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Superman: The Animated Series – Ghost in the Machine (Review)

To celebrate the release of Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

Ah, Lex Luthor. Luthor is, in the right hands, an absolutely fascinating character. The arrogant, ruthless, egocentric hero of his own story – the man who resents the world for not acknowledging his genius are recognising his boundless compassion. He’s a crusader against the alien threat that has lulled his city into a false sense of security, and he’s willing to make untold sacrifices in order to expose Superman as the menace that Luthor knows deep down that he is.

Well, not really. Luthor is a greedy and manipulative sociopath with delusions of grandeur and a ruthless streak a mile wide. However, there’s something quite intoxicating about the romantic mythology he’s created from himself. Ghost in the Machine is really the first time we’ve focused on a character taken in by that mythology, somebody won over by Luthor’s propaganda and his alpha male charisma.

Mercy Graves was never the break-out character that Harley Quinn was, but she’s another valuable addition to the DC universe made by Bruce Timm and the rest of DC animation. Ghost in the Machine is as much her story as Superman’s or Brainiac’s, as she finds herself caught in the middle.

Another day in the body shop...

Another day in the body shop…

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Justice League Unlimited – Epilogue (Review)

At the time Epilogue was written, the creators didn’t know that Justice League Unlimited would get another season. The show ultimately got another year on television, but Dwayne McDuffie and Bruce Timm constructed Epilogue so that it would serve as something of a coda to the entire animated DC universe, stemming as far back as On Leather Wings. It actually works almost perfectly, bringing everything a full circle. Justice League and Justice League Unlimited consciously pushed Batman to the periphery, which made a bit of sense. After all, the character had anchored two shows already. However, Epilogue moves Batman back to the centre, re-establishing Bruce as the core of the animated DC universe and giving him a (mostly) happy ending a few years before The Dark Knight Rises would do the same thing.

One final spotlight on Batman…

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Justice League Unlimited – Destroyer! (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.

Destroyer is the last episode of Bruce Timm’s shared, massive DC animated universe to air. Beginning with On Leather Wings, two decades ago, the producer brought an animated version of the publisher’s pantheon to the small screen. It’s certainly an impressive accomplishment, and I think that Timm’s work provided the definitive versions of many of the company’s characters and concepts. That said, the entire final season of Justice League Unlimited seems like one giant epilogue. The first season of the show finished on a triumphant note, with a four-part story that would have provided a nice finalé for the shared universe, and a one-episode coda to the entire world that Timm and his staff had brought to life.

Destroyer, the actual final episode, isn’t nearly that good. At best, however, it serves as a fond farewell, conclusive proof that, as Wonder Woman promises, “The adventure continues.”

Talk about an unlikely team-up…

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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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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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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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