The Animated Dark Knight Detective

by Alan Rapp on July 15, 2008

in Home Video/DVD News , Theme Week

  • Title: Batman: The Animated Series - Volume Two
  • tv.com: link

Season One (read that review) dealt with setting up the major Bat-villains, the city, and dealing with Bruce Wayne.  Season Two delves deeper into the Batman universe in examining the more of the characters’ origins, motivations, and roles in the series.  Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski really begin to knock out some winners as the series begins to hit it’s stride.

Season Two brings back the villains and Gotham natives from Season One while expanding the universe and adding a few new characters.  We get some more Robin episodes, most notably the retelling of the Dick Grayson Robin origin story.  Finally a Riddler episode “If You’re So Smart Why Aren’t You Rich?” tells the origin tale of the Mr. Edward Nigma and his life of crime involving riddles, a maze and a Minotaur.  Commissioner Gordon will be shot in “I am the Night” prompting Bruce Wayne to consider hanging up the cape and cowl.  The episode is also of interest for the sly reference O’Neil and Adams.

New faces start showing up in Gotham including the first appearance of Talia and a cameo by Ra’s Al Ghul.  More of Batman’s past is explored as old acquaintances appear including the magician Zatanna and the ninja Kyodai.  Both episodes include flashbacks from Bruce Wayne’s early years and his training to become Batman.  We also get H.A.R.D.A.C., Dr. Hugo Strange, the first pairing of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, and Stanley Debris AKA the man who killed Batman.  Also popping up are Two-Face, the Joker, the Penguin, Clayface, Catwoman, the Mad Hatter, the Scarecrow, crime boss Rupert Thorne, and more.

Almost Got ‘Im

A fan favorite as the Bat-villains gathered around a poker table talk about their close calls about beating the Batman.  Penguin, Croc, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and the Joker all try to outdo each other (in an terrifically drawn setting) as each villain’s story is shown in flashback vignettes.  This episode also gives us the origin of the Batcave’s giant penny, terrific reaction shots to Croc’s tale, possibly Catwoman’s best moment in the series, and one hell of great reveal.  With commentary from Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski (who directed this episode), and Paul Dini.

Robin’s Reckoning Part 1 & 2

Robin’s origin story is explored as gangster Tony Zucco who killed the Flying Graysons returns to Gotham.  Flashback allows the old Dick Sprang/Bob Kane look of Dick Grayson and the cinematic retelling of the death of his parents as they couldn’t show the fall on camera.  Nice look at the father/son relationship between Batman and Robin.  Part one is a little better than part two and contains commentary with Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski.

Zatanna

Although the series doesn’t spend much time on Bruce Wayne’s training to become Batman, this season includes two episodes with flashbacks. “Night of the Ninja” shows us some of Batman’s martial arts training, but it’s “Zatanna” that shows us how Batman learned how to get out of so many death traps. The character of Zatanna is one of Dini’s favorites and she works so well here it’s a little sad she doesn’t make another appearance in the DC Animated Universe until Justice League Unlimited.

Heart of Steel Part 1 & 2

A two part episode involving a new villain the computer H.A.R.D.A.C. as it creates duplicants for each of Gotham’s civil and government leaders and tries to take over the town.  Part two contains commentary as Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, and Kevin Altieri discuss the episode they refer to as “Kill All Robots.”  Anyone who likes robots getting demolished, blown up, smashed, crushed and crunched should check this out.

An improvement of Season One as the group has found the style, pacing, and stories they want to tell.  Great character moments such as Crime Alley, Robin’s origin, and the effect of Gordon’s shooting are explored.  With some pretty darn good extras this is a must have for all Batman fans.

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