Friday, July 12, 2013

BEWARE THE BATMAN: "Hunted" S1E1 (review)

By Stefan Blitz
The Dark Knight.  The Caped Crusader.  One half of the Dynamic Duo.

He's Batman, and the new series, Beware The Batman, is the latest animated series following the brilliant Batman: The Brave and the Bold.  And like pretty much every incarnation, the character has been slightly reinvented again. 

In a very fast paced episode, Grant Morrison creations Professor Pyg and Mister Toad are targeting Gotham City's rich and powerful over a shady real estate deal, capturing Simon Stagg and Michael (Mister Terrific) Holt.  An attempt to capture Bruce Wayne results in the capture of Alfred Pennyworth and The Batman is off to rescue the kidnapped men.  The episode ends with Alfred introducing Bruce Wayne to his new driver, Tatsu Yamashiro.

The first thing that sets Beware The Batman apart from previous incarnations is it's the first Batman animated series to be produced in CGI, resulting in very bold designs, but very tepid environments.  I can say I didn't mind the animation, but as I was watching wish it had been executed in a more organic flat animation.  Hopefully, the animation will improve as the series goes on, but to be honest with you, if that's my only criticism I can live with it.

Characterization has once again been reinterpreted.  Batman/Bruce Wayne is younger, and still learning (hinted by a brief appearance by Lieutenant Gordon on television at the end of the episode).  The costume/character design of the character seems to combine a look reminiscent of the character's original design from Detective #27 with a more latex/rubbery texture.  This also marks one of the first times that the writers have embraced Batman's talents as a detective which is a refreshing and fantastic change from previous interpretations.

Alfred Pennyworth is less the quiet, reserved butler and more MI-6 badass in this incarnation.  With a shaved head, and a gravelly voice similar to Jason Statham, this Alfred is a bit more proactive in The Batman's war on crime, testing and rating Bruce on his fighting techniques.  He is also responsible for hiring Tatsu Yamashiro, another DC crimefighter known as Katana.  I imagine it's only a matter of weeks before she adopts her heroic mantle.

Finally, this week's rogues were a refreshing change from the atypical Bat-nemeses (future villains teased in the advertising include Anarky, Magpie, Ra's al Ghul, Humpty Dumpty, The League of Assassins (including Lady Shiva and Silver Monkey), King Kraken and Tobias Whale.  Future DC universe appearances include Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Talia al Ghu, Joe Chill, Batzarro, The Sewer King, Tiger Shark, The Red Hood, Phosphorus Rex, Calender Man and Rainbow Beast.

Voicework, and casting directed by the inimitable Andrea Romano is fantastic and this episode's Professor Pyg (voiced by Nolan North) is in the style of Alfred Hitchcock and the perfect casting of Udo Keir as Mister Toad was equally inspired.

Beware The Batman is fast paced, well written and thoroughly entertaining and a must see for every Bat-fan.

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