§ November 9th, 2009 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Suddenly…SHIRTLESS BATMAN SWORDFIGHT!

Still going through my disc-by-disc viewing of Batman: The Animated Series…just finished watching the initial Ra’s al Ghul two-parter written by the villain’s co-creator Denny O’Neil. It was quite the globe-trotting adventure, tightly plotted and very exciting, and, yes, it ends with shirtless Batman and an equally shirtless Ra’s battling it out in a manly-man swordfight while the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Now that’s a Batman story.

Especially nice is the vocal work of David Warner as Ra’s. The way he intones the word “Detective” (being Ra’s…Ra’s’s?…preferred name for Batman) contains so much. It sounds like an offering of respect for Batman, while at the same time sounding like a challenge. So nicely done.

At the same time, I’m still slowly going through the Ruby Spears Superman cartoons…it certainly says something about the quality of the cartoons, I think, that I put aside the Superman disc to watch through most of the Batman disc once it showed up in the mail. Now that I’ve watched a few more episodes, my opinion of the series is a little higher…the animation is passable, though the storytelling is still on the level of “ah, it’s just for kids…this is good enough.” And the situations are occasionally so out there that they’re almost surreal, like this one episode where Luthor buys the Great Wall of China. Well, sure, why not…wait what?

Yes, he put the LexCorp logo on the Great Wall of…well, the Great Wall of Lex, I guess. Oh, and also in this episode, Lois and Clark are in China to get the exclusive story on Lex’s deal, and at one point Clark is late to meet up with Lois because he’s off buying Disco Mozart tapes. “Disco Mozart tapes,” is what I said. I’m hoping this is part of Superman’s bizarre self-loathing secret identity protection scheme in that by buying disco music in 1988, he thus reinforces Clark’s apparent lack of coolness and with-it-ness. Or maybe Supes really does just like classical music done to a disco beat. Who can tell with extraterrestrials?

Anyway, I think I came into this series with decades-old high hopes, ever since reading about the involvement of Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane in that long-ago issue of Comics Scene. And hey, Jim Woodring worked on the series as a storyboarder/design supervisor. Yes, that Jim Woodring. And there are several other names I recognize from the world of comics as well (like Rick Hoberg and Adrian Gonzales).

One thing I haven’t mentioned is that each episode ends with a short second feature, presenting the adventures of young Clark Kent back in Smallville. These have been pretty good, covering Clark’s adoption, going shopping with Ma, being babysat (long before this story), and so on. That shopping episode does effectively demonstrate that trying to raise a super-powered baby would be an enormous pain in the ass, so at least these cartoons have an educational element to them.

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