Over a year ago it was announced that Firestorm would appear on the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. This past Friday, the Nuclear Man finally graced our screens in his first animated appearance in nearly 25 years. Was it worth the wait? That really depends upon your perspective.
The episode teaser featured Booster Gold and Batman at the mercy of the Riddler. After some wacky hijinks, they dispatched the Riddler and his goons. In the episode proper, we’re introduced to high school coach Ronnie Raymond and science whiz kid Jason Rusch on a school field trip touring a nuclear testing facility. Unbeknown to the students, the supervillain Dr. Double X was attempting to cause a nuclear accident in order to super-charge his powers. Batman arrived to stop Dr. Double X and all heck broke loose. A massive nuclear explosion triggered the fusion of Rusch and Raymond into one being, while Batman was fissioned into three separate beings. Rusch and Raymond found themselves sharing a nuclear-charged body, but had to figure out a way to work together. Rusch controlled the body, while Raymond could advise as a voice only Rusch could hear. The bulk of the episode explored the combination of Rusch and Raymond, while the three different Batman personalities were for laughs (logical Batman, violent Batman, and slacker Batman). In the end Dr. Double-X was defeated, Batman was reintegrated into one body, and Firestorm came into his own as a superhero. For a more detailed recap, visit TV.com by clicking here.
Overall, I enjoyed the episode for what it was – a kids cartoon. Normally I have no problem watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but this time my wife (a non-geek) watched it with me. Having her there made me more self-conscious than usual and helped me to realize the target market for this cartoon was probably 10 year old kids. Funny how having her around makes me act more mature. Speaking of 10 year olds, my step-son watched the episode and declared it “AWESOME!”
Seeing Firestorm on the small screen was a blast. Rusch’s interaction with Raymond’s floating head was well done throughout the episode and often funny. The show creators managed to demonstrate the majority of Firestorm’s powers, including his energy blasts, transmutation of non-organic objects, and flight. The transmutation was explored during a fun montage, but was also utilized in combat. The costume, which was provided by Batman to dampen the radiation Firestorm was exuding, was basically Ronnie’s classic costume with Jason’s chest emblem and collar. I was totally jazzed that the flaming hair looked so great! The fire was in constant motion (unlike Firestorm’s first season on Super Friends) and there were “Kirby Dots” at the base of the flame. Loved it! Interestingly enough Firestorm did quite a bit of punching in this episode, not something normally associated with the character (outside of the Super Powers action figure). There were also some funny gags, like suggesting Firestorm adopt the superhero name, “Flame Dude”.
There were a few great Firestorm moments worth mentioning. Early on we got a quick glimpse of a Professor Martin Stein look-a-like at the nuclear testing facility. That made me smile. In another scene, Raymond influenced the body creating havoc on the merged body’s balance as Rusch and Raymond fought to go in different directions. That’s not something often explored in the comics. The credits at the end of the show stated, “Firestorm created by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom”. I was very happy to see credit given to Gerry and Al. They deserve it. Finally, the best Firestorm-related laugh of the show was when slacker Batman referred to Firestorm as, “Our little schizophrenic candlestick.” LOL!!!
In terms of voice acting, Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick on SpongeBob SquarePants, and Dauber on Coach) was wonderful as the dim-witted version of Ronnie Raymond. While this isn’t my favorite interpretation of Ronnie, Fagerbakke did a great job given how the character was written. Tyler James Williams (Chris on Everybody Hates Chris) did a really good job switching between geeky teenager Jason Rusch and more confident Firestorm. Again, given how these characters were written, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that could have done better than these guys.
I enjoyed this version of Firestorm for the purposes of the cartoon, but it also made me realize from a storytelling perspective that Jason doesn’t need Ronnie. If Jason had been more timid, I could see how the more aggressive Ronnie would be of benefit. Since Jason didn’t have any trepidation and already had the science knowledge, I’m not sure what Ronnie brought to the matrix besides fun “buddy movie” interaction. This same logic might apply to the comics too. Now I’m left wondering what the ideal matrix would be after Blackest Night. Maybe Ronnie in control of the body with Jason as the scientific adviser? That works, but doesn’t seem fair to Jason who has earned his place at the JLA table.
While Batman and Firestorm shared equal screen time, my review has focused on Firestorm for obvious reasons. The episode was fun and I’ll take this version of Firestorm for what it’s worth, but I keep hoping that someday we’ll get a serious animated version of Firestorm more inline with the comics. I’ll finish with the absolute funniest quote of the show; violent Batman shouting in a rage, “Batman does not eat nachos!” … Maybe you had to be there.
What did you think of the episode?
For further discussion, check out the following sites:
- DC Comics Message Board – Firestorm Forum
- Comic Book Resources Forum – Batman: Brave and the Bold thread
- Bat-Blog posts about Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon
- Review at the Mail it to Team-up blog
- Discussion at rec.arts.comics.dc.universe
- Comic Bloc forum (at Geoff John’s web site) – Brave and the Bold thread
- Review at Replublibot
My thanks to Tommy over at the Bat-Blog for sending me so many great screen shots and the video clip!
Support Firestorm! Fan the flame!