One more down. Well except for the Return of the Joker movie. I will watch that again at some point, but for now I have moved on. (Return of the Joker is actually quite good, and a large part of why I like Batman Beyond as much as I do).

This viewing was my first time seeing quite a few of these episodes. The first season I had seen all of many times over. After that it started to go a bit haywire, what with going to college and all that. That sort of disrupted my Saturday morning cartoons routine.

Going into this series I had both high hopes but with an undercurrent of some doubt. I knew conceptually the Timmfolks had some great ideas and characters running around in this series, though I was pretty sure it would not always be the most solid of results. I think I was also hoping for some degree of conclusions on things even knowing that there was no strict conclusion to the show.

As it turns out though, conclusion was hardly in the books. I suppose you get some closure on the Al Ghul family as well as the Big S (but this is closure for other series, not the Beyond story), but Blight gets forgotten, as does the fate of Wayne Powers. The Royal Flush Gang gets resolution. But you kinda hope for something more for Ten. Now, I say all this without having ever seen the episode of Justice League Unlimited titled Epilogue. It apparently touches on the Beyond world a bit more. I was not surprised by all of this, knowing that the show just sort of ended, but it was still a little disappointing. I was surprised that Blight never showed up again, though. I just assumed he'd be back in.

However, they explained this shift away from Blight in some of the interviews on the DVD. Basically they were told by the studio to take the stories away from the corporate sector and bring it more to the high school. This is not surprising considering the original intent of Beyond was to skew towards a younger demographic. They also did push the corporate corruption deal far too strongly in the first season, but I think they then reacted too strongly against it and erred in the opposite direction for the second season.

Timm also commented about how he learned from Beyond to always end each season with a grand conclusion, never knowing if it could be the last episode made. It makes me all the more disappointed that Timm has gone to movies and away from shows, hearing him talk about the things that they have learned and watching him begin to play with serialized storytelling a bit more as well as growing characters throughout a show. I think he is enjoying the freedom of producing movies however.

Do not read this as being mostly disappointed in the show however. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Most of the episodes were at the very least entertaining. And any episode that pushed and dug at the relationship between the old and new Batman was quite good. I loved their dynamic. This show would have been incredibly boring if they had not made Bruce Wayne still a major part (along with bringing back Kevin Conroy of course) but at the same time still keeping him weak and dependent. It is a great progression of the idea of Batman and what his life would be in the end.

The series also takes on one other super hero archetype that never really fit with Batman's story before. It very obviously pulls a great deal from the Spider-Man stories. Terry is in many ways more a Peter Parker (though a bit more hard edged and punkish) than he is a Bruce Wayne Batman. But this still works. It definitely seems that they pull from Spider-Man's rogue gallery as well. Which is not bad in trying to create an all new rogue gallery where you are trying to mostly avoid precise Batman rogue parallels, why not go to the super hero with the second greatest set of rogues.

Speaking of rogues, they did a pretty decent job with most of them. Which considering their very short production time to begin this series, this is an impressive feat. Trying to create villain after villain in a very short order usually produces really bad quality. That is perhaps the most amazing thing about the early Spider-Man run of Lee and Ditko. Especially considering in that case it was just two people creating all of these villains that have lived on through the years. Beyond's gallery obviously will never be as famous, but if the series had somehow continued, it could easily have continued to grow a number of these villains. Yes, a lot of them were derivative but still, for such short production time, and honestly little experience doing this, as usually they were using premade characters, I would say they did a pretty quality job in this department. They really did not need to bring in Kobra though... That was definitely the villain that bored/annoyed me the most. Yes, I know it was yet another plug for Jack Kirby. And I do love me some Jack Kirby. But I just don't feel that the fit was there between Kobra and Beyond's world.

(On a side note, in one of the interview panel deals they talk about having to introduce a bunch of their new artists to Jack Kirby. They would say something about Kirby and get the response back, "Kirby who?" I don't know how an animator couldn't know who Jack Kirby is. They said it was at least fun to introduce these guys to Kirby, but you could still hear a bit of sadness in their voice. You can just look at Bruce Timm's art and see his love for Jack Kirby. And then comes all the ways he manages to work Kirby's material into his products.)

So all in all, yet another well produced series. The difference being this was a truly original series for these guys. More so than anything else they've ever done. But they took it and made it far better than you would have expected. Especially considering their original task was just to take Batman and set him in High School. If I heard that premise I would have had no hope of it being good. But these guys pulled it off. I always tend to give all credit to Bruce Timm, but it actually seems that Glen Murakami might be the one who was most responsible for the series overall. I mean when you get right down to it, the series is Cyberpunk Batman. What could be better than that?

Now on to Superman and the slow infusion of some Kirby-goodness.

No comments: