By shroudofsorrow 8 Comments
Recently I went through pretty much the entirety of the Kids WB cartoon "The Batman", and decided to write up a series of reviews. This first one is for Season 1, but I will be looking at each of the other seasons in turn plus the "Batman Vs. Dracula" movie. Lot to go through, so bear with me here:
First, some background info:
"The Batman" debuted on Kids WB in 2004, and starred Rino Romano as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Due to the fact that Christopher Nolan's first two Batman movies were in production at the time, it meant that the show was not allowed to use Scarecrow or Ra's al Ghul (or, apparently, Two-Face). The show also came under criticism for it's apparent inferiority to Batman: The Animated Series (even though saying it's not as good as a classic seems a bit silly to me).
So how good is the show? Did it manage to do anything right? Well, I'm going to take a look at the episodes and see:
S101: A Bat in the Belfry
This is it. This is the episode that started it all. And, it's being the first episode is readily apparent. While not terrible or awful, it definitely shows itself to be a work-in-progress. The quality of the animation is not as good, there's a "rough" feeling to not only said animation but also the fairly simplistic story, and to put it simply, Joker's initial design doesn't really impress (the look he changes to later in the season and sticks with is much better).
Granted, his design is a bit crazy in general. The wild, anime-esque green hair, grotesque yellow teeth, and red eyes will likely upset purists who wanted a Joker more in line with the classic look, but this episode makes it clear from the get-go that the Batman cartoon wanted to do some things differently. "Re-inventing the wheel", if you will. Given that Marvel was doing something very similar in it's Ultimate Marvel comics at the very same time, and that frankly, this take on Joker is much better than the dreadful Ultimate Green Goblin, I'm willing to roll with it. Especially when, Kevin Michael Richardson does a terrific job voicing the character. He normally uses a very deep voice for voicing various "dark" characters, such as Shredder in the ongoing Turtles cartoon, Sarevok in Baldur's Gate, and so on. Seeing him adopt a very high-pitched voice for his take on Joker was fun just to see the voice actor do something so different from what he normally does.
Another thing the show did well right from the start was the action. While this episode does not have the best fight scenes in the series by any stretch, there's still some good action to be had, though I do think that Batman's opening fight scene with Rupert Thorne's men was trying way too hard to insert an anime influence into the show. The brawls with Joker are more well-done.
On the storytelling side, the episode also introduces the purposefully unlikable Chief Rojas, and the detective duo Ellen Yin and Ethan Bennet, who will become two of the standout characters in the series. As of just this episode, it's hard to get much of a sense of them, but it's only the first episode, so I'm willing to let that slide too. Their character arcs are ultimately quite rewarding.
In all, this is definitely not the best episode of the series, or even just this season, but I don't think anyone reasonably expected it to be. Not too many shows are "A" quality with just the first episode, so I think that, as far as beginnings go, this was a solid enough one.
Final Grade: B-
This is a much stronger second episode that already shows improvement on the part of the show. It also begins a little tradition of the series that I'll address in a moment. But first, let's get the bad out of the way:
Yes, Bane's redesign is awful. His "not on Venom" look is actually pretty cool, reminding me of the more minor Batman villain Onomatopoeia. But his "Demon Luchador" look when on Venom is pretty ugly looking, and almost unintentionally cartoonish.
Having said that, his characterization was fairly on-point. That twisted code of honor mixed with sadistic brutality seems about right for Bane, and while some might be disappointed to see him as a hitman instead of the one pulling the strings, I personally had no problem with that departure (it's certainly better than the mindless brute he was in "Batman and Robin"). Also, the fight scenes were well-done, and the show took a nicely dark turn when Batman was left broken and beaten in a manner that clearly (but appropriately), evokes "Knightfall". Batman's urging Alfred to take him home and not to a hospital was a great moment, and I also loved the later scene where, despite his being appalled that Bruce would want to go out and fight Bane again, decides to help him anyway. As always, Alfred's loyalty to Batman is undying, and it's nice to see (even if it maybe could have come just a little later in the show).
The reference to the 2002 Spider-Man movie where Batman hides by clinging to an overhead only for a drop to fall to the floor and get someone else's attention was a particularly nice touch.
The fight scenes are as good as can be expected; Bane gives Batman the beatdown we all knew that he would, and Round 2 is an especially fun break from the norm when Batman dons his own Hulkbuster-esque suit of armor to even the playing field. And this brings me to the start of that "tradition" of the show that I mentioned: in numerous episodes throughout the series (and to a certain extent in "The Batman Vs. Dracula" movie), Batman will adopt specific tools, gadgets, or costumes to counter specific villains. While the action-figure marketing vibe of this is very transparent (and another thing that got the show criticism), from a writing perspective, it's not only a fun way to shake up the formula every episode and make each of the episodes and fights feel more distinct, it also makes perfect sense for Batman's character: he's always prepared. He always knows how to bring the right tools for the job. Why wouldn't he want specific gear and weapons for specific villains? So, yes, it's a rather shameless move for marketing and selling toys, but it is also something that someone with Batman's resources, sense of planning, and sense of prudence would do. So I'm totally fine with it myself.
And, that "Bat-Bot" is pure awesome.
So, overall, a good episode. As will become standard with this show, the fight scenes are good, the use of the Bat-Bot is gimmicky but warranted given the context, and the episode's darker tone is to it's benefit. If only they could have given Bane a better design (and also used him as something other than a bit-role in subsequent appearances).
Final Grade: A-
S103: Call of the Cobblepot
Another episode that dramatically re-imagines one of Batman's most major villains with mixed results. As voiced by Tom Kenny (Spongebob), this Penguin is younger, vastly more combat capable, and every bit as obnoxious, elitist, and sadistic as he is in the comics. These personality similarities are to the character's benefit. It means that, even younger and turned into more of a badass, Penguin still feels like Penguin. I could argue that this version is still closer to the comic character than his portrayals in either Gotham or Batman: The Telltale Series (even if I did enjoy both of those characterizations). And, he does get in some great fight scenes with Batman, including in this episode. His frequent referring to Asia as "The Orient" will likely ruffle the feathers of the more politically-correct, but keep in mind, Penguin is supposed to be rude, tactless, and obnoxious, so I'd call it appropriate characterization.
All this talk of Penguin out of the way, how did the episode as a whole fare? Well, learning that the Pennyworths and the Cobblepots had history with each-other was an interesting piece of in-universe history (something I'm a bit of a sucker for), and by just this third episode I'm really loving this show's take on Alfred. He's very stuffy and outwardly humorless, but in a very amusing and endearing sort of way. And, Alistair McDuncan does a great job voicing him. In all, I think this is a fine take on Alfred, though I wouldn't call this his single best episode (The Season 3 episode "The Icy Depths" is probably closer to being his best appearance).
This episode is also noteworthy for introducing Penguin's henchwomen in this series, the Kabuki Twins. Not my favorite Batman villains by any stretch, and beginning a bit of a pattern in this show of the main villains resorting to decent-but-not-great henchmen characters (both Joker and Riddler will do this too). The weird sounds that play whenever they show up also don't really add much to their appeal, and I get the impression that they were trying a little too hard to make them "creepy twins". They're also arguably ethnic stereotypes. I can live with them as villains, but they're definitely not favorites (small wonder they've never made the switch to the comic books).
In all, this was a decent debut episode for the Penguin. Nothing terribly remarkable, but nothing poor or bad either. Get used to seeing Penguin though, because he shows up more than any other villain except the Joker.
Final Grade: B
S104: The Man who would be Bat
Apologies for the crummy quality of the picture. Moving on.
It must be said, that Man-Bat has long been one of my all-time favorite Batman villains. Not quite in the Top 10, but just shy of it. I've always had a huge soft spot for this character, in no small part because of his awesome design and premise. So how does "The Batman" handle one of my favorites? The answer: it's OK.
Firstly, giving Man-Bat an albino make-over was something I just took at face-value. I neither love nor loathe the change. He's still a giant bat creature, and that's what I want to see. The scene where he swoops down and grabs a zoo animal to suck it's blood dry is a delightfully dark direction, and while censorship does intervene so we don't see any blooddrinking on-screen, the scene is done in such a way that anyone with a brain can tell what's going on (even as a little kid watching this episode I knew what had happened). Alfred's noting later that multiple animals have been sucked of their blood further drives home the point. I also love how Batman bemoans the discovery with: "Why couldn't Langstrom use fruit bats?"
As per usual, the action scenes are good. The visual of Batman using glider wings to match Man-Bat in an aerial race through the sewers is a really awesome moment, and one of the better action moments in the first season (though it gets a worthy rival in the Firefly episode coming later).
If there's any one weakness to the episode, it's in the handling of Kirk Langstrom. In the comics, Langstrom is usually the Curt Connors to Batman's Spider-Man. That is to say, a nice, perfectly sane and reasonable scientist who is even sometimes an ally, but transforms into a monstrous creature now and again often against his will. In the cartoon however, Langstrom is more of a moustache-twirling mad scientist who deliberately turned himself into Man-Bat purely because he wanted the power. So in other words, he's a much more shallow villain here. That said, his voice actor does a great job hamming it up and giving him the appropriate "mad scientist" vibe. So, it's not a direction I love, but at least it was well-executed if nothing else.
In all, this was a solid episode, with an OK-but-not-great take on one of my favorite Batman villains. Or rather, it's take on Man-Bat was perfectly fine. It was it's take on Langstrom that was suspect.
Final Grade: B
S105: The Big Chill
It's funny, because a lot of my feelings on Man-Bat in the last episode reflect my thoughts on Mr. Freeze in this one: namely, that it's an overall great take on the character hindered by making him a more shallow villain.
I'm not really sure why the cartoon seemed to be so against having sympathetic and tragic villains, but this is another one who really isn't meant to be a moustache-twirler. "Heart of Ice" is considered a classic Batman story that completely revamped Mr. Freeze's character and made him an A-List Batman villain that he really hadn't been up to that point. It proved such a well-received and acclaimed writing move, that the comic writers even went back and retconned Freeze's origins to make them more like the BtAS version.
So, to see Mr. Freeze here be just a glorified jewel thief with a power upgrade and a sadistic streak seems a much inferior take on the character, and a surprising move from Greg Weisman, whose main writing credits (Gargoyles, Spectacular Spider-Man, and Young Justice), are filled with sympathetic and nuanced villains. Weird.
Having said all of that, this take on Mr. Freeze is not without his merits. For one, his design is in running for the best one of any take on the character, and his ability to shoot ice out of his hands naturally is a nice change of pace from the cold-gun that also makes him seem like a more powerful and daunting threat (the use of Star Wars sound-effects for his ice blasts is weird though). And, Clancy Brown does an awesome job voicing him. Much like with Langstrom's voice actor, I may not like the direction the character was taken in, but at least they got an actor who gives the appropriate performance (in this case, a callous, remorseless sociopath whose heart is truly frozen).
Batman's cold-weather batsuit was awesome, and of all the alternate costumes he had in the show, one of my favorites. The fight scenes are good (as usual), and Batman's using a flamethrower to counter Mr. Freeze's ice blasts was especially fun. I also love how he finally beats him via the Batmobile's exhaust flames. Awesome.
If the episode has one other weakness besides it's more shallow take on Freeze's characterization, it's in Batman's self-doubt. I sort of get that his feeling responsible for Freeze becoming what he is might give him pause, but the high level of self-doubt and momentary loss of confidence seems really forced to me, and then undergoing too swift and tidy a resolution. Batman: The Animated Series actually dedicated an entire episode to Batman briefly losing faith in his mission, and it was better than what we get here. Really, if they wanted to tackle that kind of story, it should have been the main focus, rather than having to share time with/be awkwardly tacked onto, a Mr. Freeze story.
Still, good action, a nice new costume and toys for Batman to battle Mr. Freeze with, and a Mr. Freeze that's great in everything except characterization makes for a solid episode of "The Batman", but not the best one.
Final Grade: B
S106: The Cat and the Bat
It must be said, that other than Batman himself, Catwoman is pretty much my favorite DC Comics character (and just one of my favorite characters period). Smart, sexy, snarky, and a skilled fighter, she's got it all. That in mind, I have to say that, while Batman: The Animated Series might be considered superior to this cartoon, it's take on Catwoman is not.
I did not like Catwoman in BtAS. Her gray costume was awful, her being turned into an animal-rights obsessed individual felt completely unnecessary and also too similar to Poison Ivy's "plants matter too!" rhetoric, and a lot of the sympathetic and nuanced qualities of the character felt lacking to me.
Granted, that last one could be said of this version as well, though she does have benevolent moments in most of her appearances, including this one. And, her costume is much better, her fighting skills and sense of humor vastly so, and the voice actress Gina Gershon does a great job capturing the sultry and snarky qualities of the character (certainly much better than her actress in BtAS did).
So, all that out of the way, it was no surprise that I enjoyed this episode. Any solidly done take on Catwoman is going to get my vote, and this episode delivers. The idea of her stealing Batman's utility belt is interesting, even if the pay-off isn't entirely there. It seems the writers went with mostly comedic hy-jinks where Catwoman having Batman's belt was concerned. Although, to be fair, her accidentally causing chaos in the Batcave by unintentionally turning on the Bat-Bot and having it attack Batman and Alfred was pretty amusing.
The last big fight scene is definitely a highlight. You can't go wrong with martial arts-oriented superheroes beating up legions of ninjas, but the nice thing is that these ones actually seemed at least mildly competent. In any case, the multi-floored building where the fight is taking place adds a fun element to the chaotic brawl, and makes it more exciting then if Batman and Catwoman were just mowing them all down on a flat plain or some kind of arena (something the Batman Arkham games do well, but it would not have been as fun here). And yes, the end moment where Catwoman shows she has some honor and saves Batman from a ninja (even sacrificing her prize to do so), is a great moment.
In all, there wasn't a whole lot to the story of this one, but it was a fun action episode and a good showing for this take on Catwoman with a solid dose of humor mixed in as well. It's really disappointing that Catwoman had so few appearances (only one episode for each of the first four seasons plus an extra episode in Season 2), as the show's take on her was very good, and really should have shown up much, much more. I don't really think Penguin would have been hurt by having one or two fewer episodes than the insane number he got.
Final Grade: A-
S107: The Big Heat
Much like Man-Bat, Firefly is one of those lesser-known B-List Batman villains that I just love. The armor, jetpack, flamethrower, and cool helmet all combine to form a pretty awesome Batman villain, and from the looks of it, "The Batman" was as in love with the character as I was.
This episode gives us a Firefly with a sleek, incredibly cool take on his outfit complete with wrist-lasers instead of a full-on flamethrower. While the latter change does seem less appropriate for the character than full-on flamethrowers, they do still fit the whole "heat" premise. Re-imagining him as a work-for-hire saboteur was also interesting, and I actually in some ways prefer this "cocky but skilled mercenary" to the whackjob sociopath arsonist he is in the comics and Arkham games (though that's okay too!)
But more than just giving us a fancy, sleek new Firefly, this episode is also noteworthy for doing something very few (if any) of the other episodes in the series did: it gave Bruce Wayne something to fight for too. While it's not surprising that a Batman cartoon geared towards kids would spend less time on the Bruce Wayne side of things, this episode shows that having a little more conflict for Bruce Wayne wouldn't have hurt. Here it is Bruce fighting to keep the legacy of his parents and their charity work alive, and making sure that the Gotham Children's hospital gets the financial backing it deserves. Honestly, this is Bruce Wayne at his most interesting precisely because what is going on is as much his fight as it is Batman's. Again, I can't recall any other episodes that really try to give Bruce Wayne anything special or interesting to do, so that makes this episode stand out all the more.
And of course, the action scenes are good as always. Batman once again brings the appropriate (and toy selling), counter to his enemy in the form of an awesome jetpack that I really wish had shown up more often (especially considering how many times Firefly appeared in the show). The aerial battle between Batman and Firefly is just as good as Batman's tussle with Man-Bat in the sewers a few episodes ago, and the contrast of Batman's jetpack's blue flames against Firefly's orange-yellow trail is a cool visual. And, when Batman finally grounds Firefly, his effortless beatdown on the villain is oh-so-satisfying. Firefly may be cool, but he's no martial artist, and that scene drives it home.
And, on an unrelated note, this episode (I think), marks the debut of the Gotham mayor, who is voiced by none other than Adam West in a fun casting gag. He never really stood out much as a character, but it was cool that they got Adam West to voice him.
Final Grade: A-
This was an episode that had some interesting ideas, but was ultimately ham-strung by multiple problems: first, the opening scene of this episode was just plain silly, in a way that it's being in a cartoon can't entirely excuse. And, to put it simply, the villain's motive for wanting revenge is...laughable. I understand that we're not necessarily supposed to think the villain is right to want revenge, but ideally we should at least be able to sympathize to some degree, and understand why someone could conceivably try and seek it. But here...I just don't. The idea that a kid who got upstaged once in his life would drop out of school, sequester himself from the outside world, and turn into a deranged, morbidly obese revenge-obsessed wannabe supervillain is a really tough pill to swallow. I've seen some weak villain motives in my day, but this has to be one of the weakest. And again, I am well aware that we're not supposed to agree with him, but I don't agree with Lady Arkham in Telltale's Batman either, but I could still understand how she could come to be what she was. I don't agree with Two-Face in The Dark Knight, but I could still understand and sympathize with his motives. Cluemaster here, I just don't.
Still, the idea of someone who was once on a game-show trying to recreate it with a murderous twist was kind of neat, and Batman's way of outsmarting Cluemaster was okay. I also have to admit to liking Cluemaster's voice actor and finding amusing his acknowledging that the life-time supply of candy bars he got are rather delicious. Back on the bad side though, his henchmen are just plain stupid, and the idea that Batman would struggle so much against a bunch of dwarves with essentially numbered blankets over their bodies, is kind of hard to imagine.
Beyond that, I'm really not sure of what else to say about this episode. The quality of the writing in terms of dialogue is nothing terrible, the animation is as good as any other episode, and it doesn't strike me as glaringly or painfully bad, but overall this is still a weak episode to me, and I'd even go as far as to argue one of the worst episodes in the series as a whole.
Final Grade: C
S109: The Big Dummy
Ventriloquist and Scarface are one of those villain duos that I have long had a soft spot for, and this episode is largely the cause of that, as it was one of my first exposures to them. And this episode, while not as good to me upon re-watching it, still captures everything I love about the duo; the premise of a neurotic, conflict-averse man torturously bonded to a homicidal, Al Capone-esque mobster puppet. And of course with it being ambiguous who the real puppet is. While this episode seems to suggest that Scarface is real, other episodes suggest the opposite (that Wesker is just crazy). Personally, I always think it's better when it's ambiguous, but that's just me.
In any case, the episode is a solid Ventriloquist episode that, as already noted, hits the right beats for a story involving the villain duo. Giant robot Scarface was definitely a weird twist, and I'm not sure I love it, but I can live with it as a one-time thing. As a nice touch, the duo's henchmen are the same thugs who worked for them in Batman: The Animated Series, with said thugs being made into basically superhuman brutes that can challenge Batman way more than they probably should. But, that does mean there's some solid action.
The sub-plot of Alfred trying to find a date for Bruce Wayne did nothing for me. It was pretty blatantly the show's way of letting the audience know that this Batman would be celibate, something they stuck to throughout the series (which I for one found disappointing given that both he and Catwoman and he and Yin had potential). Bruce's rationale for not going on the date also seemed weak to me, and really, Alfred's way of summing it up was better: he's married to his work.
In all, the episode was nothing remarkable except that it was a Ventriloquist/Scarface episode that captured the essence of those characters really well. And that's the episode's main selling point. Other than that, it's nothing special.
Final Grade: B-
S110: Topsy Turvy
Kind of surprising that it took us this long to get a second Joker episode. But it was worth the wait, as this one was much better than the first: the animation is better, the action is better, and the writing is smarter. The Joker's cunning nature is also captured much better in this episode, given that he actually manages to outsmart Batman for a little while. The whole "trapping people in playing cards" thing is definitely weird, but that's also just about my only criticism with this episode. Otherwise, Joker's revenge scheme was fun, and Kevin Michael Richardson once again kills it voicing the character. Mark Hamill will always be the best Joker voice actor, but KMR still does a great job, especially when he's listing his "grievances" with the people he's seeking revenge against.
I actually don't have much more to say about this episode, but there isn't much more that needs to be said. It's a Batman Vs. Joker story where the latter's devious cunning is retained, the action is good, and plenty of fun gimmicks to keep things interesting, such as a Joker imposter and Batman having to pretend to be the Joker after getting locked up in Arkham. Fortunately, this won't be the last time we see Joker this season, and his next (and final) appearance in the season will be one of his absolute best in this, or any season.
Final Grade: A
S111: Bird of Prey
And, right after an excellent Joker episode, we get what is one of the best of the Penguin episodes. It's actually hard to say just what it is about this Penguin episode that makes me like it more than most of his other many, many appearances. Part of it is definitely the fight scenes, which feel especially strong in this episode, the last one in particular being an awesome visual of Batman steadily getting the upper hand on Penguin in a battle in the rain (a type of action scene that usually gets my vote). The fights inside Wayne Manor are pretty good too, and actually, that choice of setting likely influences my enjoyment of the scenes as well. That, and Penguin trying to steal the wealth of Bruce Wayne is a pretty logical move for the character, so there's also that. I also have to admit that the red robe is a good look for Penguin (it is hard to go wrong with red after all). The rain-soaked overcast gray atmosphere also adds to my enjoyment of the episode.
The sub-plot of Bruce Wayne being pestered by a paparazzi-esque reporter could have been a disaster, but I myself actually didn't mind it. I didn't love it, but I didn't find it to be any kind of detriment to the episode as a whole. Similarly, Alfred dressing up as Batman while Bruce Wayne is present may be a familiar trope in superhero storytelling as far as deflecting suspicion regarding the hero's identity, but that familiarity doesn't put me off either. Basically, I just found this to be a fun action-oriented episode, that makes good use of the show's more combat-capable take on Penguin. It's a shame so many subsequent episodes diminished his menace in favor of turning him into crude (and unfunny), comic-relief.
Final Grade: A-
S112: The Rubber Face of Comedy
The second episode of "The Batman" written by Greg Weisman, this is also a much, much stronger effort that is also one of the best episodes of the show period. While Joker's "Joker putty" is a blatant plot-device, it is a fun one, and the pay-off involving it is that we finally get this cartoon's take on Clayface.
But more than that, the stories of Ethan Bennet and Ellen Yin, who up to this point have been mostly background characters, really come to a head in a big way. Ethan Bennet's story of conflicted loyalties takes a very dark turn that's only going to get darker in the subsequent episode. Ellen Yin decides to let Batman go in a move that will foreshadow her later acceptance of him, and even Chief Rojas gets some forward momentum, albeit in a way that makes him into a total jerk. But, I guess you have to have at least one of those, right?
If there was any lingering doubts as to how good a Joker Kevin Michael Richardson is, this episode should lay those doubts firmly to rest. Of course, I've been reviewing his performance favorably from the start, but this episode in particular is a highlight. The sadistic delight he takes in driving Ethan Bennet mad, along with some nicely inserted references to "The Killing Joke", are both excellent, and he has also by this point refined his Joker laugh. It's got nothing on Mark Hamill's, but it's still pretty terrifyingly good.
But really, this episode just has a very, very dark tone and takes itself very seriously, and as was the case with "Traction", that is to the show's benefit. Not that it's attempts at humor all fall flat, but even so, Batman is a darker kind of superhero, so episodes that play to that are often pretty good. And this is a great example of that (I'm also rather impressed that the show was able to get away with any kind of torture on a Kids WB program, even torture as bloodless as what we see here). Honestly, the writing and dark tone of this episode are such that I am even tempted to argue that it's worthy of Batman: The Animated Series (and frankly much better than the weaker episodes in that show).
Final Grade: A
S113: The Clay Face of Tragedy
An excellent follow-up to the last episode that also picks up right where Part 1 left off. Purists will likely grumble that this Clayface is not one from the comics, but I like it myself. Honestly, I find Ethan Bennet as Clayface to be a better character than pretty much all of the comic book characters to bear the name except for Basil Karlo, as there is a very tragic quality to the character of Ethan Bennet Clayface that most other characters to use the name don't have. And, the powers that make Clayface a fun villain are just as present with this version as with any other, so between it all I see no real reason to dislike him. The scene where he shapeshifts into Ellen Yin and then into Bruce Wayne and then into Joker makes for a pretty fun "shapeshifter guilt trip". And the action is pretty good too, as is always the case with this show.
Ellen Yin's conflict with Batman comes to a predictable but pleasing resolution, as she finally comes to recognize that Batman is needed, and she replaces Bennet as his main ally within the GCPD. In fact, she will go on to be a much stronger ally than Ethan Bennet ever was, and really come into her own throughout Season 2. But it begins with this episode. I also do like how it took the tragedy of losing her pro-Batman partner for her to become pro-Batman herself. The very bittersweet and not "happy" note that the episode ends on is also noteworthy, and I must say I approve. Not that I shun happy endings, but given the episode's title, that's really not what would be warranted here.
In all, this was a great way to end a season; it gives us a good new, recurring villain, the tone is dark, and the ending bittersweet but hopeful in the form of a new alliance being formed between Batman and Yin. Not to mention that it shakes up the status quo, which, to it's credit, the cartoon did just a little bit with every season.
Final Grade: A
The first season of "The Batman" got off to a rough but decent start, but then quickly improved before settling into a general quality of "solid but not great", with a few really good episodes sprinkled throughout the season, but most of them concentrated in the latter half. It is definitely action-oriented, but we could hardly expect a superhero cartoon for kids to be anything less. The use of so many Batman costumes and gadgets has a shameless "marketing toys for kids" quality, but it's also completely justified in-universe given Batman's character and his approach to fighting supervillains (not to mention making each episode's action scenes feel unique and fun). It's anime-flavored art style and redesigns will doubtlessly be off-putting to traditionalists and purists, but some of them were actually very good. It definitely plays "fast and loose" with much of it's source material, but on their own merits most of the episodes and character depictions are good, and even when they fall short (Man-Bat, Bane, Mr. Freeze), there's still usually something to like.
Basically, "The Batman" is a different kind of Batman cartoon. It's not something for purists or traditionalists, or people who prefer a more "grounded" take on Batman. But for those who are up for some good action, interesting and daring reimaginings of different characters that sometimes work, sometimes don't, and lots of different batsuits, weapons, and gadgets for our hero, you could do much worse than "The Batman".
Final Grade for Season: B+
Top 10 Episodes:
1. Clayface Two-Parter
2. Topsy Turvy
3. The Cat and the Bat
4. The Big Heat
6. Bird of Prey
7. The Man who would be Bat
8. The Big Chill
9. Call of the Cobblepot
10. The Big Dummy