The Complete Series
review by Bobby Blakey
Batman: The Animated Series set a new level of animation for the caped crusader and after it ended DC brought numerous other variations of the property to animated life. In 2004 the new series The Batman hit with new looks from comic artist Jeff Matsuda who had not only worked for Image, Marvel and DC, but also on the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures. Being a fan of both Matsuda and Batman had me instantly interested, but does this series hold up or will it fail to live up the legacy of The Dark Knight?
The Batman: The Complete Series follows 20-something-year-old Bruce Wayne’s early adventures as he balances his daytime persona as a bachelor billionaire with his nighttime guise as a caped crimefighter. Along the way, Batman is joined by allies Robin and Batgirl as they combat Gotham City’s Rogues’ Gallery, including updated versions of his familiar foes as well as a bevy of rarely seen villains like Killer Moth and The Everywhere Man. Join one of the most complex and intriguing character in comic book history for action-packed super heroic adventures that test the limits of this legendary character's extraordinary physical prowess and super-sleuthing skills.
The series features the voice talents of Rino Romano who heads the cast as the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Evan Sabara as Dick Grayson/Robin, Danielle Judovits as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl, Kevin Michael Richardson as the Joker, Ming-Na Wen as Detective Ellen Yin, Tom Kenny as The Penguin, Clancy Brown as Mr. Freeze, Alastair Duncan as Alfred, Gina Gershon as Catwoman, Jason Marsden as Firefly, Steve Harris as Detective Ethan Bennett/Clayface, Mitch Pileggi as Commissioner James Gordon, and Adam West as Mayor Grange.
For this new series they took not only a more high tech approach to it, but redesigned all the villains. I know a lot of people were turned off by some of the designs, most notably the Joker, but I loved them. I really dig the direction and overall tone of this show that brought a more vibrant visual look than the previous series, but still kept the darkness and tone intact. This younger version of Batman allowed him to meet all the villains for the first time and then create fun action packed new adventures with them throughout he series.
Another aspect are the supporting players that actually play important roles in the evolution of this series. In the beginning it focused a lot on the detectives and both working with and against Batman. This leads to the creation of a famed villain and new bond with the police that will carry over into the following seasons. The following season brings Gordon to the forefront as well as the addition of Batgirl and in turn more depth to the series growth. Continuing that trend, the next season brings in Robin to the fold bringing the full bat family front and center before then bringing in other members of the DC Universe and Justice League to the mix to take things to a higher level of fun. The first few seasons even evolved the opening sequence as well to coincide with the new additions and changes to the bat family. One of the best episodes is on where they jump into the future to showcase an even further evolution to them all that is all kinds of awesome.
I love the animation and look of it all, but wondered how well this show would hold up. I have a personal connection to the series as it is one that my son and I loved watching together when he was a kid so diving back in I wondered how well it would still work outside of nostalgia. I can happily say I actually loved it all the more since I think I was able to pay more attention to the show itself instead of just what it was representing at the time of original viewing. This is just an added joy as it brings back the fond memories of our love of the show, but also reignited my fandom for this series and will be likely one I will revisit more than once.
I really wish they had continued with this show in some capacity like the previous outtings into the world of the Justice League or other aspects. So much potential that was really lost with the ending after stepping up the game and character involvement of the final season. They did spin the series into a an original film with The Batman vs. Dracula with more planned, but sadly all the others were cancelled and never happened. Never say never as there are so many things coming back, but either way at least this great new collection exists to bring this fun series together for fans.
This collection includes all 65-episodes of the series as well as bonus content including numerous featurettes and more. Join in on the adventures when The Batman: The Complete Series hits Blu-ray for the first time on March 1st from Warner Bros Home Entertainment.