I was over the moon to receive Batman: The Complete Animated Series as an early birthday present. I’ve wanted to add the series to my collection for years as it holds a very special place in my childhood (it’s one of the first cartoons I can remember watching on television). Batman: The Animated Series is rightly held to be one of the greatest animated series ever made. It is sometimes referred to as cartoon noir as it borrows many conventions from film noir (for example most of the cars and buildings evoke the 1940s). The series is also responsible for jump starting the DC Animated Universe (which included Superman: The Animated Series; Justice League; Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited to name a few).
The show also featured an all star voice cast, including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker himself) as the voice of the Joker. Even though I’ve seen video of Mark doing the Joker voice, it’s still hard for me to imagine that voice and Luke’s voice coming out of the same person (but then again that just shows how talented he really is as a voice actor). The series is also responsible for introducing Harley Quinn (voiced by the brilliant Arleen Sorkin) to the Batman canon. The besotted Harley was created exclusively for the show before eventually being written into the comic canon (one of the first times that’s ever happened for any character). There are also origins given for many of Batman’s most infamous enemies, including Two-Face (“Two Face” parts I and II), Clayface (“Feat of Clay” parts I and II) and Mr. Freeze (“Heart of Ice” which is widely considered to be the best episode of the series).
I’ve been asked before which episode is my favorite and the honest truth is I can’t pick just one, because they’re all so good. However, I can pick a few to highlight:
- “Heart of Ice” rewrites the origins of Mr. Freeze and turns him into what is probably the most sympathetic villain in the series.
- “Harley and Ivy”: Having been kicked out of Joker’s gang, Harley Quinn goes into business for herself, eventually joining forces with Poison Ivy and the duo prove to be very skilled in the world of crime (to the growing consternation of the Joker).
- “Lock-Up”: Lyle Bolton, head of security at Arkham Asylum, is dismissed from his job after it comes out that he’s brutalizing the prisoners. This is one episode where you feel complete sympathy for the villains as they literally quake in terror at Bolton’s mere presence (especially Jonathan Crane, aka The Scarecrow, who practically begs Batman not to take him back).
I’m excited to continue watching this amazing series and I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it (or perhaps hasn’t watched in a long time). Over 25 years after its debut, Batman: The Animated Series continues to impress.
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