My Batman the Animated Series reviews continue with episodes 26-30! My reviews will use an A(Great), B(Good), C(Ok), and D(Bad) rating system as well as my thoughts on the episode.
31. The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy: What feels like a very “Riddler” plot is the machinations of an international criminal, Wormwood who is working for a gangster to get Batman’s cape and cowl. Batman proves that he’s at least two steps ahead of his foe which leads to a fun twist. Some of the animaion is a little laz, with a lot of shadow use but it makes up for that in the barbell duel. The voice acting in the episode bothered me a little, with way too much grunting and ridiculous fight scnes noises from Bud Cort/Wormwood. The episode also marks the premiere of the Batsignal which is such a great element to the mythology. I still think the episode could have been better as a Riddler story and the ending with the cape gift is a little bizarre. But still a solid episode. Rating: B
32. Robin’s Reckoning part 1: Robin’s origin is revealed in another two part saga. When busting a sabotouge operation, Batman and Robin learn that “Billy Marin” is behind it, which causes Batman to push Robin out of the investigation. Robin soon learns that Billy Marin is an alias for Tony Zucco, the man responsible for killing his parents. We then get a flashback to the night Dick Grayson loses his parents and is taken in by Bruce Wayne, and then one where Batman is hunting down Zucco. The scene with Bruce and Dick discussing their dead parents is really heart wrenching and sweet. In the present, Dick learns that Batman is hunting down Zucco again gets angry, driving off to find his vengeance, furious with his partner. The Graysons’ death scene was very powerful and tastefully done. I got chills when the rope swung back into the shot. The episode does a great job of establishing Bruce and Dick’s father/son relationship and showing how it’s grown to what it is today. I like that we see the return of Stromwell, it helps give the universe a feeling that these characters actually exist there. The animation is excellently done in this episode too! Beautifully cape work. I also really liked that the Batsymbol on “flashback Batman” is just black on gray without the yellow circle, because the addition of the circle represents the passing of time, and the lightning that Robin brings to the Dark Knight. Excellent balance of light and dark elements. Rating: A+
33. Robin’s Reckoning part 2: The story continues with Robin persuing Batman and Zucco, but quickly goes back to the flashbacks, where Bruce and Dick are fencing. Dick overhears Bruce talking to Gordon about Zucco trying to skip town, and decides to strike out on his own to hunt him down. Dick saves a woman, proving himself to be a natural hero. Dick finds Zucco but gets caught, only to be rescued by Batman twice. In saving Dick, Zucco escapes. Batman brings Dick back to the Batcave and reveals his identity, making Dick a permanent member of the family! Meanwhile, Robin continues the hunt for Zucco, tracking him down. The paranoid Tony Zucco is located by Batman, who gets injured in Zucco’s insane assault on the ceiling. Robin shows up to save Batman and confront Zucco. Batman intervenes in Robin’s revenge, causing an outburst from Dick, that he quickly recoils from. In the end, Zucco is arrested and Batman admits that he was afraid that Zucco would take Dick too. A good conclusion to the first part, the Robin’s Reckoning saga is dramtic and emotionally charged but this 2nd part isn’t quite as exciting. Despite the revenge and the action, the moments between Bruce and Dick are what really shine in the end. Rating: A
34. The Laughing Fish: The Joker returns! The fish of Gotham all bear the Joker’s smile and things get crazier from there. I’ll spare the summary so I can gush about how much I loved this episode. This episode is packed with action, humor, and bat-classic moments! It encapsulates a perfect Batman vs the Joker story with the perfectly blended mix of dark and light. We have the return of Harley Quinn, who, with the Joker, is laugh out loud funny! Batman sneaks into the police protection posing as a cop and he FIGHTS. A. SHARK. All just awesome. The Joker is a perfect blend of dangerous and hilarious and has a scheme that’s twisted and a little silly, and Hamill really nails the laugh in this episode. The dream team of Timm and Dini hits another homerun. I can’t say enough good things about this epsiode, so just watch it yourself! Rating: A+
35. Night of the Ninja: We investigate more of Batman’s origins with a blast from the past. During Bruce’s time in Japan, he made a rival in Kyodai Ken who hated Bruce for being wealthy and has returned to exact his revenge and take him for all he’s worth. It’s a pretty generic revenge and robbery scheme. The episode wasn’t spectacular, and lacked thrills and a compelling mystery. I enjoy Robin personally, and in this episode they made a point to make him more crucial to the plot but some of his lines were a little too cheesey but some were genuinely funny. When he mimics Bruce, I laughed out loud. The dialogue was nothing to write home about. The fight sequences were well choreographed but not very intense and the episode was animated pretty well, but the coolest part was learning more about Bruce Wayne’s backstory and his struggles through his training, and examining his motivation to be the best. Unfortunately all the good aspects with Bruce’s past and Robin are dragged down to a very monotone episode by the weak dialogue, banal plot, and annoying villain. Rating: C+