The Batman Review: A Dark Knight to Remember (S3E03)

(DISCLAIMER: The author of this blog owns none of the properties depicted below. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise.)

(This review dedicated to the late Darwyn Cooke.)

Original Airdate: October 1, 2005
Writer: Joseph Kuhr
Director:
 Brandon Vietti

Okay, everyone’s waited long enough for this, so let’s just get something out of the way. Fat, obnoxious villain? Batman getting amnesia? I think we all know where this is going.

I mean, if I had the slightest cause for hope, I’d be trying to link this episode’s inspiration to Puckett, Templeton, and Parobeck instead. But that part of my brain has been on life support ever since I found half my family are voting for The Donald, so let’s just dive in.

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The Batman Review: Batgirl Begins, Part Two (S3E02)

(DISCLAIMER: The author of this blog owns none of the properties depicted below. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. Also, this blog will not be held responsible for any mental trauma ensuing from looking up what the Hydra Trash Party is.)

Original Airdate: September 24, 2005
Writers: Adam Beechen and Michael Jelenic
Director:
 Christopher Berkeley
Special Guest Villain Reviewer: Lauralot

Previously…

Gaia
“I’ve been asleep for HOW LONG?!”

                                                        

Captain Planet
“Now, Gaia-“

                                                                     

Gaia
“Answer. The. Question.”

                                                        

Captain Planet
“… since ’96 or so. But don’t worry, things couldn’t have gotten that-“

                                                        

Headlines

                                                 

Captain Planet
“Uh… yeah, I’ll just go round up Kwame and the rest…”

                                                    

Gaia
“No. You won’t. Humanity’s had its fucking chance, old friend.”

                                                  

Gaia
“It’s time I got back to what I do best: making monsters.”

                                                     

Birth of Ivy
“Rise, my new champion. RISE.”

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The Batman Review: Batgirl Begins, Part One (S3E01)

(DISCLAIMER: The author of this blog owns none of the properties depicted below. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise. Also, this blog will not be held responsible for any mental trauma ensuing from looking up what the Hydra Trash Party is.)

Original Airdate: September 17, 2005
Writer: Michael Jelenic
Director:
 Brandon Vietti
Special Guest Villain Reviewer: Lauralot

And we’re back, folks. Who’s ready for another thirteen riveting reviews of Kids WB’s second-most successful Batman cartoon?

Joker cricket

So. Season Trois. With Batman now in Gotham’s good graces and the “threat” of the GCPD snugly boxed away, the showrunners needed a new gimmick development to keep viewers hooked and the beast known as Mattel appeased. No problem, right? The stage was perfectly set for a certain Boy Wonder to swing into the hearts and minds of children everywhere, as he’d been doing for the last sixty-odd years. Best of all, Robin was about as gritty and realistic as Scooby-Doo, so there was no way the Nolan movies would’ve called dibs-

“No, but I did. Get in line, pal.”

Welp.

Yes, to the relief of not just a few fans, Teen Titans was still going strong and making it very clear that other shows could feature Robin over its cold, dead body. This left The Batman‘s showrunners up guano creek without a paddle, until some brave but unremembered soul in their midst recalled what history’s very first Batman show did to shake up its third season.

And just like that, they had their out.

Greetings, citizens!  Lauralot here, current torturer of Marvel characters in fan fiction, but before that, torturer of the Bat-verse!  And long before that, a kid who ran around her yard pretending to be Batgirl, because what else is a ginger girl in the nineties going to do when she plays Batman especially when her sister’s already claimed Batman, the Joker, Two-Face, and everyone else all for herself?

In 2005, however, I was exactly none of those things.  I was a freshman in high school who caught the occasional episode of Teen Titans on TV, but who had mostly been caught up in the explosion of manga and anime popularity in the West.  I’m not even sure if I realized The Batman existed at the time.  Which is, in a way, a blessing; I’d have inevitably compared it to That Other Show that I grew up with, and I’d have inevitably found it wanting.  At least now, I can give the show a fair shake.

As fair a shake as I can manage, anyway, given that Barbara Gordon is my favorite character in all of comics and once I finally jumped back on the Bat bandwagon in 2008, I quickly devoured anything and everything I could find that had to do with her.  So my standards might be a bit unreasonably high.  

Part of me really wonders what it would’ve been like if The Batman came out in the 2010s. Between Twitter and Tumblr, you’d probably have a larger, or at least more concentrated, fanbase willing to stick up for it. But on the other hand, it did randomly boot a woman of color from the cast and try to replace her with a white Batgirl and… oh dear God. You get the feeling Dan Didio was taking notes at the time and casting glances at Cassandra Cain?

I get the feeling DiDio’s taking notes whenever something unfortunate happens to a lady hero.  Come to think of it, wasn’t 2005 the year DC revealed that Leslie Thompkins deliberately let Stephanie Brown die to teach Batman a lesson?

Yeah.  It may be best if I don’t derail the whole review with a vitrolic rant about that.

So, Barbara Gordon!  She’s had a number of origins over the years, with probably the most well-known being Beatty and Dixon’s Batgirl: Year One.  Which, by the way, is the most awesome origin, but for comparison purposes with “Batgirl Begins”, it’s probably best to use That Other Show’s “Shadow of the Bat” episodes.  They’re both two parters of an animated series as opposed to single issue comics or miniseries.  They also both feature Barbara suiting up to help her father, although “Batgirl Begins” is a literal rescue mission, whereas “Shadow of the Bat” has Barbara trying to save Jim’s reputation after he’s been jailed on suspicion of taking bribes.

What’s interesting to me about “Batgirl Begins” is that, unlike in many other Batgirl origins, Barbara isn’t just in costume when circumstances around her force her to react.  In her original comic introduction, Barbara was on her way to a costume party that Killer Moth crashed.  In “Shadow of the Bat,” she was pretending to be Batman at a rally when gunfire broke out.  And the New 52 origin by Gail Simone had Barbara throw on a mock-Batsuit for protection when the police station was under attack.

Here, Barbara decides to become a Bat to try and save her friend, and then creates the costume.  That’s pretty cool, and it reminds me of Barbara’s introduction on the Adam West show.  Both times, there was no circumstance thrown at her while she was in costume.  It was just Barbara being awesome.

Like a lot of things on The Batman, Babs’ big coming-out party hasn’t aged flawlessly, but I have to give the writers credit for at least one thing: they did not short-change her in the enemy department. Sidekicks, especially in a franchise as villain-driven as Batman, are easy to write off when so few of them have worthwhile enemies of their own – hell, the closest thing Babs had in the comics was Killer fucking Moth

I think you mean the greatest villain in all of comics.

Baaah. Anyways, the Adam West show mitigated this by spotting her Penguin (who was still a rather big deal back then), but The Batman one-upped ’em with…

Y’know what, why don’t we let the lady introduce herself?

Poison Ivy

The genesis of Poison Ivy was, admittedly, not that impressive. Her creator? The worst Wonder Woman writer ever. Her concept? “Hey, what if Bettie Page stalked Batman?” The poor girl didn’t even get a proper origin until more than ten years after her debut, and at a different writer’s hands, to boot.

But about ten years after that, things started looking up.

For now was the age of the British Invasion, of the Vegetable Theology, of DC Comics realizing that they’d better start milking everything Alan Moore had written, because their former golden boy wouldn’t come back with a blowtorch to his feet. Magic- and plant-themed characters (the more obscure, the better) became the new in-thing, allowing some nobody called Neil Gaiman to swoop in and turn Ivy into a veritable goddess with the entire plant kingdom at her beck and call. This gave her a big enough boost to catch the eye of That Other Show’s makers, and the rest is history.

Ivy is the last real Arkham A-lister to get The Batman‘d, and the choice to tie her debut with Batgirl’s strikes me as fitting, if not long overdue. They both popped up in 1966, right around the time America realized this “women’s lib” thing wasn’t going to leave anytime soon, but despite all the thematic potential (deliberately plain-Jane bookworm vs. glamorous, fame-hungry seductress) and the fact that superhero comics practically invented the Designated Catfight, they remained perfect strangers to one another. In fact, to my knowledge, they’ve squared off exactly one other time. In 1978.

“B… but…”

I REPEAT: ONE OTHER TIME, IN 1978.*

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The Batman Review: Night and the City (S2E13)

(DISCLAIMER: The author of this blog owns none of the properties depicted below. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise.)

Original Airdate: September 10, 2005
Writer: Steven Melching
Director:
 Brandon Vietti

And once again, ladies and gents, we come to the end of an era. The end of a status quo. And the end of certain beloved cast members.

Just not funny
“Wait, what?

                                                 

Things Get Worse
“Didn’t ya hear? Accounting says this show’s waaay over budget.”

                                                   

JokerUhOh
“So we’re gonna have to lose ourselves some dead weight.”

                                              

Alfred Mistake
“Indeed? And who, might I ask, is on the proverbial chopping block?”

                                                

Final Riddle
“Ah, ah, ah. Ask yourselves not who in. Ask w-“  

Ah-pa-pap. Let’s leave that little surprise for later, Eddie.

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The Batman Review: The Laughing Bat (S2E12)

(DISCLAIMER: The author of this blog owns none of the properties depicted below. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise.)

Original Airdate: June 4, 2005
Writer: Michael Jelenic
Director:
 Seung Eun Kim
Special Guest Villain Reviewer: Napoleon “OverMaster” de Cheese

So, just to reiterate…

Batman laughing: terrifying as balls.

Batman laughing

And he means hairy balls. Big, bulbous, hairy balls.

This is something that’s easy to recognize on both a superficial level – especially with today’s Batman growing more humorless by the year – and on more thematic levels. After all, almost from the moment of his debut, Batman was all about control – the man who could shake off Scarecrow’s hallucinogens, Poison Ivy’s seduction, and more to impose his own brand of order on a chaotic world. Even Adam West’s take would rarely give more than a single condescending chuckle as the villain got hauled off to jail.

But to laugh, a lot of people would contend, is the ultimate surrender of control. Fear and lust can be excused as instincts necessary for survival, but laughter is nothing more than distancing yourself from life and all its trials and tribulations. How callous. How pathetic.*

How utterly perfect for Batman’s archenemy.

But don’t take it from me. We’ve got a real Batman authority with us today:

Hello, I’m OverMaster, also known as Napoleon De Cheese, fellow uber-geek and fanfiction scribe. You’re probably well-acquainted with my award-winning megacrossover Unequally Rational and Emotional.

Joker cricket

… or perhaps Thirty-One Clown Princesses in Amber?

Joker cricket

Tales Calculated to Drive You Batty, then?

Joker cricket

… anyways, I choose my Internet names on whims of a moment and it shows. Saying I am the glass half empty type would be too generous to me. In short, I’m hardly a barrel of laughs (aren’t you glad yet you’re going to spend large chunks of this review with me?) and yet my second or third (depending on the day) most favorite character ever is the Joker. Go figure.

I’d like to start my participation in this review by begging you not to leave because of me. Just be strong, grind your teeth and bear through it, like most people involved in my life. You might even emerge a better person, although that hasn’t happened to anyone else involved in my life yet. But it might yet happen. Might.

Also, the following review is probably best read if you try and hear my bits through it in an Eeyore voice while you picture Rubber Lotus’ being said aloud in a… Tigger, voice, I guess? After all, the most wonderful thing about Rubber Lotuses is he’s the only one!

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Because Nobody Asked for It: My Top 10 Episodes of That Other Show

Hey, everyone. Have a nice Non-Denominational Winter Holiday of Your Choice?

Great! ’cause I’ve got good news and bad news.

Look, you guys have my word that the “The Laughing Bat” review is 90% completed, but there’s a slight production hitch that means it probably definitely won’t be done before we ring in the new year. But because my OCD acts up at the sight of a whole month empty I don’t want to leave you lot without my inimitable comedic prowess for so long-

Bag of tricks
WHY?! WHY DO YOU TORMENT ME?!

-here’s a little something that sooner or later, every Batman nerd shares on the Internet, free will optional. This might be a blog mainly dedicated to The Batman (for now), but I certainly don’t want you folks to come away with the impression that I don’t appreciate what its immediate predecessor did. I probably won’t ever love That Other Show as much as kids who legitimately grew up with it, but I love it all the same.

Suffice it to say, there be spoilers ahead!

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The Batman Review: Grundy’s Night (S2E11)

(DISCLAIMER: The author of this blog owns none of the properties depicted below. All images used below are property of their respective companies unless stated otherwise.)

Original Airdate: August 27, 2005
Writer: Adam Beechen
Director:
 Sam Liu

Ahh, Halloween.

Really, is there any holiday more fitting for a Batman story? The night instantly justifies masks and gimmickry galore, to say nothing of all the potential to further Batman’s creature-of-the-night image, all the angsty childhood flashbacks he’s sure to get at the mere mention of trick-or-treating, how one of his A-list enemies is literally built around terrifying people…

Or he could just get in a punch-up with a big white zombie. There’s precedent for that, too.

Like Ragdoll, Solomon Grundy was originally a foe for a relatively obscure Golden Age hero – in his case, the Green Lantern Alan Scott. But unlike ol’ Ragsy, Grundy was never truly forgotten by fandom or creators: after his debut, he lumbered around various supervillain teams (one of which eventually catapulted him to minor Internet stardom), fought just about every hero in the DCU at least once, got to be a hero at a few intervals, and eventually ingrained himself in Batman’s rogues gallery deep enough to snag a boss fight in Arkham City.

Grundy’s deal in the comics is pretty convoluted (especially when you factor in the whole “reborn with a different personality each time” thing), and those of you truly curious can find a good, geeky analysis here. For our purposes, it boils down to this: 19th century robber baron turned into a zombie, (usually) your standard-issue dumb muscle, except since he’s not really “alive”, even DC’s most squeaky-clean heroes tend to give zero fucks about killing him. In fact, the first time he fought Batman, this happened.

Batman vs Grundy

Let’s see if the big guy will fare any better here, shall we?

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