Bold Beginnings!
Original Airdate - October 14th, 2011
Green Arrow, Aquaman and Plastic Man remember their early team-ups with the Caped Crusader.

Written by Alan Burnett & Paul Dini & Steven Melching
Directed by Ben Jones
Review by Andrew
Media by The World's Finest

Creator Q & A with Producer James Tucker

The World's Finest: Right off the bat – Space Ghost! How did this teaser come about? Why Space Ghost? Is this the first non-DC Comics character to appear on the series?

James Tucker:
The whole idea for having teasers at the beginning of the show came from my love of those Hanna-Barbera superhero shows from the late 1960s that were divided into multiple shorts like Space Ghost, Birdman, Mightor, The Galaxy Trio, and so on. Space Ghost was the best of them and I always had a fondness for the character and he seemed the most on par with our Batman. After our episode with Scooby-Doo, we figured everything’s open game for the show.

WF: To the main story. Why were these particular heroes chosen – Green Arrow, Plastic Man and Aquaman? Does this tie in with how they were considered ‘regulars’ during the first season?

This story actually started out as a DTV (direct-to-video movie) script written years ago that was to feature the Batman: The Animated Series-version of Batman in a The Brave and the Bold-type movie featuring three segments consisting of Batman teaming up with Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Zatanna written by Paul Dini and Alan Burnett. I’d place it around the time of Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, either right before or right after, I don’t recall. For whatever reason the script didn’t get produced and it sat on the shelf for years. Fast forward to our third season. We were a bit behind of getting in a finished script for our deadline and had gotten a hold of the script for the aborted DTV. We took two of the segments and adapted them to what became the Green Arrow and Plastic Man (formerly Elongated Man) segments in the episode. Steve Melching wrote the rest of the episode and did a great job of condensing those segments and creating a great framing device using Aquaman’s thwarted efforts at telling his story. I thought the episode turned out well, especially given considering it’s convoluted path from a 75 minute DTV to a 22-minute TV show.

WF: As a semi-follow-up to the previous question, are there any other characters you would’ve like to have created a ‘first adventure with Batman’ story for?

I’ve never thought about what other characters I’d want to do a first episode with. Obviously Aquaman, Plastic Man and Green Arrow worked out well because they each have a different relationship to Batman and they were also some of the most regular cast members we have on the show. I suppose if we had the time and another season, it would have been fun to show the first meeting with Superman and Wonder Woman. One of the aspects I loved about this show was the liberal use of flashbacks we’d use to show the earlier stages of Batman’s career, so that would have been fun to do.

WF: Batman: The Brave and The Bold revisits Batman’s past a few times over the course of the series. What is the interest in going back to the early days of the Caped Crusaders’ career? Is there anything you try to avoid doing when looking back?

I may have answered some of this question in the last response, but for me going back into Batman’s past was always a way to show earlier versions of Batman that I knew from the comics into one long continuity. Generally, I hate continuity, but I have always had this wish to tie the earliest versions of Batman with the most current Batman because to me it’s all the same character. I don’t fragment the character to prefer one era over another. So yes, our Batman probably did carry a gun in his first adventure, but he also was the one who time traveled and went to different planets and got superpowers and had a 5th Dimension Imp stalk him. He’s also the same Batman who had tiny ears and then impossibly long ears. He was the superhero and he was the detective. He’s all the same character in all those iterations. It’s all Batman, so using flashbacks was my way of incorporating these different aspects of Batman into one 'universe.'

WF: Green Arrow, Plastic Man and Aquaman find themselves in a rather chilly situation, facing off against Mr. Freeze. Why was this villain chosen? Additionally, both Mr. Zero and Mr. Freeze appeared on this series as separate characters, but didn’t they end up the same villain (Mr. Freeze) in the comics? Why change that here?

Actually, Mr. Zero and Mr. Freeze are the same character in the series. He just became Mr. Freeze between seasons. I don’t believe there’s anything that would contradict that in the show but admittedly on a show like this with so many characters to juggle, there are bound to be slips. But we always assumed Mr. Zero became Mr. Freeze. I didn’t realize there was any confusion on that point.

WF: There were some particular design choices used in the flashbacks, such as Batman’s original costume and a beardless Aquaman. How many designs do characters usually go through before a final one is settled upon, be it in this episode or any episode?

There is no set rule. We were always tweaking designs on this show because we were always trying to up our game all the way up to the end of the series. Sometimes it seems just as we finally think we’ve figured out the show, it’s almost over. As for different versions of Batman to use, I just wanted to incorporate all the different versions of the character whenever it was appropriate. As for designs, it takes me a long time to settle on one character design when I’m doing the designing. I do a lot of drawing if time allows. Sometimes it only takes a few tries though. I tended to use the actual source material and wanted to draw the characters as close to their original style as possible. So characters like the Shazam family, Doom Patrol, Spectre, etc. were pretty faithful to their original comic book looks. There was no reason to change them.

WF: Lastly, is there anything else you can tell us about 'Bold Beginnings,' set to debut tonight on Cartoon Network?

As usual, I think this turned out to be a fun episode that allows the audience to see Batman through the eyes of his closest friends, and was a fun change of pace for our series. Also, you can’t go wrong with a Space Ghost teaser!

This episode’s teaser comes from the heart of nostalgia, going back to the era of Hanna-Barbera animation. Brave and the Bold’s target demographic probably has no idea of this era, or that there was ever a time in which DC animation fit in a little too well with the likes of Scooby-Doo. Highlighted in the episode is the cult classic hero, Space Ghost. However, unlike his modern rise to fame as a humorous and surreal talk show host of “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” this takes us back into the days of when Space Ghost was fighting evil. For those that remember “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,” it’s most likely even more surreal to see Space Ghost used in such a normal way. It certainly took some getting used to, but managed to be a solid usage of the old cult hero, his Wonder Twins-esque sidekicks, and a villain which used to simply be around on Coast to Coast to mock. It’s a shame they don’t have the opportunity to do more stories involving Space Ghost as this teaser is thoroughly enjoyable in its nostalgic romp. It’s only slightly disturbing that it ends on such a dark note with them laughing at the certain edible demise of the villain.

The main story of the episode takes a different path through nostalgia with the trio of the most prominent secondary heroes to be used throughout Brave and the Bold. Green Arrow, Aquaman and Plastic Man reminisce about their introductory team-up with Batman while under the capture of debuting supervillain, Mr. Freeze. Formerly referred to as Mr. Zero by Bat-Mite during a nightmare sequence, Mr. Freeze sports a less garish suit than previously seen during that and is finally given the opportunity to do something in the show. Although none of the complexities that have been given to Mr. Freeze since his reimagining in “Batman: The Animated Series” which has been adapted to every incarnation of Freeze since then, it is still a delight to finally see him finally get a full appearance.

The recalled stories by Plastic Man and Green Arrow are well done and perfectly suited to each of their characters with Plastic Man’s original team-up further showing us how Batman influenced his rise from crime, and Green Arrow’s story setting up the rivalry between them. Green Arrow and Batman’s team-up history also gives us another adventure involving the nefarious swordsman, The Cavalier, who has gained a new appreciation among comic fans with his occasional appearance on Brave and the Bold. Aquaman, unfortunately, continues to be interrupted by those around him as he attempts to recant his first team up with Batman, and obviously in his usual embellishing style. It’s interesting to note that neither Green Arrow or Plastic Man look different in their stories, even though Batman’s appearance is different in all of them, but Aquaman’s team-up story shows us a more classic look for Aquaman with black briefs and a clean shaven appearance. Truly a refreshing sight for his majesty on Brave and the Bold, and a proper pairing with Batman sporting a proper Silver Age look during this segment.

Overall, this episode doesn’t exactly fit in with the rest of this season where they’ve been introducing the more obscure characters left and right, even though it does serve to finally give Mr. Freeze an appearance. I shy away from using the term “filler episode” for this series, but this is certainly what this episode most feels like in comparison to this strong season. It’s not exactly a bad thing, however, as it is a well done episode and the team-up stories were a nice way to end the series-long feature of Batman and Green Arrow’s rivalry, and Plastic-Man’s origin. Highly recommended!

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