Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Batman: My Top 10 Favorite Episodes

     Good old Batman, he’s a character that needs no introduction. If you’re a fan of comic’s or superhero’s in general, you’ve got to be a Batman fan on some level. For me, he’s my favorite stand alone superhero and over the years his character has transcended into various forms of media ranging from comics, to movies, to video games, and no shortage of animated TV shows.  Both the original “Batman: The Animated Series” and “Batman Beyond” are two of the best animated shows I’ve ever seen. However, the first animated batman series that I ever watched, at least weekly, was the 2004 animated series simply titled “The Batman”. While not on par with either of its predecessors, it was still a pretty good superhero series, and one of the more underrated titles under Batman’s name. So why not give some credit and attention where it’s due. 

Now this series had its own separate continuity from the other shows and comics, but it’s what you’d expect, half hour long episodes revolving around Batman and his quest to protect Gotham City from his rouge gallery of classic villains. Rather than review the series as a whole, I’m going to keep it simple and rank my favorite episodes. So, if you’ve never seen “The Batman”, here are the 10 episodes that are my personal favorite and the ones I’d recommend the most. Also, I won’t be including the animated movie adapted from this show titled “The Batman VS Dracula”. Granted it was one of the best things to come from the show, but it was still a movie and not an episode, so I can’t count it.  

#10 The Clayface of Tragedy (Season 1) 

In the season one finally, we’re introduced to a brand new villain called Clayface, who’s story is a lot more complex than any of the previous bad guys introduced in the show. When all the other villains were introduced, they basically just walked into town and loudly declared themselves as the new bad guy. Clayface was the first that came off like a pore victim. Detective Ethan Benet was one of Bruce Wayne’s closest friends, even someone that Batman was willing to share his secret identity with. Unfortunately, after getting captured and experimented on by the Joker, Ethan transforms into Clayface, a creature that has trouble stabilizing his body and has a mind thats twisted around so fiercely that he can no longer think strait. This episode had a very different tone and feel from many of the previous episodes of the season, it was much darker, more tragic and the first time that a villain actually effected Batman on a more personal level.  

#9 The Batman/Superman Story (Season 5) 

When season five came around, it was time for the mandatory crossover with Superman, in a big two part season premier episode. After the events of the season four finally, in which an alien force attacked the planet, the villainess Lex Luthor has dedicated his time to creating a giant robot army to protect the world. But all the power goes to his head, and he decides to use his army as a means to rule the planet. With the help of some of Batman’s enemies like Mr. Freeze, Black Mask, Bane and Poison Ivy, Lex also takes control of Superman himself, and it’s up to the dark night to set him free. It all leads to an epic clash between titans, as well as an exciting team up with classic hero’s battling classic villains. This is more of what the recent “Batman V Superman” movie should have been like, it gives us the novelty of seeing Batman and Superman clash, but we also see them as friends who fight by each other’s side. It’s just an all around exciting crossover, and one of the better ones in the long gallery of Batman and Superman team ups.

#8 Riddled (Season 2) 

The Riddler had a total of 3 episodes in the whole series (at least as a main villain) and in all honesty, I think this shows portrayal of the Riddler is the absolute best version of the character I’ve ever seen. All three of his episodes where excellent but my personal favorite is his introduction episode simply titled “Riddled”. In this episode, Batman teams up with police detective Ellen Yin to defuse a series of bombs that have been planted all throughout the city. The catch is that every bomb comes complete with a riddle, and if answered wrong, well ... things go boom! But that’s only half the battle, because as the two defuse bombs they also find themselves playing an even bigger game that only the Riddler himself can see from a secret location. This is the first time that the Riddler actually felt like both a threatening and very mysterious foe. He’s not physically battling Batman like his other enemies, instead he’s a master mind hiding in the shadows, watching a deadly game unfold before him. It's an exciting ride, and a great introduction for one of the shows stand out villains.

#7 Strange Minds (Season 2) 

In this wildly original episode, the Joker kidnaps Batman’s close ally Police Detective Ellen Yin, and is holding her in a building that will be blown sky high in a matter of hours. Joker gets captured shortly after but refuses to give up the location, he just wants this place and Yin to burn. Enter a sinister doctor named Hugo Strange, who has created a device that will allow someone to enter Jokers mind and extract the information right from him. With the clock ticking away, Batman hooks himself up and ventures into the twisted and dangerous world of the jokers psychotic head. It’s about as awesome as it sounds, Batman venturing through the trippy world of the Joker’s mind. He discovers new secrets about his famous enemy, and there’s no shortage of creative perils for our hero to face. It all leads to an exciting twist ending, and in the end it stands as one of the Jokers best stand alone episodes of the series. It was also my introduction to the character Hugo Strange, who’s arguably one of Batman’s most interesting villains. 

#6 Rumors (Season 4) 

A mysterious new villain enters town simply referred to as “The Rumor”, and he’s making a collection of every single one of Batman’s foes, just so he can kill them all off at once and accomplish what Batman himself could never do. This raises some moral and ethical debates for Batman to ponder, the city would obviously be safer if all his enemies get killed off, but dose that sill make it right to commit mass genocide by killing so many at once, even if they aren’t good people. It’s a great issue to raise in a Batman episode, which doesn’t have an easy answer. However, the whole reason this episode makes my list is for the final battle in which the villains escape and engage our hero’s in an epic brawl. This is a dream come true to see both Batman and Robin battle every single one of their classic enemies including the Joker, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, the Riddler, Catwoman, etc. It’s just a solid episode that raises an interesting debate while thrilling us with one of the most memorable action scenes in the whole show.  

#5 Strange New World (Season 4) 

Now here’s a very interesting episode, with a unique set-up. After Batman and Robin pay a visit to the sinister Dr. Hugo Strange, our hero’s find themselves caught right in the middle of a zombie epidemic. Yeah, how awesome is that to see Batman battling waves of zombies. It’s a fairly tense episode as the situation gets progressively worse by the minuet, up to the point where our hero is completely alone. But the best thing about this episode is the ending, I don’t want to spoil it, but it highlights what a great villain Dr. Strange really is, and it was a twist that I honestly didn’t see coming.  

#4 The Big Chill (Season 1) 

The first season of “The Batman” was all about introducing the villains, and the one I was looking forward to the most by far, and didn’t disappoint was Mr. Freeze. He’s always been my favorite Batman villain in general, and I think he’s the best of the villains in this series by far. That’s not to say he’s complex or tragic, the Mr. Freeze of this show is a strait forward “bad guy”, but extremely fun to watch and a real threat to our hero. His design is pretty sweet, he’s also voiced by the great Clancy Brown, and he always delivers with an epic villain voice. In Mr. Freeze’s introduction episode titled “The Big Chill”, we see an interesting parallel between Batman and his foes. It’s revealed that once when Batman was trying to stop a crime he unintentionally created Mr. Freeze. It was an accident of course, but the fact remains that if Batman hadn’t been there, Mr. Freeze wouldn’t be terrorizing the city. This raises the point that maybe Batman is doing just as much harm to the city by creating villains then he is actually protecting Gotham. Then the show makes a nice call back to Tim Burtons classic “Batman” movie ... “I made you, you made me first”. In a climactic show down with Mr. Freeze, Batman realizes that it was the criminals and evil of Gotham that created Batman in the first place. So, it’s like a never ending cycle, it’s also a great arch for Batman, and the episode is a great introduction for one of his most lethal foe’s.  

#3 The Joining (Season 4) 

In my opinion Season 4 was the shows best season by far, and the two part season finally titled “The Joining” was a arguably the most epic finally of the series. Batman discovers that Wayne industries is secretly building alien weapons and all the employees are in fact robots disguised as people. Once the truth is revealed, a massive global alien invasion is under way and it’s up to Batman and his allies to stop him. This was the first crossover of the show as Batman teamed up with Martian Man Hunter, and it was a lot of fun watching these two work off each other. There’s some very well placed comedy in this episode, especially in regards to the butler Alfred who’s completely unfazed by strange things happen in the city. There’s also a great moment when the popular villains like Joker and Bane break out of prison to fight off the aliens, and we even see Mr. Freeze helping the police force, which is great. The first half of this episode is like a subtle spy thriller, but the action in part two is riveting and features the shows best animation. It’s exciting, its action packed, and it took the show in an exciting new direction.  

#2 The Breakout (Season 4) 

After Batman locks up a terrorist called the Black Mask in police headquarters, our hero suddenly goes missing, and the Black Masks agents launch a full siege on the station. With Batman gone, it’s up to the young Robin and Batgirl to work together, fight off the invaders, and keep Black Mask from escaping. It’s great to see Batgirl and Robin working together, and the episode does a good job highlighting how dangerous and real the situation is for these young kids. Also, this episode came out two years before the classic “Batman Arkham Asylum” games, and I can’t help but feel that this episode was a big influence on its inception. We have villains taking over a prison from the inside out, Batman captured, a doomsday device hidden in the city, and hero’s fighting to take control again. It’s an action packed showdown, and a memorable solo outing for the dark knights partners. 

Before I reveal my favorite episode, here are some Honorable Mentions: 

Batgirl Begins (Season 3)

Matter of Family (Season 4)

Night and the City (Season 2)

Riddler's Revenge (Season 4)

Lost Hero's (Season 5)  

#1 Artifacts (Season 4) 

Hand’s down my favorite episode of “The Batman” by far is this little gem from season 4. Set one-thousand years into the future, Batman has become a piece of history, one that the people of New Gotham don’t entirely believe in. However, the new and improved Mr. Freeze comes out of hibernation, attacks the city, and threatens to kill off everyone in a new ice age. With no hero’s left to protect the city, a team of historians seek out the ruins of the Bat-cave in hopes to find some clue of how to stop Mr. Freeze. As they uncover relics in the cave, the episode flashes back on the events in which Batman made his final stand against Mr. Freeze. This episode is heavily inspired by Frank Millers graphic novel “The Dark Knight Returns”, and it’s a real treat to cut back and forth between Batman’s final climactic mission and a future where he’s become a legend lost in the books of history. Plus it’s awesome that of all Batman’s foes, it’s Mr. Freeze who out lived them all, continued the Batman’s legacy, and proved once again to be one of his most powerful enemies. It’s just a sold episode all around, with a great set up and no shortage of admiration to the legacy of the Dark Knight.  

The End

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