When I first heard of Batman Beyond, I was a bit perplexed. "Beyond what?" I thought. I had visions of a Batman set someplace that was not Gotham; Batman elected to public office, turning up to Capitol Hill in the Batsuit, and voting down criminally minded pieces of legislation. (Hey, it could work.) But, that is not what Batman Beyond is. It is the story of Batman beyond Bruce Wayne, beyond the Joker, beyond Scarecrow, The Riddler, Penguin, and Harvey Two-Face.
Season two picks up with Terry McGinnis, a high school student in the employ of Bruce Wayne. Now, McGinnis doesn’t just have any part-time job working for Wayne, he has the job. He is Batman. While McGinnis is out in the Batsuit, kicking keister, and taking names, Bruce Wayne stays behind in the batcave and takes care of lower key Batman-ish things (tests theories, builds things, researches, that sort of thing).
The season opens with an episode called “Splicers,” in which the teens of Gotham are having their DNA spliced with the DNA of animals in a body art sort of way. Of course, Batman has to investigate this new trend because he suspects something fishy is going on. After a few fights and some narrow misses, the evil genius behind splicing is vanquished. The first episode is enhanced by its clean animation, its absolutely horrifying villain, and its excellent voice talent (one of the spliced teens is voiced by Ice-T).
All in all, this is an entertaining show. The episodes explore both Terry’s life as a high school student, brother, and son, as well as his time as Batman. He takes on Curaré from the League of Assassins, Spellbinder, Shriek, The Stalker, and the Jokerz. However, the most entertaining episodes didn’t deal with the big villains, but rather with how Terry balanced his responsibilities as the dark knight with his responsibilities to his family and friends.
The show has interesting animation; it's quite visually appealing. Gotham has a very smooth, very streamlined look in this series. It's still the dark and possibly dangerous place it's always been, it just seemed updated and a little more technically advanced. And, you couldn’t get better when it comes to the vocal talent. In addition to Ice-T, Stockard Channing, Seth Green, and Teri Garr lent their voices to the show. Bruce Wayne is voiced by Kevin Conroy, who was also Batman in Batman: The Animated Series.
If I have one complaint about the show, it is this: the villains just aren’t up to snuff. There was a real sense of rivalry between Batman and villains like the Joker. There was a sense of history. Also, they were just cool. While the Batman Beyond villains may have potential (the villain Spellbinder can affect what people see and think, and Shriek blames Batman for his hearing loss), they just can’t stand up to previous Batman villains.
Even with this complaint, I’d have to say the show more than makes up for it with the Batsuit, which is a character all by itself — from its rocket feet to its Bat vision. The suit is genius and it is looked at in depth in this season's episode four, “Lost Soul”. Plus, you have to love Bruce Wayne running the show from the batcave. It's brilliant when Batman is hanging from a building looking like he’s talking to himself when he’s really talking to Bruce Wayne.
The second season comes on four discs. It has commentary on two episodes: “Splicers” and “Egg Baby,” the latter of which won the show an Emmy. There is also a panel of the show’s creators talking on the fourth disc. I prefer there to be commentary on every episode, but I will gladly take what I can get and the perspectives of the directors, producers, and talent on the episodes were quite interesting. Also, the set includes French and Spanish language tracks.
Even with the semi-cool villains and the limited commentary, this show is still awesome. If you like Batman, I recommend you give Terry McGinnis a try as he grows into the batsuit.Powered by Sidelines