After the cancellation of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Gotham’s Caped Crusader returned to Cartoon Network last summer in Beware the Batman, another serious rendition of the character done in the CGI-animated style previously seen in Green Lantern: The Animated Series. The two-disc set features 13 episodes, including two unaired episodes, “Attraction” and “Fall,” the inclusion of which will surely please fans.
In explaining the series’ approach to the character, co-producer Mitch Watson revealed in an interview with IGN, “he’s at the beginning of his career, he’s probably been doing it for about five to six years, he’s in his early 30s. And character-wise, we broke him into three parts. There’s the public Bruce Wayne, who we modeled slightly after Richard Branson. We wanted to make Bruce Wayne more of an altruistic guy and the company’s (Wayne Enterprise) trying to do good. So, that’s the public Bruce. The private Bruce is more introspective guy who really only deals with Alfred, and Alfred at the beginning of the series is really the only person who sees that side of Bruce Wayne. He’s quiet; he’s a little bit obsessive about particular things.”
Bruce/Batman (Anthony Ruivivar) is supported by his butler Alfred (J.B. Blanc), who proves to be quite the asset. Not only is he a former MI6 agent, but his goddaughter, Tatsu (Sumalee Montano), is such as talent with a sword she becomes Bruce’s bodyguard as well as Batman’s partner, becoming a surrogate Robin by the name of Katana. She was previously involved with Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins, whose members become a frequent nemesis to our heroes.
Other villains that appear in this collection are lesser-known characters like Professor Pyg and Mister Toad, Magpie, Anarky, Humpty Dumpty, Phosphorus Rex, and Cypher. The familiar faces from Batman’s classic rogues gallery don’t appear, which is a refreshing change of pace.
I enjoyed this version of Batman because they created a fresh take on the material by incorporating new elements, particularly the villains, most of whom I didn’t know. The artwork will have its detractors, but I appreciated the stylized look, although some scenes could be too dark at times.
I recommend Beware the Batman: Shadows of Gotham, Season 1 Part 1 for Batfans, even if Part 2’s future is in doubt. In addition to DVD, it is also available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection.