Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Did you know 50-year-old Joe Quesada somehow co-created the Golden Age Ray...? (And other thoughts that occurred to me while watching the second season of Batman: The Brave and The Bold on DVD)

I was watching Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and The Bold online for awhile, and occasionally blogging/raving about it here on EDILW, because it was pretty much the greatest thing ever.

At some point, they quit putting new shows up on Cartoon Network's website for a while (I don't have cable), probably between seasons, and I quit looking for them. A few weeks ago, I took a two-DVD collection of the second half of Season Two home from the library. I wasn't planning on writing about it at all, as I felt pretty confident that I had said "This is awesome!" and "This is greatest thing ever!" in as many different ways as I possibly could.

So I was just sketching there with the DVD playing on my laptop in the background when "The Last Patrol!" came on, a pretty amazing episode about The Doom Patrol that was ridiculously packed with Easter Eggs. It opens with a sort of documentary on The Doom Patrol putting their careers in the context of the episode, which is set after their retirement, and during the voice over, the animators recreate all those crazy old Doom Patrol covers.
The plot involves Batman trying to round-up the DP and reunite them in time to stop a threat from their archenemy, who is sending their greatest foes to pick them off one by one. Negative Man is working in a carnival sideshow, and posters in the background features the likes of Beast Boy (drawn in the style of Bob Brown) and Flex Mentallo. His assailant shrugs off a long coat and approaches him, leveling a threat, and then suddenly he grows to giant size, one of his arms turns into a tree trunk, the other turns to crysal, and a giant pink dinosaur grew out of his face.

I dropped my pencil, seized a pen and a scrap of paper and scibbled, Holy Motherfucking goddam shit!
It was the Animal-Vegetable-Mineral Man! And my God, did his powers look freaky when translated into animation! Jeez; you take those old Arnold Drake-conceived, Bruno Premiani and company illustrated ideas and and just add motion to 'em and...well, wow.

Those 40+-year-old ideas and drawings were just, like, sitting there waiting for "transmedia" adaptation.

Here's what else I scribbled while watching that episode:
Theremin music!
What better instrument for the Doom Patrol?
Action chair!
There's a particularly hilarious story in the Showcase Presents: Doom Patrol Vol. 1 collection about The Chief taking on villains without the help of his teammates, using only his fabulous "action chair," which is basically just his wheelchair tricked out with a bunch of ludicrous weapons. His chair in this episode is just...amazing. The shit that chair can do! Niles Caulder could take down just about anyone with that chair of his, it's packing so much firepower!
Bat Gyro!
(Also known as the Whirly-Bat. Batman totally rides it in this episode).
Words I never thought I would see in the credits of a television show: "Henry Rollins as Robot Man"
I ended up taking notes on two more episodes. The first of these was "Cry Freedom Fighters!", in which Uncle Sam recruits Plastic Man and Batman to help him and the Freedom Fighters bring democracy to Qward, after Sam stops some disguised Weaponers from interfering with an Earth election.
Tough guy Doll Man
The Doll Man in this is presented as a real bruiser; a gruff and tough brawler. It's an amusing portrayal, but it's also one that works. You know how some short guys compensate (or overcompensate) for their lack of height by being angry, mean and/or tough? Well Doll Man's only a few inches high, and his name is Doll Man.

Plastic Man is used as the point-of-view character in this, and, upon first being introduced to Doll Man, he says, "Ha ha ha! His name is Doll Man!"
There's an awesome bit near the climax where they show Doll Man chopping a dude down with punches. He punches him in first one kneecap, then the other, and as the poor fool's falling, having had both of kneecaps punched out, Doll Man catches him on the chin with his fist.
Ray as Flying Flash

firecracker punches

Phantom Lady's powers

how good these guys work in animation
Like the Doom Patrol and their foes, it's amazing how perfect these characters are for animation (even more amazing really, considering how old these guys are; they all predate the DP characters by a good 20 years, when animation was still relatively new, and something seen only in movie theaters, not in every American home every day).

The Ray, in his Golden Age costume, has super-speed and flies, and is sometimes depicted simply as an unbroken yellow line zooming across the screen. Whenever Sam punches someone, there's an explosion of Fourth of July firecrackers, and or the background disappears into a field of stars and/or stripes. Phantom Lady's phantom powers are depicted just as they were in the 1970s Freedom Fighter series. All of the sound effects on their powers are great; one of the many things this show has gotten so, so right is the sound of various superpowers, like the sound of Plastic Man moving.
Peter Pan clap if you love fairies moment!
This Uncle Sam's powers are reflective of the patriotism around him, and he's in pretty bad shape on an alien planet where no one's heard of Uncle Sam or America. Plas helps save the day by teaching the natives a terribly butchered version of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" after a pretty garbled history lesson, and to rally Sam, he leads them in a sing-a-long, the lyrics appearing along the bottom of the screen, so viewers at home can sing along, brining Sam back to butt-kicking life.
Holy fuck! He Captain Americanizes Batman!
One feature of this show I've often noted is that at the climax Batman almost always transforms in some way. In this episode, Sam transfers his patriotic powers to Batman, and, for the span of a fight scene, we see Batman as he might have looked were he designed to be a star-spangled patriotic hero, rather than a dark knight in a bat costume.
Credits Jack Harris & Joe Quesada w/ creating The Ray
I generally watch the credits of this show pretty closely, to see who voices the various characters and which characters get pulled out to have their creators cited, and who those creators are.

I was pretty shocked to see the above though, as The Ray was created by Will Eisner and Lou Fine in 1940, 22 years before Quesada was born. Quesada was the artist who drew writer Jack Harris' 1992 miniseries that featured The Ray II, Ray Terrill, son of the original Ray.

So Harris and Quesada created a Ray, but the Ray in this episode wears the Eisner/Fine costume, not the Quesada one, and his secret identity isn't mentioned at all. The original was Happy Terrill; this one's never called anything other than "The Ray" or "Ray," which I guess could conceivably mean it's The Ray II wearing The Ray I's costume, but...that's still a stretch. After all, when we talk about who created Green Lantern, we always credit Martin Nodell, who created the original, not John Broome and Gil Kane, who created the Hal Jordan version.

Finally, there was "The Malicious Mr. Mind!" which, get this, was Episode #52!

In this episode, Dr. Sivana's Monster Society of Evil is taken over by Mr. Mind, who tricks the MSoE into helping him build a growth ray that turns him from the original C.C. Beck worm with glasses and a radio around his neck into a giant monster reminiscent of his evolved form in 52. During the course of the conflict with the Marvel Family, Batman gets hit with an age-reduction ray, that has him rapidly de-aging out of existence, so he fights alongside the Marvel Family as first a teenager, then a kid, than a baby.

It's awesome.

I wrote...
Tara Strong, the voice actress who played Bubbles in The Powerpuff Girls, provides Batman's toddler voice. It is exactly like her Bubbles voice.
Child psychology!
Batman's strategy of reuniting the feuding Marvel Family is brilliant; it was hilarious and heart-breaking at the same time.
Mr. Mind's mouth doesn't move when he talks.
This makes sense, since his voice comes out of his radio collar, but I never thought about it, because no one's mouths move in comics, really. It was pretty disconcerting to see his gritted-teeth smile while words emanated from him, though.

Anyway, Batman: The Brave and The Bold is awesome. It's the greatest thing ever. These are just three episodes I felt compelled to take notes on in case I wanted to blog about 'em later, but there wasn't a bad one in the bunch, really.

1 comment:

SallyP said...

The Brave & the Bold IS awesome! Terribly terribly awesome...and I miss it so much.