Rewatching Batman the Animated Series

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Postby Merciel » Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:29 am

I also really enjoyed the ridiculous French stereotyped terrorists.
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Postby iambic » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:15 am

"Heart of Ice" has genuine standing to be the best Freeze story. the comics mostly do a shitty job with him, and a lot of them just rob the template from the cartoon.
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Postby iambic » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:18 am

the only Freeze thing I can think of that I like is

Image

and it's hard to divorce it from the art:

Image
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Postby iambic » Fri Oct 13, 2017 7:22 am

I guess Snyder did an okay job (plus changed the origin to be that Victor lost his mom in an icy lake)

Image
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Postby chairkicker » Fri Oct 13, 2017 8:00 am

i've always hated costumes that forced women into heels too (or if not heels, lifts) so it was always refreshing that tas catwoman didnt work in them
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Postby mites » Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:49 am

iambic wrote:the only Freeze thing I can think of that I like is

Image

and it's hard to divorce it from the art:

Image

The ab situation here is out of control
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:22 am

SEASON ONE EPISODE SEVENTEEN: "See No Evil"

The Japanese animation influence has been a lowkey recurring theme in these, but it seemed starker in this episode. I think that's because this is where we switched to watching them on the big screen in SVC's mom's basement instead of me watching them on my little laptop screen, OR MAYBE it's that the mom and daughter really do have more anime influence than the usual Batman stylizations.

Anyway I liked that this villain in this episode was an MRA "I got cheated out of custody!" deadbeat who was explicitly a deadbeat (giving his kid useless shiny trinkets while totally failing to provide any steady or meaningful material support that would actually improve her life, or even share in any of the day-to-day boring/hard parenting responsibilities, is pretty much the exact deadbeat dad profile).

I don't know whether the selective visibility/easy disappearance motif of his villain powers was supposed to be linked to the deadbeat dad thing, but I'm going to choose to believe it was. The show's earned enough goodwill on its treatment of themes generally that I'll give it credit for that one. Well done, Batman the Animated Series.

You'd think a guy smooth enough to stealth pickpocket all the security guards' guns while invisible would see the advantages to being similarly subtle about stealing the jewelry at the convention.

It was a little weird to me that Inviso Deadbeat could kick the shit out of Batman so easily even with the advantage of being unseen. I guess they have to do something to make the guy seem like a credible threat though, and seeing Batman stuck in wet cement was pretty good. Poor animated Batman, he just does not get to be anything like the invulnerable Arkham videogames version.
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:31 am

SEASON ONE EPISODE EIGHTEEN: "Beware the Gray Ghost"

Continuing our mini-run of unexpectedly complex themes here, I enjoyed this little parable on fandom.

I don't know that I've ever seen anything try to explain how in the hell Bruce Wayne decided to turn into Batman, and attributing it to a superhero series he watched as a kid was some A+ meta work, especially with the stylized cartoon-within-a-stylized cartoon opening sequence where they had to ramp up the stylization quotient to truly amazing levels.

Having Kevin Conroy voice the Gray Ghost was an excellent choice too, although I have to wonder what was going through Conroy's head during the parts where the Gray Ghost is sad and impoverished in his lonely apartment surrounded by memorabilia no one wants.

I don't have any big insights about this episode, I just really liked that they made it about one guy who was a huge nerdfan as a kid, took great inspiration from the show, and used that to create his own new(-ish) concept that he then shared with the rest of the world, VERSUS another guy who was a huge nerdfan, got all territorial and hoard-y about his involvement, and became hugely destructive because he wanted to hoard even more stuff as a One True Fan who contributed zero of his own imagination to expanding the world, and beyond that couldn't even abide sharing any of the smallest and cheapest paraphernalia with anybody else.
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Postby tgk » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:32 am

This thread got me to start showing this to my 5 year old and he was completely hooked by the time the batmobile roars off in the opening credits. Forgot how obsessed I was with this show when I was younger. We started with some joker eps because joker is the best and there's this great moment in one of em when bullock gets too handsy with harley Quinn dressed as a cop and she just nails him with a billy club much to the delight of officer montoya
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:36 am

Gray Ghost is practically an Astro City episode. Very cool.

It's actually Adam West doing the voice.
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:37 am

Spoilt Victorian Child wrote:It's actually Adam West doing the voice.


oh man that's even better

so good
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:38 am

Also I am very happy that the thread we hijacked because I got all excited about showing this to Kermit got somebody else to show it to their kid. :D
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Postby Jeremy » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:46 am

Going to try to catch up so I can participate in this before the whole series is picked clean.

One thing that never made sense to me about Batman is that if he wanted to scare people, horses are way the fuck scarier than bats.
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Postby Jeremy » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:47 am

A bat got into my apartment last year and it took a long time to chase it out because it was stupid and at no point did I decide that I needed to become a bat. If a horse got into my apartment I would have probably died.
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Postby Jeremy » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:48 am

To say nothing of the fact that the real monster is man.
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:21 am

SEASON ONE EPISODE NINETEEN: "Prophecy of Doom"

Pretty straightforward episode this time around, although I appreciate that conning rich people by playing to their fears of social unrest is an evergreen scheme so it feels particularly timely today.

-- super neat visuals with Batman and Lucas crashing into and through the planetary models, good inventiveness there;

-- I enjoyed that the Great Zandalos wore his stage makeup during his mugshots, although I feel like that might have been a missed opportunity to double down on the hairpiece gag;

-- I like that the one character who doesn't get conned (besides Batman) is the guy's younger daughter, not just because of course the most sensible person in this episode is the woman from the next generation down, but because OF COURSE nobody listens to her, and this doesn't even need explanation, whereas if it was the guy's son then you'd probably have to spend at least a minute setting up the dynamic to explain why a guy doesn't listen to another guy;

-- I like that the Great Zandalos gets a life sentence for what ultimately amounts to a relatively nonviolent con job that targeted rich people, whereas Inviso Deadbeat apparently got 10 to 20 and who knows what the Mad Bomber got but I'm pretty sure it wasn't life (not to mention that none of the actual supervillains ever gets life, but that's cheating because they all break out of jail anyway).

I realize you can argue that Zandalos endangered a bunch of people by blowing up cruise ships and whatnot, but it's not like Inviso Deadbeat didn't endanger a ton of people driving wildly around in an invisible car, or the Mad Bomber didn't endanger people by zooming bomb cars through the city (and, for that matter, inducing the police to "disarm" those bombs by just exploding them in the middle of Gotham, as SVC pointed out).

The salient difference is not really in their crimes so much as that Zandalos targeted the people who own the fancy jewelry, and Inviso Deadbeat was just targeting the people who sell it.
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Postby Jeremy » Sat Oct 14, 2017 5:03 am

General thoughts as I dive back in:

I don't have a ton of nostalgia for this show. I always enjoyed it as a kid but I remember it getting moved around a lot so I never really knew when it was on. Astro-Boy and The Real Ghostbusters were my appointment programming and I think that as a consequence by the time I was seven my ability to take anything seriously had been comprehensively ruined. But whenever I revisit this thing I'm floored by the obvious care that went into it and the respect it has for its audience.

It has an abnormal amount of silence for something aimed at kids. The "sets" are incredibly spartan. I realize that's partially from being drawn on black so suddenly leaving most of a room in the shadows is easier than drawing a bunch of random crap, but it really drives home that what's there is essential, and it looses the thing you get in early cartoons where anything in the shot where the line outline is unstable, you know someone is about to interact with it.

Image

The car is kind of the Rosetta stone of the series’s style to me. It looks vaguely 30s/40s-ish to a layperson like myself, but there are flecks of the unrealized future then envisioned. It has enough peculiar detailing that it looks like it’s implying specificity I can’t actually read, but it doesn't have any greebles. While it makes no physical sense as a way to get around any actually existing space, its design signals that Batman gets where he’s going really quickly. Its powered by what it represents visually.

I guess this visually signalling stuff is supposed to be true of a lot of animation, but a lot of shows are kind of straightjacketed into styles that don't necessarily suit them thematically for like budgetary or legacy reasons. (Like, I guess the house style of the DC animated universe was set by this for like decades? But I don't know if it actually suits the DCU at large.) This is a like rare case where the look is really built from the ground up and really is the uh leader of the dance. It doesn’t always look great in motion, but you can grab basically any keyframe and find incredible composition.

I always tend to think of Full Throttle in terms of Rock & Rule but it seems more likely that it's the child of this whole show.
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Postby mites » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:33 pm

Jeremy wrote:To say nothing of the fact that the real monster is man.

I am Manman
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Postby mites » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:35 pm

gray ghost episode is awesome and I love it

I'm really happy you guys seem to be enjoying these!!!
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Postby iambic » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:35 pm

Merciel wrote:I don't know that I've ever seen anything try to explain how in the hell Bruce Wayne decided to turn into Batman

?
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Postby mites » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:39 pm

not all of us whittled away our days in a socialist heaven of comic books and movies, iambic
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Postby iambic » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:47 pm

I dunno, it just seems sort of a fundamental point? there are different explanation in different media (Nolan movies stir in his own traumatic childhood fear of bats), but basically he initially struggled to wage his war on crime and looked for something that would be scary to criminals, and then a bat flies in. ta-da.

here's the o.g. panel
Image

and here's how's it's reimagined in Year One as a conversation with Thomas Wayne as Bruce is dying and debating whether or not to summon Alfred with a bell. Morrison/Snyder both riff off the "yes, father" line a lot.
Image
Image
Image

I think one that that doesn't really make it into BTAS, and it's one of the few things I think is flawed, is Batman's painstakingly curated insanity.
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Postby iambic » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:49 pm

morrison actually does it from the bat's point of view, and it's good

morrison rips
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Postby tgk » Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:09 pm

iambic wrote:I think one that that doesn't really make it into BTAS, and it's one of the few things I think is flawed, is Batman's painstakingly curated insanity.


This is true, bruce is modest and shy, batman has a sense of humor and gets along with alfred and robin, he's damn near clark kent/superman in the animated series, however I don't consider it a flaw, especially considering how the films have decided to double down on batman being dark, disturbed, and cynical and how lame that has become.
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Postby Merciel » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:08 pm

tgk wrote:
iambic wrote:I think one that that doesn't really make it into BTAS, and it's one of the few things I think is flawed, is Batman's painstakingly curated insanity.


This is true, bruce is modest and shy, batman has a sense of humor and gets along with alfred and robin, he's damn near clark kent/superman in the animated series, however I don't consider it a flaw, especially considering how the films have decided to double down on batman being dark, disturbed, and cynical and how lame that has become.


Yeah this is my feeling too.

I'm so bored with dark cynical broken Batman. I like this guy. He's much better company to spend a long-running series with.
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Postby mites » Sat Oct 14, 2017 10:13 pm

also I think the second season kinda delves into all of that more like the work he does of varying degrees to become batman. I guess it seems a bit more reasonable than insane in btas tho
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Postby Merciel » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:49 pm

SEASON ONE EPISODES TWENTY & TWENTY-ONE: "Feat of Clay"

This was Kermit's first-ever Batman viewing experience. Normally we watch them after he goes to sleep but he couldn't sleep at all last night so he sat in on a couple of episodes with us.

He appeared to enjoy them. There was a lot more yelling at the screen than usual.

I feel like we've already talked about the Clayface episodes in here, so I don't have a whole lot to add beyond: yeah, there really is a lot of body horror (played up about as much as you can in a kids' cartoon, e.g. Clayface ripping a chunk out of his cheek instead of his arm or whatever to throw as a gag), and I liked that Clayface's origin story begins as the result of his vanity and ends when he no longer feels that vanity, which I think is the truest way for that particular character to signify losing his humanity. Dumping his career and his loyal assistant signify less than Clayface putting on all those different versions of himself, pretending to be overwhelmed by their loss, and fake-dying -- while actually slipping away from the "shell" (which is even called a shell!) undetected, because in actuality none of those human versions were who he is now, and he feels no attachment to any of those displays of vanity that he once traded his sanity to obtain.

Not bad for a cartoon.
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Postby mites » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:05 pm

yea the second season clayface ep is really intense too

clayface is a really great villain
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Postby Spoilt Victorian Child » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:21 pm

Even though I'd seen it a bunch of times I had forgotten the BTAS Clayface origin. We've sure gotten a lot of mileage out of Montgomery Clift.
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Postby mites » Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:26 pm

Spoilt Victorian Child wrote:Even though I'd seen it a bunch of times I had forgotten the BTAS Clayface origin. We've sure gotten a lot of mileage out of Montgomery Clift.

this is the only thing I know about that

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