I was more of a Spider-Man: The Animated Series kid growing up. I loved Batman too, as young boys do, but I was really into Spider-Man’s constant action scenes and soap opera-y running stories. Revisiting both 90s superhero cartoons all grown up… oooooh. All I can say about Spider-Man is that sometimes, you shouldn’t go back.
Batman: TAS on the other hand, now here’s a series that plays on multiple levels. You love it as a kid, because Batman. But as an adult, you love it, because still Batman. And aside from that you appreciate how well conceived the stories are, the amazing voice talent, and the self titled “Dark Deco” animation style. I almost never came across a cliched good guy bad guy story as I was going through this first season. What the villains were after, how they went about getting it, it was always twisted and unlike any other cartoon at the time. A shocking number of these episodes ended with the villain breaking down in tears as Batman foiled their latest plan.
It was interesting how so many episodes were carried by those villains. I love the versatility of the Joker. He can bring a nuclear bomb into Gotham City, or he can spend an entire episode menacing some poor schmuck who was rude to him on the freeway. The Riddler episodes were few and far between (coming up with riddles was hard, by the writer’s own admission), but they’re always highlights. Two-Face, when he’s not being played by Tommy Lee Jones, is one of my favourite villains no matter what medium he’s appearing in, and this series did him justice.
It’s really hard to speak about the season overall. It’s pretty close to being an anthology of 65 stories set in the Batman universe, with little to no continuity. I don’t even know where Robin kept disappearing to every other episode. (And I don’t know why he couldn’t have stayed there…) Nitpicking some of the lesser individual episodes is pointless, because a show like this, you remember it for it’s peaks. And Batman: TAS has a lot of them.
Even though I’m not even remotely a comic book guy, I love a bunch of the Batman movies. I love playing the Arkham games. I’ll even revisit the Adam West series. I somehow always forget there’s a massive repository of screen Batman material here if ever I need a fix.
Notable Episodes: Any episode written by Paul Dini and/or featuring The Joker is a must watch. So is the two part origin story dealing (appropriately) with Two Face. And to highlight an episode no one ever talks about, I think “The Clock King” is absolutely hilarious. Just how mundane his evil origin is. He’s late to a meeting and goes insane, that’s a full five minutes of an episode, and Batman is nowhere to be seen. It’s awesome.