Going Through The DCAU Part Forty-Six

 

Jimmy and Tom are back and still talkin’ The New Batman Adventures.

This time around, we’ve got the episodes “Animal Act,” “Old Wounds,” and “The Demon Within”.

“Animal Act”

Animals are committing robberies! What connection do they have to Nightwing ‘s old circus?

jimmy:  There’s been an awful lot of Batman fighting animals episodes lately.

tomk:  Yeah, now that you mention it…


Wait until that guy shows up!

But let’s face it, none of those other fighting animals was as cute as Peaches when she was in her right mind.

jimmy:  And Peaches will be talking and taking over the world any day now.

tomk:  Peaches is not Grodd.

jimmy:  Not yet.

tomk:  Peaches is sweet. She only uses bad guys for a trampoline. She’d be more Detective Chimp than Gorilla Grodd.

jimmy:  That’s true. Especially with the trench coat and hat get up she appeared in first.

tomk:  Mind control comes with good fashion sense sometimes.

jimmy:  Unfortunately not always for the one doing the mind controlling.

tomk:  Ok, you’ve been saying the bad guy plots have been predictable so far. Did you realize it was the Mad Hatter before the reveal scene?

jimmy:  I was going to ask you a similar question. No, I didn’t, nor did I suspect the clown.

tomk:  Well, I’ve seen these before, so I don’t remember for sure but I suspect I was surprised to see him.

jimmy:  Yeah, it wasn’t completely obvious like, say, a Scarecrow caper.

tomk:  The last time we saw the Scarecrow, though, we were given an appearance by the guy before things went too far. Hatter doesn’t even speak until halfway through the episode with Roddy McDowell’s distinctive voice.

jimmy:  Good explanation as to why the clown was mute.

tomk:  Look, they’re trying to make actual mysteries out of these adventures. This is the first one to slip by you. You saw Annie as part of Clayface and knew Batgirl dreamed her own death because of the Scarecrow. And since IT came out this weekend, that means it is highly appropriate to talk about evil clowns.

jimmy:  lol yes it does

tomk:  Jenny would hate this episode. Especially since she recently said something about liking bears.

This bear is still a problem.

 

jimmy:  Haha

And bears you need to use a forklift against are a problem as well.

tomk:  Those are smart bears, like the kind that can type in an electronic password.

Besides, the bears didn’t have their own theme song.

jimmy:  Heh. Great song.

tomk:  And hey, that Miranda gal didn’t wear a mini-skirt! Progress!

jimmy:  True. She swapped if for a belly top.

Not pictured: a girl wearing a mini-skirt.

tomk:  Look, there’s like a law in Gotham that a woman who isn’t involved in costumed heroics under the age of 45 can only wear so much material at once. That or everyone involved behind the scenes in this show was some kinda perv.

jimmy:  I’d guess the latter. 🙂

A strong female character. Jenny would approve.

tomk:  Actual Bruce Timm sketch:

Jenny wouldn’t come here because of the clowns, remember?

jimmy:  Well, she is seeing IT

tomk:  That may stretch her clown tolerance past its limits.

jimmy:  To switch topics a bit, there sure is a lot of tension in the air any time Bruce and Dick are together. I’m guessing the upcoming “Nightwing origin” story will shed some light on this.

tomk:  It will. Keeping Batman largely in the shadows whenever he went to Dick’s place helped sell that idea.

jimmy:  I love that scene where he is all in shadow except his eyes, trying to be all “Batman” and intimidating…and his phone starts ringing. He finally answers it all pissed off.

tomk:  It’s tough being a nocturnal avenger.

jimmy:  I’m really looking forward to that Nightwing episode. Bruce is NOT happy that Dick has grown up and moved on.

tomk:   I’m not so sure. The relationship is complicated. I think it’s more Dick is mad at Bruce, but look at when it turns out that way. We’ve seen the two work together a couple times, and Dick doesn’t seem to mind helping, but he gets upset when Bruce is either horning in on his own cases (or Dick thinks he is), or here where it’s an aspect of Dick’s happy childhood that Bruce is calling into doubt that’s bothering him.

jimmy:  Yeah, it’s a strange dynamic. Like the Catwoman episode where they seemed to be at odds, but they were playing her the whole time.

tomk:  But then you have something like “Joker’s Millions” where Nightwing is there to help out, or even the end of this episode where Bruce and Dick take in the circus together.

jimmy:  Bruce probably feels like he has to protect Dick no matter what. He doesn’t want to see him get Jason Todd-ed.

And Dick feels he can take care of himself.

tomk:  But something occurred to me as I watched this episode: Dick actually had childhood friends. Who did Bruce grow up with? Alfred and Leslie Thompkins.

The closest Bruce seems to have to some old friend from his youth was Zatanna.

You’d have to think Dick is more well-adjusted as a result of just having lots of people outside his family to care for him.

jimmy:  Dick is definitely more well-adjusted. (That just sounds wrong.) And I would think any “friends” Bruce has were from his teenage training years, so there is a large gap where it was just Alfred and maybe Leslie. Unless you count the likes of Tommy Elliot, who I doubt exists in this continuity.

tomk:  He doesn’t. Nor should he. Once was enough for that guy, but they keep going to that bone-dry well…

jimmy:  Agreed. But he just played a big role in Scott Snyder’s latest All-Star Batman run, so he’s not going away any time soon.

tomk:  True. Doesn’t mean he’s all that good a villain.

Besides, doesn’t he spend a lot of time as a hostage or prisoner in that story?

jimmy:  Yes. And Bruce Wayne shows up undercover, and when his identity is blown, they won’t believe he is the real Bruce, and think he’s Hush.

tomk:  It happens.

jimmy:  I don’t remember, but I assume Haly’s Circus was called by name in “Robin’s Reckoning”? It’s only mentioned in a throwaway “yeah fans, we know you know the name of the circus” kinda way here.

tomk:  Probably. I don’t remember either. That’s usually the name.

But I’ll say this for the circus folk…they sure know how to fight.

jimmy:  I was more impressed they all remembered Dick Grayson, all grown up, having not seen them in years.

tomk:  Except the one his age.

You’d think the ponytail would have thrown them off.

jimmy:  Heh. Excellent point. Like wearing a pair of glasses.

tomk:  It goes back to what I said about the overall quality of Dick’s childhood over Bruce’s.

jimmy:  True enough. Dick had friends and was well liked. I’m not sure Bruce had much in the way of friends even before Joe Chill.

tomk:  And on that depressing note, do you have anything else to add, Jimmy?

jimmy:  The only other thing I had noted was that the name Miranda Kane seemed awfully familiar. But that’s probably because I’ve been reading a lot of Detective Comics lately which features Batwoman.

tomk:  Also, some guy named Bob.

jimmy:  This number one guy?:

 

tomk:  Not quite. But that’s probably reflective on how Bill Finger’s family feels.

jimmy:  I really need to watch that Batman and Bill documentary.

tomk:  I’d recommend it for any serious Batman fan.

Or copyright law junky.

jimmy:  We don’t know any of those.

tomk:  Not a one. Shall we move on?

jimmy:  Sure. What’s next?

tomk:  One you’ve been waiting for.

jimmy:  Sweet!

“Old Wounds”

The truth finally comes out: why did Dick Grayson quit being Robin?

jimmy:  I wanted this to be epic, and maybe that’s why I’m disappointed.

tomk:  Well, it always comes down a girl I suppose.

A Batgirl.

jimmy:  I was a little surprised Dick didn’t know her secret already.

tomk:  Dick can be a little slow when she wears that little black dress.

This may be the most romantically-inclined we’ve seen Dick on the subject of Barbara, too.

jimmy:  Except for an ill-timed beep of his pager (a pager?!?) it could have been a lot more romantic, ifyouknowwhatI’msaying?

tomk:  Yes. Yes, I do.

It could have been a Watson moment.

And beepers were still in use when this episode aired. It’s not like he had a smartphone.

jimmy:  I know, it just made me laugh. Been so long since I’ve seen one. And the show is usually in a quasi state of not knowing when it takes place (more so the original episodes with things like the black and white TV) but that really dated it.

tomk:  That black and white TV thing actually made the older episode more timeless.

Set it in something like the present and it seems more dated somehow.

jimmy:  Exactly.

I was a little surprised the villain wasn’t Two-Face. He tends to get used for these types of Robin stories. But the villain was mostly inconsequential here. The two goons do more to fight the Bat family than the Joker does.

tomk:  Well, you can blow the Joker up. Two-Face is too serious for that.

jimmy:  That’s true. And I suppose a bit of comic relief in an otherwise serious episode.

Also, Alfred fessing up to being Batman is great.

tomk:  Alfred’s good for that. But let’s not gloss over Dick’s reasons for quitting too easily. Barbara was the metaphorical last straw. He also took issue with being on call at the time, Bruce’s roughing up a suspect in front of the man’s wife and kid, and maybe how Bruce missed Dick’s graduation.

jimmy:  Yes. It did show those things and Dick himself even says that things were building up and that was the breaking point when talking to Tim. Which I do have to keep in mind, or otherwise it seems like he quit over Bruce keeping Batgirl’s identity a secret from him. (Which I still feel like he knew anyway at the end of her introductory episodes.)

tomk:  I think he was more upset over perceived manipulation Bruce used to recruit Barbara than keeping her other identity a secret. That fits with the tension we’ve seen between Bruce and Dick in other episodes. Heck, the friendliest we’ve seen them in these last few episodes was in Barbara’s nightmare.

jimmy:  That’s true. He did give Barbara a little scolding about her being manipulated by Bruce to only think she was fine with things while he got exactly what he wanted.

tomk:  At this point, we’re seeing moody, overly-prepared, perfectionist Batman. That fits in with the 90s very well.

jimmy:  You mean he’s not like that now???

tomk:  He’s not as bad as he was.

jimmy:  “Tower of Babel” days.

tomk:  It’s not like other heroes didn’t have a good reason to be wary of the guy. He didn’t even share his real name with his allies.

jimmy:  Yeah, you can’t trust guys like that!

tomk:  But this is Dick. At a certain point, he needs to stand on his own.

jimmy:  Lol

Sorry.

Yes, I’m 10.

tomk:  Watson got into your chat account again?

jimmy:  Hopefully that’s all he gets into.

tomk:  Hey-o!

jimmy:  Speaking of getting into things…where did Batgirl get her suit before her and Batman go after the Joker?

tomk:  Uh….

jimmy:  Exactly.

tomk:  Given the preponderance of mini-skirts, she clearly wasn’t wearing it underneath her clothes.

jimmy:  Bats probably had one on hand. Just in case.

tomk:  Now there’s the sorts of questions we shouldn’t be asking.

jimmy:  Heh.

So what about the plane they save at the end? Did the pilot completely miss the Joker’s whole “don’t fly any planes over Gotham or kablammo” TV special?

tomk:  Why didn’t Joker’s gizmo take down Batman’s jet pack?

jimmy:  He sprayed it with Bat-JokerGizmoRepellent before he took off.

It doesn’t work on Tommy Guns or playing cards though.

tomk:  Those aren’t radar-based gizmos.

Here’s the thing: Dick becoming Nightwing is about, essentially, he grows up. He isn’t Batman’s sidekick anymore. He’s on his own and doing his own thing. Much of what goes wrong in the relationship in the flashback is first Dick wanting to be his own man (note his trust fund comes from the circus, not Bruce), and also his misunderstanding on how Bruce operates. The last one is shattered when he sees Bruce gave the Malcolm McDowell-voiced guy a job after prison.

jimmy:  That seemed like a common Bruce Wayne thing to me.

How does this compare to the evolution of Nightwing in the comics? Was there a similar divide and wanting to get away from Bruce, or simply growing up?

tomk:  Considering he originally made the change over in a Teen Titans storyline that didn’t even feature Batman…I’d say the latter.

Remember: Robin’s original costume included short shorts and pixie boots. The move to become Nightwing was totally about growing up.

jimmy:  True. Funny it took so long for the Robin costume itself to grow up, in the comics anyway. The DCAU Robin costume was always more practical with pants, etc.

tomk:  That original Robin costume sure was resistant to change. Jason wore it too for a while after that. The pants were added some fifty or so years after the fact. Having a kid sidekick dress like that in the 40s is one thing. In the 80s is something else.

jimmy:  Having a kid sidekick period is highly questionable.

tomk:  It was a means for audience identification. And the famous ones keep coming back. Never fear, we’ll have Robins for years!

jimmy:  And given the current timeline of the New52 universe, Batman has had a new Robin like every 6 months.

tomk:  Have we wandered away from the episode itself to speculate on the maturation process of the average superhero sidekick?

jimmy:  Heh. I guess so. I think I’ve covered what I had made notes on. I was a little disappointed in this episode. It was fine, but I wanted it to be great, like I said. My expectations were likely out of whack. But at least we get a happy, “let’s all get along like a nice little Bat-family” ending.

tomk:  That may be the best you can hope for. Besides the next episode brings The Crazy.

jimmy:

tomk:  Close…

“The Demon Within”

Batman has problems with black magic when Klarion the Witch-Boy gains power over Etrigan the Demon!

jimmy:  Klarion stole 40 cakes, and that’s terrible.

tomk:  This episode is just so…weird.

I mean, Batman casts a magic spell that apparently he knew.

jimmy:  I would assume Jason Blood told him what to do, otherwise, yeah, WTF?

tomk:  Even Batman doesn’t want to talk about it when everything is finished.

jimmy:  Would you?

tomk:  He didn’t seem too reluctant before then.

I mean, Bruce was a hell of a lot friendlier with Jason Blood then he ever was with Superman during the first two-thirds of “World’s Finest,” and Etrigan is a literal demon from Hell.

jimmy:  But they’ve met each other before. BTW, outside of that one line near the end, Etrigan doesn’t speak in rhymes. I’m guessing the writers decided it was too much trouble.

tomk:  That would be my guess.

I am curious after seeing this how much of a good guy Etrigan was when Jack Kirby created him. I know the Demon runs I’ve read have shown him being more anti-hero than anything else.

jimmy:  Same.

tomk:  Heck, when Etrigan comes back for Justice League, he’s a lot less pleasant.

So, aside from some childish pranks against Destroyer 3 starring Donald Saltnpepper and some ice cream and cake theft, any thoughts on Klarion’s, um, master plans.

jimmy:  Did he have one? Just seemed to be random childish destruction…aside from ordering Etrigan to murder people.

tomk:  He hates sequels. And there must be strawberry. Well, he deserved to get sent to his room.

Classic Etrigan really has only a pair of Kirby-created enemies that I am aware of: Klarion and Morgan Le Fey. Morgan appears in Justice League. Klarion’s cat familiar Teekl is usually just a cat. The cat-person thing is a bit new.

Editor’s Note:  Wikipedia notes Teekl has displayed this ability in many comic books I apparently have never read.

jimmy:  And creepy. Maybe Catman should have recruited her instead.

tomk:  She’ll do what you say if you stick a magic branding iron to her head. That doesn’t work on most cats.

jimmy:  You would know.

tomk:  Doesn’t work on a moose either.

jimmy:  Don’t I know it!

Klarion was a very obscure character to appear on the show, but his being a common Etrigan foe explains it somewhat.

tomk:   Hey, Grant Morrison hadn’t made him one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory yet.

jimmy:  So, Etrigan was Billy Zane? I thought it was Michael Dorn again.

tomk:  Wrong voice. Interesting casting choice, but wrong voice.

jimmy:  I guess I just think every gruff character is Dorn. 🙂

tomk:  Even the ones that sound like Ed Asner perhaps.

jimmy:  Heh. Good old Granny.

tomk:  Now imagine Granny with Worf’s voice.

jimmy:  That could work. But Asner was great.

But Batman is fighting animals again. At least this one was humanoid.

tomk:  They must have had a mandate. Let Batman fight a giant animal for every giant robot Superman takes on.

jimmy:  I guess they couldn’t really have him beating on Klarion.

tomk:  Clearly that’s for the hulking demonic figure.

jimmy:  Supernatural on supernatural violence is ok.

tomk:  Maybe if Etrigan could hold a feral cat person down for more than ten seconds he wouldn’t have magic branding iron problems.

jimmy:  Magic branding iron. Geez.

tomk:  It’s more effective than the magic curling iron.

jimmy:  Heh. In the end though, as you mentioned, Batman grabs the magic branding iron and whips out a spell to bind Etrigan and Blood back together. Is there anything Batman can’t do?

tomk:  Explain what happened to Robin?

jimmy:  He doesn’t want to talk about it.

tomk:  That…seems like a good line to end on. Did you have anything else to say about Batman’s Treehouse of Horror episode, Jimmy?

jimmy:  Lol, no, but that’s a great title.

tomk:  Then it may be time to move on.

NEXT TIME:  Move on they shall!  Be back soon when Tom and Jimmy discuss “Legends of the Dark Knight,” “Girls’ Night Out,” and the classic “Mad Love”!

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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