Saturday, March 1, 2014

Beware the Batman - Shadows of Gotham

Collecting the 13 episode run of Beware the Batman (including the final two episodes which which never aired on Cartoon Network), the CGI-version of the Dark Knight Detective's early adventures featuring a more formidable Alfred (JB Blanc) and Katana (Sumalee Montano) as Batman's (Anthoy Ruivivar) sidekick has been on indefinite hiatus since mid-October and its return (despite entitling the home video set "Part 1") seems to be less and less likely.

Despite some shaky beginnings, including too many appearances by D-list villains such as Professor Pyg (Brian George) and Mr. Toad (Udo Kier), Humpty Dumpty, Magpie (Grey DeLisle), and an unnecessary retelling of Metamorpho (Adam Baldwin) origin story, the show was just beginning to find its feet as Katana was growing into her role as Batman's partner and the show was focusing more and more on the League of Assassins as it winds up its initial 13 episode run ending with a cliffhanger, arguably the show's best episode, the network chose never to air.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray, the set is barebones without a single featurette (not even trailers for other DC or Cartoon Network properties). The highlight of the collection is the thirteenth episode "Fall" featuring the return of Lady Shiva (Finola Hughes) and the first appearance of a resurrected Ra's al Ghul (Lance Reddick), now in control of the League, along with flashbacks filling in gaps of Alfred's final days in MI6 working with Katana's father and his early days as the Wayne's butler and young Bruce Wayne's guardian.

I don't know if Beware the Batman will get more adventures (the cancellation of the DC Kids' comic isn't a good sign). It's certainly not in the class of Batman: The Animated Series or Batman: The Brave and the Bold but it did deliver some stand-out episodes and had plenty of Batman's rogues gallery to still introduce along with further developing the Batman/Katana relationship and likely moving forward with the introduction and formation of the entire Outsiders team. I certainly recommend it over The Batman whose dreadful re-imagining of the designs of numerous Bat-villains made it nearly impossible for me to watch.

[Warner Archive Collection, Blu-ray $21.99 / DVD $19.99]

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