My Batman the Animated Series reviews continue with episodes 56-60! My reviews will use an A(Great), B(Good), C(Ok), and D(Bad) rating system as well as my thoughts on the episode.
56. Harley and Ivy: The Joker kicks Harley Quinn out of the gang after a mistake cost them an attempt on Batman’s life during a car chase. While trying to strike out on her own, Harley teams up with Poison Ivy and they become fast friends, soon gaining infamy for being the new Queens of Crime and attracting the attention of Batman. The Joker seeks out Harley once he realizes he might actually need her around and that she’s become successful. Batman, the Joker, Harley, and Ivy all clash at the girls’ home base which ends explosively, landing the criminals in jail. This is a great episode! It’s a lot of fun to see Harley and Ivy become these dangerous femme fatatles, and their friendship is fun to watch and adds some dimension to their characters. There’s definitely a strong girl-power message, where the two women don’t need men to be successful, and they commit crimes in the name of girl power. Not really “feminism” per se, but they definitely prove themselves to be just as capable as any male villain. I like the way Dini writes female characters. Harley’s relationship with the Joker is dramatic in its realism, they are obviously a very dysfunctional couple, and while they are definitely an extreme case of a tortured romance, we all know that couple or have had that relationship where one person is just so hopelessly enamored with someone who doesn’t seem to love them back. Harley and Ivy’s friendship is definitely the highlight of the episode. It’s definitely important, as their relationship has since crossed into the comics and it’s cool to see them play off each other and see these characters interact with someone other than Batman and the Joker. The infamous lesbian subtext between the two is definitely there as subtext but it’s pretty subtle and it’s bisexual subtext at best. The animation was good too, but not very consistent. The plants, explosions, action, and character movements were all good, but the lips/speaking was a little lazy. Some Easter eggs like the Catwoman drawing on their fridge and the poetic ending where Rene Montoya arrests them after they declare themselves unconquerable by any man is icing on a very sweet cake. Overall, a funny and entertaining episode that gives me nothing to complain about. Rating: A
57. Shadow of the Bat part 1: After Batman and Deputy Commissioner Gil Mason bring Rupert Thorne to justice due to the tips of an mystery informant, Jim Gordon is arrested under the accusations that he’s on the take, leaving his daughter Barbara angry and confused. When Batman tells Barbara to stay out of the investigation and refuses to appear at her father’s rally, she dons a Batman costume and ends up unmasking one of the assailants who fired upon the rally. Barbara and Dick conclude that Gil Mason has something to do with the framing of her father while Bruce, as Matches Malone, discovers that Two-Face is behind everything. The episode ends with Barbara donning her Batgirl costume, determined to clear her father’s name. This is an awesome episode! Splitting it into two parts was also a great decision, as there’s so much happening. The story is layered and exciting with some great cliff hangers that build a lot of suspense. Barbara Gordon’s determination and prowess as a detective and a gymnast are well showcased, with great build up to her donning the cowl as Batgirl! Robin doing a little bit of detective work is a refreshing change, and it’s nice to see the Gotham Justice Department staff expanded upon. The animation is pretty decent with the exception of Barbara Gordon’s face, which they just can’t seem to get right. Overall, a great start to the Batgirl saga! Rating: A
58. Shadow of the Bat part 2: The Batgirl Saga continues! Batgirl and Robin end up crossing paths on their investigations, prompting Robin to tell her to stay out of things, which Barbara obviously ignores. They both end up at the Abandoned Subway, where Two-Face and Mason are ID’ing “Matches Malone” and Harvey admits to setting Mason up as Gordon’s Deputy, but Barbara’s greenness gives away her and Robin’s positions, forcing the three Bat heroes to flee. When the subway floods, only Batgirl escapes to the surface while Bruce and Dick are trapped below. Gordon is further incriminated when Two-Face’s men break him out of jail. Batgirl rescues her father, teaming up with the Dynamic Duo to defeat Two-Face and Mason! An epic conclusion to the strong two-parter. It’s fun to see Batman, Robin, and Batgirl all teaming up together at last after they did such a great job of weaving Barbara into the show prior to her time as Batgirl. I really love Batgirl, I always have. I fell in love with her character when I was younger, I don’t know why but ever since Barbara Gordon has been my favorite DC lady so this Shadow of the Bat saga was a lot of fun for me. I thought the story was excellent! It was complex and dramatic, and just dark enough to fit perfectly into this universe! Two-Face is one of my all time favorite bat-villains, but I don’t know if I would have used him in this saga. I loved the way he was portrayed, but i don’t think I would’ve wanted the overlap of this being a “Batgirl story” versus a “Two Face story.” I obviously enjoyed the hell out of it, but I think creating a small time rising crime boss syndicate with an homage to Killer Moth (the original villain Batgirl fought during her debut) would have been cooler. The only other complaint I have is Batgirl’s voice. I think Melissa Gilbert’s voice isn’t a great fit, I much prefer Tara Strong’s interpretation in the New Batman Adventures. I also wanted to note the flirty subtext they began weaving between Batgirl and Robin, obviously that comes into play much heavier later but I thought their little “rivalry” was fun foreshadowing. Overall, a great set of Batman episodes that brings Batgirl into the mythology! Rating: A
59. Blind as a Bat: While hosting an exposition for Wayne Tech’s new Raven, a silent aircraft with digital radar, the Penguin hijacks the craft, causing an explosion that leaves Bruce Wayne blind! Despite Dr. Thompkins’ instructions, Bruce uses a the same radar tech to allow him to see, allowing him to be Batman and take down the Penguin. When their aerial duel goes south, Batman’s radar is broken and he is forced to actually fight the Penguin blind. This is the episode I remember most significantly from when I watched this show as a kid, and although the concept of Batman blinded, forced to rely on technology and his other senses is really cool in theory, I don’t love the execution here. Never a fan of the Penguin, I really didn’t care for the plot very much. The fact that Wayne Tech is building weapons bothers me, because (as Bruce mentioned himself) it makes him uneasy and he would never approve of building guns. The Penguin’s scheme was taken a little lightly, I mean he destroyed a bridge, that should’ve been much more dramatic. I realize it’s a show for kids but what could’ve been a much more intense scenario was a little too watered down. Though the Batwing design is seriously awesome, i didn’t care too much for that aerial battle. I thought when Batman was stumbling around completely blind was really funny, but I don’t think it was supposed to be. The animation was good, and the parts about Bruce’s blindness were interesting but the episode just bored me. Rating:C-
60. The Demon’s Quest part 1: Robin is abducted and after days of searching for his ward, Batman is approached by the mysterious Ra’s al Ghul, who proposes they form an alliance, as his daughter, Talia, has also been kidnapped. Along with Ra’s’ servant Ubu, they travel the world searching for their friends. When Batman finally finds Robin, it is revealed that Ra’s al Ghul has been responsible for everything. Ra’s’ plan was to test Batman’s worthiness as an heir to his empire, but he finally succumbs to the illness that had been plaguing him, forcing Talia and Batman to lower Ra’s into the Lazarus Pit! Ra’s is saved but stricken by madness, attacking Talia and laughing maniacally…An awesome episode! The Demon’s Quest saga is truly epic, and one of the can’t misses of the show. It’s not often we see Batman leave Gotham, and his Globetrotting adventures with the diabolical Ra’s al Ghul is pretty exciting. The episode is cinematic and suspenseful with good drama, detective work, and intrigue. The episode is written by Dennis O’Neil, the original creator of Ra’s al Ghul and the story this episode is based on. The episode is also very well animated, and Ubu’s strikes against Batman are funny and bad ass, and the way Batman explains how he figured everything out is classic! Overall, an awesome beginning to the dramatic Demon’s Quest saga! Rating: A