Episode Number: 29
Season Episode Number: 3
Production Number: 202
Airdate: January 1, 2010
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Director: Michael Chang
Voices: Diedrich Bader (Batman, Kilowog), Wil Friedle (Blue Beetle), James Arnold Taylor (Guy Gardner, "Rocky" Davis), Ioan Gruffudd (Armor, "Red" Ryan), Jason Marsden (Paco), JK Simmons (Guardian, Evil Star, "Ace" Morgan), Armin Shimerman (Professor Mark Haley), Unknown (Narrator, Computer, Robots).
Teaser: Batman assists the Challengers of the Unknown in fighting of a giant spider and investigating a strange glowing meteor.
Plot: The Green Lantern Corps demand the Blue Beetle hand over his armour as it is revealed to be a part in an invasion by the Reach whose army is built of beings who are controlled by their scarabs.
Review (Warning! Spoilers!): While I have a few things to say about this episode, I'll be mostly talking about the teaser, which I loved so very, very much. But first, let's talk about the main episode:
No matter what incarnation of the hero, Batman always seems out of place to me when he is in outer space. It's a combination of the lack of super powers and the conditioning I had growing up with Batman: the Animated Series. However, this episode is really all about the Blue Beetle, so let's focus on that.
The Jamie Reyes Blue Beetle is a relatively new character in the DC Universe, especially when compared to the rest of the characters in this show, and the Reach is even newer! This relationship between the Reach and the Guardians, as well as the mythology of the Blue Beetle's armour is something that was explored in the comics probably at the same time that this episode was being developed. It is nice to see a nod to current comics as well as plenty of nods to the classics (like the vintage villain Evil Star, who also made a cameo in the 60s Green Lantern shorts).
However, Blue Beetle is one of my least favourite characters in this show, and while I did really like learning more about the sarab's mythology, I found myself tuning out to most of what was going on. I just didn't care. There were a lot of Lanterns and plenty of Reach and they all had a big battle, but it wasn't impressive for some reason.
The teaser, on the other hand, was simply brilliant on so many levels. First, the homage to classic Hanna-Barbera adventure cartoons of the 60s and 70s like Fantastic Four, Jonny Quest, and of course, Super Friends, was executed perfectly, even mimicking HB's "limited animation" techniques at times.
Second, the all-star voice cast which included Star Trek: DS9's Armin Shimerman as Professor Mark Haley, Spider-Man's JK Simmons as "Ace" Morgan, Fantastic Four's Ioan Gruffudd as "Red" Ryan, and Brave and the Bold's own James Arnold Taylor as "Rocky" Davis.
Third, the fact that the Challengers of the Unknown are in an animated cartoon is cool enough! This intrepid team of explorers has never really seen the spotlight, which makes it perfect for Brave and the Bold. Plus, Jack Kirby put his distinct mark on the series in the 60s, defining much of the team and the characters. And we all know how much Brave and the Bold is a tribute to the work of Jack Kirby!
And lastly, the teaser ends on a cliffhanger! Wow! What a great idea! The teasers in this series have been used a number of different ways, but never to set up a story that will play out later in the season. This is a great move and will bring greater continuity to the show, which fans like myself, eat up. Great teaser, so-so-episode.