When it came to Batman: The Brave and the Bold, there was nobody bolder than Aquaman. Aquaman has gone through many changes over the years, and this version takes some elements from a mix of them. Short blonde hair, beard, orange shirt, green tights and gloves, bolstered by the voice acting of John DiMaggio, best known as Bender from Futurama. On request, I’m having a look at a couple of the episodes he appeared in today.
Evil Under the Sea! (by Joseph Kuhr)
Pre-credits: Felix Faust attempts to open Pandora’s Box, but science foils magic when the Atom turns up.
Main episode: Batman ventures to Atlantis to help his friend Aquaman, who is being targeted for assassination by Black Manta. Batman suspects that Aquaman’s own brother, Orm, who was passed over for the crown of Atlantis in favour of Aquaman by their mother, is responsible for organising it. We know this is true, but the tension is created between Batman, trying to prove it, and Aquaman, not willing to believe it.
It’s a more serious Aquaman in this episode, still prone to telling stories to anyone who will listen and flanked by annoying (to Batman) sidekick Fluke the dolphin, dealing with the guilt of his brother’s reaction to something he had no power over. It’s a visually interesting episode, with mostly blue and green backgrounds and modern animation capabilities able to show the subtle waviness of the water, to where some scenes look like gel has been smeared over parts of the camera. Sea creatures under various forms of mind control, good and bad, appear to aid the heroes and villains.
Aquaman doesn’t overpower the episode too much, but Batman willingly takes a back seat to launch the ship of Arthur Curry.
Mystery in Space! (by Jim Krieg)
Pre-credits: Equinox, the main villain for the first half of season two, holds both the Question and Gorilla Grodd captive. Batman has to work out who to rescue so that the balance of good and evil isn’t perilously uneven.
Main episode: Aquaman is uncharacteristically depressed and Batman can’t work out why, so he hopes a trip to Rann to aid Adam Strange against the Gordanians will help shake it. Rann is an amazing place when it comes to its appearance, with green sky and rounded white and purple buildings and space age technology. The rocky score creates a good sense of action and recalls Batman Beyond. General Kreegarr and the Gordanians, lizard-like warriors, should be boring and forgettable but work just fine.
Once again, the motivator in this episode is to see what’s troubling Aquaman and see if he can get back to being his usual self. Although a figure of fun, he’s presented as someone who when pressed does take his responsibility to the people and creatures of the seas seriously. To balance this plot thread, as he starts to resume his normal composure Strange becomes just as susceptible to doubting himself, giving Aquaman the chance to take charge and motivate the troops.
Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure! (by Steven Melching)
Pre-credits: It’s World War 1, and above the front line Batman and Enemy Ace are engaged in an aerial dogfight until they agree that alien weaponry provides an unfair advantage for one side, so unite to destroy it. Of note, this scene is played without any incidental music in order to focus on the visual side.
Main episode: Aquaman, Mera and Arthur Jr., all packed into an RV, are on the road for a vacation, but Arthur can’t help but think about adventures. So desperate he is, he forces himself into battles between Green Arrow and the Clock King, Batman and the Penguin, Blue Beetle and the Planet Master while sending Mera and Jr. off on holiday activities. Just as he’s beginning to enjoy the outing with his family, Batman needs him, meaning next stop: Gotham City.
This is more in line with the known depiction of Aquaman in the show with his fondness for action and excitement. Lots of little things to notice, like Red Tornado battling the Top and Green Lantern against Dr. Polaris, as well as Sportsmaster driving by on his own outing, with daughter Artemis looking about as keen to be there as Arthur Jr., eternally glued to his handheld video game. An amusing touch with the son, who has the blonde hair of his dad in a big quiff, but facially resembles… Orm?
Best line of the episode goes to Blue Beetle just after Planet Master has called upon the spinning force of the rings of Saturn: “You REALLY don’t want to see the power of Uranus.”
Bold Beginnings! (by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini and Steven Melching)
Pre-credits: Batman teams with Space Ghost in: The Space Safari. Picnic time is interrupted when the Creature King is found capturing animals. Luckily Gary Owens was still alive at the time the episode was recorded so he could reprise his most famous role. A nice dip into the sound effects archive with Battle Cat’s roar from He-Man used for one of the animals.
Main episode: As Green Arrow, Plastic Man and Aquaman hang from the ceiling like human icicles after a run-in with Mr. Freeze, they each recount the first time they respectively teamed up with Batman. A rare occasion of Aquaman being overwhelmed by someone, as Green Arrow butts in on his story to recall the time he and the Dark Knight faced the conspiring duo of the Cavalier and Ruby Ryder, then Plastic Man talks about trying to take down Babyface and his gang from within. The best, of course, is saved until last, with a young Aquaman, sans beard and riding a seahorse, being led by Fluke to Batman being beaten up by Black Manta and his men in black.
Before his story descends into complete exaggeration, Mr. Freeze returns to kill them, followed by Batman at last to save his friends. Arthur doesn’t get as much time in this one, but it’s interesting to see him looking even more like his classic depiction. Green Arrow plays arrogant very well, and Plastic Man balances wanting to redeem himself while appearing untrustworthy impressively. Worth talking about Babyface and his gang here, who were recurring villains in the show, with Hammer Toes and Polecat Perkins representing here. Plas gets his elastic ass kicked and then puts it to work against them.
In conclusion: I fairly randomly picked these episodes, which show off Aquaman as fanciful and daring, but also contemplative and powerful when he needs to be. I’ll probably come back to look at some more of him alongside the likes of science geek the Atom to show off what he was like with someone who couldn’t fight their own case as easily as he could. These ones definitely prove he could take control of the show with both hands and probably deserved his own chance as the lead character.