Beware the Batman has a lot to live up to in the world of animated Batman series, with prior installments like Batman: TAS being nothing short of genius, but Cartoon Network is hoping they can change the game with this new series. In this incarnation there are quite a few departures from the norm which will certainly spark some fanboy debate, but I would tell those quick to judge to relax and just enjoy Beware the Batman. Cartoon Network’s DC Nation has something in this that will make the sting of losing Green Lantern: TAS and Young Justice just a bit easier. [pullquote_left]Cartoon Network’s DC Nation has something in this that will make the sting of losing Green Lantern: TAS and Young Justice just a bit easier.[/pullquote_left]
As with The WB’s The Batman animated series that ran from 2004-2008 we’re dealing with a Bruce Wayne/Batman that is very early in his career. Anthony Ruivivar does a pretty decent Batman voice and invokes a little bit of a younger Kevin Conroy feel, but his Bruce Wayne is nowhere near as good. He’s joined by J.B. Blanc as an Alfred Pennyworth unlike any Alfred we’ve seen previously in animated form. This one is more akin to Geoff Johns’ ex-military Alfred (MI:6 in this version) from the graphic novel Batman: Earth One where his role is more active in training Bruce, and he can even get involved in the action if need be, even though he is beginning to age. But the arrival of the episode’s villains and another obscure DC hero seems to hint at an over arching story and that’s an exciting choice.
[pullquote_right] It’s all very Grant Morrison and it works, but it’s certainly a bit odd and might scare away a few Bat-fans.[/pullquote_right]Things get weird when Professor Pyg and Mister Toad blow into Gotham and start kidnapping industrialists that they deem have been hurting the “animal kingdom” for whatever reason and isn’t really made that clear. It’s all very Grant Morrison and it works but it’s certainly a bit odd and might scare away a few Bat-fans. Things are not helped by the fact that we get little to no explanation of their motivations and origins, especially Toad, who seems to be an actual toad with sonic voice powers (!?) and not just a man in a mask like Pyg. I know this all sounds ridiculous but the end result is pretty damn fun and I think the show has the potential to become very addicting.
One of the sure points of contention will be the animation style, which is very similar to the CG style of Green Lantern: TAS, making this the first foray for the caped crusader into the computer generated medium, and it does take some getting used to. Certain shots, most notably the action ones, look impressively cool such as when Batman is running from an exploding building in one long shot. But other times when things are brightly lit, or even inside the Batcave, look more like a level from Lego Batman. If the animation from the Green Lantern version wasn’t your cup of tea, Beware the Batman certainly isn’t going to win you over. [pullquote_left]If the animation from the Green Lantern version wasn’t your cup of tea, Beware the Batman certainly isn’t going to win you over.[/pullquote_left]
In the show’s defense, the character designs are all pretty neat for the most part. Batman is sleek and almost all black save his belt and has a raised Bat-symbol on his chest. Professor Pyg looks like something from a slasher horror film nightmare and his cockney accent certainly fits the look of the villain. Briefly we get a glimpse of Lt. James Gordon (voiced by Kurtwood Smith) and he’s very true to the common styles, complete with mustache and glasses. My lone complaint would be the design of Alfred, who is a suit wearing well-built guy with a shaved head that far too many times looks more like Lex Luthor than any of the versions of Alfred we all know and love, including Geoff Johns’ Earth One version.
[pullquote_right]Beware the Batman wisely does not try to remake or emulate any of the major previous versions and decides to focus on more obscure characters.[/pullquote_right]Beware the Batman nicely fills the void of more adult friendly animated DC entertainment since fans were left only with Teen Titans Go! recently, which has never been something I could get into. Beware the Batman wisely does not try to remake or emulate any of the major previous versions and decides to focus on more obscure characters and revamp some of the regular ones, making for a unexpected and welcome experience. If you can get past the animation style, I think fans will at least have a great time with the premiere episode and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the show has in store.
The wacky Grant Morrison style of the villains. The bravado to do something completely new with Batman. The action scenes. Most of the character designs.
The animation style takes some getting used to. Villains are under developed. Some of the scene designs look just bad. Sometimes a bit too oddball for it’s own good.
A welcome and refreshingly new take on The Caped Crusader that, aside from the sometimes off-putting CG animation, brings some much needed gusto back to Cartoon Network’s DC Nation animation block.