Review: The Batman (Season 1)

Before he became known as the Dark Knight, Gotham’s silent and steely protector, Bruce Wayne, or rather the Batman, needed to first establish himself and his fearsome reputation amongst both Gotham’s criminals and law-abiding citizens alike. These were the early days, when the detective had just begun, still able to make mistakes, but with youth and a vast array of technology at his disposal to help him confirm his concrete legacy against the numerous villains who were just beginning to crawl out of the woodwork…

2004 saw the first explosive 13 part season of The Batman hit our screens, courtesy of Warner Bros. Animation and supervising producers Michael Goguen and Duane Capizzi.

Set in his third year as the Batman, we are introduced to the young and impulsive 26 year old Bruce Wayne and his voice of reason and mentor overall, butler Albert Pennyworth. The two are surrounded by the high technology that supports the Batman capers as well as saddled with the constant task of trying to balance Bruce’s covert persona with his more public, playboy face.

As for support, the Batman appears to have virtually none, with Gotham PD’s current chief of police Angel Rojas out to get him, having set up a special team of detectives Ethan Bennet and Ellen Yin to exclusively hunt down the Bat.

Of course, what is a Batman show without some villains for him to battle against, and so out of the woodwork comes a rogues gallery fit for a Dark Knight, featuring all the classics like Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Bane, Clayface and Mr. Freeze.

In terms of writing, this Batman features a good mixture of action and drama, with a lot of classic one-liners and silly puns thrown in for good measure. Each episode also tends to try and force some or other motivating issue or dilemma down the viewer’s throat, but for the most part you can ignore this and simply sit back and enjoy the kickass action.

The legendary Jeff Matsuda handles character design for the show and boy does he come up with some gorgeous fresh incarnations of some much loved villains and heroes. Everyone is completely redesigned, a lot more cartoony, a lot more current and a lot, lot more menacing. Although the essence of all characters remain the same, all villains get buffed with some or other hand to hand combat capability, ensuring non stop action each and every episode, throughout the series.

Jeff’s beautiful designs are complemented by a competent animation that features simple lines with a lot of exaggerated facial features, pulling off a very stylized world, that although is very cartoony in nature, is actually pretty spellbinding to behold. Oh, and let us not forget that the action sequences end up looking pretty effective and pretty good to!

The musical score is perfectly suited to the show (with opening and closing track work from U2′s The Edge), and the voice cast all put in absolutely stellar performances. Rino Romano quickly pulls you in as the new voice of Batman, as does the completely fresh cast of voices to their respective characters.

In summary, The Batman is an absolutely awesome show that doesn’t skimp on the action and delivers all the thrills a Batman fanboy could ask for. Completely different from what has come before in terms of the animated Batman, this is one kid’s animated series that should definitely not be missed!

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About Craig Lotter

Craig Lotter is an established web developer and application programmer, with strong creative urges (which keep bursting out at the most inopportune moments) and a seemingly insatiable need to love all things animated. Living in the beautiful coastal town of Gordon's Bay in South Africa, he games, develops, takes in animated fare, trains under the Funakoshi karate style and for the most part, simply enjoys life with his amazing wife and daughter. Oh, and he draws ever now and then too.