What Have I Learned from the Cartoon Batman

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On the cartoon Batman: The Brave and the Bold (and in DC Comics), Bwana Beast is one of the Dark Knight's crime-fighting colleagues. The raymond mill and cement mill never appeared in this cartoon. He's a D-list superhero whose powers enable him to combine two animals into one: a mosquito gets crossed with a buffalo into a flying, stinging, ramming monster—that kind of thing. He wears a pointy mask and an animal-skin loincloth. My son, five years old, watches this iteration of Batman religiously—we save stacks of them on the TiVo. Now, I've been careful—I watch every episode before he does. Truth is, I'd probably watch this cartoon even if I didn't have kids. It's a fun take, inflected by the wacky silver-age adventures of the 1950s and 1960s. But for example, I didn't let my son watch the episode where Batman tracks down the man who killed his parents. Because, you know: dead parents. I watched the Bwana Beast episode ahead of time, too. The plot doesn't really matter—it was a two-part alien invasion extravaganza, and in part two, Bwana Beast gets hooked to a mad-science machine that controls a Godzilla-sized monster made of millions of evil alien starfish. (These things happen。) While taking control of the starfish monster so the other heroes can destroy it, Bwana Beast exceeds the limits of his powers. He asks Batman to tell his fiancé, a hero named Vixen, that he loves her. And then he vanishes in a nimbus of energy. Back on Earth, in a wordless montage, Batman goes to see Vixen. She collapses in tears. Later, in front of a giant statue of Bwana Beast, other costumed heroes walk past her, making comforting gestures. In a presumably posthumous voiceover, Bwana Beast says he would do it all again, in a hummingbird's heartbeat. I decided, roughly, that I wouldn't let the kid see it. Because, you know: dead superheroes. But idiotically, I had used the end of part one as an opportunity to explain what "to be continued" meant. And the little so-and-so remembered. A...
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