In which I use the phrase “squared-off udder teats.”

§ February 8th, 2010 § Filed under Uncategorized § 8 Comments

Things I can never get enough of: Batman just tooling around the skies of Gotham in his Bat-jetpack:

This is from the fourth season animated series episode “Critters,” in which an evil farmer sends mutated animals to do his evil bidding. Like, for example, this giant Jack Kirby-esque cow:

Even down to the Kirby-style squared-off udder teats:

I felt a little weird for noticing this, but later, when I listened to the commentary track, the guys who actually did the show made sure to point out the Kirby udder as well, so I guess I’m…well, still a bit weird for noticing this.

An interesting thing about the commentary track…they just state outright that the reason they’re doing a commentary for this episode is because it’s one of the most hated of the series. And not just by the fans….even some of these folks in the commentary said they thought the story “sucked” when they got their hands on it…but as the episode progressed, the guys very clearly enjoyed it and its goofy humor. The elderly farmer who holds his own in hand-to-hand combat against Batman, the giant insect invasion of Gotham, Robin’s exclamation of “Holy Cow!” (with Batgirl’s response “You had to say it!”), mutant chickens versus a blimp…there’s plenty to enjoy if you don’t take everything too seriously.

The story is by Steve Gerber, who gets name checked during the commentary for his Howard the Duck and Man-Thing comics work, and the script is by Joe Lansdale, so you’ve got a very strange mix of Gerber’s worldview and Lansdale’s quirky dialogue, which, the creators of the show admit, was probably too peculiar for some viewers. But I’m fans of both these guys, and I thought the episode was a hoot.

In related news, I was recently processing a bunch of Batman comics from the ’70s and ’80s at the shop, and looking at the covers, it struck me that seeing a comic where it’s just a plain ol’ “Batman vs. the Penguin” story is almost kind of quaint. No crossovers, no extended special event storylines, no re/de/construction of decades-old characters, no stunt-casting of celebrity creators (or at least a lot fewer of those elements)…just the Penguin committing bird-themed crimes and shooting his umbrella gun at Batman and Robin, and he goes to jail at the end. Stirred a strange bit of nostalgia in me…probably the same nostalgia nerve that Batman: The Animated Series so successfully hits. Or “punches,” more appropriately.

8 Responses to “In which I use the phrase “squared-off udder teats.””

  • Jamie says:

    …it struck me that seeing a comic where it’s just a plain ol’ “Batman vs. the Penguin” story is almost kind of quaint.

    Absolutely. It’s like superheroes have gone from crimefighters to strangely dressed soldiers in a never-ending war against other strangely dressed soldiers.

  • snell says:

    This episode always felt more like one of the animated Superman episodes to me, especially with Batman tooling around in his jetpack (which begs the question, if he has a jetpack, why the heck isn’t he using it all the time instead of getting around by inefficient ropes). It just plays much more like a Metropolis story than a Gotham one…

  • Steely Dan says:

    This was the only season of the series that I really liked, mostly because of the re-design–which I love even though most people seem to not like it.

  • Mike McGee says:

    “Story by Steve Gerber, script by Joe R. Lansdale” are nine words I’ve never heard in that sequence before, but man are they happy-making. I’m totally tracking this down.

  • Frank Stallone says:

    As a kid, I went out of my way to avoid this episode. That talking goat was too weird for a 10 year old to process.

    They also mentioned during the commentary that they should have brought this guy back in JLU, as an agent of Cadmus. That would actually have been pretty cool: imagine the whole league up against a mutated menagerie.

  • Tom K. Mason says:

    For more on “Kirby-style squared-off” teats, I’ll have to wait for Scott Free’s memoirs on his years with Big Barda.

  • Bill D. says:

    There’s no gray space with Critters… you either like it or you hate it. I was definitely in the latter camp when it first aired, but I’ve come around to the sheer goofiness of it since, and I love that it’s basically the BTAS equivalent of The Great Vegetable Rebellion.

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