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B&B TV: "Duel of the Double Crossers!"

This week, on Batman: The Bold and the Beautiful-- no, that can't be right-- Jonah Hex, Mongul, and all sorts of goodness, badness, and ugliness!

"Duel of the Double Crossers!"

Written by: Todd Casey

Diedrich Bader's name would not be what jumps to mind when I think "Batman," but he's really made the role his own. No longer should someone hear "Oswald from the Drew Carey Show doing a growly voice," but rather simply "Batman." He brings the confidence of uber-Bats and the whimsy of Silver Age Bats and combines them into something great. How many other actors could deliver the line "You're about to be humbled by the hammers of justice!" so believably?

This week's cold open gives us the return of the Outsiders, probably the only revamp this show's presented that I can't quite get behind. The silent-but-deadly schoolgirl Katana is pretty effective, but the teenaged, hoodie-wearing Black Lightning feels too similar to the animated Static, and the dim jock with a heart of gold version of Metamorpho loses a lot of the character's original Haney-and-Fradon charm. Here we get your "big battle turns out to be a training exercise" plot, over and done in two minutes. Moving on.

The main plot of "Duel of the Double Crossers!" throws together different elements from all corners of the DC Universe and makes the story work wonderfully. Phil Morris, better known as Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld or the Martian Manhunter on Smallville, voices Jonah Hex, the world's toughest bounty hunter. What we think is an Old West setting, however, turns out to be an alien planet; Mongul (voiced by Gary Anthony Williams) has nabbed Hex from across time and is using him to round up fighters for Warworld. Naturally, Batman-- the universe's greatest warrior-- becomes the next target.

After dealing with Zebra Man (!), Batman comes face-to-scars with Hex himself, brandishing a wanted poster. Batman immediately realizes Jonah's come for him from Warworld, and a Marvel-esque fight between two good guys ensues. Jonah Hex proves faster at the draw than Batman, and the Caped Crusader falls to the cowboy's robot horse, ray guns, and laser lasso (!!). We're treated to a fantastic Morricone-esque score here, complete with badass whistling.

The scenes at Warworld are absolutely fantastic, featuring Mongul's rivalry with his sister, Mongal (also voiced by Gary Anthony Williams); Mongal's henchladies, the Female Furies (well, Lashina and Stompa, anyway); and the reigning gladatorial champion, Steppenwolf, who goes after Batman next. From here on, the episode is all-out-action, with Batman besting Steppenwolf with his Bat-brass-knuckles, Jonah Hex striking a deal with Mongal to go back to his own time, and thus screw over Mongul (Hex's great line: "How do I know you're not fulla cowpies?"), Hex riding in to Batman's rescue, and a great battle with the Female Furies, in which Hex fights-- but mostly flirts-- with Lashina, as the Masked Manhunter takes cares of business with Stompa.

Batman and Jonah plot to free all of Mongul's prisoners when the man himself shows up and begins pounding some faces in (Hex: "Face ain't gonna get much worse"). Naturally, to beat him, they've got to blow up the main computer, thus trapping Hex in a world he never made! It also frees all the Warworld gladiators, who dogpile on Mongul. Batman goes home, and Hex rides off into the sort-of sunset with Lashina. I guess the next time we see him, he'll be in full-on sci-fi mode, much like that short-lived 80s Hex series.

The Moral of the Story: Never leave a man behind. Sacrifice for the greater good. Find a girl who's into S&M.

Verdict: Pretty darn awesome.

Comments:

- Most problems on this series are solved with violence, just like the 60s Batman show. Some things never change.

- Gary Anthony Williams really nails both the Mongul and Mongal roles. Shades of his cross-dressing Boston Legal character!

- This episode throws together bits from Kirby, Moore, Aparo, and DeZuniga in a veritable smorgasbord of senses-shattering scintillation.

- Kamandi episode next week! Hot damn, I'm excited.

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