We’re coming into the home stretch of Batman the Animated Series episodes with the penultimate write-up from Jimmy and Tom.
Let’s take a look at “Second Chance,” “Harley’s Holiday,” and “Lock-Up”.
Two-Face may be able to get his face fixed, but then he gets kidnapped off the operating table! Can Batman and Robin find him before the worst happens?
jimmy: When this episode started I thought for sure it was going to echo The Dark Knight Returns where Two-Face had his face fixed but was convinced his entire face was scarred.
tomk: Oh, Harvey’s gotten his face fixed a couple times. During the “One Year Later” period after the Infinite Crisis, we learned Batman left a fixed Harvey as Gotham’s protector, but eventually he got the old scars again.
jimmy: I didn’t read much of One Year Later. Needless to say, Harvey’s troubles are more than skin deep.
tomk: Generally, yes, but this episode addressed something that has been of concern to me for a while: the general competence of Robin.
jimmy: And in your eyes he…?
tomk: Got better. Yeah, he got caught by Thorne’s men and let Two-Face’s kidnappers get away, but he also escaped on his own, and he mentioned to Batman being treated poorly. Robin got more screen time this time around, too. And without him, Batman would be street pizza.
jimmy: One thing I noticed was how much taller Batman is than Robin. Works fine for a more “traditional” Robin, but here Grayson is in college which makes him at least late teens if not early 20’s. I doubt he has many (if any) growth spurts left in him.
tomk: Well, Batman does have those ears to add to his height.
And Robin is still, according to Throne, the “Boy Wonder”.
jimmy: Maybe he Doogie Hauser’d his way through school.
tomk: I don’t think he gets much taller when he goes full Nightwing…
jimmy: And where I noticed the height difference was a shot of Bruce and Dick, so ears weren’t part of the equation. Maybe he is just short then. I don’t think Batgirl comes off as tall either and she is probably the same age.
tomk: Well, most Bruce Timm heroes are the same height, and sidekicks are generally a little shorter.
jimmy: I’m sure it’s mostly that from a design standpoint. That shot of them in particular just made me think about it too much with a real world lens.
tomk: Then you must have forgotten the Hugo Strange episode where Dick had to wear stilts to impersonate Bruce.
jimmy: I suppose so. 🙂
I’m sure you’ve seen this episode before, but at what point did you realize it was Two-Face all along?
tomk: About the time he disappeared, but arguably when he mumbles stuff about the place he and Bruce used to go, and then Batman remembers the words before going off to find the Penguin.
jimmy: I was a bit slower. I figured it out before the reveal but after he shook down Thorne and Penguin.
Coincidentally, the just released All-Star Batman #1 has a similar story. Slight spoilers, in that one, the Dent half is working with Batman to try to get himself to a place that will “cure him” but somewhere along the way the Dent half puts a bounty on Batman’s head to stop him and everyone comes gunning for him.
tomk: I actually read that issue based on your review, and liked it quite a bit, though I’m not sure if it was Snyder’s script or Romita’s artwork that seemed to make Batman a little…happy-looking? Chatty certainly.
jimmy: I’ve heard a few complaints that Batman was too “happy”. Must be the artwork. Snyder’s stuff is usually pretty downbeat. Not much to smile about.
I liked that they flashbacked to Two-Face’s origin and used footage from that episode. Such a minor thing, but it gave the show a nice feel of continuity.
tomk: These cartoons are generally pretty good with continuity. You can plot story arcs for a few characters, most notably Clayface, Freeze, and yes, Two-Face.
jimmy: I appreciate the effort. Would be so easy to not do.
tomk: You’ll appreciate it more when we get to Justice League. Trust me on that one.
tomk: You want more continuity? Robin visits Rupert Thorne, and who isn’t there? Candace.
jimmy: Good point. She must be, ah, out picking up his dry cleaning.
tomk: Finding another red business suit or something.
jimmy: Do they have business suits at the bottom of the Gotham River?
Ok. I know that the coin flip is Two-Face’s schtick, but why did he continually flip the coin and let it hit the ground? Why not catch it like he always does? I know he listened to Batman the initial time for whatever reason, but why keep doing it after that?
tomk: Well, someone like him probably couldn’t believe it would keep landing on its side. You’re talking about a man who lets a coin toss make all major decisions for him. It’s not like he demonstrates much in the way of common sense.
jimmy: Interesting. I’ve never watched Brave and the Bold. Not sure why. I think my initial impressions were that the designs were too “kiddie”. I could be completely wrong about that though.
tomk: It was and it wasn’t. It played the Silver Age for laughs. It took a little time for me to get into, personally.
jimmy: Well, maybe I’ll give it a shot when we get done with the DCAU…
tomk: Oh good. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it once 2022 rolls around. 😉
Two-Face is such an interesting character. It’s too bad most of the times he is defeated by something silly like a trick coin or a box of coins getting tipped over and he can’t tell which is his or…mostly coin-related stuff.
tomk: He is one of the better villains on the show. It helps that there’s that tragic element of him being Bruce’s friend before the accident.
And that comes out in the end. Bruce cares more for Harvey since Harvey is his friend. Fortunately, Bruce has a good friend in Dick, too.
tomk: Oh, don’t be such a Watson, Jimmy.
jimmy: You know I can’t even say the word “titmouse” without giggling like a schoolgirl.
tomk: Well, gee, Jimmy. Maybe we should switch over to discuss another woman who likes a good laugh.
tomk: Eh, no. There seems to be a theme going of Arkham inmates trying to get better right now.
Harley Quinn has been certified sane by Arkham Asylum! She’s free! Will she stay that way?
tomk: A Harley episode that only really barely references the Joker by showing his face on a hand grenade? What is the world coming to?
jimmy: I thought the giant mouth lighted billboard was kinda Joker-esque, but it just goes to show the power of Harley as her own character and not just a Joker sidekick.
tomk: For perhaps the only time. I mean, she has some Ivy team-ups in the redesign, but she’s always someone’s sidekick.
jimmy: Best not to say that to her face.
tomk: Why? She might even agree.
She only gets upset when people try to take her back to Arkham. Or she thinks people are trying to take her back to Arkham. Or blow her up with a tank. Or get that Dick Miller-voiced bad guy to chase her in a fish truck.
jimmy: What was up with the tank? Did Veronica’s father even care about getting her back? Shooting a canon at the car and then running it over. Granted he checked to see if she was there after, but I’m sure this wasn’t the best or sanest approach.
tomk: Were any of those guys after Harley that weren’t wearing a cape thinking in a manner anyone might call “sane”?
jimmy: Fair enough. Though Bullock’s continuous crashes was a funny bit.
tomk: The whole episode is pretty funny, all things being equal.
jimmy: It better be with Harley as the centerpiece.
tomk: And Bullock at least got a collar out of it.
jimmy: Do you think Harley’s popularity explodes like it did without the voice work of Arleen Sorkin? I know Harley has a distinctive look, but it was really that delivery that made her what she is I believe.
tomk: I think it helps quite a bit. It’s a combination of factors, but that Judy Holiday-based voice certainly helps the character stand out better.
jimmy: I know this is Harley we’re talking about, but I was a little surprised by just how quickly she returned to “normal”.
tomk: She was walking her hyenas through downtown Gotham and couldn’t see why people were freaking out. She certainly wasn’t behaving like a professional psychiatrist, which she is.
jimmy: You’ve never walked your hyenas? They need their exercise.
tomk: Well, believe it or not, but hyenas are actually wild cats, not dogs. You don’t walk cats on a leash.
jimmy: You don’t? Right. Got it.
tomk: Well, maybe you do. Canada has a different way of doing things, usually with government health care and less firearms.
I liked that Bruce wasn’t thrilled with his new blue suit and quickly slipped back into his comfortable brown.
tomk: And then even more quickly slipped into his other blue suit.
And why, out of all the cars Harley can run off the road while fleeing an unintentional crime scene, it has to be Bullock.
jimmy: I was just going to mention that. I know we wouldn’t have a show without it, but between that and Harley just happening to go shopping where Bruce and Veronica were, there were quite a few convenient coincidences.
tomk: And hey, did I not tell you way back when that Veronica Vreeland would pop up quite a bit?
jimmy: Easier to reuse her than to create a grocery list of rich women for Bruce to date.
tomk: Well, she’s another redhead. They could have just used Summer Gleason if they didn’t want Summer to be treated more seriously as a character. And hey, Harley remembers Veronica from an old hold-up.
jimmy: Veronica is just a place holder for Generic Rich Girl “Friend” Of Bruce Wayne. I think the only time they tried to give her any debt was when she brought back those Worry Men.
tomk: But even that fits a pattern of her being a rather foolish person who keeps getting into trouble.
jimmy: It does have a way of finding her. But if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have much of a show.
tomk: No, and I think she’s something of a comic relief character. Unlike a lot of Bruce’s rich friends who show up only to get in trouble, she actually has some sort of a personality, even if it is just a ditsy rich woman prone to getting into trouble.
jimmy: I know she brings different angles to the whole situation (notably the tank driving father) but at times, especially near the end, she just felt like a stand-in for Ivy
tomk: Huh. Harley likes redheads.
But Ivy had a good moment in this episode. She and Robin exchanged shocked looks, and then there’s that little smile of approval as Harley is led away at the end, suggesting she approves of Harley going for a guy who clearly is not the Joker.
jimmy: I wondered too if that in any way was to diffuse any implied and never stated possible sexual relationship between Ivy and Harley. She seems pretty happy that Harley “got the guy”. It wasn’t that many episodes ago she was looking at pictures of Harley and crying.
tomk: Well, I could point out that I am often annoyed by fans and shows and such that won’t let a couple be just friends without someone speculating why. Can’t Harley and Ivy just be good buddies? It’s not like Ivy has many actual friends anyway…
jimmy: We’ve talked about this a bit before and I know the comics have definitely taken it to the next level with their relationship. I don’t know if they ever explicitly become a couple, but there is some very heavy flirting and maybe some inappropriate touching at the very least. All to appease comic fanboys I’m sure. I’ve no idea to what extent BTAS had designs on the two of them at minimum being attracted to one another. As you said, Harley was usually head over heels, for better or worse, with the Joker. Ivy used to date Harvey, but that was a lifetime ago
tomk: When Ivy had a chance to make a perfect family, she had a husband. Granted, he was a plant that needed constant replacement, but it was still male.
And the Superman series hints at a lesbian couple, so it wasn’t as if they theoretically couldn’t…
jimmy: I was going to mention the plant husband, but that seemed more like part of the plan than anything.
tomk: But she seemed to miss the family a good deal as she was flying away. Maybe it was the fact it was a plant and not a person, but she really was happy with that (weird and twisted) family.
jimmy: Who knows. What we do know is that Harley is “Sane” and has the giant stamped document to prove it.
tomk: It ranks right up there with Homer Simpson’s hand stamp. Maybe Harley is tormented by Bart too.
jimmy: Harley is tormented by everyone.
tomk: Yes, except the Scarecrow. He seems rather nice to her.
jimmy: Birds of a feather and all that.
tomk: Well, the episode opened with the Scarecrow being brought back to Arkham. We may want to make a note of that.
jimmy: That place should have a revolving door.
tomk: Well, really, this was just a fun and funny episode, and nary a Joker in sight. Did you have anything to add, Jimmy?
jimmy: Hmm, no I think that’s it. Really good episode.
tomk: It was. It truly was.
Arkham security chief Lyle Bolton is fired for being too rough on the inmates and decides the real problem is the people in power in Gotham. Can Batman stop the brutal Lock-Up before he does worse to Gotham’s most high profile citizens?
tomk: I’d say this was actually a pretty good episode, but given how it ends, I think there’s a really good reason Lock-Up never came back.
Oh, and this is the second one in a row that opens with Batman and Robin bringing the Scarecrow back to Arkham.
jimmy: Yeah, I found that a little odd.
tomk: Well, it was probably symbolic. The Scarecrow was scared of someone. Can you see the Joker or Two-Face in that position? I’m not sure either of those guys are afraid of anything for vastly different reasons.
jimmy: Oh, it worked in context of the show, but back to back with the last episode it seemed a little strange. But we have no idea the amount of time between episodes, and Bolton had never been seen before (or after?).
tomk: On the show? No. In Batman comics? Yes. Batman even (temporarily) made Lock-Up the warden of his personal prison during No Man’s Land.
jimmy: I assumed he was a comic character.
tomk: He was not. He was original to the show.
jimmy: Ah. Like Harley, made the transition after?
tomk: Yeah. And as new characters go, Lock-Up is a lot more effective as a character than most of the others. Harley aside, most of the new characters haven’t really made a good impression. But Lock-Up actually sticks out a bit. He seems like a legitimate threat to Batman, he’s smart, he has a clear agenda, and he has a classic Animated Series ironic ending.
The Punisher-esque “who’s locked in here with who?”
tomk: Or Rorschach.
But, heck, he even looks a bit like Frank Castle.
jimmy: True on both counts.
tomk: But think about it: why did we never see Lock-Up on the show again? Well, he may be the one guy Batman dealt with who wanted to be in Arkham. He’d prefer to stay there.
jimmy: Menacing the inmates I can understand, but he has a warped view of things when he is capturing TV reporters and politicians.
tomk: They got in his way.
Besides, mistreating the inmates didn’t exactly endear him to Bruce…or Gordon or the doctor or anyone else, really.
And they picked the three best inmates to feel bad for. Ventriloquist is sympathetic as a victim of his own psychosis. Harley is a fan fave who seems more harmless than most. And making the Scarecrow scared means he’s a really bad guy.
jimmy: Which also makes it back to back Harley appearances without Mr J.
tomk: Eh, Mistah J is in the next one.
tomk: Though now that I think about it, I am starting to wonder if Batman’s prison in No Man’s Land that he left Lock-Up in charge of was a docked ship…
jimmy: I really need to read that.
tomk: I may be wrong about the ship thing, and though a good chunk of No Man’s Land was written by Greg Rucka, there are some lackluster to bad chapters, such as the ones written by Larry Hama.
jimmy: Mr. G.I. Joe himself.
tomk: Yeah, turns out Mr. G.I. Joe was a terrible Batman writer.
jimmy: Heh. Well, I guess now we have an explanation for Arkham inmates escaping all the time. To get away from Bolton. Though, I’m guessing his tactics have less affect on say, the Joker.
tomk: Not much bothers the Joker.
It’s probably why he wasn’t in this episode.
jimmy: Most likely.
So, a solid but for the most part forgettable episode outside of the introduction of Scarface’s torture by termites. 🙂
tomk: And maybe they found the Scarecrow’s secret trap door.
But wait…we should check in on some characters one last time before we finish up this portion of the Run-Through. Let’s see what Batgirl and Mr. Freeze are up to, and check in on the Joker one last time.
jimmy: Sounds good.
NEXT TIME: Jimmy and Tom are wrapping up the original run of Batman the Animated Series with “Make ’em Laugh,” “Deep Freeze,” and “Batgirl Returns”.