Hello and welcome to a significantly delayed version of my weekly Saturday (Errr Thursday) Morning Cartoons. The series where I go back and watch shows that I watched as a kid, cereal in hand, on Saturday Mornings to see if they hold up to that warm, fuzzy nostalgic feeling I have for them. This week we'll be looking at one of my all time favorite cartoons, Batman Beyond! Some people may be like "Hey wasn't Batman Beyond on Cartoon Network on Weekdays?" And I'll respond "NOOOooooOOoope, well ok yes, but only after it aired on Kids WB first on Saturday Mornings" :3 So without further ado let's get going.
I'm going to start off by saying that for this article I only watched the first four episodes of the show, because I'm a busy dude! Let me say that the show holds up pretty fantastically even though I know for a fact that it gets even better as it progresses through the seasons. The first two episodes are a two parter that I watched as Batman Beyond: The movie, because it's better that way :P It's a fantastic way to introduce us to the show, It starts with Bruce's fall from his prime and does it in possibly the most elegant way possible. When I started watching, I thought to myself Bruce would continue being Batman until he died wearing the cowl, that just seemed to me what would happen, but the way they explained his retirement to me was perfect. He instantly went from this legendary icon, Batman, to this very human character who was completely fallible. His use of the gun showed that he did fear death and was willing to kill to survive. This fall from grace was a good way to set up the show while still showing Bruce could still kick ass even with what was clearly a heart condition. They then move from there to start introducing a world without Batman and a Wayne industries that's no longer run by Bruce.
The setting of the show is a cyberpunk asthetic that really feels like it was ahead of it's time, I mean that's probably largely due to the fact that Bruce Timm is a fantastic artist/animator and the whole show just oozes style. I still think that the Batman Beyond suit is one of the most appealing instances of superhero costume designs. The Jokerz are a fitting homage to Bruce's arch nemesis while still showing that it's a result of his absence from Gotham. One other thing that the Jokerz do that's quite interesting and I think a good thing about this show is that they make you wonder what happened to the Clown Prince of Crime himself. They have a good way of throwing back hints and tidbits about the past of Gotham that makes you wonder about that gap in time between the end of the original animated series and the start of Beyond.
Characters, the meat of any show and what makes it work. There are some definite hits and misses here. Bruce and Terry are spot on amazing right away, Terry's annoying off the bat, but intentionally so it creates that tried and true hero's journey and allows the viewer to see the change in the character from angry brat to The Bat. Bruce's grizzled, grumpy character is fantastic and superbly performed by his VA. Barbara Gordon? Also spot on. Lead Jokerz? great. Derek Powers? Iconic. Mr. Fix? Not so much, one dimensional goon, with a pretty awful voice, just pulled me out of it a bit. Dana was definitely the worst offender though she was so one note through the whole thing that it was just kind of frustrating.
The new rogues gallery for Terry was pretty imaginative, from Ink, to Golem, to Derek Powers' new radioactive self. The later introduction of the new Royal Flush Gang, and oh so many more. The show did a good job to feel like a sequel while still retaining a lot of the charm that made the original animated series what it was. The Ink episode (episode 3) was probably my favorite episode of the batch I saw because it established the feel the show would have going forward once the rebirth episodes set everything up.
I'll give this one a 9/10