The New Adventures of Batman – Bite-Sized

When adapting an overexposed hero like Superman or Batman, it is not enough for the adaptation to just take comic stories and give them animation; you have to put your own stamp on the hero and his world too. How do you do that?

Well, one way I can think of is to make your own little additions to the hero’s rogues gallery. Remember that Ruby Spears Superman cartoon I once talked about? It used Lex Luthor, Zod and Prankster, but most of the time created its own villains. Okay, their “Cybron” was obviously based on Brainiac (they didn’t use Brainiac because they weren’t sure where the character was headed in the comics), but they also had “Bonechill”, who seemed like he escaped from The Real Ghostbusters with his design and his power to bring monsters to life, and the weirdly flamboyant “Wildshark”. The most famous example of a comic-based cartoon adding a new villain though, is when Batman The Animated Series introduced Joker’s sidekick Harley Quinn, who was so popular she was later added to the comics, and has become quite a big part of the Batman mythos.

Batman arguably has the greatest rogues gallery in comic book history, and yet it has seen its fair share of “new” members over the years. In fact, Filmation’s New Adventures of Batman, the 70’s cartoon with Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their famous roles, had quite a few villains that weren’t in the comics, created specifically for the show. They may have had Joker, Penguin and Catwoman, but they also had Sweet Tooth, who sounded like Paul Lynde and tried to turn Gotham’s water supply into chocolate…ugh…Zarbor, a little green man with magic powers…UGH…Professor Bubbles…

Professor Bubbles. Yes, they had a villain called Professor Bubbles.

But I’m not here to talk about Professor Bubbles. I’m here to talk about another villain created for the show, Electro (not to be confused with the Spider-man baddy). Why? Because his episode “Bite-Sized” is the most Silver Age-y cartoon I have ever seen. It sweats Silver Age. It is so Silver you can find it at the Cerro Rico. Think of everything you’ve ever seen on Superdickery, multiply it by ten and you won’t have anything as Silver Age as “Bite-Sized”. Mention this episode to Chris Nolan and he will involuntarily strike you. Mention this episode to Grant Morrison, though, and he will sigh in pure ecstasy.

The episode begins with what looks a silver Stetson, flying around a desert until it lands and transforms into some rocks. This is Electro’s spaceship, and despite the fact his ship’s shape makes him the man in the white hat in a sense, he is still the bad guy. Speaking of clothing, Electro is certainly lacking when it comes to fashion sense. He’s a big blue guy in a blindingly pink jumpsuit that makes him look like fellow DC villain Darkseid fell into a vat of berry ice cream and fused with it.

Though I suppose that doesn’t matter since Electro is an alien…see, this episode is pure Silver Age. Aliens in a solo Batman story. Superman and the Justice League are nowhere to be found, and an alien is in Gotham. The villain of this episode isn’t a gangster or an Arkham escapee, it’s a fucking alien. There are some superhero pot elements that look out of place in Gotham, and “take me to your leader” shit is one of them.

The Dark Knight vs. Mr. Spock's retarded brother? I know I can't wait!

The Dark Knight vs. Mr. Spock’s retarded brother? I know I can’t wait!

Anyway, Electro is an alien, but his ship’s commander looks just like a human, only with a hilarious high-pitched voice so we know he’s from another planet. Really, why not make him blue like Electro? There’s no reason to make him look like a human; he doesn’t spy on people or anything like that.

And what is Electro’s plan? To shrink Batman and Robin with a shrinking ray. What did I tell ya? Silver Age.

Electro himself. An imposing presence, to be sure.

Electro himself. An imposing presence, to be sure.

After Electro leaves his spaceship on a hovercraft thingy, we join Batman and Robin in the Batcave. Now, in the last two episodes I looked at, they began with Batman and Robin goofing off before the Batsignal lights up, when you’d think that they’d be patrolling Gotham or something. Here, they’re doing something relatively productive; fixing up the Batmobile. They don’t want it fixed so they can drive through the dingy Gotham streets though; they don’t want to miss the banquet that’s being thrown in their honour. Yes, a banquet for Batman. He’s not attending a banquet as Bruce Wayne, he’s attending it as Batman, because it’s for Batman. Remember when Batman  was doubted by the police force sans Gordon? Remember how he hid in the shadows and was pretty much, you know, a vigilante? Anyone? Once again, maximum Silver Age. It has such a Silver Age virus, it infects other comics that come near it. Put a copy of Ghost World near this cartoon and robots and aliens will instantly appear in its pages.

Oh yeah, and Bat-mite appears too. Bat-mite. You know, the little gremlin in the Batman outfit who tries to help our heroes, who is hated with the wrath of a thousand suns. Yes, suns can have wrath. Bat-mite is so annoying he can make suns sentient and make them feel nothing but anger. Anyway, he fixes the Batmobile by making it float…yeah.

Then we see Electro cruising along the road in his hovercraft thingy. He zaps a tree and makes it shrink. Truly this is a force to be reckoned with.

Next up we have the banquet for Batman and Robin. I have to wonder, since Batman and Robin are there looking pretty for the crowd, and this event would have to be pretty well publicised, if any Gotham criminals are going to take this opportunity to commit any crimes unabated. Batman’s off smiling and making corny speeches, meaning this is the perfect time for Penguin to steal a diamond or whatever. Then again, I also wonder if any villains in this show’s universe have ever thought of breaking the Batsignal, since this show’s version of Bruce spends his time bowling and playing with toy cars until he sees that signal. Oh wait, forgot, Silver Age, everyone’s an idiot.

Batman and Robin get up on stage, and Electro barges in and shrinks them to Bat-mite’s horror. Wow, is Bat-mite a worthless little cunt. He could have used his magic to make Electro disappear, or bring Batman and Robin back to their normal size or make a force field around the hall that criminals couldn’t get through. All he does when he sees Electro is to say, ‘Watch out!’ Also, Batman refers to Electro by name, implying that they’ve faced before. Wow, I wonder how that first encounter must have gone like:

ELECTRO: Fear me, Earthlings! I am Electro!
BATMAN: OK…pfft…Elec…pfft…I…HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, jiminy, look at you! You look like a Blue Meanie in a wetsuit! You really think anyone can take you seriously?
ELECTRO: *cries* I-I’ll show y-you…*runs off into spaceship and flies away*

Once again, Bat-mite could use his powers to pull the shrinking ray from Electro’s hands and reverse the shrinking process, but instead he just flops onto the stage and Electro escapes. Bat-Mite still poofs off to the rescue, and Commissioner Gordon says a line that I think embodies this whole series: ‘There goes Gotham City.’ It’s long gone already, Commish, it’s long gone already.

MUUUM! These are my ACTION FIGURES!

MUUUM! These are my ACTION FIGURES!

Electro puts Batman and Robin in a box so he can fly them about on his hovercraft whatever, and we get some sub-Superfriends dialogue as Batman laments being in a box with ‘some kind of indestructible material’. Wow, you’ve got West and Ward and this is the best dialogue you can give them?  Bat-Mite then poofs into Electro’s hovercraft…so is he going to be useful? Nope, Electro (whose eyes flash colours here, God bless cutting corners) threatens him and he disappears. Electro says ‘That little runt is smarter than I thought!’…how? It’s pretty stupid to be scared of a shrink ray when you have magic powers; you could zap yourself back to your normal size easily.

You thought this lot was Silver Age so far? Well, you haven’t seen anything yet. Brace yourselves.

Electro brings Batman and Robin to a government building and tells them to steal some military secrets for him. When Batman refuses…excuse me…when Batman re…when Batman refuses…

ELECTRO SHOOTS BEAMS FROM HIS EYES WHICH HYPNOTISE BATMAN AND ROBIN INTO BEING ELECTRO’S SERVANTS.

ELECTRO SHOOTS BEAMS FROM HIS EYES WHICH HYPNOTISE BATMAN AND ROBIN INTO BEING ELECTRO’S SERVANTS.

ELECTRO SHOOTS BEAMS FROM HIS EYES WHICH HYPNOTISE BATMAN AND ROBIN INTO BEING ELECTRO’S SERVANTS.

...

WH

WH

IF HE COULD HYPNOTISE PEOPLE WHY DIDN’T HE HYPNOTISE ANYONE IN THE BANQUET TO NOT COME AFTER HIM?

WHY DOESN’T HE HYPNOTISE BAT-MITE TO BE HIS SERVANT  SINCE BAT-MITE HAS MAGIC AND SHIT?

WHY DOESN’T HE STOMP ON BATMAN AND ROBIN AND GET THE MILITARY SECRETS HIMSELF BY HYPNOTISING AND SHRINKING THE GUARDS ANDFHhefIHhwffpshaPIK

So tiny Batman and Robin infiltrate the building with what Electro calls a ‘teeny camera’ and take pictures of something called ‘Project Alpha’. Or maybe I misheard it and Electro wants to read some mockeries of fanfiction. Batman and Robin get the pictures and Electro puts them in a jar, with what is either the greatest joke ever, or the worst joke ever.

Are you ready for this?

‘THEY SHOULD RENAME YOU “THE DYNAMIC PICKLES”!’

The Dynamic Pickles. The Dynamic Pickles.

Villains calling Batman and Robin ‘dynamic dunces’ and ‘dynamic dummies’ is far more common than it should be, but ‘dynamic pickles’ is a thing of beauty. This…cartoon…this cartoon is a work of art.

Bat-mite goes to Commissioner Gordon’s house, and his daughter Barbara (Batgirl) opens the door. At least it wasn’t the Joker in a Hawaiian shirt. Bat-mite wants her to get Batgirl for him…wow, Batman never told Bat-mite that Barbara was Batgirl. Batman really doesn’t want him on his team, does he?

Quality control.

Quality control.

Back with Electro, where the jar that was holding Batman and Robin changes shape for some reason. Then Electro sees he’s heading for a rock and swerves, so Batman and Robin fall out of the front window, despite the front window clearly having glass on it.

No, the glass doesn’t break. They just went through it like ghosts. Come on, guys, you’re getting your DC heroes mixed up. It’s Martian Manhunter that can do that, not Batman. Anyway, Batman and Robin fall into a river with another fucking slide whistle sound effect. The effects of Electro’s hypno-beams have worn off, so our heroes are back to their old selves. When they get out of the bottle, they hop onto some floating planks of wood because, as Robin says ‘[Batman] always wanted to learn how to surf’.

Um.

Bat-mite is still at Chez Gordon, before he is approached by Batgirl. Because he’s stupid, he doesn’t wonder how Batgirl instantly appeared in the house after Barbara vanished, and goes all Holly from Red Dwarf when he forgets what he meant to tell Batgirl. He does remember eventually though, and him and Batgirl set out. As Batgirl rides on her bike, Bat-mite does too, and does he ride. He grabs onto Batgirl’s ass, with a pleased expression on his face. What a horny little bugger he is. He was annoying enough without making him a pervert.

...

The tiny Batman and Robin surf onto the shore and decide to go to the Batcave to find an antidote to their condition. As Robin says, ‘I hope Bat Computer is feeling his oats tonight!’ Um?  Oh yeah, the talking Bat-computer’s back! Batman’s talking, sentient computer.

Bat-Computer thinks about the situation saying, ‘That Electro is a very clever fellow, alright! Too bad he can’t put his smarts to good use!’ Yes, he’s a wise computer alright. Oh why oh why can’t he end world hunger and cure cancer with hypno-beams? WHY?

Oh, and Bat-Computer cures Batman and Robin by shooting a laser at them. I…don’t think I can give commentary on this episode, really. Merely describing it sounds like I’m telling a joke. Forget this being an adaptation of Silver Age comics, this feels more like a parody of Silver Age comics. Kind of like the live action Adam West series was actually.

I’ll just briefly wrap up. Electro has a big shrinking ray. Batman and his friends go up and stop the ray by bending it and making it shoot Electro’s ship. Electro shrinks and is sent off to jail (though since he’s an alien, shouldn’t be sent to a lab or something, oh who cares).

This episode, for lack of a better word, was GLORIOUS. Glorious in its stupidity, glorious in its surreallity, glorious in its Silver Ageness. This is what the basis for the Batman movie reboot should be; take note, Warner Brothers.

electroposter

Advertisements

About jabberw

A writer of short stories and reviews, who likes to dabble in other creative media as well.
This entry was posted in Comics, Episodes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The New Adventures of Batman – Bite-Sized

  1. Pingback: The New Adventures of Batman – He Who Laughs Last | The Terror of Tiny Toon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s