Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Favorite Characters: The Not-So-Dark Knight

"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."
-Bat-Mite, to a disgruntled fan in 'Legends of the Dark Mite!'

Since I read Captain Complainy's blog about that glum, failure-to-launch Superman-esque character dragging 'Smallville' down, I thought I should bring to your attention the most UPBEAT version of Batman since Adam West.
Diedrich Bader is the lead in the spectacular WB cartoon series 'Batman: The Brave & The Bold' loosely based on the comic of the same name, in which Batman teams up with one or more less famous heroes of the DC universe.
This character is still recognisably The Bat- smart as a whip, inhumanly competent, ready to spring into action, but... he's nearly... well... cheerful. Not exactly sunny, mind you, but thanks to a wry, sardonic wit and the delight he seems to be taking in his own quips, he's clearly not as far gone as his miserable modern dopplegangers in other dimensions, comic and film alike.
No offense meant, but this guy isn't all alone bemoaning his outcast state- he's putting himself out there.
This guy isn't standing on a rooftop watching his humanity ebb away- he's up there trying to help people.
With this guy, you can understand how it is that Alfred hasn't found his charge hanging by the neck in the Batcave one morning with a note pinned to his own chest that says 'I'll be with Mom & Dad now'.
He still misses his parents. But he's forging ahead. He's making his own future. He's pulling through. AND he seems to be enjoying it. Among other things, he's got a freaking JET. He's got respect. He's got a clear and upright sense of right and wrong. He's thwarting evildoers. And he's got dozens of... colourful... friends.
'Reformed' scaliwag Plastic Man. Rival upstart Green Arrow. Unsettling time-lost bounty hunter Jonah Hex. Crusty veteran Wildcat. Wet-behind-the-ears and true Blue Beetle. Feisty gadabout Huntress.
And what can I say about John Dimaggio's portrayal of Aquaman? The sheer nigh-insane GUSTO of the king of the sea is a delight to hear! I cannot stop gushing from my very blowhole about Aquaman and how much fun he is! I think there may not be a better way to play that role. (The less said about the handsome and awful lad on Smallville the better).
This is a great superhero cartoon. I haven't seen one I enjoyed as much since Justice League Unlimited. Writing, animation, style, story, voices, music and sound- all top drawer.

THIS is a Batman who knows- you can't be so grim all the time when the world is so ludicrous... astounding... and wonderful.

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