Going Through The DCAU Part Fifty-Eight

It’s that time again!

Yes, time for Jimmy and Tom to talk cartoons.  This time around, they’re looking at the Batman Beyond episodes “Lost Soul,” “Hidden Agenda,” and “Bloodsport”.

“Lost Soul”

A digital copy of long dead tech billionaire Robert Vance is awakened, and he won’t go back to sleep without a fight! Can Batman fight a computer program that can take over any technology?

jimmy:  So I guess the point of this episode was to show that it’s not just the suit that makes Terry Batman.

tomk:  And you gotta keep your antivirus up to date in case of old viruses.

jimmy:  Ha. Very true.

tomk:  You probably didn’t catch the stunt casting for this episode. Will Friedle was on the show Boy Meets World, and this episode features a guest voice by one his co-stars as the grandson of the program, an actor named Rider Strong.

jimmy:  No, I missed that.

tomk:  I figured you would have been blinded by the star power of Stacy Keach as Face On Screen Man.

jimmy:  Everyone loves a good Face On Screen role.

tomk:  It’s good and creepy.

jimmy:  Definitely.

tomk:  But man, this was one of those episodes about how things have changed in a way. Look how shocked Dana was that elevators used to be worked manually.

jimmy:  Wait until Bruce shows her a rotary phone.

tomk:  Kids today don’t know what those things are. She might have problems with certain touchscreens.

jimmy:  At the same time…we’re probably not that far off from voice activated elevators. Some may exist now.

tomk:  If they work as well as automated phone services, no wonder Compu-Vance took over so easily.

jimmy:  Heh. I don’t even use the voice activation on my phone because it almost never works right.

tomk:  We’re not living on the USS Enterprise.

jimmy:  Yet.

tomk:  But somehow Compu-Vance thinks it can download itself into a live person.

jimmy:  In the end, aren’t we all just 1’s and 0’s?

tomk:  I’m a series of 7s and 29s.

jimmy:  Oh. We can tell.

tomk:  “We”?

When did Robert Vance take over your mind?

jimmy:  I don’t know. Maybe when I put him online by picking up a phone and dialing out.

tomk:  He was downloaded in a more dial-up age. The connections were old.

jimmy:  So if your brain is transposed into a computer program and your body dies, is it even really you? And why do these things always seem to turn “evil”?

tomk:  He may have been “evil” from the start by trying to avoid death by any means necessary. But the episode does ask your first question.

jimmy:  It made me think of others like Armin Zola or even the Jackal who has cloned himself so many times, is any of them really Miles Warren?

tomk:  Are you saying Vance was really Miles Warren?

jimmy:  More Zola than Miles, but similar concept.

tomk:  Terry didn’t think Evil Google was the real thing.

jimmy:  Exactly. Evil Google. Haha. (Some would argue you don’t need the “Evil”.)

tomk:  It was intended to offer help to guide the company and instead was looking into some kind of digital murder.

jimmy:  The son knew the score. He left him turned off for 35 years.

tomk:  Too bad he didn’t tell his own son. “Don’t turn Grampa back on! He’ll tell you how he used to tie an onion to his belt!”

jimmy:  Ha!

But you’d think they would have had a conversation over the years.

“Dad, how come you never turn on the machine with Grandpa in it?”

“Because he’s a homicidal maniac and he’ll try to download himself into your brain.”

“Oh, ok.”

tomk:  The son probably learned firsthand from the old man how to run the company. That was what the kid wanted help with.

jimmy:  Yes. But you’d think the dad would have warned him. But maybe he didn’t know. Which makes you wonder what kind of man he was to have his father’s consciousness in a computer and not turn it on for the rest of his life.

tomk:  It was a bad childhood that Summer Gleason failed to report on.

jimmy:  Well, it was one of those characters who you never heard of, supposedly played a big role in Gotham, and will never hear from again.

tomk:  And he had such a creepy monotone voice. That probably kept him off the TV

jimmy:  Keach is a great creepy face on a screen. And then in a Batsuit.

tomk:  His only weakness: refrigerator magnets!

jimmy:  Not just for sticking crappy drawings by your kids to the fridge anymore!

tomk:  They can reduce an Evil Algorithm to baby talk in seconds!

jimmy:  To draw yet another Spider-Man comparison, this was kinda like the whole “if you’re nothing without the suit, then you don’t deserve it” from Homecoming. Though Terry is A LOT more confident than MCU Peter.

tomk:  Yeah, Terry figured that out all on his own. He didn’t need some wealthy older man who just handed over some high tech suit to tell him first.

jimmy:  And Terry is always jumping into action in his civilian garb.

tomk:  Then it won’t be much of a problem for him to fight crime for a few days without that suit. Who needs a secret identity!

jimmy:  We’ve discussed before that Terry is never overly concerned about his.

tomk:  Maybe he should be. And if that isn’t a seque into the next episode, I don’t know what is.

jimmy:  Hey, I’m no Watson but…not being Watson is all that matters.

tomk:  Shall we move on then?

jimmy:  I already did the seque!

tomk:  Oh. OK then.

“Hidden Agenda”

A group of Jokerz are targeting Terry’s friend Max! How much does she know about her classmates?

jimmy:  Girl in the chair.

tomk:  She seems more on the ball than the last guy who wanted that title.

jimmy:  I was a little surprised Terry made no attempt to deny it. I guess he knew it was futile.

tomk:  Max is too smart for him.

But hey, trivia note: I mentioned back in that chat we had about Mr. Freeze when we saw he was just the Amazing Spider-Head that his two henchwomen were voiced by actors Lauren Tom and Cree Summer. I said at the time they would be have bigger roles for Batman Beyond. Well, now it can be told: Lauren Tom voices Dana and Cree Summer is Max.

jimmy:  Well, she is the smartest kid in school.

I noticed her name in the credits.

tomk:  Cree Summer has been the smartest kid in places since she was Inspector Gadget’s niece.

jimmy:  She was Penny?!???

tomk:  Yup. Back in 1983. She’s only about five years older than me too.

jimmy:  Wow. Awesome.

tomk:  Her filmography is rather impressive.

jimmy:  Looking at it now. Indeed.

I wonder if Max Gibson is a play on Mad Max played by Mel Gibson. Probably just a coincidence. Either way, don’t mention it to Ryan.

tomk:  Considering both what Mel seems to think of women and how often Max’s last name comes up, it may not be much of anything worth telling Ryan about.

jimmy:  So the guy at school who turned out to be leader of the Jokerz…had we seen him at all prior to this episode?

tomk:  Nope.

That guy was voiced by Michael Rosenbaum. He was Lex Luthor on Smallville…and will be the Flash on Justice League.

The Jokerz seem to work better when it’s a different batch of them.

jimmy:  It’s typical superhero/comic/cartoon trope that the main villain is a guy they all know at school.

tomk:  What? You’d rather it be just some stranger?

jimmy:  …well…it would be more likely…

tomk:  Wasn’t that why Steve Ditko quit Spider-Man? He and Stan argued over who the Green Goblin was? Stan wanted Norman Osborn and Steve wanted a random stranger?

jimmy:  …well…it would be more likely…

tomk:  You are not wrong.

But this smarmy Jokerz guy had a specific reason to target Max. It was a petty, stupid-ass reason that any sensible person would ignore, like Nick Fury would, but he had a reason.

jimmy:  Yeah. His mother.

tomk:  Surely you hate to disappoint Mama Impossible.

jimmy:  I don’t think she’d be upset if I got one question wrong on a test.

tomk:  That’s because you had a good mother.

jimmy:  The best. As was yours, I’m sure.

tomk:  Well, I didn’t become a school-obsessed gangbanger with a clown motif, so she did OK.

jimmy:  You didn’t become a school-obsessed gangbanger with a clown motif, yet.

tomk:  Did Watson say something?

jimmy:  I don’t listen to him if he did.

tomk:  Well, that’s smart. Much smarter than Terminal/Carter, a villain so memorable I had to look his name up.

Pictured: not a memorable villain.

jimmy:  Is that the Jokerz guy?

tomk:  It’s not his overweight brother who joined the Penguins.

jimmy:  I think he’s the lead singer of Slipknot or some other band the kids listen to these days.

tomk:  Wasn’t Slipknot the guy who got his head blown off in that Suicide Squad movie?

jimmy:  He was. Talented singer. Valedictorian. Horrible villain.

tomk:  The ability to climb anything isn’t much of a superpower.

But still more memorable than Terminal as far as names go.

jimmy:  I didn’t even know his name WAS Terminal!

tomk:  Again, I had to look it up.

I mean, theoretically, he wasn’t a bad villain, but this episode was more to introduce Max than to showcase a rich kid who ran a Jokerz subdivision.

jimmy:  I assume Max sticks around.

tomk:  She does.

jimmy:  …is this the first episode that Bruce doesn’t appear at all?

tomk:  Looks like!

But it’s not Max’s first appearance. She had a couple lines in the Splicers episode.

But I think it is safe to say Terminal, though more interesting than most Jokerz, isn’t a very good villain. What did you think of Max, Jimmy?

jimmy:  Max was ok. On the one hand, it was surprising that she figured out Terry’s secret so easily, on the other hand, this is probably what would happen in real life. It also set her up as a genius that is good with computers, which heroes always need in their ear.

tomk:  Plus, an ally his own age that can help him out as needed.

jimmy:  That too. Cause you know you can’t trust Dana.

tomk:  Or his family.

Or, uh, that Flash Thompson guy and the fad girl and any other random kids at that school.

jimmy:  I guess he has no point but to trust the one that figured out his identity.

tomk:  She didn’t tell anybody…yet…

jimmy:  Foreshadowing!

tomk:  Well, if it was, I didn’t mean it as such. Max can keep a secret.

jimmy:  That’s exactly what someone who didn’t want you to know she sold him out to the Kingpin for heroin would tell you.

tomk:  That’s Karen Page from Daredevil. We’re working on a Spider-Man stand-in, remember?

jimmy:  Right, right, sorry.

tomk:  I guess that makes Max…uh…Jean DeWolfe? Betty Brant? Menace?

Felicia Hardy? Silver Sable? That short woman Superior Spider-Man dated? Silk?

Aunt May?

jimmy:  Anna Maria is probably the closest of those lot, but I think Max precedes her by a “few” years.

tomk:  Two or three.

Actually, as I think about it, Max matches up best not with a Spider-Man character, but with Tim Drake. She may bristle at being a Robin, but the animated Tim Drake was more like Jason Todd. Comic book Tim Drake is a computer whiz, known better for his brains than his brawn, but he does get his hands dirty when he has to, and Max can go out into the field on occasion in ways that Bruce can’t on this show.

Max never suits up, but she is more than the “girl in the chair”.

jimmy:  That’s a good comparison. Especially since they “shafted” Tim by turning him into Jason Todd as you said.

tomk:  Besides, you know Max has to meet Bruce at some point.

jimmy:  Shall we see if it’s next episode?

tomk:  We can and we shall.

“Bloodsport”

The internationally wanted poacher Stalker has come to Gotham for a new prize: Batman!

jimmy:  Will Kraven never learn?

tomk:  He messed with the Black Panther one time too many.

jimmy:  For someone that killed a Panther with his bare hands (which was pretty intense for a kids show), he sure did freak out at the end when he thought it had returned.

tomk:  And then he appears to have been hit by a train (which was pretty intense for a kids show).

jimmy:  That happened to Wile E Coyote all the time.

tomk:  And Stalker does come back later…

jimmy:  Is that his official name? Not very creative.

tomk:  It is his official name. Doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Kraven the Hunter,” does it?

jimmy:  No. Not exactly. 🙂

tomk:  Then again, “craven” means “cowardly,” so Stalker has that going for him.

jimmy:  It does? Probably some Wizard of Oz reference by Stan The Man.

tomk:  But hey, a black man with what might be a light African accent and a bunch of tribal tattoos. There’s no way that could get a racist interpretation!

jimmy:  If Star Trek has taught me anything, it’s that there’s no racism in the future Tom.

tomk:  Oh right.

Too bad this stuff is made in the present.

But hey, trivia time: this is the second episode in a row where the bad guy is voiced by a future member of the animated Justice League.

jimmy:  Oh? I’m gonna guess…Jon Stewart.

tomk:  Martian Manhunter.

jimmy:  Or was it Jon Stewart disguised as Martain Manhunter? Wait, that’s not right.

tomk:  Carl Lumbly is currently playing the Manhunter’s elderly father on the CW’s Supergirl.

jimmy:  Have you watched Alias?

tomk:  John Stewart should go back to The Daily Show.

And no, I have not seen Alias. It had a distinct lack of Jessica Jones.

jimmy:  Haha. Alias was awesome…at least until the studio obviously started stepping and tried to “mainstream” their cult hit. But anyway, that’s the only thing I know Lumbly from.

tomk:  He’s a pretty good actor and had some minor voice roles on STAS.

jimmy:  And I bet he remembers to pick up the milk on the way home.

tomk:  Probably.

But hey, Stalker. A step up from Terminal if nothing else!

jimmy:  It wasn’t a big step to take.

tomk:  What did you think of the guy?

jimmy:  He’s a bad tipper.

tomk:  So’s Steve Buscemi in Reservoir Dogs.

jimmy:  And we all know how that worked out!

But, this guy was interesting, if a bit derivative.

tomk:  True.

The radioactive powder was clever. The artificial spine was…something else.

jimmy:  Another Kraven parallel who (I believe) would be able to find Peter out of costume thanks to his use of Axe body spray.

tomk:  You would know better than I there.

jimmy:  I think so, I know Wolverine could, but I’m struggling to think of an example. Maybe during Kraven’s Last Hunt.

tomk:  Ultimate Kraven could!

jimmy:  There you go. My Ultimate-Fu is weak.

tomk:  No one remembers Ultimate Kraven.

jimmy:  Who?

tomk:  Why is Gamora?

jimmy:  lol

tomk:  By the by: Max is many good things but babysitter isn’t one of them.

jimmy:  Terry’s brother only got kidnapped while under her watch. I’m sure there are worse babysitters out there.

tomk:  Like the kind that run cults in the basement or let the hook-hand killer inside?

jimmy:  Yeah. Those.

BTW, did the doctors that did Stalker’s spinal surgery not have any anesthetic? Why was he awake during the whole thing?

tomk:  It was all part of a normal episode for the kid-friendly DCAU show.

jimmy:  lol

tomk:  Between the panther, the train, and the surgery, they really wanted the kids at home to tune in to wholesome family entertainment.

jimmy:  Maybe Bruce Timm just has a different idea what “kid friendly” is than we do.

tomk:  His kids must have been perpetually terrified.

jimmy:  True. But perpetually entertained.

tomk:  Granted, I don’t know if he even has kids, but the point stands.

jimmy:  Terry’s brother didn’t seem too traumatized by the whole experience. So maybe it’s ok for kids these days.

tomk:  He seemed to love being threatened by that witch doctor from that 60 s Spider-Man cartoon.

Pictured: not Stalker behind J Jonah Jameson.

jimmy:  Now that is entertainment not suitable for children!

tomk:  Who is it suitable for?

jimmy:  Cheech and Chong?

tomk:  I dunno. Maybe.

But now that I think about it, those doctors should have drugged Stalker. The surgical scar for that spinal operation wasn’t exactly a straight line.

Any other thoughts on this one, Jimmy? I thought it was very well done. Stalker may not be the most original villain , but he comes off well.

jimmy:  I agree. And I can’t really think of anything else.

tomk:  Shall we move on? It might be time for some old foes’ return.

jimmy:  Old foes? I like the sounds of that.

NEXT TIME:  Indeed, Tom and Jimmy will have some older foes to deal with.  Be back soon for “Once Burned,” “Hooked Up,” and “Rats”.

tomk74

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

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: