Warner Bros. // 2006 // 338 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // October 9th, 2006
Here we go again -- only different!
Few characters can withstand evolving tastes and re-imaginings and still remain faithful to their core concepts. Batman, the comic-book creation of Bill Finger and Bob Kane, has gone through numerous versions in his life -- from dark vigilante to campy clown to grim 'n' gritty fascist back to dark vigilante.
In Warner Brothers' latest animated release, The Batman -- The Complete Second Season, Batman is still learning the ropes and not quite on his "A" game. We all know the story: Bruce Wayne's parents are gunned down in front of him. He swears to avenge their deaths and becomes the Batman to ensure no one in Gotham City has to share his horror. If you think the Batman's crazy, you should meet his villains. Homicidal clowns, victims of science gone mad, and leather fetishists only scratch the surface of the Batman's array of rogues.
Spread out over two discs, the episodes in this set include:
* "The Cat, the Bat and the Ugly" -- The Batman does a
shorter version of Batman Returns. Catwoman and the Penguin team-up
against the Batman -- for about five minutes.
* "Riddled" -- If the title isn't a tip off as to the debut of this Batman villain, I don't know how to make it obvious. From the shadows, the Batman aids Detective Ellen Yin in figuring out the Riddler's clues.
* "JTV" -- The Joker takes a stab at reality television, broadcasting his crimes.
* "Swamped" -- Killer Croc (a killer crocodile-man) floods Gotham, pitting him against the Batman and a nifty new suit and accessory (coming to a store near you!).
* "Pets" -- The Penguin finds a way to control the Man-Bat.
* "Meltdown" -- Bruce Wayne's old friend, Ethan Bennet (AKA Clayface), tries the straight life.
* "The Butler Did It" -- It's all in the title, folks. Alfred Pennyworth turns to a life of crime.
* "Fire and Ice" -- The Firefly and Mr. Freeze team-up against the Batman.
* "Ragdolls to Riches" -- The debut of the villainous Ragdoll.
* "Strange Minds" -- Dr. Hugo Strange gives the Batman a device allowing him to enter the Joker's mind; it's not a pretty place.
* "Grundy's Night" -- Solomon Grundy, a chalk-white Hulk, terrorizes Gotham City.
* "The Laughing Bat" -- In the season's best episode, the Joker decides to become the Batman.
* "Night and the City" -- The Joker, the Penguin, and the Riddler make a wager: control of Gotham City for the identity of the Batman.
I imagine it was difficult for the makers of The Batman to escape the shadow of Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series. Known for its excellence in visual storytelling, the series set the new standard for great animation. Now you have The Batman, a series different in tone and style, but no slouch in the looks department. Visually, this series is a grand effort at a more hip and "extreme" incarnation of the Dark Knight. The kinetic eye-candy is vibrant and fun with obvious nods to Japanese speed lines and character design.
Story-wise, the show is simplistic, occasionally juvenile, but not negatively so; the majority of the set's episodes are solid entertainment. "The Laughing Bat" is the best of the lot employing an imaginative take on the Joker and how he sees the world. Also, it's nice to see a Bruce Wayne who isn't a brooding jerk who alienates the planet yet surrounds himself with children. Instead, you'll see a Bruce Wayne who continues his mission and lets his costume and crimefighting take away some of his obsession. To some, this series' Batman may not be "their" Batman. To me, it's a solid reinterpretation of a character who once did the Batusi and called his ward, "Chum."
Don't expect any frills on this set. Special features include a "Catching Up With...The Batman: Inside Season Two" and trailers. The featurette starts out as a series of clips then transforms into a commercial for the Season One DVD set. It's quite the "Drink more Ovaltine" moment.
Warner Brothers has blessed this series with a beautifully crisp picture and a full sound. An exciting series deserves a great package like this.
The Batman -- The Complete Second Season is a nice change of pace for the Dark Knight. Never straying too far from its roots, it's an exciting batch of episodes worth checking out.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 338 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Catching Up with...The Batman: Inside Season 2" featurette
* Official Site
* DC Comics