- 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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Damian may be dead, but he won’t stay that way if Batman can help it. Batman and Robin begins anew with Batman getting a different member of the Bat-Family filling-in for the recently departed Robin. That doesn’t mean you can classify Batman and Red Robin #19 as a team-up by even the loosest definition of the term.
Overcome with grief Batman has sought out Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. in an attempt to learn what keeps the undead creature alive and find a way to resurrect his son. It’s certainly an unexpected cameo, and the first time we’ve seen the New 52 version of the Dark Knight driven to such extremes. That said, the story worked for me (especially as the New 52 has been vague about both the existence and Batman’s knowledge of Lazarus Pits leaving that option, at least for now, off the table).
Carrie Kelley, the young woman who would become Robin in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is given new life as a Gotham City College student who had been tutoring Damian before his death. Bruce is unlikely to forget his first face-to-face meeting with the spunky young woman as she opens her door dressed in a Robin costume.
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Like pretty much every other issue of Death of the Family, Teen Titans #15 is a mess that makes less sense the more you read it. Once again we get the Joker capturing a member of the Bat Family (this time Red Robin) and torturing him by saying (but once again failing to offer a single piece of evidence) that he knows the identities of every member of the Bat brood.
For no reason that makes any sense, the Joker dresses Red Robin in his classic Robin costume before talking at him non-stop for the rest of the issue. Meanwhile, the rest of the Teen Titans reach out to Batgirl for help now that they are lost in Gotham without their leader.
Although Batgirl proves less than helpful (as she tells them, as nicely as possible, to fuck off and deal with their own issues), the team does run into Arsenal and Starfire, seeking out their own member of the Bat Family, as the issue catches up with the final page of Red Hood and the Outlaws #15. I’m so ready for this crossover to end. Hit and Miss.
Never a huge Teen Titans fan to begin with, I’ve stayed away from the New 52 relaunch of the title with the exception of the first issue or two. However, I was curious enough to see how Teen Titans #0 would tell the origin of Tim Drake as the third Robin.
Like most of the New 52 origins, Tim Drake’s story gets streamlined and simplified more than necessary. We still get the young detective who searches for Batman’s identity realizing Batman doesn’t work nearly as well without a partner. But how he eventually gets Batman to accept is damn awkward.
Scott Lobdell’s writing aside (which is clunky and has a couple of huge plot holes) the story works for the most part up until Drake puts his family in danger by stealing from the Penguin. Yes, this earns him his face-to-face with Batman, but it’s hardly the work of the genius the book espouses him to be. The comic also doesn’t explain how Tim is able to continue being Tim, and live publicly with Bruce Wayne, with his parents in witness protection and the Penguin still after him. For fans.
The Bat Boys come out to play as Gotham finds itself under siege from the threat of the new villain Termius. While Batman goes all Iron Man to fight the armored dying madman obsessed with destroying Batman and Gotham before he draw his last breath Damian gets assistance from the former Robins as Nightwing, Red Robin, and even the Red Hood, show up to stop Terminus’ hired mercenaries and odd mutated creatures.
Okay, Batman and Robin #12 isn’t great, and there are a couple truly groan worthy moments, but it’s certainly high on action (even if it never bothers to explain the reasons behind Terminus’ obsession with destroying Batman and Gotham).
I like seeing the Robins together in this issue and if DC is looking for another Bat-title to replace one of the underperforming New 52 books may I suggest something along the lines of Robin Team-Up (featuring Robins current and past teaming up for short arcs – which would allow for the inclusion of Stephanie Brown, too). Worth a look.