FINALLY continuing Jimmy and Tom’s trip through the DCAU.
Today’s entry is on the Batman The Animated Series episodes “Terror in the Sky,” “Almost Got ‘Im,” and “Birds of a Feather”.
“Terror in the Sky”
jimmy: The Batman really needs to brush up on his detective skills. Took me half a second to figure out who the new Man-Bat was.
tomk: Took me about as long to realize they were showing a topless woman in some of those scenes.
jimmy: Her shirt pretty conveniently fits again at the end.
It’s like the Hulk cartoon from the 80s. Banner’s clothes would rip off, but be magically repaired when he changed back.
jimmy: Maybe Mr Fantastic made Francine’s clothes.
tomk: OK, more serious question: why did it matter? Man-Bat, or She-Bat, didn’t seem to be hurting anybody except for random boxes of fruit.
jimmy: Bats seemed pretty tired of “cleaning up Langstrom’s messes”.
tomk: Yeah. I mean, this is the second time. It’s interrupting Joker schemes.
jimmy: The “plot” just seemed like an excuse to throw a couple of nice action set pieces together.
tomk: That seems true. Like how Bats grabbed a woman who flew out of an airplane with a claw. I think the green guys from the Toy Story movies would approve.
jimmy: The bike chase was really well done too. That said, I did find the animation at times a bit rubbery. The sonar effect was neat though.
tomk: I did like the sonar effect. I don’t remember them doing that before.
jimmy: I don’t think they did.
tomk: Maybe its something only female Man-Bats can do.
jimmy: Langstrom’s sonar probably only picks up TV’s showing football and Bud Light.
tomk: I’m pretty sure that’s what Bullock would get if he had sonar.
jimmy: Speaking of set pieces…why would Langstom buy a ticket and wait until the plane was in the air to make his impassioned speech to his wife? Might have been a lot easier to do in the departure lounge or even pre-security check. Unless she was already on the plane, but how would he know and if he did find out when he got there, he really boogied to get a ticket and boarded before takeoff.
tomk: Well, she can’t run away from him in a confined space.
jimmy: Yeah…that worked out really well for all involved.
tomk: Oh, come on. Not everyone can be Batman and figure things out in time to know better than to bother the woman who does a Hulk routine in a tight space like an airplane bathroom.
jimmy: Even Batman wasn’t much of a detective in this one.
tomk: Well, he was going in the right general direction. He just pegged the wrong member of the Langstrom family. To be really fair, so did Kurt.
jimmy: It was a little surprising that Woman-Bat and Man-Bat looked identical.
tomk: Yeah, well, if they didn’t, even the dumber kids at home would have guessed something different had happened.
jimmy: I would have blamed Rene Auberjonois too. He was a bit of a jerk.
tomk: Well, he did burn his life’s work.
jimmy: That was quite the match he had.
tomk: Good thing he didn’t do computer files.
jimmy: Anything else to add here?
tomk: You know, I’m struggling with this one. It doesn’t seem to have much happening.
jimmy: Like I said, it was mostly an excuse to wrap up some set pieces.
tomk: Moving on then…
“Almost Got ‘Im”
Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, and Killer Croc swap stories over a poker game, trying to see who has the best story of almost killing Batman.
jimmy: Good episode. Seeing all the big time villains sitting round together was great.
tomk: Yeah, if they subbed Riddler or maybe Freeze for Croc, but then we don’t get the great twist. But I’m a sucker for big team-up stories, so seeing a bunch of bad guys all together really appeals to me.
jimmy: I’m trying to remember previous Croc episodes; did he come off as such a goof?
tomk: Not really, but remember: he was Batman the whole time.
jimmy: I knew you were going to say that. But Bats or not, he obviously didn’t come off to them as out of character.
tomk: No, which doesn’t say much for Croc. I don’t think Croc is ever portrayed as this dumb again, but it suggests that this is what both Batman and the other crooks think of as Croc’s acceptable behavior.
jimmy: It works great in terms of this episode, but you could potentially argue that it was out of character. But it was a lot of fun. Plus they needed someone of that stature for Bruce to disguise himself as.
tomk: Well, he obviously wasn’t coming in as the Mad Hatter. Even Riddler would probably be too slight.
jimmy: To get to some of their stories…why was Two-Face’s coin so sharp?
tomk: I was wondering that myself. This episode is full of small details, though. Look at the opening of the card game. Just close ups of hands that really set the different players apart. Joker is pulling card tricks. Penguin is making himself a cup of tea. Two-Face actually pours some Half-n-Half into his own drink.
jimmy: Two-Face always had 2’s and their multiples and Jack’s who only show half their face.
tomk: Ivy had that large, gardener’s hat.
Plus the dialogue between the two.
TWO-FACE: Half of me wants to strangle you.
IVY: And the other half?
TWO-FACE: The other half wants to hit you with a truck.
IVY: We used to date.
jimmy: Great exchange.
tomk: The fact that the exchange explained everything well enough for Joker and Penguin was the capper.
jimmy: I was pretty excited that the giant penny showed up and they made a point to say they let Batman keep it…although in the comics it has nothing to do with Two-Face.
tomk: I actually heard it did, but it was Batman’s ultimate contingency trap against Two-Face.
jimmy: I thought he got it from the Penny Plunderer.
tomk: He probably did, but that was the answer I read in a letter column once. They never explained the dinosaur.
tomk: Yeah, that probably is true. Oh well.
jimmy: And apparently “The T. Rex comes from an adventure on “Dinosaur Island” (Batman #35, 1946);”. That one I didn’t know.
tomk: They still never explained the frickin’ dinosaur.
Or they did.
Man, Jimmy is one upping me all over the place on the Batcave today.
jimmy: I’ll send you a Golden Age Batman trade for your birthday.
tomk: I’ll…send you something else.
But, back to the episode…so far, this may be the best Catwoman and the best Penguin episode.
jimmy: Especially Catwoman since they didn’t have to play her off some no name villain and some “cat” storyline.
tomk: There was a trip to the cat food factory.
But, seriously, I am trying to think of a better Catwoman or Penguin episode. Possibly the best Croc episode, too. Two-Face’s origin would probably be his best. Ivy has her team-ups with Harley, and Joker, well, pick one.
And technically, Croc isn’t even in this one!
jimmy: Haha. Yes. I love faux-Croc’s story too. “It was a big rock.”
tomk: Speaking of…whose story did you like best?
jimmy: I like the Two-Face story, but I might give the edge to the Joker with its ties to the main present storyline. You?
tomk: Joker’s, easily. It’s the most creative, and arguably he comes closest to actually getting Batman. He’s actually funny in there, Harley’s great, and there’s a last minute save from someone other than Batman. Plus, he’s thinking outside the box since he says there’s more than one way to “get” someone.
jimmy: Agreed. And it’s really the only one that has any semblance of plot and not just an excuse for an action sequence.
tomk: He tries to cook a hot dog off a steaming Batman. What’s not to like?
The beginning is great too when they are trying to figure out how Batman does what he does. Is he more than one person…a robot…and Penguin nails it with the childhood trauma.
tomk: Well, Penguin may be the smartest guy at the table, depending on how cartoonish the Joker is behaving.
jimmy: And how did Batman know that Croc thought he was a robot and has told the others his theory? 🙂
tomk: My guess is, Batman knows Croc very well.
jimmy: And no one noticed that EVERYONE else in the club was a cop? But I’m just being nit picky now.
tomk: The reveal is just done in such a stylish way, with all the cops popping up, mostly in shadows and drawing their guns, just enough of an outline to pick out Gordon and Bullock, and the three still-standing bad guys (who each drew a different signature weapon on Bat-Croc), surrounded by more cops than could have realistically fit into the room…
And the lamp swinging back and forth, showing Croc’s face, but then Batman’s silhouette.
jimmy: Yeah, really well done and intentionally over the top.
tomk: This episode is just all around great on details.
Even the ending with an uncharacteristically menacing Harley…defeated by poor planning. Plus, I think Batman might have popped her one off-screen.
jimmy: Not like she didn’t deserve it.
tomk: Maybe, but Batman doesn’t often hit the women. He gave Ivy a good shove earlier, too.
jimmy: Not like she didn’t deserve it.
tomk: I just recall listening to the commentary track on this episode and the commentators being a bit surprised when Harley got yanked off-screen and then a quiet punching sound can be heard.
jimmy: Just watched the commentary. You are right. They are surprised and then Dini quickly adds, “She had it coming.”
tomk: I may have a few things to say on that subject when we get to “Harley and Ivy”.
jimmy: Just a fun all time episode. Anything else to add here?
tomk: Not really. It was just a fun episode. The visuals were really good, and the characterization of the villains was top notch. It barely needed Batman.
“Birds of a Feather”
The Penguin, after serving yet another stretch in prison, has decided to go straight and rejoin high society where he believes he belongs. No one, not even Batman, believes he’s reformed, but then socialite Veronica Vreeland decides to spend time with the Penguin…for the amusement of society.
tomk: OK, I just have to point out the obvious…Batman does not believe Cobblepot has reformed in this episode for the longest time. Batman will attempt to help out the likes of Clayface, Freeze, Harley, Two-Face, Catwoman to a certain extent, and as some folks much wiser than I have pointed out, he carts most of his foes not to prison, but to a hospital. Batman wants people to get better. He cares. Except the Penguin. Maybe because Cobblepot is not an insane maniac like the others, but he still thinks Cobblepot is lying through his teeth whenever he says he’s reformed until it is almost too late.
jimmy: Good observation. It’s probably more that it suits the plot here to distrust him but I like your interpretation that the others are clearly mentally ill…outside of Selina. Plus in the end Bats gets to say, “I told you so.”
tomk: But he told them so for different reasons than even he initially thought. Even Bruce realized Copplepot had reformed when he realized Cobblepot was going to give Veronica something valuable rather than take something.
Also, Bruce is somewhat in love with Selina. Maybe if Cobblepot had a much more kissable face…
jimmy: Oswald wastes no time flipping the switch back when he realizes he’s been taken for a ride.
tomk: Well, they only have a little bit of time…and he was so sure it was for real. He was in love. And then he had his heart broken. Violence has (almost) generally worked for him in the past, so if even the woman he’s fallen for can’t see him as anything other than a crook, he might as well be a crook.
Besides, Oswald has flippers. Flipping comes naturally.
When we decided to come back off hiatus, I went to watch this episode. I opened up my notes and realized I had already watched it. All my notes said though was that it was a good episode and I didn’t have many comments. I watched it again to get it fresh in my mind. My notes never changed.
tomk: Well, sometimes episodes don’t demand a lot of talk. I can add there’s some irony that someone must have had some fun showing the Penguin can’t sing despite being voiced by singer/songwriter Paul Williams.
We can also note Marilu Henner’s Veronica Vreeland appears for the first time. Veronica is the go-to character to pull out whenever Gotham’s wealthy are falling for a dumb idea often being run by some master criminal.
jimmy: She appears again I take it?
tomk: She will. Her friend Pierce, not so much.
tomk: I think she even has a descendant or something in Batman Beyond.
jimmy: On the technical side, did you notice several scenes were blurry?
tomk: It wasn’t the best of animation, but it never is when you get a solo Penguin story.
jimmy: Pretty short discussion on this one. Unless you have more to add?
tomk: You know what? Not really. I don’t think the Penguin loans himself out to good solo appearances. He gets better after the redesign where he becomes more of a behind-the-scenes power broker, but in episodes like this, it’s hard to believe the short, chubby guy with the trick umbrellas is a threat to Batman.
It might be time to check in with the Riddler again anyway.
NEXT TIME: Hopefully not too long from now, Tom and Jimmy will be back to cover “What Is Reality?” “I Am The Night,” and “Off Balance”.