Many fans remember watching the classic Batman: The Animated Series back in the day, and many still claim that it’s the best Batman series ever made. It’s hard to argue with that fact, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other great Batman shows out there.
Some of you reading this might be thinking “Well there’s The New Batman Adventures, and Batman Beyond, which is a great continuation to the animated series”, and you’re right, they are, but I want to talk about something a little fresher. Something that didn’t continue the animated universe we knew already.
In 2004, Michael Goguen & Duane Capizzi developed a new Batman animated series that lived within it’s own continuity, The Batman!
Following a young Bruce Wayne who is torn between his life as a billionaire playboy and a night prowling vigilante, since Gotham City’s crime rate has decreased, this first season takes us on a journey of discovering just how important The Batman is to Gotham.
Gotham PD Detectives Ethan Bennett and his new partner, transferred from Metropolis, Ellen Yin, have been given the almost impossible task of bringing down The Batman, as their Chief has declared a no tolerance policy of ‘freaks’ in the city. These are darker days for Batman, since he doesn’t yet have an ally on the force in the form of Jim Gordon in these earlier days.
Throughout the series, we watch Batman take on just a minority of his rogue gallery, including Bane, Man-Bat, Penguin, Catwoman, Firefly, Clayface and of course Joker. All with new unique designs that give them an appearance like nothing you’ve seen before.
Artist Jeff Matsuda served as art director and provided the character designs for the show. Many of you may be familiar with his art style from his work on Jackie Chan Adventures (2000-2005). His designs for the characters in The Batman differ greatly from what we are used to, especially when it comes to the villain.
Matsuda’s design for the Joker is by far one of my favourite representations of that character, because for me personally, in many of the adaptations of this particular character, Joker has never felt physically threatening when it comes to being Batman’s arch-nemesis. Whilst Joker certainly has the brains (though insane as he is) to trick Batman and stack up his list of victims quickly before capture, I’ve always wanted a version of the Joker that could physically compare to Batman, and Jeff Matsuda delivers that in this interpretation of the character, with a voice to match from Kevin Michael Richardson. This Joker is athletic, strong, and creepy which is the perfect formula for Joker in my opinion.
Here’s a gallery of the other villain designs in the series;
The series has a great voice cast from season one and it only gets better with each season. In the titular role of Bruce Wayne/Batman we have Rino Romano, known for his many voice roles in animation and video games, including Extreme Ghostbusters, Spider-Man Unlimited, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and many more!
As mentioned before, Joker is voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, who delivers a perfect blend of creepy and maniacal within the voice of Joker, and not to mention an excellent ‘Joker Laugh’.
Plus there are many familiar voices to the Batman fans, as Mayor Grange is voiced by none other than a former Batman himself, in the form of the late great Adam West, who appears in 7 episodes through the series.
Honestly the list for all of the cast and crew is excellent and so here is a link to the official IMDb page for said list, just to give you an idea of the amazing talent within this series: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398417/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast
The score for the series is composed by Thomas Chase Jones, a veteran for composing music on kid’s television, having worked on many other classic series such as The Adventures of the Gummi Bears, Duck Tales, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls and more.
Also, how could I forget to write about the theme song for the first two seasons! Created and performed by British-born Irish musician and songwriter, The Edge, best known as the lead guitarist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist of the rock band U2. The theme is unlike any of the other Batman animated shows and creates a Gothic vibe with eerie guitar and melodic piano, which sounds somewhat similar to the Halloween theme piano tune if you listen closely.
The episodes of The Batman, follow a simple structure for storytelling, and yet each episode is action packed and really keeps your attention as Batman finds himself in some very difficult situations. The score is great and the voice cast bring the characters to life in unique ways that make it stand out from the rest. The first season keeps things simple by using minimal characters of recognition, to allow us to focus on Batman and his rogues gallery, to draw is in and leave us wanting more.
Leave a Reply