Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Saturday Morning Reivews

The latest chapter in Batman animation has come to a close. The final episode of The Batman just aired. As is the trend, they hit the magic #65, can now sell into worldwide syndication, and really have no reason to go forward.

The Batman was interesting. The legacy of Batman: the Animated Series is still strong in a lot of geeks' minds, so pressing forward with a new Batman cartoon seemed crazy to some, but it still had a lot of good stuff going for it.

What's most fascinating is that The Batman can be split into two distinct eras. For the first two season, it tried venture into Batman Begins/Batman Year One territory. Batman had been in operation for three years, the police were still trying to bring him in as a vigilante, and a lot of episodes focused on new origins for Batman's rogues gallery. In these early days, I dubbed it "Ultimate Batman," because it really seemed like they were applying Marvel's "Ultimate" formula to Batman. Most of the supporting cast were Gotham city police officers, and a major player in the cast was Detective Ellen Yin, the one "good cop" that helped Batman.

But then, with season 3, Alan Burnett took over behind the scene. Burnett was one of the trinity responsible for Batman: The Animated Series, and under his guidance, it became more of a conventional superhero show. Batman was now an accepted superhero, Ellen Yin and the rest of the Gotham PD were dropped. It became your standard formula of superhero vs. supervillain. Batgirl was added in season 3, Robin was added in season 4, and season 5 was The Brave and the Bold, with Batman teaming up with other DC superheroes in about every second episode. Heck, the final episode was Batman and the Justice League. Maybe it was because of Burnett's involvement with B:TAS that he felt there was no need to re-invent the world.

All things considered, The Batman was a worthy addition to Batman animation. It brought us the first animated incarnations of Batman rogues like the Cluemaster and the Black Mask, and even popular one-shots like Wrath. But if you still want a Batman cartoon that's fun AND healthy, then Batman: the Animated Series is still tops.

And another hero gets another chapter in animation. For, right after The Batman finale, it was the premier of The Spectacular Spider-Man. For the latest Spidey cartoon, they decided to go back to the beginning. Peter Parker is still in high school, and once again he's an ass-kicking superhero by night, and scrawny high school nerd who gets the crap beat out of him by bullies in the day.

Of course, though, there are some changes. As part of the back to the beginning, the most prominent girl is Gwen Stacey. But now, she's a grrrl geek who's smarts are at least as equal to Peter Parker. And while Parker hasn't noticed it yet, she's starting to have feeling for him. Eddie Brock is also in it. Brock is a freshman in university, and it's revealed that he went to high school with Peter Parker, and that he was kind of Parker's older brother/protector from bullies. While Brock was a jock in high school, he's now given his life to science where he's a lab assistant to Dr. Curt Connors.

The geek-out factor for me on The Spectacular Spider-Man is that the creator/showrunner is Greg Weisman, the creator of Gargoyles. And in the first episodes, Weisman did give a few tips of the hat to his most famous creation. Spidey trashes a gargoyle that looks just like Broadway, and Keith "Goliath" David is now the voice of the Big Man.

Peter Parker is still new to being Spider-Man. People regard Spidey as "an urban legend," and in the opening narration Spider-Man referrs to his superhero career as "how he spent his summer vacation." They showed two episodes back-to-back...#1 dealt with the origin of the Vulture, and #2 was the origin of Electro.

It seemed like a good start...we've got all those character moments we remember about Spider-Man that we haven't seen in a while...mainly, teen angst. And Joe Quesada didn't have to sell a piece of Spider-Man's soul to get there!

It's off to a good start, I think.

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