Episode title: Terror on Dinosaur Island!
Original air date: November 21, 2008
This is the second episode, and as such it has the daunting task of convincing the viewer to be compelled to return on a weekly basis rather than simply tuning in due to mild curiosity or lack of something better to watch. I always feel like the third episode is the make or break point for a new series, and episode 2 to is a great opportunity to swing for the fences with little risk. Perhaps in this instance we have a home run.
In the teaser we have Batman teamed up with thief turned superhero Plastic man to stop Gentleman Ghost from absconding with several bags of stolen money. When Plastic Man becomes more interested in the money than the villain it leaves Batman in a pinch, but thankfully the Brazilian bombshell Fire shows up to give Bats an assist. In the primary adventure we have Plastic Man in the Bat jet being admonished by Batman for his actions in the Gentleman Ghost events, when they come upon Gorilla Grodd attacking the wealthy passengers of a Yacht. The ensuing skirmish leads our heroes to Dinosaur Island were Gorilla Grodd has built a fortress armed with an “E-ray” generator that Grodd intends to use to turn all of the humans in the Caribbean into highly evolved apes. Plastic Man reminds Batman that the Dark Knight is responsible for Plas’ current condition and we are treated to a flashback of the malleable hero’s origin that is reminiscent of the Joker’s from the Tim Burton Batman film. Soon Batman is captured, and this leaves the fate of the region in the hands of the oft selfish and Morally conflicted Plastic Man. Plas successfully infiltrates Grodd’s compound (briefly being used to shove dinosaur excrement in a humorous sequence), but finds himself in a vault of gold to rival Fort Knox. Plastic man decides to load up on loot before rescuing Batman and this delay leads to Batman being turned into “Bat Ape”. Plas has a change of heart and turns himself into a Gatling gun of sorts firing gold bars at his adversaries, but fails to stop Grodd from triggering the E-ray machine. In a classic trope we find that batman had reversed to polarity, and instead of turning humans into apes, the machine turns Batman human once again (while making Grodd human as well). In an epilogue we see the humanized Grodd in a prison cell hanging from a bar and feeding himself a banana with his left foot
This episode varies from most of those in the series by having a guest hero in the teaser carry over into the main adventure. The concept of the teaser was to try out lesser known heroes and villains in a short form then later feature the ones that were well received in full length adventures, but i suppose the creators felt Plastic Man was a safe bet to be a fan favorite. Personally I enjoyed the continuity and wish that they had used this method a little more often, having distinct short adventures with themes that were expanded upon in the longer story. Much like the first episode, this episode focuses on the rapid evolution of the guest character, only where episode 1 focused on the growth of Reyes’ confidence, this episode followed the transition of Plastic man from selfish to selfless.
I have always felt that this would have been a stronger launching point for the series than episode 1 because it uses characters and settings more in line with it’s classic comic book incarnation, as well as a more liberal dose of humor. Gorilla Grodd has been a classic DC rogue since the late fifties, and was performed by John Dimaggio (Futurama, Adventure Time) expertly. DiMaggio is one of my favorite voice actors that I feel to be among the ranks of our generations finest, along with greats like Billy West and Tara Strong. Also, Dinosaur Island was the setting of many a Caped Crusader adventure during the golden age stories written by Bill Finger. The greatest weakness of the story for me would be that it made me pine for the stand alone Plastic Man series that Cartoon Network abandoned. Overall, I believe this to be the episode where the series quickly found the tone and style it would use quite expertly in the episodes that follow. If you’ve never seen any of Batman TBATB, star here.
Featured characters: Plastic Man (Jack Kole, 1941), Gentleman Ghost ( Kanigher and Kubert, 1947), Fire (Bridwell and Fradon, 1986 ), Gorilla Grodd ( Broome and Infantino, 1959)
To learn more about Plastic Man listen to Heroes & Villains ep. 88