View Full Version : "The Batman" is artful & fun

Joe Schmoe
09-18-2004, 01:11 PM
The Batman on the WB has debuted, brought to you by the same people who made the first two WB animated series. In other words this is some good stuff.

Set as a kind of prequel, Bruce Wayne is just starting out. The Batman is still believed to be an urban legend by most, he doesn't even really have a name yet. "The batman" is still an adjective instead of a proper noun. The police consider him a dangerous vigilante, & his technology is still rough around the edges.

This is a nice concept done in the beautiful anime influenced style of the first two WB kids series. The stylizaton is pretty extreme, like "Batman Beyond," but with more complex & colorful backgrounds. While the style is not as dark, it is somehow more sinister & creepy & the sets are more complex & even textural.

The sharp angles & curves used for the characters are a little hard to get used to, but they have done a nice job of implying Bruce as a young man with an economy of line. I still prefer the chiseled profile of Batman in the first series from '92 but maybe I'm too old school.

This is waaaay beyond the cr_p by Hal Sutherland at Filmation in the 60s & 70s. I hated those even as a kid. These new WB series are done in the "Dark Knight" tradition & have story arcs that are complex & develop over time. Quality is important & this studio understands that the dramatic abilities of the voice talent is important to sell the story.

The studio's use of known dramatic actors makes the WB Batman franchise a standout.

This time around they have:
Steve Harris, "Eugene" from "the Practice," as Detective Ethan Bennett
Ming-Na "Mulan," as Detective Ellen Yin
Edward James Olmos, Ron Perlman, Adam West, Robert Englund, Gina Gershon, Dan Castellaneta, & even Frank Gorshin.

Unfortunately Efram Zimbalist Jr. has passed away, but the new "Alfred" actually does a fair job of imitating his manner.

So far, they have shown the Joker & the Penguin. Penguin this week was so, so. Nothing new and inspired by the comic book of the 60's and the movie. But the Joker is very changed. In the '92 series, Joker was played by Mark Hamill in a crazed style that that was more manic than Jack Nicholson's version, but not as silly as Cesar Romero.

And the tradition of morphing the crazed clown continues. This time, he has a deep gravely voice and seems to always be on the edge of going murderous at any second. This is not the silly Joker that makes insanity look fun, this version is more related to the dark & sinister Nicholson version, but without the comedy...

His green dreadlocks & blood red, golfball eyes reveal themselves slowly from out of the shadows while his deep, growling voice sounds like a crocodile getting ready to strike.

I think that the animated Batman from '92 is a masterpiece. Michael Ansara as Mr. Freeze was great. Creepy but also human in his pathos. Even though his actions were destructive, he was driven by a tragic love for his wife. Deep stuff for a cartoon and so much more nuanced & beautiful than that awful "cartoonish" live action film with Gov. Schwartzenager.

"The Batman" springs from a body of work with critical acclaim since the early 90s & I'm pretty happy that they have reinvented Bruce Wayne again. With any eye and ear for quality & style, I have something new to look forward to on Saturday Mornings.

The only thing in animation that gets me as excited as this, is that Ghost in the Shell II is being released. Dallas is as close as it will get to us, but I'm waiting for the DVD.,1412,64966,00.html