Judge David M. Gutierrez is considering adopting a boy ward to aid in his war on crime...No, not like that.
How does the second and future Batman hold up in his sophomore year of adventuring? Not too badly, really. Not badly at all.
Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy, Batman: The Animated Series), the original Batman, is too old to continue his war on crime. Reluctantly, he has passed on the mantle of The Bat to high school student, Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle, Boy Meets World). While also borne of tragedy, McGinnis is an altogether different Batman, but one that continues the same battle to protect Gotham City from far more dangerous threats.
In Batman Beyond: Season Two, Batman (McGinnis not Wayne), is slipping more comfortably into this batshoes. While still being aided by Wayne, McGinnis is on the way to becoming his own man and less of Wayne's marionette. McGinnis expands his crimefighting circle by enlisting the help of friend and confidant, Max Gibson (Cree Summer, Tiny Toon Adventures). McGinnis also gains some reluctant advice from former-Batgirl, Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Stockard Channing, Six Degrees of Separation), who has followed in her father's footsteps. The threats, both personal and professional, have piled up this season—Shriek, the Jokerz, Spellbinder, and Ace all want a piece of The Batman.
On the relationship front, Terry's girlfriend, Dana, is incorporated into more stories than in Season One, fleshing out Batman's personal life. One thing Batman Beyond has over the shows involving his predecessor is the willingness to look at the man beneath the mask. Bruce Wayne, until this series, was little more than a man in dire need of therapy. In Terry McGinnis, we see a young man who is not driven by a mad vengeance, but by a greater sense of right and wrong. In many ways, McGinnis is a more realized Batman than Bruce Wayne ever was. In fact, it wasn't until this series came along that we saw any character development for Bruce Wayne. While still the same self-righteous loner who surrounds himself with allies, the elder Bruce manages to crack a smile; a man who has seen it all and reached some level acceptance. It took decades, but Bruce Wayne finally grew up.
Batman Beyond: Season Two includes commentary on two episodes by show producers, actors, and other crew, including creator Bruce Timm and Batman himself, Will Friedle. Both commentaries are full of insights and trivia, but painfully short. Two twenty-minute sessions just aren't enough time. Also included is a moderated panel of the show's producers, including Timm and show writer, Paul Dini. Unfortunately, the featurette is not as interesting as it should be and far inferior to the commentaries.
Spread out over four discs, all twenty-six episodes of Batman Beyond: Season Two look and sound fantastic. I didn't notice any problems in the picture or in the Dolby Digital 2.0 mix.
For a show intended for children, Batman Beyond is intense. Plenty of gunplay and fisticuffs might be too much for younger viewers. Still, the series will not disappoint fans of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm's other Warner Bros. animated series. And for those who are just discovering the wonder of the Dini/Timm shows, Batman Beyond is more connected to Justice League Unlimited than you may think.
Batman Beyond is free to go.
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