Batman: The Brave and the Bold — a quirky, kid-friendly animated series that ran between 2008 and 2011 — put lesser-known DC characters center stage in simple, action-packed stories. After initial skepticism from fans due to his light-hearted tone, B:TBATB has been re-evaluated over the years and has managed to take its rightful place among Batman’s greatest animated films. Developed by James Tucker and Michael Jelenic, the show’s strengths lay in its wit, sense of humor, and full dedication to DC’s extensive roster of characters.
Based on the classic comic book gimmick of recurring superhero team-ups, Batman worked alongside all sorts of heroes, from the rollicking Aquaman to the crook-turned-hero. plastic man B:TBATB gave obscure characters their time to shine, resulting in a variety of stories, with Batman forming a constant base. One such character, used in several episodes, was comics legend Steve Ditko’s oddball but persistent mystery-man The Question.
The question was one of several unique heroes to team up with Batman
The original iteration of The Question was a no-nonsense, hard-nosed detective character steeped in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism (a character trait hilariously explored in 2021 DC Showcase: Blue Beetle, which combined the question with another Ditko creation – Blue Beetle Ted Kord). As with almost every comic book character, The Question has gone through all sorts of changes over its long life. At his core, however, he has always remained a steadfast, selfless individual; With no special or supernatural powers, he uses his wits and investigative skills to solve crimes and bring evildoers to justice.
Ditko’s Avenger hides his identity behind a custom-made mask that gives him a faceless appearance (and a custom-made belt buckle that, once activated, emits a vapor that The Question uses to change the color of his clothes). classic 1930s and 1940s mystery men – characters popular in all forms of media, from radio shows to comics. This version of the character, voiced by Nicholas Guest, brought back the hero’s signature blue trench coat and fedora (the same ensemble worn by Jeffrey Combs, who voiced Question in Justice League Unlimited) and not only allowed him to establish himself as a curious mind, but also to deliver his own share of knockout punches.
Steve Ditkos “The question always finds the answer”.
As resourceful and intelligent as any other version of the character, B:TBATB (which was rare) gave The Question a small but effective arc that spanned two episodes: “The Knights of Tomorrow” and “Darkseid Descending”. Each episode of the show began with a brief mini-adventure, essentially a teaser that typically had nothing to do with the actual episode. The teaser in The Knights of Tomorrow sees The Question embarking on a reconnaissance mission on Apokolips and communicating wirelessly with Batman on Earth. It all ends on a cliffhanger as The Question is soon discovered and after a brief brawl with a gang of Parademons appears to be doomed to doom – with a huge Apokoliptian fire pit right below.
In the very next episode, Darkseid Descending, Apokoliptian forces invade and wage all-out war on Earth. Batman quickly assembles the show’s answer to the Justice League (dubbed the Justice League International in reference to the ’80s comic book series by Keith Giffen, JM DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire). Unfortunately, these heroes – Booster Gold, Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes, and Green Lantern Guy Gardner – proved inexperienced and completely unprepared for battle, despite their powers. Towards the end of the episode, a Boom Tube opens and Darkseid himself – one of the most evil and powerful creatures in the DC Universe – eventually appears and Earth is all but conquered.
Jack Kirby’s Darkseid is defeated by a trenchcoat-wearing lunatic
The episode’s McGuffin is a boom-tube generator, a towering piece of machinery that Apokolips’ forces placed in Washington, D.C. to immediately transport the rest of their soldiers and weapons to Earth. At the last possible moment, as Batman continues his hopeless fight against Darkseid, the generator is activated. Except this time its frequency is reversed and instead of helping the invading army, it sucks up every last Parademon and sends the enemy back to Apokolips. As the smoke clears, a lone parademon enters the frame, revealing himself to be The Question.
The Question cut communications with Batman and was forced to work undercover, infiltrating Darkseid’s forces and managing to hijack the Boom Tube generator to save Earth. Even for a show that has the shape-shifting Plastic Man teaming up with DC Comics’ Uncle Sam, this was a harrowing mix of characters. On paper it might sound ridiculous to have The Question – a hero with no powers or specific knowledge of alien worlds – sneaking around Apokolips only to show up at the last minute and save the day – and maybe it is – but it plays sarcasm-free and ends with an ending that feels both deserved and new.
This combination of Ditko’s trenchcoat madman and Jack Kirby’s Fourth World conqueror, Darkseid, is an unabashed love letter to comics. Ridiculous as many of these stories are, all of these heroes bring a sense of joy to those who follow their exploits. Darkseid Descending, in particular, shows that it pays to take risks in the name of fun and adventure, and most importantly, that every hero – no matter how outlandish or weird – has something to offer.