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Batman – Beware the Gray Ghost

by Alan Rapp on July 12, 2014

in Television Reviews 

  • Title: Batman: The Animated Series – Beware the Gray Ghost
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Batman - Beware the Gray Ghost

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 one of the best episodes from Batman: The Animated Series. Written specifically for Adam West, Beware the Gray Ghost stands out for far more reasons than just its perfectly-cast guest-star. The episode offers insight into young Bruce Wayne‘s (Kevin Conroy) childhood heroes and is one of the only episodes in any Batman animated series to showcase happy flashbacks to a time before the murder of Bruce’s parents.

Mirroring an episode of Bruce’s favorite show on television when he was a child, “Beware the Gray Ghost” features a story involving a Mad Bomber (voiced by, and designed off of, series producer Bruce Timm) holding Gotham for ransom. Half-remembering an episode of the series which played out in much the same way, Batman searches out the actor who played the Gray Ghost on television – Simon Trent (West). Down on his luck, decades later Trent struggles with scrapping enough money together to pay rent. Playing on the themes of actors such as West, Al Hodge, and George Reeves struggling after their super-hero TV careers, Trent has been forced to sell various mementos from his time on the show which has typecast him ever since and made it increasingly difficult to be cast in new projects.

Allowing Batman to meet and work with his childhood hero, and even suspect him as the Mad Bomber at one crucial moment in the episode, “Beware the Grey Ghost” is one of the most beautifully animated episodes of the series making use of color, shadow, and black-and-white flashbacks along with the eerie sound of the Mad Bomber’s toys of destruction for maximum effect. The episode also plays into the timeless quality of the show as, despite the Bat Computer’s brilliance and connection to various databases, Bruce Wayne makes a trip to the library to physically search through records of actors until coming up with Trent’s name.

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