Last Friday, Batman: The Brave and The Bold delivered a zany episode that was chock full of references to baffling Silver Age Superman stories. Yes, Jimmy Olsen married a gorilla, and Superman wore his evil pope hat.
Friday's episode — "Battle of the Superheroes!" — marked the beginning of the end for The Brave and The Bold. Cartoon Network's pulling the plug on the show to make room for a less happy-go-lucky Bat-toon. This is a bummer, as "Battle of the Superheroes!" aptly demonstrated how the show can be accessible to a wee audience while simultaneously tossing out oodles of winks and nods to long-time DC fans.
The episode was also special because it marked the first time Superman has been featured prominently on BatB. And what era of the Man of Steel did they showcase? The Silver Age, particularly the lurid and wackadoo covers popularized by the website Superdickery.com.
"Battle of the Superheroes!" tossed out the craziness early and often. After Batman and Robin defeated the gangster Pharaoh (a.k.a. King Tut) while wearing mummy outfits, the action turned to Metropolis, where Superman and Batman team up to investigate a series of rare gem thefts. Of course, these precious stones happen to be red Kryptonite (secretly hidden in Lois' jewelry and Jimmy's wristwatch). Superman then goes a rampage of boorish behavior lifted right out of the comic books.
Superman's power-drunk rudeness was a hoot, but the fun didn't stop there. The episode also showcased the foibles of Superman's best friend, Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy pretended to die, and Mr. Mxyzptlk turned him into a genie, a werewolf, and a gorilla's groom (among many things). "Battle of the Superheroes!" didn't shy away from innuendos either. At one point Lois remarks, "The world would be a better place if we all had a little Superman within us." Sure, this could have been a totally innocent comment, but after that song about Aquaman's plankton-sized genitalia, we're not so sure.
The episode even capped off with a brawl between Batman and Superman straight out of The Dark Knight Returns. For younger fans, it was a worthy explanation of what makes Superman tick. For DC veterans, it was a cornucopia of semi-obscure gags you'd never thought you'd see on national television. Exemplary entertainment.