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
 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.”


“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
 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 baddie-of-the-week got hauled off to jail.

But to laugh, many 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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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
 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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The Batman Review: Strange Minds (S2E10)

(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 3, 2005
Writer: Greg Weisman
 Brandon Vietti

Good evening, mhm, scholars and faithful readers. Dr. Hugo Strange, PhD, speaking.

I am rather pleased to report that the owner and operator of this blog has been reacting, mm, quite well to Arkham Asylum’s latest psychotherapy techniques. Why, at this point, I am reasonably certain he will be fit to rejoin respectable society within as little as two years.

RL Straightjacket
“There are five lights! FIVE LIGHTS!”

Such are the wonders of isolation, electroshock, and their ilk, mm?

Mr. Lotus, however, remains stubbornly insistent on returning to the dreadful little reviews that keep this blog afloat, which no doubt stem from some narcissistic delusion that he is somehow irreplaceable. The Batman‘s one reviewer and champion in this day and age, he’d like to believe. Utter rubbish, of course, and the purpose of this review is to prove it so that I may break his spirit for once and all time complete his treatment and further his recovery. Anyone may review an episode of a cartoon as forgotten as this one, and better, I daresay.

Ah, I see that some of you are already prepared to bombard me with accusations of narcissism equal to or even greater than Mr. Lotus’s, for does this episode not mark my “true” debut on The Batman? Not at all, I contend – that moment is quite far off, and today’s episode largely focuses on the psyche of another of Gotham’s inhabitants. You may have heard of him from some little gossip rag or another.

Joker Delivery

The inner workings of Joker’s mind have been an endless source of fascination to amateurs and professionals around the globe, and the theories, I daresay, are as numerous as the graves he’s filled. Aheh.

In terms of motivation alone, it has been theorized that he was once an ordinary, law-abiding soul, driven to become one of society’s greatest monsters by a tragedy that was largely out of his control; that he was an unrepentant albeit mundane monster inspired to deeper depravity by his first encounter with Batman; that he is in fact perfectly aware of what he is doing and only uses the veneer of insanity to steer himself away from the electric chair; that his mental abnormalities are in fact a kind of “super-sanity” which mocks the very idea of a single consciousness, sane or otherwise. Even my considerable intellect has not solved this conundrum, though I admit that the one opportunity I had to interview him in person was hampered by rather… disagreeable circumstances.

(The man also happens to be an inveterate liar. But that is neither here nor there.)

Hrm. That’s quite enough with the preliminaries. Let us see whether this cartoon, brought to us by perhaps the only writer on this program who even attempted any intellectual sophistication, might shed some light after…

FOX Gotham
“Dr. Strange? I’m looking for a Dr. Strange?”

Who dares… I mean, yes? How may I help you?

FOX Gotham
“Hi, I’m from FOX, and we’re looking to shoehorn feature as many of Batman’s enemies as possible in our second season. Tell me, how do you feel about B.D. Wong?

Ah, say no more. There can be only one logical reply to a situation like this.

Hugo Strange
“When do I begin?”


RL Straightjacket
“Wait, what?! Where are you going?!”


Hugo Strange
“Please. Surely you did not think I would be content to function as a second-rate Horned King, for a third-rate blog that cannot even keep to a schedule?”


RL Straightjacket


Hugo Strange
“Farewell and best of luck, Mr. Lotus. Oh, and do read a book on how to convincingly wear  a straitjacket one day.”

No, wait, you were supposed to be my big comeback! The start of an epic metaplot that would’ve left Unshaved Mouse in the dust! Don’t… leave… me…


Aw, what the hell. Just start the episode.

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The Batman Review: Ragdolls to Riches (S2E09)*

(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: many apologies for the delay; Internet issues made me rewrite this thing twice before it would save properly, and summer classes turned into a last-minute crunch.)

* A Crisis of Infinite Mousetraps tie-in

Original Airdate: July 16, 2005
Writer: Adam Beechen
 Seung Eun Kim

For those keeping count at home, today’s new villain marks The Batman‘s third sojourn into “Wait, who?!?” territory, with the added… perk of being stolen from someone else’s rogues gallery. Cluemaster and Spellbinder might’ve been obscure as all hell, true, but they were Batman villains to the core. This guy, on the other hand…

Ragdoll Who's Who

Okay, so my knowledge of the Flash begins and ends at “that guy who keeps resetting the DC Universe because he’s late to lunch or something”, but this fellow seems woefully underequipped to fight any incarnation of The Fastest Man Alive. I mean, yeah, 90% of Flash’s (the Flashes’?) rogues gallery would probably fit that description, but from what I can tell most of them at least try to thematically oppose his powers. Captain Cold makes things all slippery, Mirror Master teleports, etc.

Hell, if you didn’t know any better, you’d almost think Ragsy was a Batman villain from the start. He’s got the creep factor down pat, not to mention a gimmick that owes a ton to the circus sideshows of yore. Besides, I think seeing a super-contortionist go up against a master martial artist would be a lot more fun.

Of course, all this is Classic Ragdoll. I haven’t read his modern appearances in Starman or Secret Six, but c’mon. How different can they be?

“Yeah, I mean, it’s not like this is an iron law of comics today. Heavens, no.”


“Keep it down, dawg. Ya wanna go back to jackin’ car radios an’ sleepin’ at the mission?”


“I told you guys leaving Mouse was a bad idea. Why doesn’t anyone listen to me?”

Gentlecontinents, please! Mr. Mouse has already made his feelings on your… ah, resignation from his blog quite clear, but if you think you can do better elsewhere…

“NO! I mean, Mouse? Never heard of him. It. You’re our boss, boss.”


Anyways – yeah, for all I know, today’s writers have turned Ragsy into a cokehead neo-Nazi that stitches kidnapped children together or something, And while it would be hilarious to see Kids WB try to fit that into a TV-Y7 slot, it’s probably for the best that this version of Ragdoll hews to his classic roots: a thief with a wince-inducing gimmick, no more, no less.

Let’s take a look.

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The Batman Review: Fire and Ice (S2E08)

(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 20, 2005
Writer: Joseph Kuhr
 Sam Liu

Okay, first things first: yes, as far as I can tell, “Joseph Kuhr” is his real name. No word yet on whether he has to support a wife and unborn child on a pitifully small salary, but just in case, he’s legally forbidden from coming within fifty feet of any chemical plant. [Citation needed]

Anyways, I guess there’s a crumb of novelty to this episode’s teamup that’s not completely arbitrary like “Pets” was, but mostly it just makes me disappointed that the episode isn’t about JLI lesbian shenanigans. As for the comics connection, well… apparently James Robinson liked the basic enough idea to give it a double-page spread in “Face the Face”-

-but I’ll leave it to you to decide if getting publicity from the second-worst Batman story of 2006 is anything to be proud of.

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The Batman Review: The Butler Did It (S2E07)

(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.)

(FURTHER DISCLAIMER: Three-fourths of the way into this review lies a .gif of severe epilepsy-inducing and/or bandwidth-eating capabilities. Discretion is advised.)

Original Airdate: August 20, 2005
Writer: Alexx Van Dyne
 Brandon Vietti

You may or may not recall how The Batman‘s first attempt at doing a “Wait, who?!” villain instead of one of the big names crashed and burned horribly. So horribly that any sane showrunner would’ve been entirely justified in making nothing but Joker and Penguin episodes for the rest of the series, never mind giving some other obscure C-lister a shot.

But Alexx Van Dyne does not play by your rules. Alexx Van Dyne does as he likes, and has been doing so since the day the Heavens themselves opened up to declare that from this day forth, only two X’s would do for a writer so mighty that he teamed up Jackie Chan with Santa Claus and managed to make our TVs not spontaneously explode from the sheer awesomeness.

And so, for his first episode of a Batman cartoon, he chose to do… this guy.

Spellbinder Who's Who

Oh, he may look like the guy Killer Moth and Kite-Man pick on for lunch money, his costume may be the most eye-searing abomination the Silver Age ever produced, and his entire m.o. might be a horribly dated product of the ’60s, but make no mistake – he’s a supremely underrated badass, with a rich, untapped history just begging to be-

Aw, who am I kidding? There’s probably only one reason either The Batman‘s producers or its viewers know about him, and that would be this guy.

Spellbinder Beyond

I don’t exactly have my finger on the pulse of the Batman Beyond fandom, but I do know that Spellbinder is the very first villain to pop up in its theme song, and I’d say that’s got to leave a few impressions. And fair’s fair – I don’t care for the concept behind Beyond, but the first Spellbinder episode was pretty amazing for a villain-of-the-week story. Certainly not from a character standpoint, or a plot standpoint, but definitely from a visual one.

(And I just want to kiss whoever came up with that costume redesign. Platonically.)

Despite his entirely forgettable motives, Beyond‘s Spellbinder combined the Scarecrow’s and Mad Hatter’s gimmicks into a seamless stew of mindfuckery, a top-notch entry into the delightful subgenre known as “Batman trips balls”. Well, delightful before Grant Morrison came along and ruined everything. But let us not think of The Scottish One right now, for his very name tends to depress me.

Instead, let’s take a look at whether The Batman can do its mindfucking predecessors proud.

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The Batman Review: Meltdown (S2E06)

(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 25, 2005
Writer: Greg Weisman
 Seung Eun Kim

And here we arrive at Season 2’s first undisputed masterpiece, which unfortunately has to stand in the shadow of a certain other Batman episode with the exact same title, not to mention similar themes. But honest to God, I think today’s episode may actually be a contender, if not outright superior, thanks to that fellow whose name comes after the Writer tag up there.

Greg Weisman is back, people, and he’s here to kick ass, take names, and sweep the Emmys. Tell us, Sir – what is your secret?

Greg Weisman
“Uh, I treat the viewership like they’ve got more than one brain cell to rub at any given time?”

Oh, Greg. You and your wacko radical theories. Good thing you’re handling the one villain this show allows a modicum of maturity and nuance, else we’d have to put you in the funbox!

Anyways, this is the first time The Batman‘s taken a stab at a villain reformation episode – something That Other Show absolutely loved, especially during its The Adventures of Batman & Robin season. How will the more simplistic, black-and-white world of The Batman handle the same theme? Let’s find out.

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The Batman Review: Pets (S2E05)

(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 18, 2005
Writers: Christopher Yost & J.D. Murray
 Sam Liu

So. Penguin/Man-Bat team-up, yadda yadda yadda, never been done in the comics (best to my knowledge), probably never should. Let’s just get this over with. It’s gonna take all of my inimitable comedic prowess to make this one bearable.

Bag of tricks
Okay, WHO left that out in the open?!

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The Batman Review: Swamped (S2E04)

s(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 11, 2005
Writers: Thomas Pugsley & Greg Klein
 Brandon Vietti

Let’s play pretend for a moment, shall we?

Imagine that you’re a seasoned comic book scribe, a man of humble tastes who’s recently left Stan and Friends for the Distinguished Competition. You know your craft well – enough that you’re writing for Batman, one of the company’s biggest cash cows. Even better, Batman and Detective Comics had settled their differences and merged their borders years ago, allowing DC to milk one story for the price of two that much more space to chronicle the Dark Knight’s adventures.

But as late, the management’s decided that things have gotten a little… stale. Shake-ups in the status quo are called for – nothing too drastic, you realize, but enough to draw in new readers while keeping a tight grip on the old dogs. Plans for a new Robin are already coming along nicely, but what’s really needed is a new villain – someone who can shake Gotham up like never before, test the Bat like none ever have.

Well, you’re not man to run from challenges, and you rise to the occasion. This new rogue on the block’s gonna be tougher and stronger and smarter and uglier than all the rest put together. And everyone’s gonna know it, too, ’cause he’ll be taking over all Gotham’s gangs in a multi-issue story, with every one of the Bat’s other villains along for the ride just so everyone will see what chumps they are next to the champ. Yep, even the Joker.

And when all’s said and done, this new guy will break the Bat, or die trying come closer than anyone else has.

What? Bane? Who’s that? I’m talkin’ about this handsome fella:

Killer Croc

(By the way, it seems that I owe That Other Show’s Clayface an apology. Croc – especially in his early days – lifted way more from Ben Grimm, down to the speedos.)

Created by Spider-Man legend Gerry Conway, Killer Croc was more or less the Bane of the ’80s, and his debut arc was Conway’s swan-song on the Batman books. That story as a whole hasn’t aged especially well (save for one part in a zoo that still gave me the chills when I revisited it recently), but it becomes a bit more interesting in the context of what happened to Croc afterward.

See, a lot of these Ultimate Batman Villains™ tend to only have as much staying power as their creators do (anyone remember KGBeast? Bonecrusher? Hell, even Hush has kinda fallen victim to this), and for a few years after Conway’s run, Croc wasn’t looking like an exception. Post-Conway creators pulled him out for a cameo every now and then, but mostly he just sat there, gathering dust while their Ultimate Batman Villains ran amok.

But then… well, I don’t know exactly what happened, but writers started taking an interest in him again.* As early as Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum one-shot in 1989, he was considered an indispensable part of the Arkham crowd. While some stories (including two of the worst Batman Elseworlds to ever see print) followed Morrison’s lead and turned Croc from “ruthless gangboss with anger issues and horrible skin condition” into “savage, unintelligent animal obsessed with eating people”, others portrayed him as a Frankenstein-esque sympathetic monster, and some even tried resurrecting the gangboss angle, including our old friend…

“Well, shit, Gerry created the character I’d make my bones on. It was the least I could do.”

Unfortunately, while Dixon’s take (which expertly combined the aspiring mobster with the sympathetic outcast) is probably my favorite Croc, the version that’s stuck around with fandom the most is probably Paul Dini’s. Yes, he did give us one of the most terrifying and/or tedious bits in Batman: Arkham Asylum, but I think we all know what I’m really talking about.

The funniest part is that – spoiler – that’s not actually Croc at the card table, but for better or worse, “Almost Got ‘im” was so lauded that it permanently embedded the idea of Croc the rock-obsessed moron into fandom. It even started influencing Croc’s later appearances on the show, despite the fact that his debut painted him as cunning enough to frame a cop for murder. Bah.

Alright, maybe I’m being a little too bitter about that admittedly delightful bit of comedy. Let’s see how The Batman tackles good ol’ Waylon, shall we?

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