Going Through The DCAU Part Forty-Four

Jimmy and Tom are back for more, and that means more cartoon chat goodness.

This time around, we’re covering The New Batman Adventures episodes “Torch Song,” “The Ultimate Thrill,” and “Over the Edge”.

“Torch Song”

Pop singer Cassidy broke up with her pyrotechnical engineer Garfield Lynns, and he didn’t take it very well. But when he becomes the murderous Firefly, it will be up to Batman to keep Cassidy from an early grave!

tomk:  According to Wikipedia, the producers really wanted to use Firefly the first time around, but Fox said no to the pyrotechnics aspect of the character. Apparently, Kids WB didn’t have that problem!

jimmy:  I don’t know much about Firefly besides being very annoying to catch in Batman: Arkham Knight. He’s a bit of a one trick pony though isn’t he?

tomk:  Aren’t most of Batman’s enemies?

jimmy:  I suppose. But I just felt like, oh, here he goes with the fire again.

tomk:  Firefly is just as his name suggests: a pyromaniac with some glider wings that allow him to float on thermal updrafts.

jimmy:  And man, what a jump he made from being the pyrotechnics guy at a pop concert to making a flying suit complete with fire light saber in what seemed to be a few hours. Not to mention his whole warehouse full of chemicals in the finale.

tomk:  Well, it was what he did for a living.

jimmy:  C’mon. I write code for a living. I couldn’t sit down and write Windows from scratch in 3 hours.

The flame thrower? Sure. The suit? Maybe. The ability to fly and the flaming sword? No way.

Even the whole gel that could burn through anything (including ice!), fine. He did say it was something he was working on, for God knows what reason. But all the chemicals in vast amounts, all conveniently being dispersed from a series of tubes?

tomk:  You could if you lived in Gotham City!

jimmy:  Well, they do have color TV now!

tomk:  Remember the Riddler’s VR machine?

jimmy:  Yes.

tomk:  Or, like, half the Joker’s weirder laughing gases?

Gotham makes people smarter. Must be something in the water.

jimmy:  I know it is a silly point to discuss from a super hero show, I just found the timeframe to be a bit much. But anyway…

tomk:  But anyway, was this episode itself any good?

jimmy:  Yeah, I guess it was ok. There was certainly a lot of perilous situations that Bats and company had to deal with/escape from.

tomk:  I thought it was a minor let-down after some fairly top notch episodes. Firefly may not be the most famous Bat-foe, but he didn’t seem like much here.

Then again, this was Firefly on The Batman:

jimmy:   Cool design.

tomk:  Yeah, it’s no dreadlocked Joker this time. That show used Firefly a couple times and even had him join forces with Mr. Freeze once.

jimmy:  An ice-based powered character teaming up with a fire-based powered character? That’s unpossible.

tomk:  Too true.

jimmy:  Speaking of Spider-Man…I’m pretty sure that Mary Jane Watson was one of the Go-Go dancers at the Rock Club.

tomk:  That would not surprise me.

But here’s a quick question for you, Jimmy: what did you think of Cassidy’s act?

jimmy:  I think whoever wrote the songs for this episode should stick to their day job. Whatever that is.

tomk:  Writing for the show, probably.

But it reminded me of something I read once at The AV Club. They called it a phenomena called “The Brady Nod,” where some in-universe art is somehow seen as being way better than it actually is.

The concept comes from an episode of The Brady Bunch where Greg Brady writes a song that, for some reason, gets some music executives to nod along like it’s the best song they’ve ever heard when in reality it’s only a bit mediocre.

jimmy:  Yeah they weren’t great. Not that we saw much of her act as Firefly pretty much went all Don Music on the effects board before she got to into it.

tomk:  More Crazy Harry than Don Music.

I am full of pics today.

jimmy:  As an aside, I love the Steel Dragon songs in Rock Star. I may be alone.

tomk:  That’s OK. I thought the point of Mr. Holland’s Opus was he never finished it so it wasn’t necessarily supposed to be brilliant.

jimmy:  I saw the movie but don’t really remember it or the music.

tomk:  That’s OK. I watched this episode of Batman recently with Firefly that featured a popular pop singer and don’t remember the music in that one either.

jimmy:  Lol

tomk:  I’m told her act is fantastic. I think I’m more with Bruce on this one: I don’t know who that is and I don’t see the appeal.

jimmy:  He also doesn’t know Pinky and the Brain.

tomk:  The kids are way ahead of him on this one.

Then again, this page from an issue of JLA, guest written I think by Mark Millar, shows Batman knows Sailor Moon:

Because, as was pointed out to me, the Martian Manhunter took as a Japanese name the same name as the character of Sailor Mars.

jimmy:  More than I’d know.

tomk:  At the time, more than I knew as well.

I think the point is, Batman has some weird gaps in his pop culture knowledge.

jimmy:  He should get Captain America’s list.

tomk:  And a very understanding girlfriend that doesn’t get jealous when some random redhead stops to talk to him at a concert.

jimmy:  Ok, this brings up something else…

tomk:  It always does.

jimmy:  The Killing Joke has completely tainted all of Bruce and Barbara’s interactions for me on this show.

tomk:  Oh, you just wait.

At least Bruce seems uninterested in Barbara right now. She can go out on dates with Dick, who apparently had no interest in this Cassidy person.

jimmy:  Barbara is there alone in the cheap seats.

tomk:  You’d think being one of Batman’s assistants would pay better.

And all the really creepy stuff came from Firefly.

“I remember when you wore that for me,” where he refers to a dress that barely exists.

jimmy:  I don’t know how the women in this show or Superman manage to keep their barely existing clothes on as it is. Skirts don’t get much shorter and then to stay in place during all the being rescued from villains, etc. impressive.

tomk:  At least most of the women wear a decent top.

jimmy:  So those record producers aren’t very heroic are they. Just left Cassidy to fend for herself to get out of the soundbooth. At least one of them asked “where is she?”

tomk:  Same thing happened at the club. Batgirl had to rescue all the famous musicians in the place.

jimmy:  Good point. At least at the concert you could excuse it as she was trapped on stage by the fire.

tomk:  But hey, in the end, Firefly didn’t want to really kill Cassidy. He wanted to kill everyone else in Gotham and keep her to himself.

jimmy:  Solid plan. Chicks dig kidnapping and mass homicide.

tomk:  Well, someone needs to repopulate the city after the massive fire!

And I’m sure once the Stockholm Syndrome kicks in, she’ll be all for it.

But here’s a question: how are we supposed to feel about Cassidy’s fear of fire by the episode’s end? Aside from having terrible taste in men and/or employees, she’s a victim, not a villain.

jimmy:  Yes, the final scene really adds to showing us the trauma she has gone through.

tomk:  Which seemed a little weird. We don’t generally see relatively innocent people suffer like that by episode’s end. Maybe if she had better music…

The worst we can say about her is she’s obnoxious.

jimmy:  Good point. But as we see with them using Firefly in the first place, times have changed.

tomk:  Given what happened to Annie in the Clayface episode, that may be true. We are dealing with a more mature Batman cartoon from the looks of things, or at least one that does so while sacrificing the more psychological aspects of the original run. I personally found Firefly to be a rather blah villain when all was said and done.

jimmy:  Oh no doubt. And I think the original episodes were mature for their day. But X years on, the bar for what was acceptable moved. And continues to do so.

tomk:  Well, that may be a good unintentional segue to the next episode, Jimmy. Shall we move on?

jimmy:  Sure. I think we’ve flamed out on this one.

tomk:  In that case…

“The Ultimate Thrill”

Thrill seeker Roxy Rocket is looking for loot and excitement as she robs Gotham from the back of her own personal rocket. Can Batman even catch up with her to stop her?

jimmy:  She REALLY liked that final stunt.

tomk:  Yeah.

Yeah, she certainly did.

Roxy is Catwoman without the subtly.

jimmy: And here’s a crazy coincidence:

tomk:  Not everyone has a getaway missile.

So, should we wonder how they got a woman sounding orgasmic past the censors?

jimmy:  I don’t know, but it was pretty damn obvious. Not to mention the fact she was riding on top of a rocket.

tomk:  You said the show seemed more mature with Firefly. Now it’s turned into Watson’s daydreams.

jimmy:  You know, I was wondering throughout why you said my mature comment was a good segue, but couldn’t figure out why. That all changed in the last 60 seconds or so.

tomk:  I mean, she makes a somewhat suggestive comment about the Penguin’s general appearance, and then that happens.

jimmy:  Yes, when she was walking away from Penguin she made a comment that I don’t remember but remember thinking it could be taken in a, uh, Watson kinda way.

tomk:  She said something to the effect that there were some things even she wouldn’t brave when he, shall we say, asked her out.

Considering his hired muscle seems to be armed cocktail waitresses, truly the Penguin is the Watson of the supervillain set.

jimmy:  Lol

And not very effective cocktail waitresses at that.

tomk:  They work better as hired muscle.

Or Batgirl’s contacts.

jimmy:  Ha. That was another thing I did wonder about. The clear Ladies of the Night as informants.

tomk:  Look, Penguin clearly likes the finer things in life. That’s why a bunch of nearly naked chicks are his hired muscle. But when you look like that, you gotta pay for it.

jimmy:  It also pays to keep a spring loaded Tommy gun in the garbage in your apartment.

tomk:  That was an umbrella stand.

jimmy:  I misremembered. Still, good to have on hand. I remember in one of the DVD special features they talked about the redesign of the Penguin and how they wanted to get away from the trick umbrellas, hence he uses a real gun here.

tomk:  Only he uses an umbrella gun in his restaurant. How odd.

jimmy:  Some habits die hard.

tomk:  Still, this is a better version of the Penguin than we’ve seen before. He isn’t interested in flamboyant crimes with himself on the scene. He’s…cautious.

jimmy:  I know you haven’t watch Gotham, or much of it anyway…and I haven’t watched it in a long time, but he kind of reminded me of that Penguin. Though he’s more prone to getting his hands dirty from time to time.

tomk:  This one or the Gotham one?

jimmy:  Sorry, Gotham. I thought I might not have Englished that one very good.

tomk:  

jimmy:  Exactly.

tomk:  Simpsons Memes explain so much and allow us to make sure our fellow Geeks are reading our columns.

jimmy:  I’m glad it’s Ryan and not Watson. I don’t want to know where that flute is.

tomk:  

And all this goes to show…there may not be much to say about Roxy Rocket.

Aside from the fact she clearly shops at the same store as this guy:

jimmy:  Haha. I was just thinking that there wasn’t much to say. I never made any notes while watching, which is rare. I was thinking though that in retrospect, this was just some stuntwoman. She really shouldn’t have been much of a challenge for Batman.

tomk:  She did give him some wild chases, and cost him some modes of transportation.

An episode like this is probably more action than plot as someone like stuntwoman/actress Zoe Bell turns evil.

For what it’s worth, Jimmy, this was a rather so-so episode aside from Roxy being…really happy to almost die. I will add two things because I know a few things having seen the other episodes: 1. Batman crashes through a truck marked “Farmer Brown” in the tunnel chase. That name will mean something in a future episode. 2. This was one of the episodes I thought we should watch before we finish Superman. You’ll see why when the time comes.

jimmy:  It could have almost been a Superman episode given Batman mostly just chasers her around.

tomk:  True enough. Do you have anything to add?

jimmy:  Hmm. I guess not. Ok episode, but as you said it was more action than plot. It does have some good action. Batman in pursuit on the Batjetpack particularly stands out. But Roxy’s just not much of a character.

tomk:  True. It’s a good thing the next episode may be one of the best of the redesign.

jimmy:  Let’s get to it.

“Over the Edge”

Batman deals with his most unyielding opponent yet…Commissioner Gordon!

jimmy:  Great episode…even if the Scarecrow twist was completely obvious before he was even revealed as the villain.

tomk:  You know what the best part may have been? That last scene. Even with Barbara as a regular character, how many scenes has she had with the Commissioner? And he implied heavily he knows she’s Batgirl and is cool with it.

jimmy:  It played out less like implied and more like he straight up said it. Especially with the little wink.

tomk:  Well, he never outright says the words, giving him plausible deniability, but yes, Jim Gordon is not a stupid man.

jimmy:  You have to think there is a good chance he knows the rest of their identities as well.

tomk:  Of course. Somehow Barbara assumes he doesn’t, but again, Jim Gordon is not a stupid man.

jimmy:  It took a lot of guts for Barbara to decide to tell him her secret. But I’m not sure how I’d feel if I was Gordon and my daughter came to me to say she was a “powerless” super hero. I know he is a cop, and there is some level of knowing the dangers that come with the job, but this is another level entirely.

tomk:  Maybe. But he’s also seen Batman got one Robin to adulthood successfully, so maybe he knows what he’s doing.

jimmy:  Yes, it does imply a great belief and trust in Batman as a mentor/partner/protector.

tomk:  Isn’t the core of the relationship between Gordon and Batman one of great mutual trust? That’s why the episode is so gut-wrenching. Gordon believes his trust was abused in the dream sequence.

jimmy:  I can see that. However, Barbara revealing her identity to her father falls on her, not on Batman I would think.

tomk:  It would. Also worth noting that most of this episode works off how Barbara perceives her father. The final scene, showing Gordon’s supportive side, means she’s wrong about him in an ultimately good way.

jimmy:  It reminded me a bit (of course) of how Captain Stacey knew Spider-Man’s identity and never told anyone. (And not the crap movie version of that story.)

Keeping within the Bat-verse, I don’t think this is the first medium/story to imply that Gordon knows the Bat-identities and pleads ignorance.

tomk:  Frank Miller showed Gordon getting very close in Year One.

jimmy:  Well I think in most situations a normal person could figure out super hero identities with minimal effort, let alone a decorated detective.

tomk:  We’ve probably covered this before in some discussion on Clark Kent.

jimmy:  Exactly. Or “Guess who I saw today? Spider-Man. In France. Never saw him in France before. Oh hey Peter Parker, what are you doing here in France?”

tomk:  Freakin’ France…

jimmy:  Qui.

tomk:  The thing about Gordon, though, is if he doesn’t know Bruce is Batman, it’s not because he’s stupid. It’s because he prefers not to know.

jimmy:  Exactly.

So I think this episode might be a bit tough to talk about overall because it is a dream sequence. I made copious notes while watching, but most are really meaningless. For example, how the police were always at the right place at the right time? And if they needed a boat, they had a boat. Not to mention the bazooka-filled arsenal they had at their disposal.

tomk:  I accepted a lot of that. If Gordon could find out “everything” from Barbara’s computer, and he knows about the car and the boat, then everything except maybe the bazooka would be standard police issue. Plus, it shows how bad it would be for Batman if Gordon really did bring the hammer down.

jimmy:  Agreed. But why is he hunting Batman? Ok, we know why, because Barbara died, but Bats clearly didn’t do it. Is it simply because Gordon feels betrayed? Bullock calls Batman a murderer, so maybe Gordon just goes along with it because it fits his agenda.

tomk:  If Batman hadn’t recruited Barbara, then she wouldn’t have died.

Or something.

jimmy:  Yes, but you can’t arrest him for recruiting Barbara.

tomk:  It’s the betrayal of trust thing.

jimmy:  Again, it’s all a dream too.

tomk:  He is operating outside the law, and Gordon typically looks the other way.

jimmy:  I suppose. Hence the conversation with the Mayor.

tomk:  And then Bane gets involved by symbolically throwing the Bat-signal at both of them. The ultimate symbol of their longtime partnership.

jimmy:  Oh, good observation!

tomk:  And he throws it at a moment when maybe the two can reconcile at least a little bit.

jimmy:  Yes. Right after Gordon takes Batman’s hand to help him up. “For Barbara”

(Not “For Martha”)

tomk:  Never for Martha.

The thing is, this is Barbara’s worst fear, and it plays out over her dying in the worst way possible…on the hood of her father’s car.

Her two worlds coming into direct conflict is her worst nightmare.

Plus a quick comic relief scene with Harley Quinn and some others.

jimmy:  Yes. Is this the first time we’ve seen the redesigned Riddler? It is horrible. And I almost made a note about Wesker not lasting long being reformed as he is here with Scarface on his knee, but again, dream sequence.

And it’s quite the dream with flashbacks and TV interview asides, etc.

tomk:  And Cosmo Kramer’s lawyer.

jimmy:  Lol

tomk:  And the Riddler doesn’t do much in the new episodes anyway. He only briefly appears one more time.

But Paul Dini wrote this one, so there has to be a Harley appearance.

jimmy:  On the DVD commentary for the show, Dini said that he drew inspiration for the show from, of all things, The Simpsons. Not so much the content (aside from the scene with Harley we’re talking about) but of the pacing and the structure. How he told quick stories from different characters points of view to advance the plot the way the Simpsons make use of the huge Springfield supporting cast.

tomk:  Interesting. It makes sense. Like how dumb Dick was to get arrested the way he did. There would be a lot of repercussions to Bruce being outed as Batman for a lot of different characters.

And then Bane throws stuff at them.

jimmy:  Was it Bane or Nacho Libre?

tomk:  That’s New Bane. Same voice actor, more S&M style look and weird teeth.

jimmy:  Yeah. The teeth and spikes were odd. I even wondered if the actor had changed, but no.

tomk:  He wasn’t doing the accent so strongly this time.

jimmy:  That’s why I wondered. And the little accent he did have seemed to come and go.

I was a little surprised when he showed up though that there was not some kind of Knightfall homage.

tomk:  If you want someone somewhat sane that can bring Batman down, Bane’s a good choice.

Gordon wasn’t going to ask the Joker…

jimmy:  He might as well have. Bane turned on him immediately.

tomk:  Hey, you were the one who asked about Batman foes in regular prison. That’s where Bane was.

jimmy:  You still can’t trust him.

tomk:  Yeah, well, it was symbolic. Gordon was really mad.

jimmy:  Don’t let Ryan see that picture.

tomk:  He’s a Homerphobic?

jimmy:  He hates symbolism.

tomk:  Ah.

Well, we’ve reached the Simpsons Memes point of the conversation. This was just a damn good episode. Do you have anything else to add, Jimmy?

jimmy:  Only that Nightwing’s mullet is: Out. Of. Control!

tomk:  I’m sure it served him well in prison.

jimmy:  It’s a good thing he knows how to fight because he’s awfully pretty.

tomk:  Well, on that note…I think we’re done here.

NEXT TIME:  We’ve got some new villains coming for Tom and Jimmy when they return to this Bat-space for “Mean Seasons,” “Critters,” and “Cult of the Cat”!  Be here for the good times!

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