Deep Cover for Batman! | Episode 12
Aired: February 27, 2009
Heroes: Batman and Justice Underground (Red Hood, General Grodd, Yellow Lantern, Earth 3 versions of Black Manta, Dr. Polaris, Clock King, Kite Man, Gentleman Ghost, and The Brain)
Villains: Injustice Syndicate of Amerika (Owlman, Blue Bowman, Silver Cyclone, Scarlet Scarab, Dyna-Mite, Rubber Man, Barracuda, Blaze, and Earth 3 versions of Wildcat and B'Wana Beast)
Objects: Phase Oscillator, Batsignal, Batmobile, Utility Belt, Promethium 90, Power Ring, Trick Arrows, The Scarab, and Bio Belt
Places: Earth 23, Gotham City, Earth Three, Multiverse, Batcave, Eyrie of Evil, Ace Chemical Plant, and Earth 161
Written By: Joseph Kuhr
Directed By: Michael Chang
Review By Yojimbo
"Deep Cover for Batman!" is the first installment of the two part season finale of Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Saving the best comic book science conundrum for last, Batman travels to a parallel universe and finds himself on an Earth dominated by evil but soon discovers good can come in the most unlikely of forms.
The episode begins in a nostalgic red skied Gotham City with the spotlight on the Red Hood, an identity that older fans know is synonymous with the Joker. However, he's not trying to rob the Ace Chemical Plant, instead he reveals that his allies are all captured and in desperation, he is going to a parallel Earth for help. If you're keeping count, the Brave and the Bold takes place on Earth 23. The experiment is interrupted by the silhouette of four familiar superheroes but something is wrong unless they had a fashion dilemma and changed colors. All is soon made clear, we are on Earth 3, home to reverse versions of everyone and the Injustice Syndicate are evil counterparts of our superheroes with dreams of conquest!
The scene after the title sequence could have gone on forever. Almost like a treat to everyone who watched from the pilot episode, Batman leaves Gotham City in the Batmobile talking to Commissioner Gordon to return to the Batcave via his secret entrance. The Batcave pans out to reveal mementos he collected over the years: the Giant Penny, the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and the giant Joker Card, to name a few. Immediately trumping that is a one on one battle between Batman and Owlman. Animation is always a great platform to outperform your previous work but something about the transition that Owlman's cowl makes to go into night vision mode was a jewel to me. Another feast for the eyes, I thought, was the opening shot of Owlman's Eyrie of Evil, if you do some pause-play eye squinting, you can even see Owlman's original costume from the comic books.
The main story deals with the Injustice Syndicate's plan to blow up Batman's Earth as a symbol of their vision to rule each parallel Earth. Batman is disguised as Owlman and tries to sabotage their plans while keeping the rest of his would-be allies unaware of the switch. Blue Bowman and Dyna-Mite are the first to suspect him as he tries to save the Red Hood. It was probably another reference to the comics, but something about seeing an Atom-like character standing on another character's shoulders is so vintage Silver Age. The interrogation scene gives long time animation fans another version of the Red Hood/Joker's fateful night at Ace Chemical Plant. For a children's show, the scene with the Red Hood discovering his disfigurement was subdued but still haunting enough to startle you.
Even though the episode has a lot of hidden references for the seasoned fan, you don't feel overwhelmed nor does it take away from the execution of the storyline. Most of the references are subtle and require a second or third viewing. In addition to what was previously mentioned, in the scene when Batman arrives in the room of relics, that Owlman stole, there is a stand with an Egyptian Pharaoh. If you look closer at it, you see the symbol of the Scarab (of the Blue Beetle and Scarlet Scarab) inscribed on it, a reference to its origins in the comic books. The original Blue Beetle (who had a cameo on this season's "The Fall of the Blue Beetle!") discovered the Scarab buried in the tomb of the evil Pharaoh Kha-ef-re. Or in the final battle, the Earth 3 version of Sinestro dons a costume that may link to a current Green Lantern storyline.
In the aftermath, Silver Cyclone becomes the de facto villain of the episode when it reveals its bomb will only kill living beings, much to the delight of his so-called comrades. A rather serious tone is quickly defused when Red Hood and Batman jet the bomb to Earth 161, home to the zombie Earth. The irony continues when Red Hood hopes that his counterpart will one day be able to repay the favor Batman did him in stopping the Injustice Syndicate. After leaving on a bright and optimistic feeling, Batman returns home to find himself a wanted man and surrounded by the police. Then what makes every fan cringe: to be continued.
For the avid DC comics fan, "Deep Cover for Batman!" was filled with callbacks to the Golden and Silver Age but the scope and action of the second to last episode is enough to keep all fans on the edge of their seat. Be there for the conclusion on March 6.