BEWARE THE BATMAN: HUNTED Review (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, July 15, 2013
I have no problems with changes in continuity, so let's just get that over with right off the bat. Oh god. That pun was definitely not intended. Unless you want it to be intended. I desire your love and acceptance. But if you are looking for a show that is a stickler for what has come before, then this show might not be for you. It's definitely for me though! Hot dog, this was fun and cool.
I had my reservations at first, having only gotten through the first episode or two of Green Lantern: The Animated Series before giving up due to the overly adorable nature of the animation, and I wasn't the biggest fan of the computer generated Spider-Man: The New Animated Series cartoon from Mtv 10 years back. There's just something about the clean crisp computer-generated animated shows that repel me.
Also, recently Young Justice was cancelled and replaced by the atrocious Teen Titans Go! so my broken heart was weary of further shatterings.
Fear not, dear heart, since this show seems to be pretty sensational so far. It seems to be seamlessly weaving several continuities into one new one. We have Batman Year One, with an Alfred more akin to Batman Earth One, mixed with some of the visual aesthetic of the original Batman: The Animated Series, with the youth aspect of The Batman (The animated series from 2004). A melting pot, if you will of the Batmen that have come before, sans the silly 1960's version and the Brave And The Bold version, thankfully.
The design of the Batman himself is pretty basic, though the "ears" on his cowl look like Martian antennae when he faces the camera. Can't tell if that adds to the creepy factor or not. I'm leaning towards silly. I think I prefer the more subtle Frank Miller bat ears on the costume. These things are too tall and can be grabbed by a baddie too easily to fling Bats around. Doesn't seem practical. I also just keep picturing him bonking his head as he walks through doors without ducking a la that Storm Trooper extra from Star Wars.
One of the best things about action-oriented animated series for me, has to be the fight choreography. Much like how TV and Movie writers like to write comics due to the lack of visual effects budget, animated fight scenes don't have to work on a strict "physics budget". The animators and story-board artists can think of moves that don't have to exist in the real world. There were times that they used that to great effect in the Young Justice show, and I wish there was more of that here. Most of the cool action-y stuff in this show involve Batman's patented Bat-Grappling-Bat-Hook in cool and inventive ways. There's a pretty rad sequence where Batman is running up stairs from an explosion and uses his Bat-line to close a door as he's leaping through it. There's also a cool bit where he stops Mr. Toad mid-jump using said Bat-Line.
On the other hand, I also appreciate real world details thrown in. During the initial alleyway fight, Bats get's hit with a metal door and flies several feet, landing hard. That would mess a dude up, and without missing a beat, Batman gets up and slams his shoulder into the hood of a truck to realign his dislocated arm, so he can continue fighting. Granted, that's unrealistically bad-ass, but realistic in that he's injured like a real man, and that injury continues to vex him throughout the episode. I appreciate that little bit of continuity.
That brings us to this week's villain: Professor Pyg. If you don't know who that is, it's because he's a fairly new creation, having been invented during the Batman Reborn storyline by Grant Morrison over in the title Batman And Robin, wherein Bruce Wayne had "died" and the mantle of the Bat was handed down to Dick Greyson, and he teamed up with Bruce Wayne's son, Damian Wayne as Robin. He was a pretty damn creepy addition to the Batman mythos and is a surprising first villain to include here, but a welcome one. I also love that they gave Pyg a British accent that I think was created just for this incarnation, but man does it work, adding a little more to the creepitude factor. He's also been given a different sidekick that I've never seen before: Mr. Toad. They have a great chemistry, these two characters and can't wait to see them again. One thing I noticed though..the writers gave Pyg and Toad the Eco-Terrorist angle that had previously been awarded to Poison Ivy. I wonder if that means that Ivy won't be on the show anytime soon, or if they'll be subtracting that aspect from her character.
Some other differences include the fact that Wayne Manor sits across the bay from Gotham City a la Alcatraz, which I haven't seen in previous incarnations, but is pretty cool. Also: Alfred Pennyworth is an Ex-MI6 Jason Statham? While he's a pretty cool remaining, his visual aesthetic is a little too British ruffian…I definitely prefer the version of him from Batman Earth One, with the white crew-cut and the white goatee.
An interesting addition to the cast that I definitely did not see coming was a mysterious asian woman on a motorcycle that later turns out to be Tatsu Yamashiro - Bruce Wayne's new driver and bodyguard, who some of you may know as Katana, now starring in her own comic series as well as being a member in the Justice League of America series.
Overall, this new series is off to a great start and if you haven't had a chance to check it out, DO SO NOW. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!
"Boss it's the Bat-guy!"
"It's BatMAN, Toad. Remember…respect our enemies."
Nothing, so far!
The final say:
Mania Grade: B
Episode: HUNTED (Season 1, Episode 1)
Starring: Anthony Ruivivar, J.B. Blanc, Sumalee Montano, Kurtwood Smith, Jeff Bennett, Brian George, Udo Kier
Written By: Mitch Watson
Directed By: Sam Liu
Network: Cartoon Network
Studio: Warner Brothers