I am the Night, I am Batman! (Volume 3)

by Alan Rapp on July 16, 2008

in Home Video, Theme Week

  • Title: Batman: The Animated Series – Volume Three
  • tv.com: link

The third volume of Batman: The Animated Series continues with final 28 original episodes from the series which includes the few episodes that were released under the title The Adventures of Batman and Robin.  All three volumes make a great collection, but this final volume is no exception including some of the best episodes of the series.  With a host of returning villians and a stable of new characters introduced here the creators have enlarged Batman’s world and allowed for more variation from episode to episode.

The art deco animated Batman series won over fans and critics alike with its stylish retelling of the Batman mythos.  Bruce Wayne prowls the streets of Gotham with the sometime help of his ward and young college student Dick Grayson to fight crime and dispense justice as Batman and Robin.

Volume 3 includes quite a few Bat-villains such as the Joker, Two-Face, the Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, the Riddler, the Penguin, the Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Clock King, Rupert Thorne, H.A.R.D.A.C., and Catwoman.  New villains like Baby Doll, Maximilian Zeus, Scarface and the Ventriloquist, and Bane make their first appearance as well.  What sets it apart from the first two volumes in the series are several stand alone episodes that showcase the growth of the series.

The DVD set starts with Barbara Gordon taking up the role of Batgirl in the two part episode “Shadow of the Bat”.  We are treated to an Alfred episode, “The Lion and the Unicorn”, which takes place in London and fills in some holes in the butler’s past.  “Trial” asks the question whether Batman is responsible for the causing all the super villains in Gotham City as he is put on trial by the inmates of Arkham Asylum.  The later episodes also show the beginning of a rift in the Bruce Wayne/Dick Grayson relationship that was foreshadowed in Season Two and was explored in the 1997 relauch that introduced the characters of Nightwing and the Tim Drake Robin. 

A Bullet for Bullock

A perfect example of the periphery characters getting more to do this season. In one of the strangest team-ups of Batman’s history, the Dark Knight Detective is forced to help Gotham PD Detective Harvey Bullock stay alive, and find the killer who wants him dead. Very low-key episode – there no Bat-villains here. What the episode does give us is a detective story in the streets and alleys of Gotham as well as showcase the differences (and similarities) of Bullock and Batman.

Harlequinade & Harley’s Holiday

This season includes a pair of great Harley Quinn episodes as the former criminal attempts to do the right thing – with disastrous results. In “Harlequinade” Batman springs Harley from Arkham to help him find the Joker, only to regret his decision many, many times. And in “Harley’s Holiday” the recently paroled Harley’s attempts to lead a normal life get her into more trouble most of her schemes ever did.

The Demon’s Quest Part 1 & 2

The real prize for me is this two part episode written by Dennis O’Neill which is based off the original 1971 “Daughter of the Demon” Batman comic, by Neal Adams and O’Neil, that introduced the fearsome Ra’s al Ghul.  Batman and The Demon’s Head team up to find Talia and Robin who have been kidnapped, though it seems Ra’s agenda is not quite that simple.  This is a fanboy’s dream as the O’Neil/Adams Batman I grew up with is lovingly recreated from the page.

I am a huge fan of the Batman animated series and this collection has some of the very best episodes ever made.  The series truly finds its stride here by introducing several more characters so that the viewer is no longer waiting for every third episode to be a Joker story or Poison Ivy story.  A big fan of Ra’s Al Ghul, I think The Demon’s Quest is the finest episode of the series (and Al Ghul returns for two more episodes).  I also liked the evolving philosophy of the series to center whole episodes on peripherial characters such as Harvey Bullock, Barbara Godon, and Alfred Pennyworth; it just adds more flavors to savor.  While not all the new characters work for me (Baby Doll and Scarface being two) most of the new touches were quite well done. 

My only real issues have to deal with the paltry offering of extras.  Although Batgirl appears in the first two part episode she is not seen again until the last episode, but somehow she’s the only character who gets a featurette.  I would have liked to have seen more features the other new characters and more features on the development of the series.  The four disc set retails at $44.98, but I’m betting if you look you can find it at a cheaper price.  All three volumes and the animated movie Mask of the Phantasm are all available now on DVD.

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