I felt strange sitting down to watch Saturday morning cartoons again (I’m use to my animation in primetime) and I don’t think I’m quite in the demographic band the advertisers were aiming for. The effort, and yes it is an effort for some of us heathens being awake at this time on the weekend, was justified. Batman’s entrance was near perfect and the use of Thorne was a nice nod of the hat to the older fans.
This show has the same Executive Producer as Justice League, but the animation style and feel has to be the child of Art Director Jeff Matsuda, creator of the Jackie Chan cartoon. Matsuda isn’t the only Chan alumni on The Batman and this bolds well for the action/fighting elements of the show. This new Batman is fast and seems to alternate between standing still and moving with blinding speed. His fights with the Joker are well choreographed and he displays knowledge of martial arts beyond generic brawling.
It is impossible to deny that this new cartoon is not squarely aimed at the kids. It doesn’t have the same artistic luxury as the early Dini series, but it quickly establishes its own effective style and ambience. Where the Dini series echoed the 1940s Fleischer styling this new cartoon almost seems to echo the 1970s. Gotham City is a blend of old school Chicago and revolutionary Paris with narrow streets and a Bastille like Arkham Asylum.
The supporting cast are strong. The new detectives do feel like a lift from GOTHAM CENTRAL and will attract accusations of political correctness, but I liked them. The new Alfred is a stronger and less subservient character than we have seen before. They have balanced Bruce’s youth and relative inexperience by making Alfred more of a mentor figure. Yet the question everybody is asking is where is Jim Gordon?
The Bat-Tech has gotten a make over and gets a good outing in the new episode. I get the feeling that this new tech will form the backbone of a new toy line, but it doesn’t jar too badly. The new Batmobile is reminiscent of the comic’s Batmobile from the early 1990s. I particularly like the scene where the Batmobile doesn’t quite stop where Bruce wants it to – a nice nod of the hat to the scene from Tim Burton’s movie and an apt demonstration of the difference between their Batmen.
The new Kids WB series is a bold new leap for DC’s animation adaptations. The last new adaptation of the Batman was The Animated Series (1992) and was so successful that its incarnation can still be seen in Cartoon Network’s Justice League. Many would feel that the prior art has set an almost impossibly high standard, but The Batman measures up well against its predecessor, but it will face unfair criticism from fans just because it isn’t the 1992 Batman. This is one fan that will certainly be back for more next Saturday… or at least my DVR will be (some of us Bat-fans need our sleep).