- Title: Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts
- IMDb: link
Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts is odd to say the least. Cobbled together from a variety of Batman storylines over the years, Batman Unlimited cherry-picks pieces of DCU continuity to offer a new (but not really fresh) take on the characters involved. Set in the not-so-distant future of Gotham City (with a definite Batman Beyond vibe) the straight-to-video movie opens with Batman (Roger Craig Smith) clad in a Beyondish red and black costume before eventually donning his more classic colors.
The film centers around the a group of animal-themed villains in Silverback (Keith Szarabajka), Cheetah (Laura Bailey), Killer Croc (John DiMaggio), and Man-Bat (Phil LaMarr) all working together as “the Animalitia” under the leadership of the Penguin (Dana Snyder). The Penguin also has an army of robotic animals who range from nearly unstoppable to easily destroyed (in the climax our heroes easily dispense with a number of the creatures while they struggle to deal with even single one for most of the movie).
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I do love me some Batman: The Animated Series. You can pre-order your own Batman: The Animated Movie Mask of The Phantasm Action Figure 2-Pack including both Batman and the Phantasm for the low, low price of $33.
Created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff way back in 1959, Bat-Mite has given the Dark Knight Detective his share of headaches over the years. An imp from the Fifth Dimension who believes himself to be Batman‘s biggest fan, Bat-Mite is usually more trouble than helpful when he shows up.
The first issue of the new six-issue mini-series sees Bat-Mite banished from the Fifth Dimension to Earth where it’s unclear, other than the power of flight, just how much of his near infinite abilities the character still possesses especially when he’s so easily captured by the villainous Doctor Trauma whose plans the imp ruined while taking the Batmobile for a spin (over a cliff).
I’ve always had a soft spot for Bat-Mite who I remember fondly co-starring on The New Adventures of Batman when I was younger (a show that hasn’t aged as well as I’d like). I have no problem with the character getting his own mini-series but this toned down version without his abilities feels like a shadow of his former self. For fans.
Spiraling out of the events of Convergence and Future’s End, the new Batman Beyond ongoing series stars Tim Drake trapped in a future where Gotham is the only known city standing after Brother Eye‘s attacks. Picking up the mantle of Batman following the death of Terry McGinnis, Tim Drake begins protecting this new future Gotham which is similar to that of the television show but different in several important ways beyond just the identity of the man behind the cowl.
The truncating of the Bat-Family’s chronology in the New 52 reboot left a glut of former and current Robins all roughly the same age and not enough room for each to operate. Mercifully released from that regrettable Teen Titans title, I would have preferred Drake to have spun off his own book in the present but this at least affords him the opportunity to prove himself in new ways. Drake plus the Batman Beyond Universe, with a more dystopian feel, is an odd mix, but writer Dan Jurgens (at least initially) sells me on the concept while artist Bernard Chang shows he has what it takes for the series’ unique visual look. I’ll be curious to see where things go from here. Worth a look.
You can pre-order your own Super Powers styled DC Comics Classic Batman ARTFX+ Statue for the low, low price of $30.
Convergence: Shazam! #2 concludes the Marvel Family’s arc in DC’s big crossover by pitting Captain Marvel against the Victorian Age Batman from Batman: Gotham by Gaslight. In comic tradition the two heroes battle before teaming up against Mr. Mind who has gathered Batman’s enemies together to make a new Monster Society of Evil led by his steam-punk-powered Mr. Atom.
Convergence: Shazam! #2 may not have the Big Red Cheese factor of the previous issue, or enough of the supporting Marvel Family characters for my tastes, but Gaslight Batman is more interesting that I expected (in an odd variation of the Batman vs. Superman fight from The Dark Knight Returns) and the twist of having the heroes work together really helps save the issue from prolonging the battle more than necessary.
With Convergence over I’m hoping this isn’t the last we see of the Marvel Family’s alternative Earth (which is far more interesting than most of the New 52). Worth a look.
- Title: Batman: The Animated Series – Heart of Ice
- wiki: link
In honor of Batman‘s 75th Anniversary we turn out attention back to the Dark Knight’s more memorable moments on the big and small screen with another episode from Batman: The Animated Series. Widely regarded as one of the best episodes of the series, “Heart of Ice” was the first episode of the series written by Paul Dini and the first directed by Bruce Timm. The episode also went a long way to establish Mr. Freeze as more than just a throwaway B-list Bat-villain and reinterpret the character as a tragic figure hellbent on revenge.
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- Title: Batman vs. Robin
- IMDb: link
The sequel to 2014’s Son of Batman inserts Batman‘s (Jason O’Mara) contentious relationship with Damian (Stuart Allan) into a streamlined version of the Court of Owls arc from DC’s new 52 featuring a secret society of zombie ninja assassins and their 1% overloads all clad in an owl motif. Oh, and they’ve been around ruling Gotham from the shadows unnoticed for decades and have a giant maze in their basement. Yeah, it’s as ridiculous as it sound.
Truncating the unwieldy long arc and motivation of the Court of Owls helps sell the story but the real meat comes not from the new villains but from the struggle of Bruce and Damian to properly connect both as father and son and as Caped Crusaders. Building on events from Son of Batman, Batman vs. Robin may not be as strong as the former but it does continue to develop the relationships set-up in the first film, offers some visually interesting fight sequences, and is a far shade better than DC’s other attempts to turn problematic New 52 stories into features.
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By throwing together various past and present versions of DC charaters together Convergence continues to be a bizarre mix of intriguing to truly awful. Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders #1, which gives us Batman‘s team of heroes from the 80s, is the first issue of Convergence to show us all the heroes still in costume. Despite most of the team being without their powers that hasn’t stopped the Outsiders from following Batman’s example and continuing to suit-up to do what they can for a city trapped under a dome for a full year. It’s also the first issue to really deal with the reality of diminishing resources of a city completely cut-off from the rest of the world for month.
Given how many characters the comic has to introduce it does a pretty good job (although once the dome falls, like most every Convergence title, things get less interesting very fast as Mortal Kombat begins). One odd note: Although the cover of the issue gets Batman’s look right the art inside makes a major mistake not arming the classically-clad Caped Crusader in his classic utility belt of the time. Considering the look of the old characters is the major selling point for the series it’s distracting. Worth a look.
The latest issue of Batman ’66 takes Batman and Batgirl to Japan to take on 60s throwaway Bat-villain Lord Death Man (who got a revamp in Grant Morrison‘s recent Batman Incorporated run after basically being forgotten for the better part of five decades).
Standing in for Robin, who is in no condition to travel with the Caped Crusader (complete with slapstick walking into walls) on a transatlantic crimefighting trip, Batgirl tags along on the latest adventure.
Batman ’66 #21 is a niche issue in an already niche title. Fans of the character and the idea of Batman Incorporated (such as Batman having a special Japanese Batmobile made just in case he ever needed to work in that country) are likely to enjoy the story more than I did.
That said, there’s still fun to be had given how much Batgirl we get in this issue, Batgirl getting her own (slightly sexist) version of the Bat-Signal, and the chance to see Batman and Batgirl take down a group of ninjas. For fans.