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Justice League Unlimited – Alive! (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with the final season of Justice League Unlimited, and the final season of Bruce Timm’s animated DC television shows to air. It had its moments, of course, but it felt a bit more shallow than everything that had come before. The first season of the show had wrapped up in such a way that it really was the perfect conclusion to well over a decade’s-worth of stories. While the finalé presented here, in the two-part Alive! and Destroyer, works well enough for what it is, it isn’t nearly quite as satisfying as either Divided We Fall or Epilogue.

The gold standard?

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The Adventures of Batman & Robin – House and Garden (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

It’s amazing how thoroughly Batman: The Animated Series was able to explore Batman’s iconic selection of bad guys, demonstrating how remarkably deep and varied his villains are. Paul Dini was perhaps the strongest writer when it came to drafting these psychological portraits of Arkham’s countless denizens, even inventing characters like Baby Doll and Harvey Quinn for the show. (With Harley now an established and iconic character in her own right.) While Poison Ivy had a strong debut episode, and a run of strong appearances, House & Garden stands as perhaps the most thorough exploration of the villain’s psyche, building a relatively complex portrayal of her psychology and pathology in under half an hour.

House call…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Nothing to Fear (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

In many respects, Nothing to Fear feels like more of a proper pilot and introduction to the world of Batman: The Animated Series than the first episode, On Leather Wings, actually did. It feels like something of a mission statement for the series, offering a very rough outline of what the show would learn to do very well, illustrating the approach that the series would take in handling the lead character and his world. While the finer details aren’t necessarily present, and there are more than a few missteps along the way, Nothing to Fear serves as a fitting welcome to this definitive animated Batman.

Bruce’s insecurity is cause for grave concern…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Beware the Grey Ghost (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Adam West’s Batman! occasionally gets a bit of a hard time. Opinion has softened somewhat in the past decade or so, as pop culture has seemed increasingly willing to embrace camp, but there was a time when the sixties television show was unfairly dismissed and mocked for its bright and cheerful portrayal of the Caped Crusader. I’ve always found that a bit unfair, as Batman owes a considerable amount of his pop culture cache to that show, as an entire generation grew up with Adam West’s ham-tastic take on the Dark Knight. Evidently, Bruce Timm and the producers of Batman: The Animated Series understood that, and Beware the Grey Ghost is an affectionate shout-out to that earlier iteration, effectively allowing Kevin Conroy’s grizzled Caped Crusader to recognise Adam West as one of his defining influences.

Shades of Grey…

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Batman: The Animated Series – Read My Lips (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

It’s really remarkable the kind of stories you can tell with Batman. The character has a remarkable and innate flexibility, lending him to a diverse bunch of genres. He can do mystery, suspense, adventure, horror, drama, action, crime and many more besides. Joe Lansdale’s script for Read My Lips does an excellent job demonstrating the wonderful flexibility of Batman as a character, telling a witty, off-beat noir story… with a dummy as the villain.

He ain’t no dummy…

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Justice League Unlimited – Divided We Fall (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Divided We Fall makes for a fond farewell to the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. At the time the show was produced, the creators did not know that they’d get another season, and the season finale that followed Divided We Fall was dedicated to wrapping up the entire DC animated universe from Batman: The Animated Series through to Batman Beyond. So, appropriately, Divided We Fall focuses on the “original seven” members of the Justice League, offering one final climactic confrontation between the Justice League and combined forces of Lex Luthor and Brainiac.

Heroes for higher purposes?

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Justice League Unlimited – Panic in the Sky (Review)

This September marks the twentieth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, and the birth of the shared DC animated universe that would eventually expand to present one of the most comprehensive and thorough explorations of a comic book mythology in any medium. To celebrate, we’re going back into the past and looking at some classic episodes.

Panic in the Sky is an interesting episode, essentially serving as the climax of the conflict between the Justice League and Cadmus. Divided We Fall would focus more tightly on the League confronting Brainiac and Luthor, with an after-thought given to the question of their authority to wield such power. Panic in the Sky, as such, feels a bit torn between positioning all the players (“the big seven”) for that final confrontation, while offering the inevitable conflict between the Justice League and the United States government. As such, it’s really one big extended fight sequence, allowing McDuffie to avoid some of the more complex and compelling issues he’d raised. Still, it’s an effective episode of the show, a fun confrontation, and an illustration of just how skilled McDuffie is at structuring these gigantic arcs with so many plots and characters in the air.

Power Girl Power…

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