The big request out of my Aquaman episode reviews the other day was “Do the ones with Aquaman and the Atom in!”. So, I’m doing the ones with Aquaman and the Atom in!
Note: This show used the Ryan Choi version of the Atom. James Sie, who provided the voice of Jackie Chan in the animated parts of the Jackie Chan Adventures show, plays him here.
Journey to the Center of the Bat! (by Matt Wayne)
Pre-credits: Babyface and his gang blow a safe, but are caught in the act by Plastic Man and the lesser-known Elongated Man, who are competing for popularity.
Main episode: Batman has been infected by a battle with Chemo and Aquaman calls the Atom to help cure him, which includes both of them shrinking down to go inside him and cure the infection.
This is a really clever episode, because it’s played for laughs mostly, but there’s an interesting philosophical debate to be had. The Atom is incredibly intelligent, to the point of being a patronising dick. He’s obviously irritated by Aquaman, who remains blissfully ignorant when Choi over-explains things, making him even more annoyed when he claims to understand exactly what he’s talking about. An example of this in dialogue…
Atom: “It’s replicating!”
Aquaman: “Yes! And it’s making more of itself, too!”
Aquaman is impulsive, bold, carefree and emotional. It’s actually a case of pathos (Aquaman) against logos (Atom). As a parallel, we have the massive, destructive Chemo being controlled by the evil and myopic Brain. Muscle and mind are not in sync, so they do not succeed. And Atom really comes into his own when he allows himself to be emotional and passionate. The master of this all, of course, being Batman, who blends intelligence and emotional intelligence most successfully.
The Criss Cross Conspiracy! (by Marsha Griffin)
Pre-credits: A&A only appear together in preview, but it’s a good episode overall, so we’ll look at it all anyway. Batman and the Atom have been shrunken down in battle with the Bug-Eyed Bandit and his robot ants. Only one man can save them… Aquaman, much to Atom’s annoyance.
Main episode: Ten years ago, the thrill-seeking and reckless Batwoman interrupted Batman and Robin taking on the Riddler, but had her identity revealed.
In the present, the embittered Katrina Moldoff, the former Batwoman, swears revenge on both Batman and the Riddler and solicits the help of Felix Faust, who provides her with a magic spell that allows her to swap bodies with Batman. This leads to some great humour with Diedrich Bader playing as Moldoff and Vanessa Marshall playing as Batman, with Bader firing off “Darling!” and getting swishy and catty. Marshall laments the “higher centre of gravity” given the big boobs he/she now has to deal with.
I know there’s currently the Batwoman show that was starring Ruby Rose, which I haven’t watched, although I did enjoy the Batwoman comic during the New 52 era. This is not that Batwoman, though, instead deferring to the older mustard and red outfit, which fits this show better. Again, no comment on the quality of the live action show, but I would be surprised if it matches the laughs and political incorrectness of this episode.
The episode concludes with Batman teaching Batwoman about the danger of revenge, with a line that feels apropos for this week:
“An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.”
Unless it’s in WWE, I guess!
Sword of the Atom! (by Thomas Pugsley and Steven Melching)
Pre-credits: The Currys of Atlantis – In Color! It’s a fifties sitcom starring Aquaman and his family. Filmed in front of a live studio audience, guest-starring wacky neighbour Black Manta and Fluke the dolphin. There goes the doorbell! Who could it be? It’s Batman! And moaning wife Mera is a tougher foe to vanquish that the Trench!
Main episode: The Atom, Ray Palmer, retired many years ago, only to be replaced by Ryan Choi. But then he retired too, so when Chronos appeared Batman needed Palmer again, leading to the Amazon and a search for the disappeared superhero at a miniaturised scale. Enter also: Aquaman, still winding Choi up in retirement, drawing him into the search.
The conflict here is the honest love of being a hero against the responsibility of that role and the desire for a quieter life. Aquaman of course overwhelms that, drawing Choi back into being his superhero. We also meet the Ray Palmer Atom again, who has gone native in the jungle with an alien society who want to go home with his help.
Best parts of this episode involve Aquaman and Choi, including a battle with a colourful poison dart frog (“Never trust an amphibian! Land or water – pick a side!”). In the background is a very obvious and half-baked alien overthrow plot, although the likes of Peter Scolari, Gabrielle Carteris and Scottish actor/impressionist Enn Reitel make for an eclectic guest cast. Again, the imaginary Aquaman spinoff with him and Atom regularly teaming up would’ve been fantastic!
We’ll wrap up the week tomorrow with a parallel Earth two-parter and a bonus episode with Aquaman donning the cape and cowl. A Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends weekend ahead, then see how we go next week.