It’s time to review one of the most critically acclaimed comic book series of all time! Batman was a series enjoyed by kids and adults alike as it offered many deep storylines while still having a lot of action. I finally got to see the series in its entirety from start to finish so that was certainly a blast. It’s definitely one of the greatest comic book shows out there. I wouldn’t literally call it the best as some put it above Justice League, but it has a high ranking for sure.
The show is quite long, but there typically isn’t much of an overreaching plot. For the most part, the series is comprised of stand alone episodes. There is certainly a tight continuity as characters age and Batman’s sidekicks have to rotate as the original Robin ultimately leaves so Batman has to find a replacement. By the end of the series, most of the villains are safely tucked away and while Gotham City can never be 100% safe, it can certainly try to be a more peaceful place. Also, it should be noted that I’m counting the New Adventures of Batman as the same show as the original. Similarly, I shall do the same for Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. After all, they’re practically the same show right?
A lot of the episodes are pretty iconic and to substitute for a plot stage, I’ll talk about some of the more enjoyable Batman episodes that stuck with me. One of them saw Batman and Robin head into a virtual game to rescue someone’s psyche. The villain had them solve various video game riddles and the animators had a blast making everything look chaotic and wild. It was definitely a lot of fun and I’m always up for a video game episode!
Batman’s team up with Ra’s Al Ghul was a fun episode as they definitely do not get along. Ra’s bodyguard didn’t make things easy either as he kept taking cheap shots at Batman until the Dark Knight finally returned the favor and took him down. Another fun event was the two part episode where Clayface made his debut. Bruce Wayne was arrested, which was pretty intense as that was one of his toughest moments. For Batman, it’s easy to evade justice, but not so much for Bruce Wayne.
One of the best episodes was certainly the dream one where Batman was on the run from the cops. Batgirl died after she was pushed off of a building and Commissioner Gordon decided that Batman had to go. There were several chase scenes and in the end even Nightwing was taken down. Batman decided to finally turn himself in and then even Bane showed up to finish the job.
There are many more good episodes where those came from of course. The episode where Batman is believed to be crazy and taken to Arkham, The two part episode where the Batcave is taken over, The Zatanna guest star episode, The Epic trial where the villains have to judge Batman, and Finally, the episode with The Judge! There were so many good episodes that they should prove to be a good incentive to enter the series and experience them for yourself!
One of the episodes that I didn’t really care for was a Clayface one where his consciousness split into two and one of them became a little girl who befriended Batman and Robin. They tried to save her, but their efforts were ultimately futile as Batman explained that stories don’t always have a happy ending. Certainly a deep moral and one that most current shows wouldn’t tackle unless it involved tacos, but you still end up feeling bad for the girl even if she was never really real.
Naturally, in a show as long as Batman, there will be some episodes that you don’t like, others that were okay, and then the others that were really good or great. No series, no matter how good can hit it out of the park every episode although shows like Madoka, which was only 12 episodes long can basically achieve that. Short shows are the exception to the rule and it’s naturally the hardest for long ones. There were a few animal related episodes, Man Bat adventures, etc that didn’t quite end up being that good, but there were enough good episodes to quickly overshadow that.
Batman is the main character of the show and this is essentially how I became a Batman fan. Well, this show and Justice League. This adaption of the character was just about perfect. Unlike newer shows like The Batman and Beware The Batman, we see the Dark Knight as a very experienced fighter who has already been through many tough fights in the past. He’s not a rookie, but someone who knows how to get the job done. Batman really has a plan for everything and makes it his business to know it all. We see multiple times in the series that Bruce Wayne is Batman’s secret identity and not the other way around.
As Bruce Wayne, he can be a little dicey at times since he still does flirt once in a while, but it’s also nice to see him threaten all of the criminal law makers and corrupt men in public. Clark Kent likes to keep himself hidden from the public while Bruce revels in the attention. Batman’s also a very capable fighter, but I’m sure that you could have guessed that. You really can’t top this portrayal!
The original Robin was definitely a good fighter, but he was definitely no Batman, which the show always made sure to point out. As Nightwing, he finally almost equaled the Dark Knight in skill and he was certainly someone to be feared. He was definitely a likable character and I’m glad that a plot twist stopped him from being ensnared by Catwoman. That would have definitely hurt his character. He’s someone Batman can count on even if he’s really determined to be successful on his own.
The second Robin was a lot happier and more cheerful when compared to the first, but he was also a lot smaller and more vulnerable in a fight. As Batman Beyond would later show, putting him in a fight could definitely be a dangerous move and one that Batman may want to rethink. It was cool to have him in the show though and giving Batman a sidekick is always a good idea. The show can be fun as a Batman solo adventure, but sidekicks spice up the formula a little.
Batgirl’s role was not quite as large as the Robins, but she certainly helped out from time to time. While she did not have the formal training that the other two Robins got (For the most part, we see her training at least once in the show) she’s still very useful against the villains and Batman can always use another sidekick. Batgirl has a competitive personality and she’s always eager for a fight.
Aside from his costumed allies, Batman had a good supporting cast around him. Alfred was a very loyal companion to have and he delivered many good lines during the series. This is certainly my favorite interpretation of the character and he can also fight a little when necessary. Commissioner Gordon and Batman typically get along as Gordon sees the need for a caped crusader to stop the villains when they get outside of the law’s range. Bullock is a cop/detective who gets a very large role as well. He’s always a good rival for Batman since he doesn’t mind lying if it means that the Dark Knight will look bad. He got Batman into quite a few jams during his day and you can always find him eating a donut. He was definitely a lot of fun. There were a few other officers like Montoya, but none of them ever got a big role.
That’s for Batman’s supporting characters when it comes to other nice people, but the show is also well known for its colorful villain gallery so let’s tackle those characters. Naturally, starting off with the Joker sounds like a good bet. He’s Batman’s most popular villain and I think this show played a decently large role in that. A lot of his episodes tend to be quite good and he always ends up being one of Batman’s most dangerous villains. He may not be a master at hand to hand combat, but he has a lot of gadgets of his own and there’s always a few plans in his head. While not as smart as Batman, he’s extremely smart and someone who you could never count out. His iconic laugh is quite good and this was the Joker’s best design.
Two Face is a villain who I typically don’t care for, but I thought that he looked quite good here. The episode where all of the villains were talking about how they almost got Batman was fun, but you feel bad for Two Face in episodes like that because he never comes that close when compared to the others. Luckily, he became The Judge in one of the episodes and got a major power boost. He was able to take out quite a lot of Batman’s old enemies and he nearly beat Batman as well. That was definitely a lot of fun and helped me gain respect for him as a villain.
Catwoman danced between being a hero and a villain throughout the series, but picked the villain side every single time. Even when tempted to become a hero, she couldn’t help but grab some jewels along the way. This leads to the constant chase with Batman and a quick trip to jail. It’s very quick since she escapes almost immediately, but Arkham tries to keep her. That being said, considering how Arkham’s chiefs are sometimes evil, maybe it’s for the best that she escapes. At least this leads to Batman having to supervise the staff a little more. Poison Ivy had quite a few team ups with Harley Quinn. She only fought on her own a few times and some of her plots were quite effective, like pretending to be married to a random joe. Let’s just say that the guy was a little green and he wasn’t carsick! The impressive part was that there was a large timeskip so she kept up the charade for weeks or it may have been months. She almost got away with it, but Batman’s just too sharp.
As for Harley Quinn, she’s essentially doomed to follow the Joker forever. She’s a decently good character and certainly one of the most loyal villains, but that’s why working for someone like the Joker is not in your best interest. The Penguin is actually one of the worst Batman villains for me. I can’t take him seriously as a fighter and I don’t see why he’s still in business. The cops seriously cannot pin any hard evidence on him? He’s mostly just an informant and rarely fights, but that doesn’t help his case. He’s still better than the Mad Hatter though, that guy is just a terrible villain who never had a chance at being likable.
Mr. Freeze got his big role in the movie so he didn’t get a whole lot to do in the show. Either way, it’s still worth noting that he’s a very good villain and a character who is always interesting to see. Riddler is considerably less developed in terms of personality. I actually like his riddling gimmick though and it’s interesting to see him match wits against Batman. Beyond that, he’s just an ordinary joe who’s not a master combatant so he’s essentially doomed each time.
As with Mr. Freeze, Bane didn’t get too much of a role in the show. He did appear in the dream episode to fight Batman though and he essentially won that fight even if there were a lot of circumstances in the background. Scarecrow had multiple designs, but none of them made him a very likable character. Still, one of his designs was actually really epic and made him look like a powerful figure. I have to give some more props to the DCAU for making him look like a threat.
Poor Clayface learned the hard way that being involved in crime can really end up hurting your future. Doomed to be a clay man forever, he tried to cope by being an actor. After all, being able to physically alter yourself can come in handy right? He had quite a few good episodes and he was certainly a likable villain. While not as personally connected to Batman as in The Batman show, he was still a villain who you could almost sympathize with.
Killer Croc is one of the stronger villains in the Batman show, at least physically. He looked decently good in several episodes and he always gives Batman a tough time. He may be a little outmatched when the gadgets come into play, but he’s still a solid villain. Finally, we have Ra’s Al Ghul, who Batman always gives a lot of credit. In the Superman show, it’s mentioned that he’s more dangerous than Joker and Lex put together. Even with Ra’s very large army, I’d say that the line was a big stretch, but it’s always fun to have another intelligent villain in the mix. His mind games with Batman are always a lot of fun. He’s such a good villain that I didn’t even mind the desert episodes as much as I typically would have. I could do without the mild romance between Batman and Talia though. Ra’s is always running against time though as his pit has quite a few exploitable weaknesses.
Naturally there are other villains like Baby Doll, Ubu, Clock King, the Ketchup Man, or something like that….and more. The series is filled with a lot of one hit wonders and some who appear more than once like Talia who I didn’t go over. If you want to see the large array of villains, do yourself a favor and check out the series. You certainly won’t regret it and I’m confident that you’ll enjoy the show.
The show came out during the days when animation was at its height. The show looks great from start to finish as the character designs are crisp and also deep. By “deep” I mean that they don’t look like stick figures or are too stream lined to the point where the characters look a little skinny, (Young Justice) Batman looks like a body builder, as he should. These are the character designs that I grew up with and they remain my favorites. Naturally, this also helps a lot for the fight scenes.
One of the more noticeable differences for the fight scenes compared to newer shows is that you can really hear the sound effects. It’s like comparing the sound effects in Super Smash Bros Melee to the Brawl version. You can feel each and every blow. The music is also very good as it can feel theater-like to an extent. The classic Batman theme is certainly legendary at this point. While the theme song could have been a little more exciting, I do like the music and the TV show has fun with it. Not as much fun as Superman (That show had dozens of unique themes) but enough so that I would count this as a decently big positive.
It’s easy to see why this show became so popular. While it lost a bit of the theater feel as we got into the latter seasons, the first episodes definitely felt grand in scope. If Sword Art Online is the theater version of anime, then this would be the theater version of Western animation. Another thing I enjoyed about the show is the fact that Batman got to appear as Bruce Wayne. If he had gone overboard on the flirting angle it would have been dicey, but he was usually around for his detective wit as well and he even pretended to fight when an assassin appeared from his past. I feel like the alter egos don’t get to appear very much anymore. This is especially evident in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble show, but to an extent, DC hasn’t had time for it either with Teen Titans Go. Showing off the heroes human sides is always a good thing and it succeeded the most with the Superman show.
Now, how does this show compare to the other Batman shows? Against the average array of cartoons, it would be no contest, but all of the Batman shows have been really good so far. For now, we won’t count Batman Beyond since it is a Batman cartoon, but Batman isn’t the main character. The 90’s show is the most grand, but Brave and the Bold had the most guest stars and The Batman had some of the best fights. For now, I’m tempted to say that Brave and The Bold is the best Batman show while this Batman title just barely edges out The Batman. It’s close, but that show didn’t really pick up until the latter seasons and this one had the stronger beginning. Needless to say, all three of the shows are neck and neck!
Overall, Batman The Animated Series is certainly a classic. It got a whole lot of episodes, which gave the show enough time to bring in a lot of villains and establish itself as quite possibly, the ultimate Batman show. The animation and soundtrack were on point and the fact that this is in DCAU continuity was pretty awesome. You can definitely anticipate a Superman The Animated Series review coming in shortly as I also finished that series. Whether you are a super hero fan or not, this is a show that anyone can enjoy.