I'll come right out with it; I wasn't enamored with The Batman from the onset. While it was great that somebody has decided to bring the legend of the Dark Night back to Saturday mornings in a time when the nation was collectively just coming out of the first wave of Japanese-inspired card-based animation (Pokemon, Monster Rancher, Dragon Ball Z, etc.). The problem of course was that Bruce Timm and company had done such a commendable job of transferring the moody, dark vigilante -style Tim Burton had introduced fans to in his 1988 film in Batman The Animated Series throughout the 90s. Comparisons were inevitable and while The Batman was brighter and certainly toned down, over time I (like many others) began to come to appreciate the show for what it was (rather than how it compared to TAS). There were ups and downs along the way; the biggest downer for me personally was the introduction and constant use of the "Bat Brats", Robin & Batgirl. The second came in the form of the Rogue's Gallery: a brood so interesting that I would have imagined nobody could possibly screw it up. There has traditionally been way too much usage of the dreadlocked Joker while long-standing staples such as Mr. Freeze and Two-Face have been non-entities.
For the 5th and final season, the producers followed in the footsteps of Bruce Timm and company once again by making the transition over to the Justice League (and the Batman's honorary part-time membership). In and of itself, this was a wise move in my opinion as it opened up a whole new set of situations, partnerships, and villains to battle. This works brilliantly several times throughout the 13-episode season but for the vast majority of the time, the link-up falls way short of the dynamic the 2000's incarnation of Justice League presented to spoiled fans such as myself.
Rather than a continuing story-arc with the Justice League (and that was entirely possible considering the material), the JL episodes are simple stand-alone encounters separated by very typical blow-off episodes that would have fit in very well in the second or third season. Again the writers slipped into Joker mode with a whopping triple back-to-back run while veterans like the Scarecrow, Two-Face, Mr. Freeze, Clay Face, and the superbly done Riddler make not a single appearance. Worse still is the fact that the decently presented Firefly becomes a ball of living radiation early on in the season and is never heard from again.
All in all, in keeping in mind the 6-11 age target demographic, I realize that I'm certainly coming down a bit hard on the show. That said, it's tough to celebrate concepts such as trying to steal an entire building by floating it away or a runaway mine-cart scene straight out of Indiana Jones certainly don't push the limits of creativity either. I conclude that this effort is probably most closely on par with the efforts of the second or third season of the show. The fourth raised the bar so high that I fear there was only one direction for the 5th to follow. I'll certainly miss The Batman and cling to the hope that Cartoon network's new series: Batman The Brave and the Bold will be adequate enough to satisfy the Gotham fix for those of us who simply can't get enough.
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About the reviewer
Jason Rider (AKA OneNeo on Amazon.com) is the author of the successful children's fantasy novel series The Uncommon Adventures of Tucker O'Doyle from Bellissima Publishing. … more
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