before screaming onto the roadway toward Gotham City. Fun stuff!

I'm betting my man "Jett" at can't help but dig that Crazy Quilt is the villain. (Sorry — a not-so inside BOF joke!) Grade: A

Robin tells Batgirl he thinks Batman is a manipulator.
"Batman: The Animated Series" episode "Old Wounds": Similar to "The Color of Revenge!," this episode from the fourth season of B:TAS is just as great on repeated viewings. Powerful stuff here!

While "Color" deals with the same issues and heated tension between Robin and Batman in a fun, light-hearted way, "Old Wounds" gives it the gravitas we're used to seeing throughout B:TAS.

"Old Wounds" deals with just that — how Grayson's relationship with Wayne, specifically as Batman, deteriorated, especially after the one-time Boy Wonder graduated from Gotham State University. Beware of 20-plus year-old spoilers ahead!

As Nightwing tells Robin (Drake), he was ready to be his "own man" and quit sponging off Wayne's wealth by the time he was a college graduate. Most interestingly, Grayson is ready to ask Barbara Gordon to marry him — yet he has to give her a lame-oh excuse to exit a romantic dinner because Batman has given him a come-now, don't-ask-questions call for assistance. This flashback is historically significant in the B:TAS continuity because this is when Wayne reveals his and Grayson's secret identities to Babs. And that in turn leads to a fateful confrontation pitting Robin, Batman and Batgirl against The Joker (once again brilliantly voiced by Mark Hamill).

Barbara Gordon tries to comfort a distraught Dick Grayson.
Now why Grayson didn't already already know Babs is Batgirl looong ago is beyond me. They're both redheads, dude! How many petite cuties built like that could there be in Gotham?!? Sheees! End spoilers

"Old Wounds" is a classic example of great B:TAS storytelling. And similar to the great stories told in the Batman comics titles in the 1990s, there just weren't enough adventures teaming Grayson/Nightwing with Drake's Robin. Grade: A 

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