Invasion of the Secret Santas! | Episode 04

Aired: December 12, 2008
Heroes: Batman, Blue Beetle, and Red Tornado
Supporting: Thomas & Martha Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and STAR Labs
Villains: Sportsmaster and Fun Haus
Objects: Utility Belt, Blue Beetle Scarab, Batmobile, and Presto Playpals
Places: Earth 23, Wayne Manor, and Gotham City
Written By: Adam Beechen
Directed By: Brandon Vietti

Review By Yojimbo

In the face of using a holiday theme, the latest episode of The Brave and the Bold delivers another well executed round of lighthearted humor and entertaining action. As Blue Beetle and Red Tornado provide the humor in their own special ways, the action is brought on by a new villain named Fun Haus and his robotic army of toys. To balance out the episode, the audience is treated to a series of flashbacks that outline the origin story of Batman, himself.

The episode begins with the Sportsmaster attempting to steal prize money and a trophy from a local bowling alley. The sequence is a play on public televised airings of professional bowling league matches and things get progressively weird as the Sportsmaster fashions his victims in a set piece, giant bowling pins. As a nice nod to the comics, Blue Beetle's humor in this episode is attributed to how the living armor develops its own personality and starts talking to Jaime (but nowhere near as creepy as a certain villain from the Spider-Man mythos).

The lighthearted feel of the episode shifts to Professor Ulthoon, or Red Tornado. Aside from the clique stereotype the people displayed after Red Tornado saved them, it was great to see the montage scenes as he tried to discover the Christmas spirit with logic. The contrast of this task helped further humanize the very robotic Red Tornado and made him a more loveable character than I thought he would come across. Fresh from the more mature and adult-oriented Justice League Unlimited series, Red Tornado came across as very stern, foreboding, and down to business. My one critique is the voice of Red Tornado, performed by Corey Burton, was all too familiar to long time viewers of DC Comics animation. It was too similar to Superman's foe, Brainiac.

Fun Haus was an interesting villain. Adapted from the name of a cartel ran by the Joker in a criminal syndicate in the comics, I did see pieces of the Joker in Fun Haus. From the tone of the voice actor (Gary Anthony Williams), to his M.O. of toys disguised as weapons, the villain's mischievous personality, and his overall plan; Fun Haus definitely drew inspiration from Batman's archenemy. However, that 20/20 hindsight didn't affect my opinion. Fun Haus fit in the storyline. While Red Tornado was trying to further research the best in humanity, he is opposed by Fun Haus, a person that personifies the worst of humanity, ego. He stole from people on the much treasured holiday of Christmas and has his likeness stamped on all of his creations.

Batman, the perceived straight man of the series, had an interesting role in the episode. As the child with lost innocence, he redoubles his efforts on Christmas to make sure no one suffers the same fate as him. It was a relief to finally see Gotham City, the Batmobile, Alfred Pennyworth, Thomas & Martha Wayne, and some origin on-screen. Despite how great these first four episodes were, a Batman show is incomplete without Gotham, Alfred, the Batmobile, and a look at that fateful tragedy.