Beware the Batman did a great job spinning many different plates in the show’s second episode. They introduced Magpie, a great, almost forgotten Batman villain from the 80s who fits right into the world being established, they explored the mistrust between Batman and Lieutenant Gordon, they introduced a slightly Batman-obsessed Barbara Gordon, they continued to explore Alfred’s fascinating past, and, most importantly, they portrayed Batman as a hero whose detective skills are just as important as his fighting prowess.
Too often, Batman is just all fists and no brains, a characterization that runs contrary to the true nature of the character. This Batman is always observing, always two steps ahead of his opponents, always in the last rounds of a chess match that his foes don’t even know they’re playing. Magpie seemed to be a better fighter than Batman; she gained the physical edge over the Dark Knight a few times during this episode, but it was Batman’s cunning and patience that defeated her as much, if not more so, than his physical strength.
Speaking of Magpie, it’s always welcome to have a new female addition to Batman’s roster of evildoers. Magpie first appeared in Man of Steel #3 back in 1986. Created by writer/artist John Byrne, Magpie was a jewel thief who worked for the Penguin and was apprehended by Batman and Superman in their first post-Crisis on Infinite Earths team-up. She was eventually murdered by Tally Man and resurrected during Blackest Night as a Black Lantern. Not a very stirring resume, but in the show, Magpie was a former kleptomaniac who volunteered for a procedure to wipe the criminal behavior from her brain, trying to make herself a new life, her obsession with thievery manifests through the creation of the persona of Magpie. Her tale is tragic and like the best villains, she is a sympathetic figure.
Barbara Gordon is such a welcome addition to the show, and she adds many new layers to Lieutenant Gordon. Most fans know the direction Barbara’s story will take, and as she starts on her path to earning the mantle of the Bat, it will be interesting to see what her transformation will do to the relationship with her father.
The show’s most interesting addition is that of Tatsu Yamashiro. If she is Katana has not been revealed yet, but as she gets used to her new role as Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard, the show reveals her past with Alfred, and how much the Wayne butler trusts her. The dynamic found with a Robin or one of the more familiar Bat allies is missed, but the strength of this show is the fact that fans are on unfamiliar ground with new characters. Bruce seems intrigued by Ms. Yamashiro, and begins a series of tests to see if she is worthy. Worthy of what? Well, that’s the key to get viewers to tune in next week, and on the strength of this episode, I certainly will.
Den of Geek Rating: 4 out 5 stars