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The Batman has managed to make it to a fifth season without me paying much attention. This is of course the cartoon series which started up in 2004, and not the exceptional cartoon series from that started in 1992. Sadly, Batman: The Animated Series only lasted 3 season in it’s original incarnation.
Anywho, enough about B:TAS and onto The Batman. At this point in the series, Gotham city is being reconstructed after an alien invasion from the previous season. The former loner Batman has picked up a Robin and a Batgirl as his horrid dialogue spouting sidekicks. Batman is now such a team player that he is trying to get Superman to join the newly formed Justice League.
That just sounds wrong doesn’t it?
Batman is trying to get Superman to join in?
Here are our episodes:
The Batman/Superman story Parts 1 and 2
Superman comes to Gotham city to deliver an alien relief fund check from Metropolis. Superman is leaner and younger looking, redesigned from his Adventures of Superman days. He seems more aloof and alien than in previous incarnations, while his Clark Kent is a complete Christopher Reeves style nerd. What makes this a bit jarring is the fact that a lot of the old voices (from the Adventures days) have returned. Clancy Brown reprises his role as Lex Luthor and Dana Delaney returns to voice Lois. Mercy seconds Lex, but looks completely different and is sadly not played by TV’s Dr. Cuddy. Superman has his Justice League actor playing him (George Newbern), but doesn’t know Batman. It all feels like some form of anti-continuity.
The episode is pretty much a series of mostly unrelated fight scenes, but it is always nice to see Batman and Superman together.
Kids around a Wayne Industries lab are getting sick, so Green Arrow comes to Gotham to make Bruce Wayne pay. We get a bit of an origin story, and a quick hero-team up. Green Arrow is awesome, and its nice to see him get some TV time. The episode is nothing to write home about.
Firefly, or Firebug or Bumblebee man, is back. This time he accidently exposes himself to some phosphorus and gets fire powers. That’s kind of a big coincidence. His girlfriend doesn’t like it because they can no longer hug without asbestos underpants or something like that.
A Mirror Darkly
John Larroquette shows up to play the Mirror Master. He’s made some mirror clones of Batman and the Flash to steal some fancy lenses. The real Batman and real Flash team up to stop them. The Flash is played for laughs and it isn’t entirely clear which Flash he is. I’m assuming Barry, because the show has Dick Grayson as Robin. This show seems to prefer silver-age heroes.
The Joker steals a train to mesmerize people with flashing lights to steal something or another. This show’s Joker is crappy. It is a bad Mark Hamill imitation, except that the pitch goes up and down a la HIM from The Powerpuff girls. The re-design is ugly. New Harley is also sub-par.
Boo, new Joker.
This is probably the best episode of the season. Hal Jordan drops by to tell Batman to watch out for Sinestro who just broke from Space Jail. Dick is a huge Green Lantern fan and really nerds up around him.
Green Lantern gets the tar beat out of him by Sinestro. He orders the ring to go find Batman. This leads to the ring ending up in the ands of the Penguin who incompetently uses it for robbery. Sinestro chases the Penguin, and Batman saves the day by doing some wonderfully simple problem solving.
This episode is more fun than the rest of the season put together. The problem is, The Batman, as a show, is supposed to skew younger and “more urban”. As such, I feel bad for all the black kids who are used to the Green Lantern as the only notable African American superhero in the DC cartoon-iverse. I like Hal, don’t get me wrong, but why are we sticking to all the Silver Age stuff?
The heroes are all in their “classic” forms, with everything else changed around them. Weird, huh?
The Metal Face of Comedy
Nightwing makes an appearance, sort of, and we get another episode with the crappy Joker. This one involves nanites and hacking the internets.
Attack of the Terrible Trio
Thanks to hacking the internets, a bunch of college students are able to make patches that change them into super-powered furries. Very little about this episode makes sense, and it seems designed to please a particular group of fetishists.
But, if you’ve been dying to see the Batman riding a giant chimaera, this might be for you!
The End of the Batman
Two Batman and Robin like figures are aiding criminals in Gotham. They wear a W and an S on their respective costumes, so I naturally assumed them to be WomBatman and Sparrow. As it turns out they are Wrath and Scorn, and their alter-egos hang out with Bruce and Dick. The episode never really develops into anything special, and more than a few plotholes can be found.
What Goes Up
This episode features some spacedust that makes things float, and since this season is the Brave and the Bold, we get another super-hero team-up: Hawkman. Hawkman shows up out of nowhere, smashes some badguys and leaves.
Lost Heroes Parts 1 and 2
Superman teams up with Batman, but as they foil the crime, Superman disappears. Green Arrow teams up with the Flash, but as they foil the crime, the Flash disappears. Those pesky aliens are back and this time they are using Hugo Strange to kidnap super-humans, steal their powers, and put those powers into evil robots.
The robots don’t look remotely human, but they wear similar costumes and colors to the heroes whose powers they stole. It’s all very silly, especially considering that the Green Lantern’s power comes from his ring and not his body. Well, and if you took Martian Manhunter’s powers away from him, he’d probably revert to his more Martian form. And Hawkman’s power comes from the magic spacedust in his costume.
Thankfully Batman, in a nod to the comics, has contingency plans to stop all the heroes. Sadly, in lieu of something more clever, it is just a bunch of rayguns with the respective weaknesses of each hero taped to it. It would have helped if the episode had done things like, you know, explain that yellow is the Green Lanterns weakness, or fire is that of the Martian Manhunter. Heck, I’ve watched the episode twice, and I don’t know what sort of ray was supposed to weaken Hawkman.
Lousy kids show. . . I’m going to rent me a copy of The Man Who Killed the Batman from The Animated Series.
No complaints here.
Aside from a few trailers for non-DC cartoons, we get two short featurettes. One is on the “Team-Up-Tales” of DC comics.
The other is called The Batman: Justice League Profiles. This thing goes over all the designs and thought processes behind the other super-heroes that show up in this season of The Batman. We go through the characters one at a time, but there isn’t a chapter list or anything to just watch the 2 minutes devoted to, say, The Flash.
The Batman is a mostly mediocre cartoon. It aims for the 6-11 year olds, but leans toward an urban decay/ post Dark Knight Returns style Gotham. The plots are shallow, though the characterizations are sometimes interesting. The dialogue is generally horrid, and we don’t get nearly enough detective work or Alfred.
All in all, it’s fair to call The Batman an uneven work.
Warner Bros. presents The Batman season 5. Starring Rino Romano. Running time: 272 minutes. Unrated. Released on DVD: July 8, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.