DVD Review: Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham (Warner)

As an avid Batman fan, it is with great pride and happiness that I can say Batman has had the strongest ventures in both animated films and series. What started […]

As an avid Batman fan, it is with great pride and happiness that I can say Batman has had the strongest ventures in both animated films and series. What started so strong with 1992’s “Batman: The Animated Series” seems to be continuing here with 2013’s “Beware the Batman.” Can the latter live up to the greatness that started with, arguably, one of the best animated television shows to have ever been broadcast?

pyg and toad

The series starts strong with the episode “Hunted.” A horrifying set of villains, Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad, start trouble in Gotham and there is only one man that can stop them. Pyg and Toad were an interesting duo to start off with in the series. Interesting due to the general lack of knowledge about them. Everyone knows who The Joker, The Riddler, or even The Penguin are, so it was nice to see them take a lesser known couple of characters to lead with rather than relying on the house-hold names that Batman is famous for. However, I feel like a more known character like Scarecrow would have been much better suited for the launch of this series. A villain like Scarecrow would bring in the comic book connoisseurs, but also bring in the younger audience that might have seen this villain in the Nolan trilogy of Batman films. At the end of this episode we are introduced to whom will take the sidekick role in the first part of the series, Katana. From here, and throughout the rest of the series, Katana becomes Bruce Waynes bodyguard and then even earns the role of Batman’s “Girl Wonder” through trials and tribulations set in motion by Wayne himself.

katana

What’s nice about seeing Katana in the sidekick role rather than another young teenage boy to play Robin, is that children these days don’t see enough strong female lead characters. “Beware the Batman” definitely seemed to aim towards fixing this, and I think they did a solid job of doing that here. You won’t see the overused tropes of a damsel in distress in this series, and Katana sets herself apart as being a partner rather than a hindrance to the Bat.

The first part of the season is really hit or miss with episodes, that is until episode 6 titled “Toxic.” This episode could be among the ranks of “Heart of Ice” as some of the best Batman television episodes to have ever been produced. It focuses on a relationship between a security guard, Rex Mason, and his girlfriend who happens to be the president of Stagg Industries. Stagg Industries has been working on a chemical compound that, unfortunately, Rex gets contaminated with. What follows is the best origin tale of the villain Metamorpho that I have seen. The episode is sad, exciting, and just not like what you usually see when it comes to comic book cartoon adaptations

.metamorpho From here on out, the rest of the season is absolutely fantastic. The series starts introducing characters/villains like Magpie, League of Assassins, and Anarky. Anarky serves as The Joker for the series, since the writers and producers of the show didn’t really want to deal with any previous continuity.

anarky

My main gripes about the series are limited, but they are ones that, it seems, the whole community has as well. For starters, the animation is just sub-par compared to that of previous animated entries into the Bat-mythos. It’s all computer generated, and although it is sleek, it just doesn’t seem to have the same heart and soul that I come to expect from Batman animated series. The Bat-suit, unfortunately, takes a page from the Nolan films, meaning that it is all black. No yellow ring around the bat symbol. It’s hard to even tell where the bat symbol is! This might just be a Bat-maniacs complaint, but it would have been nice to see some color in the suit. The voice acting is a little….lifeless? Anthony Ruivivar provides the voice for the titular character, but the only thing I could think of was that he was really just trying to do a Kevin Conroy impression. It’s not too bold to say that Conroy is the best animated Batman of all time, but Ruivivar does a decent job of trying to fill the shoes, er, cape. The biggest issue I have is not even with the series itself, rather than Warner Brothers. The series ends on a high note and a huge cliff-hanger. Unfortunately, it seems that WB has pulled the rest of the series, so we will never know how this ends. It’s incredibly frustrating, and it seems to be something the WB is extremely fond of doing. The DVD/Blu-ray itself has no extra features whatsoever. A huge disappointment with that, but one I can overlook.

“Beware the Batman” starts of a little shaky, but really packs a punch later in the series. It’s a show that can entertain audiences from kids to adults. It takes a page from it’s predecessors and even lays it’s own groundwork in the long run. The fact that there are a couple of downsides to the series, should not steer you away from watching this fantastic show. My rating: 4/5.

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