Beware the Batman, Hunted, Review
The first episode of Beware The Batman feels completely fresh, despite the character's weighty animated legacy.
It’s tough being a new Batman cartoon. It’s nearly impossible to step out of the shadows of Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s Batman: The Animated Series, the show that set the standard for virtually every adventure cartoon that followed. The Batman ran from 2004-2008, and despite hitting its stride quite nicely in later seasons, never properly found a place in the hearts of fans. Batman: The Brave and the Bold succeeded by differentiating itself completely from all other recent incarnations of the character, focusing instead on team-ups, and hearkening back to DC’s more lighthearted Silver Age adventures and the Adam West television show. Beware the Batman is an attempt to once again do a more traditional, two-fisted Batman to the screen, and it succeeds in virtually every way.“Hunted” wastes no time in establishing its tone, opening with Batman taking on two thugs with high-tech weapons. Bats beats the living heck out of these hapless crooks, and there’s a great sequence where he has to pop his dislocated shoulder back into place. Not bad for the first two minutes. We’re soon introduced to a tougher Alfred than we’ve come to expect, and his East London accent, iron jaw, and bald head call to mind what Jason Statham might look like in another ten years. Alfred and Bruce even engage in antics reminiscent of Inspector Clouseau and Cato, which emphasizes this Alfred’s (he’s a former MI6 operative) decidedly hard nature.The villains of this episode are Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad, who sound like Alfred Hitchcock and Peter Lorre, respectively. They’re kidnapping Gotham’s richest men as part of some eco-terrorist plan. To see two lesser-known Bat-villains taking center stage in the first episode of a new animated series is refreshing, and certainly a sign of what’s to come in future adventures. If and when they ever get around to introducing more traditional baddies, it should have more impact, by virtue of having made us wait.“Hunted” is mostly self-contained, but there’s obviously plot threads that will be carried over into future episodes, namely Alfred coming to terms with his aging body, and the introduction of Katana. We only briefly see James Gordon, who is still a Lieutenant here, which indicates that this takes place fairly early in Batman’s career. The presence of the future Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, is a nice sign that we may see some other lesser-known DC Universe characters down the road, as well.If you’re wondering how the computer animation looks, you can rest easy. Beware the Batman looks as good as these computer animated shows tend to look. While the characters’ faces take some getting used to, the action is smooth, dynamic, and fast. The Batman costume in particular looks really sharp, and has a wet sheen that comes off really nicely on screen. The voice cast is excellent, as well. Anthony Ruvivar’s Bruce Wayne/Batman is quite good, and he doesn’t sound like he’s trying to fill Kevin Conroy’s cowl. As usual, it’s always a treat to hear Udo Kier’s voice coming out of an animated supervillain, and I look forward to more of his Mister Toad.Beware the Batman is briskly paced and hard-hitting. It looks great. It lacks the cinematic heart that powered Batman: The Animated Series, but it’s also structured quite differently. This isn’t an attempt to deliver thirty minute movies to TV every Saturday morning, but a different (but also familiar) take on a traditional Batman adventure. The slick character designs, fast action, and the promise of different corners of Batman’s legacy being explored, should keep fans coming back every week.Den of Geek Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!