*This review does contain some spoilers*
Beware the Batman is now three episodes in and while it has yet to make me feel like this is going to be the next classic Batman series, it does continue to deliver alright episodes. This week, the show introduces
Moon Knight Anarky, and he aims to prove that the Dark Knight cannot prevent random chaos from striking Gotham.
Anarky attemps to keep the Caped Crusader's focus with a somewhat elaborate (but relatively familiar) plan, but my attention was primarily on how the show is handling Tatsu Yamashiro aka Katana. The last episode teased us with Bruce beginning to test her, and this episode totally follows through on that (it is called 'Tests,' after all). The show's decision to build the secondary character has been far more intriguing than its attempt to throw lesser-known villains back into the spotlight. However, I will admit it was disappointing to see she didn't try any other buttons when she was in the hidden elevator. If you go through the effort of gaining access to such a well kept secret, wouldn't you perhaps try more than one of the eight buttons it has available? That said, they do somewhat rectify this by throwing yet another blatant hint her way in the end and it's just enough of a hook to hold onto my interest with this plot point. Oh, not to mention there's another brief yet major tease with the character.
I applaud the choice to use lesser-known antagonists, but it doesn't feel like these characters are being used to their full potential. Nothing about Anarky made me want to see him return. He's not as crazy as the Joker. He's not as smart as the Riddler. He's not as formidable as Bane. So on and so on. I know he's not meant to be up to par with those big names in those elements, but nothing about this version made him feel like a character I'd want to see again. At least Pyg and Toad were thoroughly entertaining and Magpie provided solid fights and a nice twist. Sadly, Anarky just didn't bring anything refreshing to the table.
The inclusion of "dumb and dumber" certainly didn't help matters, either. A dim-witted duo is something we've seen plenty of times before and every now and then it works because there's a special charm behind the two. Unfortunately, there's nothing that makes these two likable at all and their scenes (which is at least a handful) really weigh the episode down. I was anxious to see Batman (or Alfred) effortlessly dispatch them so we could move on.
Overall, I do enjoy the animation and it really pays off when we're hit with some special effects -- Anarky's smoke pellets look great, as do the weapons his goons used -- but some characters appear a tad too lanky or rigid at times. It's not a major complaint, but it can be distracting when it's front and center (most definitely applies to Katana).
One thing I really dig about Beware the Batman is their choice to showoff just how sharp Wayne's mind is. Every episode thus far has showcased Wayne properly investigating the scenario or being able to come up with a quick fix on the fly. The last episode disappointed me with how easily Magpie smacked him around in some cases, but 'Tests' somewhat fixes that and Batman definitely dictates the fight when it's purely hand-to-hand. If you're going to have Wayne talk about his extensive training, we better see him back it up with some great form. Thankfully, that does happen a good deal here and Anarky tends to only take the edge when he uses gear or occasionally lands a good hit.
Beware the Batman hasn't blown me away or anything, but it's by no means a bad show. They're doing an amusing job building Katana and it's a real treat seeing Batman's mind being put to full use. Using foes the general audience hasn't heard about is a risky move and so far it hasn't really paid off, but hopefully we'll see a villain step up to the plate soon enough and serve as the "big bad" for the time being. And even if they can't do that, I'd be happy just to see more of the dynamic with Gordon, too. Regardless, I'll continue to tune in and hope for the best.