Going Through The DCAU Part Fifty-Three

Jimmy and Tom have been talking the DCAU for a while now.

As it is, we’re starting our look at Batman Beyond with the episodes “Rebirth” parts one and two, “Black Out,” and “Golem”.

“Rebirth” Parts 1 and 2

In the future, troubled high schooler Terry McGinnis’ father is killed, leading the teenager to seek justice as Batman! Can he overcome both the bad guys and the reluctance of elderly recluse Bruce Wayne?

jimmy:  Batman Beyond
Batman Beyond
Does whatever a
Batman Beyond can

Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

tomk:  No, but the show does have that same character vibe.

jimmy:  The first part did for sure. Less so the second, though that had a bit of a Spider-Man 2099 vibe.

tomk:  Funny you should mention that.

jimmy:  Boo-urns!

Though I’m not sure I like the alternate ending either:

tomk:  I couldn’t get past the so-so CG animation.

jimmy:  Yeah. Definitely not one of their better made episodes.

tomk:  But how did you like Batman Beyond, with a somewhat kick-ass 119 year old Bruce Wayne (may not be the character’s actual age), a new Batman, and an evil George Takei?

jimmy:  I liked it. The new suit is slick looking. I was surprised that we saw Bruce in it at the very beginning.

tomk:  We had to see why Bruce gave it up.

jimmy:  Sure. I was just surprised it was in that suit.

tomk:  I was a little since I originally saw part two first, but it makes sense. Bruce would update his equipment and Terry had to get it somehow.

jimmy:  And it was a good thing it came in one size fits all.

tomk:  Bruce looks like he could still wear it now.

jimmy:  True. Btw, according to the audio commentary on episode one, I don’t think Bruce’s age is ever revealed, but they operated under the assumption he was around 83.

tomk:  I don’t recall Bruce getting an official age in any timeline outside of being eight when his parents died.

jimmy:  Timm also says that Batman Beyond is “50 years later”, but 50 years from what? And good chance he was just speaking off the cuff.

We’ll probably get a better feel for the passage of time when we see Barbara and if we see Dick or Tim.

tomk:  We’ll see about that. One of the things they tried to do was not whip up new versions of old characters. For bad guys, they tried to make thematically similar characters rather than just do, say, Riddler Beyond and Penguin Beyond.

3-4 classic Batman foes will return, though these are the exceptions and not the rule.

jimmy:  Which, continuing the comparison, appears to be mostly the opposite of what the 2099 line did.

tomk:  You keep bringing up 2099, and you aren’t wrong, but the Spider-Man I was most reminded of was a different version of Peter Parker.

jimmy:  I don’t know that I’ve seen much Spider-Man Unlimited, but I think it is The Animated Series Peter stranded on another planet.

tomk:  More or less. It was Counter-Earth. The show ran one season and he wore a high tech suit made of nanites.

But you know what struck me as weird…no smartphones! We have some better tech than they do!

jimmy:  Well, that could be said about most shows/movies from the past that depict the future. Many of which have dates that now take place in our past.

tomk:  True, but it was something that jumped out at me. At least they have some flying cars.

jimmy:  We have those now too right?

tomk:  Um, sure.

jimmy:  So, between the near heart attack at the beginning and X years later when Terry dons the suit, Bruce does absolutely nothing? Even if he’s not capable physically you’d think he would have continued on as a mentor to Tim or any number of new Batman/Robins.

tomk:  It looks like he’s already alone by the time the prologue starts.

Though he is rescuing a girl named Vreeland, so some things never change.

I suspect we’ll find out what went down with at least some of the others before we’re done.

jimmy:  Yes, I noticed that.

tomk:  The fact he drew a gun is what seemed to really stop him.

jimmy:  It was the only thing that saved him. And once it got to that point, he was done.

I just think that after all this time Bruce wouldn’t just disappear into the shadows and let evildoers rule the night.

tomk:  I’m not sure you’ll ever get a completely satisfying answer for why he withdrew entirely. Look, he even let that Derek Powers guy take over his company.

He doesn’t seem to care any more. He’s just a bitter old man.

jimmy:  I guess I just didn’t quite buy him turning off the lights in the cave, saying “Never again” and then becoming a hermit. Seems more likely for him to be throwing himself in a Lazarus Pit or something. Batman Eternal.

tomk:  He knows what the Lazarus Pit does. He wouldn’t do that outside of a John Byrne Elseworlds story.

jimmy:  But…something. A better suit. Or like I said, take on an apprentice role long before Terry comes along and forces his hand.

tomk:  If Bruce pulled a gun to save his life after he could barely stand, then someone with his rigid moral stances on firearms would potentially be too disgusted to continue as Batman. And Robins don’t really grow on trees.

Like I said, I don’t think you’ll ever get a satisfying answer on why he quit.

jimmy:  Dammit Tom! I want answers!

tomk:  OK…um…gypsy curse?

The funny thing is, Batman Beyond was meant to be more kid friendly after the other cartoons got darker and more adult, but in many ways, Batman Beyond became even darker than the other shows were. Batman Beyond wasn’t afraid to kill off people, especially villains.

jimmy:  The opening credits are super dark and creepy.

tomk:  There are some bad guys coming that will make the credits seem nice by comparison.

jimmy:  Two-Face 2099 I guess.

tomk:  Well, maybe a thematic one of a friend turned foe after a tragic accident. But let’s just say we never see that Takei-voiced henchman again.

jimmy:  That’s ok. Takei should never side with evil.

tomk:  It doesn’t go well for him, I guess.

But still, the pilot features two character deaths: Terry’s dad and that guy.

jimmy:  You did say they weren’t afraid to kill off characters. Dealing with deaths that are key to a hero’s origin (Uncle Ben, The Wayne’s, etc) is a tricky proposition for “kids” shows.

tomk:  It is, and it’s not like they did this:

jimmy:  No kids show would do that!

tomk:  Well, we’d hope.

A brilliant show might!

jimmy:  Someone should do a rewatch of a show like that.

tomk:  Someone insane enough to go through something like that? Probably run about thirty seasons if its that brilliant, even if later years are just coasting off the rep of the early ones.

What’s next? Someone going through all of Star Trek?

jimmy:  I have been toying with a Next Generation rewatch, but only an insane person would do the former.

tomk:  Next Generation? Interesting. Truth be told, that and the original series are probably the only ones I’ve seen all of.

But you know what? That’s too far in the future. We should stick to, say, 50 years from now. See how they get by without smartphones but with flying cars.

Bruce and Ace in happier days.

jimmy:  Haha, yes, Ace!

tomk:  No Alfred, but Bruce has a loyal dog.

Pictured: Alfred Beyond

jimmy:  Lol

Not the best spinoff they’ve had.

tomk:  No.

But I will add here: I’ve seen all these before, but I never equated Terry with Batman. I still think of Bruce as Batman.

Terry’s fine, and he just about always ends up saving the day, but I still think of him as “Terry”.

jimmy:  He’s Batman…to the EXTREME!

tomk:  Hey, adding “Extreme” to an existing franchise never went wrong.

jimmy:  Hopefully Terry doesn’t die returning to his home planet.

tomk:  Nah, I think he’ll stick around for a while.

Unless he’s on the same planet as Derek Powers. He might want to be more careful there.

jimmy:  I think we’ve seen the last of that guy.

tomk:  He glows in the dark. We’ll see him more easily now.

jimmy:  Well, I think we are getting near to moving on since we are talking about The Simpsons more than the show we just watched. So I’ll add that while I love the Batman Beyond suit and the concept of an older Bruce mentoring Terry, I’ve never really seen much of this show, nor read the comics that came afterward. I’ve probably read more of Tim Drake as Batman Beyond than Terry, if that says anything.

tomk:  It does since I have not read that comic and don’t know much about Tim Drake as the future Batman.

Any thoughts on Derek Powers and his new Ghost Rider look before we move on?

jimmy:  Drake wasn’t future Batman all that long, and I don’t know that they’ve ever explained the switch back, as I think Terry was dead.

But anyways…

I figured something was going to happen to Powers. He was just too “plain” to be the main villain. Though I guess it worked for Lex.

Does he have any powers besides lack of need for skin care products? Or we shall see in the near future.

tomk:  You’ll see. Thematically he’s a little bit like a cross between the Penguin and Mr. Freeze. Maybe a little bit of Rupert Thorne thrown in.

But hey, Jokerz.

And Terry’s high school is named after Mayor Hill.

jimmy:  Yeah, the Jokerz are an interesting touch.

tomk:  Bruce Timm voiced their leader. He hated that. He tried to show the actor they hired how to do it, but the show used Timm’s take for the episode and then he got stuck with the role. The writers and such would then bring that guy back as often as possible.

jimmy:  Haha. Sticking it to the man!

tomk:  So, we’ve met Terry, his family, girlfriend, classmates, and an older Bruce with a familiar dog. Ready to see what wild sci-fi stuff a future Batman will need to handle?

jimmy:  Very.

“Black Out”

Derek Powers has hired the shapeshifting saboteur Inque to remove the competition. Can Terry stop a foe with no physical form?

jimmy:  Having this episode’s villain being the Venom symbiote is not going to put a stop to those Spider-Man comparisons.

tomk:  I was thinking Clayface, but your analogy works too.

jimmy:  I can see that, but she definitely looked more like Venom. And Clayface stories usually have more of a “master of disguise” element most of the time. While her shapeshifting was relegated to stealth and weaponry.

tomk:  If we’re sticking to the Spider-Man theme, that makes Derek Powers Norman Osborn.

But as for Inque, she’s the villain with the most appearances on the show I think.

jimmy:  She definitely presents a challenge for Terry.

tomk:  Fortunately, she has some weaknesses.

jimmy:  Fire. Sonics. Hmmm…

tomk:  Or water, electricity, and really low temperatures.

jimmy:  With all those weaknesses, sounds like she’d be easy to beat. C’mon Terry!

tomk:  He only got to the flying Batmobile. He doesn’t even know what Bruce has stashed in the cave.

jimmy:  At least one giant penny.

tomk:  That is less useful.

jimmy:  Good for trying to crush Batmen.

tomk:  Yeah, but he’s the good guy.

jimmy:  Interesting Gray Ghost call back, especially when Bruce uses it as a disguise.

tomk:  Bruce is the Gray Ghost now.

jimmy:  Good call.

tomk:  But hey, Bruce’s trophy room apparently had a functional weapon in it.

jimmy:  Well, if you’re gonna have Mr. Freeze’s gun lying around, it better work in case you need ice for drinks or other things of importance that may come up.

tomk:  Yeah, but one thing I liked about this episode was while it didn’t exactly fill in the blanks of what happened between shows, it did show some sense of continuity between timelines. The Gray Ghost costume, alongside the costumes of many of Batman’s old foes, plus there’s still a Commissioner Gordon…

jimmy:  Agreed. A lot of nice touches that tie to the original series without hitting you over the head with it.

tomk:  And there was a line of Barbara’s that should have been of interest to you. She said Bruce used to trick and manipulate people into being his sidekicks. He said it was always their decisions, but she didn’t see it that way. That’s pretty much exactly what Dick said in that episode where he told the story of why he quit being Robin.

jimmy:  You’re right. He’s not quite at Superman levels, but sometimes Batman can be a jerk too.

tomk:  Yes, but if Bruce is correct on how he operates, it does answer your question why he didn’t get a new Robin or something: he was waiting for someone to come to him.

jimmy:  And it took so long that instead of a new Robin he now has a new Batman. Who’s greener than any of the previous Robins.

tomk:  Oh come on. Terry was fighting gangs of Jokerz by himself.

Which reminds me of a moment in the pilot when Terry is defending Dana from the Jokerz and that Flash Thompson wannabe called Terry a freak.

jimmy:  Flash is a jerk too. And fighting Jokerz is a little different than wearing a Batsuit and fighting a shake shifter.

tomk:  I fought a shake shifter once. Stupid thing gave me chocolate when I asked for vanilla.

jimmy:  Lol. Damn auto correct. But you were right to fight it. Who wants a GD vanilla shake?!?!

tomk:  I did. That’s why I asked.

Oh, and Superman. He’s pretty vanilla.

jimmy:  Anything else to add on this one?

tomk:  Well, we got some advancement on the Derek Powers thing, got an idea of what role Bruce could potentially have in his own company, and got a couple hints of what the hell happened.

Oh, and a cool villain. Inque may be one of the better new foes. Good thing she comes back a couple times.

jimmy:  And Lucious Jr.

tomk:  Another nice nod.

jimmy:  So at this point, had new Superman and Batman episodes finished airing?

tomk:  I think they were airing all about the same time actually.

jimmy:  I suspected as much. I remember Timm making a comment on one of the, uh, commentaries, that they were losing people from those shows to work on Batman Beyond.

tomk:  Well, shall we see more of what the product of those exoduses was?

jimmy:  So far so good. No reason to stop now.

tomk:  Then it’s time for another trip back to the future, Marty.

jimmy:  We don’t have enough road.

tomk:  Good thing the next one has some large construction equipment that could build some!

That’s an awkward segue…

“Golem”

Willie Watt, one of Terry’s classmates, is pushed around by just about everybody. But when he bonds to a large construction robot, he can get a little revenge unless Batman can stop him!

jimmy:  That Flash Thompson sure is a jerk.

tomk:  Yeah, well, Willie Watt is no Peter Parker.

jimmy:  But still better than Witty Watts.

tomk:  So many are.

But yeah, Nelson is a Flash Thompson type.

jimmy:  And his last name is Nash. So close!

tomk:  There does seem to be one difference between Flash and Nelson. If Terry is to be believed, Nash is not popular at school.

jimmy:  That’s true. But he manages to get the girl.

tomk:  Did he really?

Rank cowardice and preference of a car over a human aren’t always traits women find attractive. Just like George Costanza at a birthday party fire.

jimmy:  But they made up after that.

tomk:  Well, maybe. Then it happened again.

jimmy:  Everyone was pretty scared that go round.

tomk:  Oh, you never had a school party interrupted by a giant robot?

jimmy:  A giant one? No.

tomk:  I forgot. Canadian school parties are more likely to be threatened by smaller robots and White Walkers.

jimmy:  That was the theme of my prom.

tomk:  Mine was an unexpected Klingon invasion. Originally “Enchantment under the Sea”.

jimmy:  Is that a Back To The Future joke?

tomk:  Jumping gigawatts!

No.

But what did you think of Willie?

jimmy:  He starts as a likeable loser type and ends as a psycho villain type.

tomk:  So, his actions weren’t justified?

jimmy:  Attacking people with a giant robot is probably never justified.

Except maybe the Jokerz.

tomk:  I bring it up because a friend of mine from college said of this episode at the time it was new that Nelson was not punished enough. He had low tolerance for bullies.

jimmy:  He deserved punishment, and he did lose his car, but there has to be a line somewhere.

tomk:  He’s also probably meant to be a reoccurring character. They can’t kill him. He didn’t break the law. Batman can toss him off a pier and that should be enough.

jimmy:  We really don’t know a lot of Terry prior to him putting on the suit. But he seems to have a bit of a reputation. When he asks Nash if he wants to mess with him, Nash “politely” declines.

tomk:  We do know Terry has a temper and is prone to fighting as seen from the pilot where he threw a punch during a wrestling match, possibly against Nelson.

Terry in many ways seems to be a rather average high schooler. We never see his grades, or if we do not much is made of them, but he doesn’t seem to be in danger of failing. He has some friends, including a girlfriend, so he’s not a wallflower or anything like that. The only thing that makes him stand out much is he doesn’t go along with classmates who laugh when Nelson or the like does awful things to the Willies of the world, though he’s not unique there since Dana is the same way.

jimmy:  Nothing wrong with him being “normal” and not the “Flash” or “Puny Parker” stereotypes.

tomk:  But then again, Willie is the Puny Parker type, only his Uncle Ben is more like a Taskmaster Bill.

Or something.

I tried for an Uncle Ben riff, couldn’t think of anything.

There’s probably something to be said about toxic masculinity here.

jimmy:  Not that it condones how Willie eventually ends up, but his father wouldn’t be winning any father of the year awards.

tomk:  Not at all, but I was looking over an older chat we had about the Mad Hatter and Clock King, and we were talking about what Batman more or less says in The Killing Joke, how having a really bad day means someone who isn’t mentally strong enough can go down a really dark path. Batman and, in The Killing Joke, Commissioner Gordon both have bad experiences and emerge more or less mentally intact, while the likes of the Joker, Hatter, and Clock King all come out damaged, possibly from being wound too tight to begin with. Willie clearly falls into that “wound too tight” category. This is Peter Parker if his first act as Spider-Man was to try to kill Flash Thompson until he was stopped by, I dunno, Daredevil or something.

jimmy:  Good analogy. And one that I’ve seen used more than once. “This is Spider-Man if…” or “He’s like Batman if…”.

tomk:  We used it a lot in the original batch of Batman episodes. “This bad guy is a mirror image of Batman this way” and “This bad guy is sort of like Bruce Wayne in that…”

jimmy:  Exactly. And it probably lends itself more to Batman than others.

tomk:  Well, many heroes have enemies that are similar but made different or wrong decisions. You being the expert on this, how many of Spider-Man’s regular foes are the result of a lab accident granting them unexpected abilities?

jimmy:  Hmm…
Green Goblin
Doc Ock
Lizard
Dan Slott
Etc

tomk:  Point is, a lot of them.

But so far, between Inque, Willie, and that glowing guy in the CEO’s office, I think it’s clear this Batman is going to be dealing with more superpowered enemies than Bruce ever did.

jimmy:  Yes. But it is the future and his high tech suit lends itself more to that kind of storytelling. Will be interesting to see if we get into anything akin to detective work, especially without Bruce masterminding the whole thing.

tomk:  Does Terry strike you as the detective sort?

jimmy:  No. But that’s a typical type of episode for original recipe Batman.

tomk:  Ah, but he isn’t original recipe! He’s, er, extra crispy?

jimmy:  Better than any joke I’ve got.

tomk:  I’m trying to make up for Taskmaster Bill. That sucked.

But we did have some ingredients for original recipe Batman. We had a mildly sympathetic bad guy with some complex psychological stuff going on in his origin, and we had a creepy “he’s not done yet!” ending.

jimmy:  That sounds like our Batman all right.

tomk:  But now that you have gotten a taste of this future, how are you liking this new (for you) show?

jimmy:  It’s good, but I need to see more before making an opinion.

tomk:  Shall we proceed or do you have more to add?

jimmy:  Only that I didn’t even recognize Seth Green as Nelson Nash.

tomk:  Green does a lot of voice work.

He’s even in the MCU!

jimmy:  He’s been just about everywhere since the 90’s.

tomk:  That’s highly appropriate since the show first aired in the 90s.

jimmy:  See, just like I planned it!

tomk:  You da man.

jimmy:  Shucks.

Anything else from you on this one?

tomk:  Nah.

We’re off to a good start.

jimmy:  Next…Sewer King 2099.

NEXT TIME:  No, not the Sewer King.  He’s the suckiest suck who ever sucked.  Instead, we’ll be looking at the episodes “Meltdown,” “Heroes,” and “Shriek”.

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