Warner Bros. // 2004 // 292 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // December 12th, 2007
Mary Grayson (Grey DeLisle): "Okay, Dick, come on out now."
Dick Grayson (Evan Sabara): "No...I look like a loser."
John Grayson (Kevin Conroy): "Your mother put a lot of work into the new costumes. Well...are you gonna just stand there?"
Dick: (stepping out of the shadows in his new costume, clearly unhappy and uncomfortable) "Ah! Ugh! Is there a reason why this costume has to be so...colorful?"
Mary: (kneeling down) "Because when I see you up there, Richard, you make me think of a little robin."
Dick: "Ugh! A Robin...like the bird!? You know, kids my age get beat up for nicknames like that!"
Batman (Reno Romano): "Nice save. But I thought you wanted Zucco to get
what was coming to him?"
Robin: "Well...he did, didn't he? Justice."
Batman: "I've been thinking, Dick. I'm not sure Bruce Wayne has what it takes to raise you properly."
Robin: "Yeah, I kinda noticed he's never around. But if not Bruce Wayne, what about The Batman?"
Batman: "We'd have to give you a name."
Robin: (looking at the logo on his chest) "How 'bout...Robin?"
Batman: "Like the bird?"
Robin: "It's a family name."
Now in its fourth season, The Batman carries the torch as the sole Batman animated series currently in production. Faithful to original characters and mythology that dates back 68 years, The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season is a solid addition to the Batman canon.
Still in the early stages of his career, and adapting to allowing more and more people into his life and onto his team, The Batman faces a new season, new villains, and the concept of taking a certain Boy Wonder under his mighty wings.
Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27 in 1939, and was essentially in the final format we recognize today: billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne by day and brilliant crime-fighting detective by night. Lewis Wilson, Adam West, Olan Soule, Michael Keaton, Kevin Conroy, Val Kilmer, Reno Romano, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Sisto. What do these names have in common? Each of these actors have all added their voices or physical presence to the various TV and film representations of Batman.
Throughout his history, Batman has often been referred to as The Batman (like there was ever any risk of confusing him with someone else!), so it wasn't a big surprise to me when Warner Bros. produced his latest incarnation in 2004 in a show called The Batman. The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season sets the bar high as the show's best season yet and, as I write this review, the eighth episode of the show's fifth season will be airing shortly.
From the moment the Warner Bros. logo disappears from the screen, viewers enter the world of The Batman; a world where one man helps the citizens of Gotham City to sleep at night, while striking fear into the hearts of both legendary and petty criminals. This is by far one of my favorite incarnations of Batman to date. From the high-energy theme to the vibrant colors and intense action, this is what Batman is all about. This is not your grandmother's Batman...or your father's, uncle's, or second cousin's either, for that matter. The Batman forges out on its own, braving new territory and creating an entirely new mythology, outside the continuity of either the Batman comics, or previous animated incarnations like Batman: The Animated Series or Batman Beyond.
The creators and production team behind this latest incarnation of the Dark Knight clearly know what they're doing, especially in the way they've structured the series so far. Each season has added more layers to the mythology: Season One introduced viewers to a young Bruce Wayne and Batman; Season Two delivered more classic villains and great stories, while adding Commissioner James Gordon and the iconic Batsignal into the mix; Season Three added Batgirl (a bit of a surprise as Robin was Batman's first sidekick, according to the mythology) and showed Batman's skill as a mentor; and now with Season Four and the end of the Teen Titans animated series, Robin has finally been freed to join the family.
The show never fails to impress, with its solid blend of action (watch for the impressive motion blur!), comedy, and consistently strong storytelling. And in a medium where voice acting can make or break an entire concept, Reno Romano (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Evan Sabara (Robin) and Danielle Judovits (Batgirl) carry the project well, with excellent support from notable added cast members Edward James Olmos, Ming-Na, Adam West, Gina Gershon, Clancy Brown, Dan Castelleneta, Peter MacNicol, Mark Hamill, Ron Perlman, Robert Englund, and many, many others throughout the series so far.
Season Four involved some small tweaks as the character design for Batman/Bruce Wayne received a smaller nose and stronger chin, to make his look more consistent with the other DC animated universe depictions of the character. Speaking of nods to other incarnations of the Caped Crusader, one of the first things die-hard Batman fans will notice in the episode "Artifacts," is that the future depictions of both Batman and the Batmobile resemble Frank Miller's Dark Knight comic series; a nice homage indeed!
All 13 episodes of the season are included, delivering a solid baker's dozen of Batman fiction:
* "A Matter of Family" -- Robin is finally added to the series,
origin story and all.
* "Team Penguin" -- Penguin's back, forming a team of villains to take Batman down. Robin and Batgirl meet for the first time.
* "Clayfaces" -- The original Clayface turns himself in, only to be replaced by a new menace.
* "The Everywhere Man" -- A new villain called "Everywhere Man" makes his first appearance.
* "Strange New World" -- Zombies in Gotham!
* "The Breakout" -- Batgirl, Robin, and Batman must divide and conquer to deal with multiple threats.
* "Artifacts" -- Gotham in the future, or as I like to call it, "Back to the Batman."
* "Two of a Kind" -- The Joker has a hand in the origin of fan favorite Harley Quinn.
* "Seconds" -- A villain who can travel back in time proves to be a challenge.
* "Riddler's Revenge" -- Is Batman responsible for the existence of the Riddler?
* "Rumors" -- A new villain is after some of Gotham's greatest villains, but who will protect them?
* "The Joining, Part One" -- Aliens and Martian Manhunter? Yes, please!
* "The Joining, Part Two" -- Batman may have to rely on help to stop an invasion that threatens Earth.
The world of Batman is often cloaked in shadow and drenched in rain, but The Batman: The Complete Fourth Season, and indeed the entire series so far, does an excellent job of delivering solid and appropriately atmospheric shadows, while hitting viewers with a regular dose of color. The visual presentation looks fantastic and shows the high level of quality one would expect from a recent production. A perfect companion to the visual presentation, the audio is completely immersive, with solid use of the surround channels, enveloping viewers in Batman's world.
Aside from the episodes themselves, the only additional content is a fairly decent featurette entitled "The Batman: Season 4 Unmasked." The show's producers, voice director, and other staff share their insights and collective opinion that Season Four has been the best to date. It's no surprise that the show is as strong as it is, when the folks behind it are so clearly passionate about their work and their efforts to create the show's most fan-friendly season so far.
For reasons I haven't been able to discover, the show's original theme, created and performed beautifully by The Edge from U2, was replaced, starting in the third season. The new theme is decidedly more upbeat and even has some not-so-subtle nods to the '60s TV series theme, but it really doesn't suit the somewhat darker and more serious tone of this incarnation. Fortunately for fans of the original theme, it plays while the menu is displayed on this release. Although I have Adam West's autograph from seeing him at a convention as a child, I am really not a fan of his version of Batman or the '60s show as a whole. The opening sequence for The Batman has also been changed, and I actually quite like it, but a note to the producers: please bring back the original theme as it suits the tone of your show much better.
Although I really have no issue with this release specifically, I really wish someone would come along and create the Batman documentary equivalent of Look, Up In The Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman. Sure, Superman's fine and all, but he's no Batman! There is a wealth of information out there out there about the Dark Knight Detective and I'm sure fans would love to see it all covered in one comprehensive documentary.
Fans of Batman in general, or of this series specifically, shouldn't hesitate for a second about picking up The Batman: The complete Fourth Season. This is a high quality show, with exceptional writing and production values, that takes the Dark Knight in some interesting and exciting new directions, while remaining true enough to the existing mythology to appease even lifelong Bat-o-philes like me.
Biff! Pow! Zap! Not guilty!
Review content copyright © 2007 Kent Dixon; 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)
Running Time: 292 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "The Batman: Season 4 Unmasked"
* Wikipedia on Batman
* Wikipedia on The Batman
* DC Comics: Batman
* Review - Season One
* Review - Season Two
* Review - Season Three
* Review - The Batman vs. Dracula