Evil Under the Sea! | Episode 03
Aired: December 5, 2008
Heroes: Batman, The Atom, and Aquaman
Supporting: Queen Atlanna and Queen Mera
Villains: Felix Faust, Ocean Master, and Black Manta
Objects: Utility Belt, Pandora's Box, Batmobile, and Trident of Poseidon
Places: Earth 23 and Atlantis
Beasts: Pandora's Box Beast and Fluke
Written By: Joseph Kuhr
Directed By: Michael Chang
Review By Yojimbo
If you thought evil was just for land dwellers, think again. In "Evil Under the Sea," Batman deceives Felix Faust with the help of an ally, the Atom; meanwhile the roles reverse under the sea when Aquaman is manipulated by his brother Orm with the help of a back stabbing ally, by the name of Black Manta. While the set pieces surrounding Pandora's Box made me think about Wonder Woman, it was nice to note how Faust referenced his age, much closer to the comic book version. And if you have been taking time to rationalize how the Atom was able to do what it is that he does, remember 1) the Bio Belt allows him to shrink but retain his normal strength and 2) it's a cartoon!
Following the opening credits, the audience is treated to a rather interesting use of the Batmobile on the show. In mid-flight, the Bat Plane transforms into a Bat Sub. The toy will sell millions. Aquaman's flippant reaction to Batman saving his life makes Superfriends look like a Shakespearean play. Even though origins seem to be downplayed in this animated series, it was interesting to see how Aquaman acknowledged the importance of family since most of the heroes aren't aware of Batman's childhood tragedy. I will admit though that Batman's dry humor in The Brave and the Bold is growing on me. His reaction to Fluke made me laugh over and over.
In terms of characterization, the episode proves Aquaman is as timeless as Batman is. Just a few short years ago, Aquaman was much more abrasive towards his love of Atlantis and his domain in the DC continuity co-created by Bruce Timm. In this series, he is much more jolly and endearing with his mystery stories and carefree attitude. On screen, the action was great, I was expecting to see Aquaman use his Trident and animal telepathy but the use of water manipulation (hydrokinesis for the diehards) to create objects was a surprising yet welcome and entertaining treat for the sake of child appeal.
I do love how this animated television series is centered on lightheartedness for entry level fans like children, but it is still written for adults with so many references in each episode for comic book fans and long time DC animated viewers alike. This episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold is no different with unspoken cameos of Aquaman's mother Queen Atlanna and later, his wife, Mera. Even Batman's throwaway line about how the bad guy stole a nuclear sub loosely references Aquaman's debut appearance on the Justice League series, "The Enemy Below." Call it deja vu but whistling and shrimp reminded me some black and white animation from the old days.
And to top off the great references, when Black Manta is defeated, Batman announces he's going to Iron Heights. Iron Heights is a prison facility near Keystone City, home of the Flash, in the comics. Heck, it took me aback and made me consider if Iron Heights is the de facto prison for the series and if this was were Grodd was taken to an episode ago. And as Aquaman tortures Orm with his memoir, he mentions Mercy Reef and a lighthouse--staples of his origin story.
In this episode, Dee Bradley Baker voiced Felix Faust after doing two voices on the pilot and more to com. It seems like Baker has great range and probably a great relationship with the writing staff. In one instant, he can be a German-accented madman obsessed with clocks, while in another, an alien amoeba or in this episode, a thousands year old sorcerer. Another amazingly versatile actor, John DiMaggio helped flesh out a new interpretation of Aquaman, a middle-ground between classic and modern comic book versions.
"Evil Under the Sea" explores betrayal and family through the act of role reversal. Aquaman learns the hard way that sometimes, friends should be held closer than family no matter what the best intentions are. It is also doesn't hurt to have a dolphin and a fleet and shrimps at your disposal.