Episode Title: “Last Bat on Earth!”
Original Air Date: June 19, 2009
So we have time travel again. I don’t mind an occasional time travel story, but I do get annoyed when it is used too liberally or in an undisciplined manner. This is at least the fifth incidence of time travel so far this season, but I guess it’s an unavoidable necessity in order to showcase the many crevices of the DCU.
The teaser drops us into an elaborate death trap in the form of a lethal roller coaster ride (literally, not metaphorically) with Batman and Fourth World stalwart Mister Miracle bound to the car. As our passengers approach standard bond villain devise such as laser, buzz saws and flame throwers, the heroes manage to do their best Houdini’s and escape their bonds and evade the lethal obstacles. At the end of the harrowing ordeal it is revealed that it was not a criminal mastermind behind the event, but rather a charity event in which the heroes were performing to help the children.
The story proper opens with an army of Tiger-men engage in conflict with a band of talking Gorillas. Both sides are utilizing meek, enslaved humans. A blond hair youth named Komandi conspires with his humanoid talking dog, Dr. Canus ,and Tiger-man ally, Tuftan, to rescue to captive humans. Events don’t go as planned for the trio, and Tuftan shows his more savage side. The Gorillas retreat, and the human slaves of both armies remain in captivity. Back in Gotham, Batman realizes that Gorilla Grodd has travelled to the distant future for unknown sinister reasons. Batman pursues Grodd through time to Komandi’s world. In the Future Grodd approaches the ape army, and challenges the leader to combat for the right to command the troops. Grade easily wins, and declares that the time of the apes has arrived and plans an attack on the Tiger-Men and their leader Ceaser. Meanwhile The tiger-men are gathering slaves and Kamandi, Tuftan, and Canus attack them. The humans are freed but don’t run. As Komandi and co. are captured, the Dark Knight shows up to rescue them but winds up in a cage as well. The Apes attack the Tigers, and Grodd uses a sonic cannon to subdue the cats. Batman frees himself and the other prisoners and the four of them escape into the city. Batman takes Canus and Kamandi to the Batcave of the future. The equipment still functions, but the cave is occupied by man-bats. Grodd and his army march across the land, only to discover that Tuftan has mobilized the other animal-men against him. Grodd is unimpressed and fires the sonic cannon. However, Batman, Kamandi, and Canus fly-in in the Batplane and take out the sonic cannon with missiles. The heroes ultimately defeat Grodd and his forces,the human slaves freed, and Batman departs with Grodd as the story ends.
I’ve always enjoyed seeing modern takes on Kirby creations, as I have a significant respect for the genius of Kirby, but I have never been very interested in Komandi. This episode really changed that, as I had a lot of fun watching it. The story is fairly straight forward, but it was very good a causing me to think about a variety of other properties that I feel nostalgic about. I know it isn’t considered strong form for story telling to rely heavily on allusions, but I don’t think all of it was intentional, and honestly the source material was around before many of the properties that I was lead to feel nostalgic about. First off, I will never, ever, ever stop calling Dr. Canus “McGruff the crime dog” because to me that is exactly what he looks like, and it makes me chuckle to picture McGruff in a post apocalyptic future. The imagery and design of Komandi’s world also causes me to reflect on long passed Saturday mornings spent watching Thundarr the Barbarian. It makes sense that this episode would feel like Thundarr because Jack Kirby did work as a production designer on that series, I’m sure the animation and story telling holds up better for Brave and the Bold than it does in the older Filmation series, but nostalgia is a perception altering drug. This story also bears some strong similarities to Planet of the apes (the Charlton Heston one) with armed, talking apes and human slaves, time travel to a decimated future Earth (I guess that’s kind of a spoiler for a ridiculously old movie) and one rebellious human trying to change things. So yeah, I don’t like too much time travel in a show other than Quantum Leap, but this time it worked out OK.
Featured Characters: Mister Miracle (Jack Kirby, 1971), Komandi (Jack Kirby, 1972) and Gorilla Grodd (Broome & Infantino, 1959)