Posts Tagged ‘Greg Weisman’

February 17th, 2012  Posted at   Special Reports

We continue today with our look at Superman and related characters as seen and referenced in both the television and comic book incarnations of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.” In part one of the series, we looked at appearances and cameos in both mediums ranging from the well-known to the obscure. Today, we begin with season two of the television show, which kicked off with the return of a villain first seen in season one.

Mongul, again voiced by Gary Anthony Williams, made a second appearance in “Death Race to Oblivion!,” written by Greg Weisman and directed by Michael Goguen. It was the first-aired episode for season two, but the third in the season’s production order, and the 29th episode overall.

The plot of the story involves Mongul abducting Batman and a half-dozen other heroes and villains and forcing them into a “death race,” with the Earth in the balance. Neither Mongal or Warworld are mentioned this time around, though Mongul is in control of a smaller, more mobile, battle fortress he called Warmoon.

The next Superman-related reference came in “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure!,” written by Steven Melching and directed by Ben Jones. In this, the fourth episode of season two and the 30th episode overall, Smallville, Granville and Metropolis are all seen on a map during a cross-country road trip taken by Aquaman and his family, Mera and Arthur Jr.

Granville is a Kansas city that neighbors Smallville and was first mentioned in the “Smallville” television series. It was also later referenced in an issue of SUPERMAN/BATMAN, written by Jeph Loeb.

Several excerpts of the map are shown throughout the episode but, unfortunately, not enough are shown to gauge a relationship of the locations of Smallville and Granville in relation to Metropolis, beyond that Smallville and Granville are seemingly located to the west of it. However, in regular DC Universe continuity, both Middleton and Cosmos are traditionally located in Denver, which would put Smallville and Granville in Kansas, presumably. (The scale of the map is difficult to judge, but comparing it to the scale in these caps alone, and by piecing it together with the others shown throughout the episode, it is safe to assume that the distance between the cities would put Smallville and Granville across the state line into Kansas, which would align with the traditional modern-day location of Smallville.)

By piecing together many of the map excerpts shown in the episode, we are able to get a broader look at the geography of the Eastern seaboard and pinpoint a more precise location of Metropolis in relation to Gotham (and several other cities that will no-doubt be familiar to readers of the regular DC Universe).

Overlaying this on a map of the real-world United States and assuming that, like their regular DC Universe continuity counterparts, New Carthage and Ivy Town are both in New York; Radiance, Civic City and Calvin City are all in Pennsylvania; Happy Harbor is in Rhode Island; and Codsville is in Maine, this places Metropolis in northwest Pennysylvania and Gotham in the area of Jersey City, New Jersey or New York, New York.

After references to Superman both obvious and subtle, as well as appearances from several related heroes, villains and places, the teaser portion of “Sidekicks Assemble!,” written by Marsha F. Griffin and directed by Michael Chang, the eighth episode of season two, though only the sixth aired, and the 34th episode overall, brought something even better. In this episode, the Man of Steel himself, at long last, made his first actual appearance in the animated form of “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.”

Unfortunately, due to the rights issues, it was only a cameo appearance from behind and we were not privy to even get a clear view of his face. The character also had no dialogue, and thus no actor portraying him. But still, finally, more than two full years after being mentioned in the show’s debut, Superman finally made his way into the animated form of the franchise.

While it did not contain an appearances of Superman or even mention him by name, “The Super-Batman of Planet X,” written by Adam Beechen and directed by Michael Goguen, the ninth episode of season two and the 35th episode overall, brought many treats and references for Superman fans. Here, Batman is drawn through a wormhole in space and lands on the planet of Zurr-En-Arrh, where he meets the Batman of that world.

The episode’s story is loosely based on “Batman — the Superman of Planet X!,” written by France Ed Herron with art by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, originally published in BATMAN #113. It involves Batman developing Superman-like abilities including strength, flight and invulnerability, after being exposed to elements native to Zurr-En-Arhh. These elements were unspecified in the original story, but designated “rodon” in the episode.

Unlike the original story, the episode does not specifically name-check Superman. However, by expanding on story, the episode incorporates a great number of Superman-related references both through story elements and the episode’s casting choices.

Batman of Zurr-En-Arhh’s arch-nemesis is none other than the nefarious Rohtul — a name clearly formed by spelling Luthor backward. The character was voiced by Clancy Brown, who previously voiced Lex Luthor in “Superman: The Animated Series,” “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited” as well as in other animated projects, such as “The Batman,” “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” and the video game, “Superman: Shadow of Apokolips.”

Rohtul is a character taken from another story in Superman’s history, but also one with a connection to Batman. In WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #91, published about three months prior to BATMAN #113, readers were introduced to the 30th-century descendent of Luthor: a ruthless villain named Rohtul. “The Three Super-Sleepers,” written by Edmond Hamilton with art by Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye, found Superman, Batman and Robin in the year 2957 working to thwart Rohtul’s plan to terrorize Earth with his newly built “destruction-ray projector.”

A fleet of remote-controlled robots used by Rohtul also resemble the robots used by him in his original comic book appearance.

The episode also introduces Visli Vaylar, who’s appearance, personality and name are clearly meant to evoke equal parts Lois Lane and Vicki Vale. She is voiced by Dana Delaney, who had previously voiced Lois Lane in “Superman: The Animated Series,” “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited” as well as in the direct-to-video movie, “Superman: Brainiac Attacks” and, like Clancy Brown, reprised her role in “The Batman” and “Superman: Shadow of Apokolips.”

Interestingly, in “The Batman Nobody Remembered,” written by Batman co-creator Bill Finger with art by Jim Mooney, from WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #136, Batman crash-lands on a parallel Earth where Vicki Vale looks identical to his Earth’s Lois Lane. It is unknown if this story had influence on the episode, however. But, while Vaylar has no obvious roots as a previously established character from the comics like Rohtul, she did serve as a reporter for the Solar Cycle Globe.

We get few details about The Globe in the episode, but it seems to be something more akin to a television news program, rather than a newspaper. But, still, comparisons to the Daily Planet — and its iconic building — are obvious.

Among Vaylar’s co-workers at The Globe are Tlano, aka Zurr-En-Arhh’s Batman hidden behind a very familiar disguise. Tlano was mentioned in the original BATMAN story as his alternate identity, but that story never showed the character.

Batman-alum Kevin Conroy lends his voice to Zurr-En-Arhh’s Batman, as well as Tlano. In the fashion of many Superman actors from throughout the years, Conroy raises his voice an octave when voicing the secret identity. The character is also portrayed as a much meeker and milder personality than his super-hero counterpart, not to mention awkward and clumsy, in classic Clark Kent style.

Other Superman-related references are sprinkled throughout the episode. Zurr-En-Arhh Batman’s home city is Gothtropolis, a portmanteau of Gotham and Metropolis. And the city’s architecture, as well as the fashions of her residents, are very reminiscent of those of Krypton as depicted in the Silver Age.

While Earth’s Batman found himself gaining abilities after being exposed to rodon, he also found his super-powered self greatly weakened by exposure to quartz which, on Zurr-En-Arhh, seems to possess a strange green hue and had an effect on the super-powered Earth Batman similar to effect Green Kryptonite has on Superman.

According to Rohtul, “quartz interacts with rodon to become poisonous to Earthmen’s physiognomy.” Zurr-En-Arhh’s Batman was in possession of a spray-on polymer compound that shielded Earth’s Batman from rodon, thus negating it’s effects, as well as those of quartz.

Much of the show’s dialogue likewise had references to Superman. When Earth’s Batman first starts experiencing the effects of his powers, he is hit with a blast from one of Rohtul’s robots. Upon Vaylar asking if he is okay, he replies, “It tickled,” a nod back to the cover of SUPERMAN #32, by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, as well as other similar situations throughout the years.

After the Batmen stop Rohtul, thus marking Earth’s Batman’s public debut on Zurr-En-Arhh, Vavlar asks for his story. In subtle homage to “Superman: The Movie,” Earth Batman replies, “Just a friend… visiting from out of town,” before flying off.

As Earth’s Batman is flying and testing his abilities, we get a riff on the familiar Superman opening as a group of passers-by proclaim, “Look! Up in the sky! It’s a zeta bird! It’s an aircar! No! It’s Batman!

And still later, Earth’s Batman comments that he never thought he would be fighting for “truth, justice and Zurr-En-Arhh way,” as we get a majestic shot of Batman standing akimbo in front of a fluttering Zurr-En-Arhh flag (which, in many ways, looks to be a combination of the American flag and the flag of Krypton as first seen in “Krypton on Earth!,” illustrated by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, from ACTION COMICS #246).

This episode also opens with Batman and Green Arrow chasing a group of a space pirates who have stolen that Emerald Eye of Ekron, marking one of the only Legion of Super-Heroes-related references on the show, even if only a vague one. The Eye is not actually seen in the episode and, as the scene is set in present day, the Legion is not seen or mentioned, either.

Batman of Zurr-En-Arhh later had minor, non-speaking, cameo appearances during season three in “Night of the Batmen!” and “Mitefall!” Rohtul later had a similar appearance in “Triumvirate of Terror!”

BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #17, written by Sholly Fisch with art by Robert W. Pope and Scott McRae, then brought the return of a Superman villain and the introduction of two more in “A Batman’s Work is Never Done.”

First up was a brief return of Mongul, as Batman, along with some assistance from the Green Lantern Corps, tracked the warlord “across three galaxies and twenty-seven light years” in order to place him under arrest.

Interestingly, in this, his third appearance overall but first in the comic book, his costume is more similar to that traditionally worn by Mongul the Elder in regular DC Universe continuity, particularly in its somewhat muted color scheme. Whether this was actually intended to be Mongul the Elder or a reappearance of Mongul the Lesser, just with an altered costume, is not clear in the text.

After the appearance of what was presumably the Winslow Schott Toyman in issue #2, this issue also featured the first appearance of what looks to be Hiro Okamura, the third character to use the name of Toyman.

Like with the previous, he is only called Toyman in the text, before being defeated by the heroes. However, his visual appearance and comments from Batman that he “went straight” indicate a similarity to the then-regular DC Universe version of Okamura.

The third Superman villain that appeared in this story is, perhaps, the oddest Superman-related cameo of all. And that is the monster Doomsday.

Doomsday. The mindless raging beast who, in regular DC universe continuity, anyway, trashed the Justice League on more than one occasion, incapacitated Darkseid with one blow and gave Superman as much as he could handle in almost every meeting, even killing him in their first encounter. Doomsday. Bound in chains and hanging from a street lamp.

It’s odd and may stretch the credibility of even the Batman presented in the show, who was punched in the face by Mongul. On the other hand, as we saw a few panels later, it seems Batman might have had a little help from a certain Man of Steel, making another comic book cameo, even if only in silhouette.

Speaking of Doomsday, however, a guy who, in regular DC Universe continuity, knows a little bit about him appeared two issues later in BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #19. “Emerald Knight,” written by Adam Schlagman with art by Carlo Barberi and Terry Beatty, saw the debut of Hank Henshaw, a.k.a Cyborg-Superman.

Interestingly, he appeared looking identical to how he looked in his debut during the “Reign of the Supermen” story arc, rather than his more modern look, or even, despite the Green Lantern ties in the comic, the Sinestro Corps outfit he wore for a time. But, while he had an appearance he had not sported in regular DC Universe continuity for more than 15 years at the time of publication, this was, perhaps, the most prominent Superman-related appearance to date in the comics, as the Cyborg is the first to appear large and in-charge on the cover of the book, with art by Carlo Barberi.

Cyborg-Superman may be more often considered a Green Lantern villain these days, but he is a character with more than just a few roots firmly planted in the Superman universe. He first appeared at the tail end of one of the largest storylines in the early post-Crisis era and came to prominence in what is, hands down, the biggest Superman storyline of the last two-and-a-half decades.

The issue recaps the character’s origin. While it glosses over the finer points of his back-story, the brief recap holds very faithful to his regular DC Universe counterpart, though it avoids mentioning any direct connection to Superman himself. His depiction throughout the rest of the issue is also faithful, the aforementioned visual appearance aside.

Another Superman villain was given a cameo of sorts in “The Siege of Starro! Part Two,”
written by Joseph Kuhr and directed by Michael Goguen. It was the 15th episode of season two and the 41st episode overall. In the episode, aboard the Faceless Hunter’s ship are seen trophies from and statues of various aliens, including a parademon from Apokolips, a Thanagarian hawkman and what looks to be Brainiac.

No further information is given in the episode about the figure.

A Superman story seemed to be used as a point of inspiration in “Emperor Joker!,” written by Steven Melching and directed by Ben Jones, the 19th episode of season two and the 45th episode overall. In the episode, Bat-Mite inadvertently imbues the Joker with his powers, similar to what Mr. Mxyzptlk had done in the similarly named storyline that ran through the Superman titles in 2000.

Aside from the Joker killing Batman, then bringing him back to life only to kill him again, there are very few overt similarities between the two stories, however, beyond the basic premise. And the episode contains no references at all to Superman or related characters. Bat-Mite does say at the end of the episode, however, that he is going to the Fifth Dimension. The Fifth Dimension is the home of Mr. Mxyzptlk in regular DC Universe continuity.

The BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD comic was canceled following issue #22 and relaunched the next month with a new #1 issue and a new title: ALL-NEW BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. An announcement from DC Comics promised “to surround the Caped Crusader with an A-list cast of co-stars and surprise guests” and they started off with a bang in the first issue with the first full-story appearance of Superman.

“Bottle of the Planets,” written by Sholly Fisch with art and cover by Rick Burchett and Dan Davis, has Superman looking quite a bit more streamlined than in his earlier appearances but still not quite on model to what we would see in his full appearance on the animated version. Also notable is the S-shield on Superman’s cape is missing here, where it was seen in his appearance in “Sidekicks Assemble!”

The story involves Superman and Batman shrinking down and descending into the Bottle City of Kandor in order to unravel the mystery behind a rash of mysterious thefts.

No indication is given of how Kandor was shrunk. Though, oddly, from Superman’s dialogue, it could inferred that it was either a willing choice or something created by Kryptonians, given that he calls it a “highly advanced Kryptonian society shrunk down in a bottle.” This conclusion ultimately poses a lot of other questions not addressed in the text. What isn’t in doubt, though, is that the Bottle City is kept in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.

No giant key is seen… but where there is a giant door with a giant lock, there must be a giant key, right?

Once in Kandor, the story introduces four Kryptonians residing in the city: Maryam Cha-Na, Professor Et-Rog, General Lek-Var (all three members of Kandor’s ruling council) and scientist Nah-Um.

The text indicates Maryam Cha-Na, Professor Et-Rog and General Lek-Var are leaders of Kandor’s various societal guilds (Military, Artists and Science, respectively). While their fashions are much more similar to one another, the idea of a Kryptonian society being broken into various guilds mirrored what was happening in then-regular DC Universe continuity.

No characters with those names appeared in previous Superman stories that I am aware. However, a fifth Kryptonian, a character who has been a part of previous Superman continuities both in comics and other media, is introduced via flashback in the form of the villainous Jax-Ur.

Both his visual appearance and back-story given are like those of his pre-Crisis (specifically, Bronze Age) counterpart. In short, Jax-Ur destroyed one of Krypton’s moons (designated Wegthor pre-Crisis) with an experimental missile. The destruction caused Jax-Ur to be sentenced to eternity in the Phantom Zone.

This telling of Jax-Ur and his back-story marks the first mention of the other-dimensional Phantom Zone or the Phantom Zone projector in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold canon. Both would factor in to this story’s climax.

And, finally, the story also found Superman proclaiming, “Rao!,” as he did so often in the Bronze Age. While initially simply an alien-sounding exclamation used to replace “Great Krypton!” in the Bronze Age, in regular DC Universe continuity, it was later revealed that Rao is a Kryptonian deity — often seen as the personification of their sun or the chief god in their polytheistic beliefs.

The 23rd episode of season two and 49th episode overall, “The Knights of Tomorrow!,” written by Todd Casey and Jake Black and directed by Michael Chang, gave us a look at a possible future. As envisioned by Alfred Pennyworth, this future gave cameos of none other than Clark Kent, marking his first appearance on the show or in the comic, at the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.

Clark then had a second appearance at their funeral.

It is not clear who the woman with Clark was intended to be. An obvious guess would be that she is Lois Lane or, given the auburn hair, possibly Lana Lang (she actually closely resembles Lana as depicted in “Superman: The Animated Series”). However, she does not match the visual depiction of Lois or Lana as they would appear later in “Batman: The Brave and the Bold.” As these are brief cameos, neither Clark or the woman have any dialogue, and thus no actors in the roles.

Note that Clark at the funeral scene does not look much older than at the wedding in comparison to the other characters. While this is only a possible future as envisioned by Alfred, it does give us a hint at what the show creators might have had in mind for the character of Superman and his longevity (though a later “in-continuity” glance at the future seems to contradict that).

The final Superman reference in season two came in episode 24, the 50th episode overall. In “Darkseid Descending!,” written by Paul Giacoppo and directed by Michael Goguen, Martian Manhunter tells of a time when “Big Blue,” a common nickname for Superman, challenged him to an arm-wrestling competition. He begins to tell how he was victorious using physics, opposed to brute force, but his story is cut off by Aquaman.

In January 2011, Superman was given an action figure as part of the “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” Total Armor line.

The three-pack set included Batman, Superman and Metallo (complete with Green Kryptonite heart). At the time of release, Metallo had not appeared in either the animated show or the comic book, though he would make his debut in season three. Interestingly, the figures could be used to vaguely replicate the scene from the episode where Metallo makes his official debut.

Later, Superman received another figure, this time in a solo pack.

The figure appears to have been made from the same basic mold as the original figure, with an adjustment to the shoulders. The darker paint scheme is a bit of an oddity, as it correlates to nothing Superman had worn in the animated or comic book versions at the time of release, or would wear later.

These were the only three Superman-related figures released in the line.

Superman had one final comic book appearance before the official start of season three of the show in ALL-NEW BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #4. “The Bride and the Bold,” written by Sholly Fisch with art by Rick Burchett and Dan Davis, featured a tuxedo-clad Superman serving as best man at the wedding of Batman and Wonder Woman. (Don’t ask.)

But, one shirt rip later (and the first shirt rip, mind you)…

…and costumed Superman flew into action. Once again, Superman is slightly off-model from what we would see on in the animated version, but a bit closer than the previous appearance and much closer than his first. Also, like the last comic book appearance, Superman’s cape does not sport an S-shield.

And with that, the first two years of the cartoon and a little more than two years of comics came to a close. But season three was right around the corner — as was Superman’s biggest moment yet.

Come back Friday, February 24, for part three of this series, which will cover Superman’s first full-episode appearance on the show in “Battle of the Superheroes!”