Going Through The DCAU Part Forty-Eight

All good things must come to an end, and so Jimmy and Tom finish up The New Batman Adventures with the episodes “Chemistry,” “Beware the Creeper,” and “Judgment Day”.

“Chemistry”

Bruce Wayne has met the perfect woman and is giving up being Batman?!? How can that be?!

jimmy:  We touched on this a bit in the Clayface episode, but if the plant people have sentience, consciousness and appear to feel pain…aren’t they alive? And Robin is murdering them left and right on the cruise ship.

tomk:  But they’re evil!

And yes, we did touch upon that, but regardless of feeling pain, plants are alive anyway.

jimmy:  Fair enough, but not able to speak and carry out complex plans.

tomk:  True enough. These do appear to be sentient. Hard to say, though, since they could just be mindlessly following Ivy’s orders, and we’ve seen her pull out plant/human clone things before.

jimmy:  Yes, and no less creepy this time. Especially when she tears the skin right off one guy. Tim’s reaction to that is perfect.

tomk:  But are we supposed to sympathize with them? That last shot of Susan Wayne sinking under the waves…

Which, as I think about it, is a nice contrast since I think that character was voiced by Linda Hamilton and we’ve seen some Terminators sink into fire.

jimmy:  Nice Terminator comparison.

It’s a tough question you ask though. They do nothing throughout to gain our sympathies. And at the drop of a hat attempt to kill/abandon their mates and side with Ivy. We have that shot of Susan which could make you feel bad for her (though Robin would have likely just melted her anyway had she made it above deck). But that is immediately followed by a shot of Batman scowling and throwing his wedding ring into the ocean.

tomk:  Well, she does have that super creepy line where she says, “I’m your wife.”

jimmy:  Exactly. It’s almost like that sympathetic shot of her is out of place. But at the same time, harkens back to the start of this convo. That she was alive and didn’t want to die.

tomk:  It might have helped with a longer running time. There was no real time to develop her as a character or to suggest a real romance. But that moment when she sprouts the vines and has that wife line, that stuck with me.

jimmy:  I agree about the running time. Often they are finding ways to pad three segments of Batman action set pieces and this definitely felt like it could have been more flushed out. I know part of the story was the fast courtship, but even that seemed a bit much. It seemed like a night had passed, though Bruce says he has been seeing Susan for weeks. Maybe not a feature length film, but maybe a two part episode.

tomk:  Yeah, or at least cut back on the Robin/Batgirl investigation. Though kudos to Barbara for driving the Batmobile this time without wrecking it.

jimmy:  I knew you were going to mention that.

tomk:  It’s true though! Every other time she took the car out, it got crushed by a giant bull or ripped apart by a visiting Superman foe!

jimmy:  On the DVD there is a deleted scene where that liquid that kills the plant people, melts the Batmobiles tires.

tomk:  Figures.

jimmy:  Obviously there was something going on with Bats for him to so quickly get married and give up being Batman; and the title kinda hints at it being pheromones, but we’re you surprised at all with the Ivy reveal?

tomk:  A bit. Bruce ultimately isn’t when he realizes all the new spouses have green eyes.

jimmy:  Yeah. It made sense once it was revealed, but I didn’t pick up on it in like the first minute as is the case with some other stories, say featuring Scarecrow.

tomk:  There were a lot less clues and no Ivy name-dropping like with Scarecrow.

Heck, aside from the sudden romances, there wasn’t even a hint of anything weird or superhuman like there was with Clayface. It isn’t until we see Veronica’s husband has some leafy problems that it becomes clear that something weird has happened. And in the grand scheme of things, isn’t it not the slightest bit shocking that Veronica Vreeland is the first person we meet who fell for this scheme?

jimmy:  Not one bit.

And I was going to mention that the first clue was the leafy chest…which came after Ivy was revealed.

tomk:  Well, the fight was weird.

Reminds me of an old, forgotten Superman foe named Conduit.

jimmy:  You would know about forgotten comic characters…

tomk:  He had some kind of kryptonite-based powers held in check by all these metal pipes and stuff wrapped around his torso. He was also a childhood friend of Clark’s. Then he got engaged and the engagement was broken off when his fiancee finally saw him with his shirt off and was wondering what all the metal was. Said one wise letter-writer, “Why hadn’t she seen him without a shirt up until then?”

Ah, the 90s…

This is Conduit. He’s lame.

jimmy:  Like Bruce getting engaged before even kissing Susan (in the show anyway).

tomk:  Hey, we don’t know what those wacky weeks were like between moony Batman ignoring Robin and Bruce popping the question. There could have been all kinds of crazy, kinky stuff going on.

jimmy:  True. I’ll also bring to your attention that in the last two episodes we’ve seen Batman laugh and smile. Both very disturbing.

tomk:  Batman In Love…not exactly the next big thing.

jimmy:  Let’s hope not.

Though the scene where he describes the new feeling he’s having and they tell him it is happiness and he says in the angriest Bat-voice possible, “Whatever it is, I like it!” is so funny.

tomk:  Dick has a couple decent lines too when he points out Bruce will be back in the cowl inside of two weeks or so.

jimmy:  As does Barb when he rejects the notion of settling down with a special someone.

tomk:  She might have a reason to object to that.

jimmy:  She’s just biding her time for Bruce anyway.

tomk:  Yeah, no comment there.

That’s just…wrong.

jimmy:  Agreed.

tomk:  But Bruce clearly invites everyone to his wedding. I thought I saw Jason Blood sitting next to Lois Lane.

jimmy:  Damn, I missed that.

tomk:  It was a quick sweep of the room.

jimmy:  Was Clark there?

tomk:  I didn’t see him.

But let me add this: I remembered this episode as generally being better than it actually was. That creepy body horror plant attack aside, it just seems to go by awfully quick. There’s no real chance to develop Susan as a character or even a chance to show much of what made her seem so awesome to Bruce.

jimmy:  At least the other guys explain what made their wives awesome.

tomk:  Yeah, if you want a cheap date.

jimmy:  But an interesting point. Did the people fall for their significant others because of pheromones or because the pod people acted like the perfect mate? If the former, was there a need for the latter?

tomk:  I suspect it must have a been a bit of both. Bruce is generally far too skeptical to simply fall for someone who isn’t secretly the Phantasm.

jimmy:  Or as I was expecting this episode Silver St. Cloud.

tomk:  Well, no. No Silver St. Cloud for this show. No Julie Madison, no Vicki Vale, no Vesper Fairchild, none of those characters ever appeared in the DCAU.

So, anything else to add here, Jimmy? Like how awkward the conversation becomes if anyone ever asks Bruce why he never settled down and found himself a wife?

jimmy:  The only other note I had was that Bat-Stalker was pretty creepy. And not in a strike fear in the heart of criminals kinda way.

tomk:  No one really taught him how to talk to girls.

But after a romance gone bad, you gotta just move on.

jimmy:  I guess we have to blame Alfred for that.

tomk:  True. Shall we also move on?

jimmy:  Just two more to go?

tomk:  Sadly, yes.

“Beware the Creeper”

The Joker recreates the accident that made him what he is with TV reporter Jack Ryder! But when Ryder emerges as the Creeper, he’s going to cause headaches for Harley, Joker, and Batman!

jimmy:  C’mon, why wasn’t this episode called “Don’t Fear The Creeper”???

tomk:  Because you weren’t working for them.

jimmy:  Well I should have been. That title is awesome!

Anyway, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this has no relation to The Creeper’s comic origin.

tomk:  Um…

jimmy:  It does?

tomk:  Hard to say. The Creeper’s origin is kind of a mess. Some versions have him implanted with a device that allows him to change back and forth at will. Others say he’s only faking insanity. Some say he is insane. One recent, pre-New 52 origin did tie the Joker in. He does often have some Joker ties. Considering creator Steve Ditko seems to have created something that is a cross between the Joker and Spider-Man, anything anyone comes up with is going to be all over the place.

jimmy:  Shows what I know about The Creeper. I did assume Ditko was the creator based on the name of the vintage clothing store he shops at.

tomk:  Ditko, like Jack Kirby, did some DC work after leaving Marvel.

jimmy:  We’ve talked extensively a couple of times already about the unhealthy and abusive relationship between Harley and the Joker. That continues here, including another scene where she tries to get sexy time with the Joker and he throws her out of their hideout on her face.

But it was also an interesting episode given the current #metoo climate we are living in. The Creeper doesn’t know that “no means no”.

tomk:  The Creeper earned that name.

He would have been fine in a cartoon from the 40s.

Though as much as Joker tosses a pie-covered Harley out, he was a bit less abusive here than he was in “Mad Love” as seen with how quickly he accepts her explanation of events when the Creeper follows her home. This is kind of a weird episode to watch after “Mad Love”.

jimmy:  True. A lot of parallels though. It helps to break the tension when Joker and Harley are the least crazy persons in the episode.

tomk:  Yes, this episode plays out like an old 40s cartoon, and Joker’s henchmen being the Three Stooges played up on that.

jimmy:  Ha. True. It also needed the Creeper to be a Jim Carrey Mask-like contortionist, but it never quite went that far.

tomk:  Bad guys fleeing an unstoppable crazy guy does have some comedic appeal.

jimmy:  Plus giant pies and barges of garbage.

tomk:  And like a lot of old 40s cartoons, they snuck in a dirty joke that kids won’t notice.

jimmy:  I noticed that too. Was a little risqué for a Batman cartoon.

tomk:  But sneaking a joke like that past the censors would have been fine for an old cartoon.

The Creeper almost works in that context. If Droopy Dog were chasing him instead of Batman, we might be having a very different conversation.

jimmy:  Yeah, like, what’s Droopy Dog doing in this Batman cartoon?

tomk:  He had to catch a wolf. Found the Creeper instead.

jimmy:  Since there is only one episode of Batman left, safe to say he won’t appear again in this series, but does he show up in Justice League or anything?

tomk:  He does, but mostly as a background character. I don’t remember him speaking in any of those appearances.

Of course, there was this:

jimmy:  You have a Brave and the Bold clip for everything. 🙂

tomk:  That show was awesome in its own way. And they were good about using a lot of DC characters, including many that didn’t appear in the DCAU.

jimmy:  You’ll like Justice League Action then.

tomk:  If I can find a way to watch it without hitting random episodes on YouTube, sure.

But what about the Creeper knocking Batman across the room without looking?

jimmy:  That surprised me. And seemed to surprise Bats and Robin as well.

tomk:  It probably should have. It was a pure comedic moment as Creeper was knocking around Mo, Lar, and Cur (all voiced by voice actor Billy West), but this episode is mostly a comedic episode anyway once we get past Joker’s initial attack on Ryder.

jimmy:  Even that had many comedic elements.

tomk:  So, maybe we should ask: how much of it was funny?

Is the Joker funny for this episode? Is the Creeper?

jimmy:  I think it was funny, but definitely a high layer of twisted as well.

tomk:  I think my favorite scene is when the Creeper goes shopping at the thrift store. Sure, he scares most of the clientele away, but that clerk couldn’t be more bored if she tried.

jimmy:  Lol, yes. And offering him fashion advice. Green really goes with his gold skin tone.

tomk:  And somehow, the Creeper had foresight enough to pay for his purchases, even if they were furry gloves, boots, a speedo, and a large boa.

jimmy:  Especially since I think he tried to pay initially with peanuts or something.

tomk:  And then he remembered he still had a credit card.

Those chemicals were strong enough to wreck everything except his plastic card with the magnetic strip. What was his wallet made of?

jimmy:  Ha, that is an excellent point. And where did he keep it? Wait, I don’t want to know.

tomk:  Then again, this is the sort of episode where maybe we shouldn’t have to make sense of things.

jimmy:  When the Joker is not the craziest character in an episode, you’re probably right.

tomk:  But this was just a silly episode. Did you have anything else in your notes, Jimmy? I feel like we’re trying to parse a Tom and Jerry cartoon or something.

jimmy:  Well, I was going to research how much a pool table actually weighs, but since we are in the Tom and Jerry realm of things, it’s probably irrelevant.

tomk:  Well, in that case, shall we hit the last one?

jimmy:  Sad times but let’s do it!

“Judgement Day”

A new Gotham vigilante, the Judge, hits town and isn’t above the use of lethal force! Can Batman stop him?

jimmy:  So at what point did you figure out it was Two-Face?

tomk:  Probably when Two-Face found his secret escape hatch blocked off.

You?

jimmy:  Not until Alfred’s gasp. But I knew something was fishy about the Two-Face attack, as it was the only one where the Judge never appeared in person.

tomk:  This is probably more of a classic Two-Face story. The only other time we saw him was that Robin episode, and aside from Robin calling him “puke face,” that really could have been any villain.

But they were good here. The Judge was even played by a different voice actor.

jimmy:  I thought even Two-Face sounded a bit different at times, but was still our old friend Richard Moll.

tomk:  Yeah. This may not have worked as a final Batman episode, but it sure does work as a final Two-Face episode.

jimmy:  It also works from a “let’s have a lot of guest stars” standpoint.

tomk:  Well, here’s the thing: few old Batman foes appear in Justice League or Batman Beyond. This is the last Two-Face, Penguin, Riddler, or Killer Croc appearances. Riddler appears in one Superman episode, but that would probably have aired before this one.

jimmy:  And can I just point out again how awful that Riddler redesign is?

tomk:  Yes, you can. Probably why he didn’t get an episode of his own.

But hey, here’s a guest star for ya: Steven Weber as the crooked councilman. What else was he in? The sitcom Wings where he played the brother to Tim “Superman” Daly.

jimmy:  Yes, I noticed that. I feel like he might have done some voice work on a prior episode?

tomk:  He may have, but there was a connection there.

jimmy:  Yes.

tomk:  But I really liked this episode.

jimmy:  Me too. Though it felt very Phantasm-y.

tomk:  A bit. And this was the other episode I felt we should get to before we covered the rest of Superman, since Superman actually has a finale for its final episode, and Batman just ends.

jimmy:  Do you know if they knew that this was it for Batman at the time?

tomk:  Batman Beyond might have been on by then, so there was still Batman going on.

Plus, Batman appears in two more Superman episodes.

jimmy:  Can’t be many left in that run either.

tomk:  13 more Superman episodes, and the last two are a two-parter.

We’ll be moving on to Batman Beyond before you know it.

jimmy:  FINALLY! It’s only been two and half years!

tomk:  Yes, but what about this episode? Another sidekick-free adventure for the Dark Knight. This episode actually makes me think if there wasn’t a Joker, Two-Face would be Batman’s archenemy.

jimmy:  He would likely be, yes. While Joker is the other side of the Bat-coin, Two-Face is both sides. And has the tragic background of being Bruce’s former friend and Batman supporter.

tomk:  He’s a lot more serious than most Bat-foes too.

jimmy:  That’s a good point.

tomk:  He doesn’t have a laughable appearance. He has a gimmick, but it isn’t a particularly silly one. His schemes often seem smarter than a lot of the others. Heck, Penguin says here he really doesn’t want to double-cross Two-Face, something he doesn’t mind doing to Killer Croc.

jimmy:  And right in front of Croc’s face at that.

tomk:  Considering Croc could probably swallow Penguin whole, that is brave.

jimmy:  Or stupid

tomk:

jimmy:  Exactly.

tomk:  But seeing the Penguin in action shows a bit about how the Gotham Underworld works.

jimmy:  Like every other crooked underworld.

tomk:  Yeah, but how often do we see that in a kids show?

jimmy:  Never?

tomk:  Presactly!

But after the overall wackiness of the Creeper, we do go out on a more serious note, and one that does take a good, in-depth psychological look into one of Batman’s enemies.

jimmy:  Has a third Two-Face personality been used before or since?

tomk:  Not to my knowledge. But that third personality makes Harvey’s story more tragic than it was already.

jimmy:  Yes. Would it have worked as well if it was simply the Harvey side of his personality? I’ve read several stories where Harvey would act without Two-Face’s knowledge in attempts to get him arrested, or at least stopped from one nefarious plan or another.

tomk:  How about Scott Snyder’s recent story where the Harvey side was maybe the villain?

jimmy:  Yes, that one came to mind as well.

tomk:  That example is more the exception than the rule.

jimmy:  Just another example of the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.

I wonder if there is any significance to the fact that Two-Face was staying at a building with address 2020? Obviously the 2’s have always played a role in the Two-Face mythos, but surprised it wasn’t only 2’s. Would be cool if it was some kinda binary that made up three, but 0 is 0. But there is still a 2 for Two-Face, and then another.

tomk:  For all that Two-Face is generally a smart foe, he sure does pick some obvious hideouts.

jimmy:  Heh. Creature of habit.

tomk:  The only thing keeping him free is Batman has to check every building in Gotham with that number in the street address.

jimmy:  How many can there be?

tomk:  Probably a lot.

So, we’ve come to the end of Batman’s road. Anything else you want to add about this episode or the series in general, Jimmy?

jimmy:  I was a little underwhelmed by the redesign in general, but it was great to have dedicated Batman episodes again. The new designs were hit and miss and I did find the overall tone was not as adult or 50’s retro in most cases. That said, it was still Batman. And it was nice to seen an evolution of the characters which you rarely see in cartoons. Like Bart has been 10 years old for 28 years. We saw Robin grow up and become Nightwing. Batgirl take on a more prominent partnership role. Keeping with tradition, a new Robin is introduced…even if he was Jason Todd masquerading as Tim Drake.

tomk:  As for me, Batman is still a lot more psychologically complex than Superman, and these were a fairly strong final batch of 24 episodes.

The show seemed to be both more and less mature in its presentation. The complex morality of the old show rears its head with the Clayface and Mr. Freeze episodes, as well as the more experimental nature of Batgirl’s death dream. It’s not quite on the same level as what came before, and there are a couple stinkers in there, but that’s the price you gotta pay. Sure, you get a “Mad Love,” but you have to sit through another Baby-Doll episode first.

jimmy:  Ugh. Yes. I agree with al of your points though. Batman will always trump Superman to me.

tomk:  Same here. But Superman is the role model hero that others aspire to be. Batman just gets results.

jimmy:  Speaking of the Big Blue Boy Scout, I guess we need to go finish off his series.

tomk:  Yes. Perhaps we should. And you, Jimmy, are Super-segue-man.

jimmy:  I’m no Watson. Praise Jeebus.

NEXT TIME:  We Tom and Jimmy bid a fond farewell to the Caped Crusader, it’s time to return to the Man of Steel’s own adventures with the episodes “Where There’s Smoke,” “Knight Time,” and “New Kids in Town”.

tomk74

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

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