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Non-Review Review: Batman Beyond – Return of the Joker

The Joker holds a special place among Batman’s iconic selection of villains. Appearing as early as Batman #1 all those years ago, the clown prince of crime has managed to hold on to his position as the prime Batman bad guy for pretty much all of Batman’s publication history. It was the Joker who put Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair in The Killing Joke, and it was the Joker who killed Jason Todd in A Death in the Family. As such, it’s no real surprise that the character should eventually make his way to the futuristic setting of Batman Beyond, to give Bruce one last challenge.

Guess who’s back…

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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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The Adventures of Batman & Robin – Bane (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

I figured that, with The Dark Knight Rises being released this week, it was worth taking a look at another portrayal of the film’s villain, Bane. While the character appeared in the dire Batman & Robin, he also featured in an episode of The Adventures of Batman & Robin, the rebranded Batman: The Animated Series. While the portrayal of the villain is undoubtedly much better here than in that awful Joel Schumacher film, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, and a sense that the writers and producers weren’t entirely sure what to do with the character.

No Bane, no gain!

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The New Batman Adventures – Over The Edge (Review)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. To tie into this morning’s review of Under the Red Hood, I thought I’d take a look at what might happen to Batman if he lost a partner.

Following the success of Superman: The Animated Series, a new bunch of Batman episodes were commissioned by Warner Brothers to compliment Batman: The Animated Series. However, this new series would be animated in the style of the Superman series – typically meaning a lighter animation and fewer lines. The transition was jarring, to say the least. Indeed, many commentators make the observation (whether fair or not) that The New Batman Adventures offered a “lighter and softer” approach to the Caped Crusader and his universe. Though I think that’s not an unfair description, it is also worth conceding that the season also gave us quite possibly the single darkest half-hour in the entire history of the DC animated universe. I refer to Over the Edge.

Those expecting a light story might want to look elsewhere…

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Batman: A Death in the Family

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. Later on today, I’ll be taking a look at the animated movie Batman: Under the Red Hood, so I thought I might take a look at one of the stories which inspired it.

A Death in the Family holds something of a sacred spot in the line-up of classic Batman stories. It was the moment that Batman failed – and he failed monumentally. The image of Batman cradling a bloody and bruised Robin in his arms is almost iconic, recognisable to any pop culture aficionado. However, the story itself really isn’t anything too spectacular – it’s as if writer Jim Starlin was trying to combine the adventurous take on Batman from the seventies with the more grim-and-gritty crusader of the late eighties, with a frankly inexplicable desire to dabble in global politics. Frankly, despite the power of the rich imagery provided by Jim Aparo, the story is more than just a little bit weak, and certainly not strong enough to support the label of “classic” that is applied so frequently to the story.

Batman will be carrying this with him for quite some time...

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