Batman: The Brave and the Bold's second season begins with a set-up that promises the same sort of zany fun that made its first year so delightful. Mongul has kidnapped a group of Earth's heroes and villains, Batman among them, and forced them to compete in a death race more akin to Hanna-Barbera's Wacky Races than any Sylvester Stallone or Jason Statham movie. The rules of the competition are simple: If any of the heroes or villains manage to defeat Mongul's champion, Steppenwolf, they'll inherit Earth to do with it what they please. Anyone who loses will be transported to a holding cell on War-Moon, where they'll await execution. Finally, the penalty for refusing to compete is the destruction of one's own home city.
This set-up, coupled with the eclectic cast of characters involved in the race, was enough to get my hopes soaring after only a few minutes. On the heroes' side, Batman is joined by Green Arrow, Huntress, Guy Gardner, Plastic Man and his sidekick, Woozy Winks. The villains include the aforementioned Steppenwolf, the Joker, Catwoman, Black Manta and Gentlemen Ghost. Each character has an over-the-top vehicle fitting of their personality (Woozy Winks' car is the best he simply rides Plastic Man), and when they all take to Mongul's deadly course, the action and visual gags come fast and often.
For the most part, the episode ended up meeting my high expectations, with only a few disappointing exceptions. For starters, the episode's animation left a lot to be desired, as the computer-rendered vehicles clashed noticeably with the more traditionally animated characters. I was also a little let down by the shortage of pun-tastic one-liners I've come to expect from this series; only Joker seemed to revel in the comedic opportunities of this set-up, using his play-by-play commentary of the race to punctuate all of his goofy prop gags. In this regard, I can't quite wrap my head around the writer's decision to remove Woozy and Plastic Man from the board before anyone else. If you're going to include such unapologetically silly characters, why not get the most out of them?
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