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The World's Finest Presents

Cast
Kevin Conroy as Batman / Bruce Wayne
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred Pennyworth
Michael Ansara as Mr Freeze / Victor Fries
Mari Devon as Summer Gleeson
Mark Hamill as Ferris Boyle
Michael Bell as Additional Voice
Robert David Hall as Additional Voice
John Mariano as Additional Voice

Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Bruce W. Timm
Supervising Composer Shirley Walker
Music Composed by Todd Hayen
Animation Services by Spectrum Animation Studio
Episode #014 - Heart of Ice
Original Airdate - September 7th, 1992

Mr. Freeze, thirsting for revenge against the sleazy CEO who destroyed his life, begins to steal various equipment from GothCorp. Batman's sympathy is with Freeze, but first he has to stop him from using the equipment to destroy a building filled with innocent people in order to carry out his vendetta.

 

 
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"A Frozen Classic" by Jim Harvey, Robin III and Bird Boy

I can still remember running into the living room, turning on the TV, turning it to FOX, and waiting for that WB shield to appear on the screen. I waited, and waited, and there it appeared. I had no idea that today I'd be watching my favorite episode. This was long before online schedules and websites. Just about every fan had no idea which episode was going to air. All we got was a "new episode" promo, as well as the classic "newspaper promo" that aired after every Batman episode.

I hope you're all comfortable, because I'm going to be rambling for quite some time about this episode.

'Heart of Ice' stuck out in my mind at first because the title was not there. In a sense it was, but the background was not a static painting, but falling snow. That had me intrigued, and wondering why it was like that. Why did this episode deserve a moving background, I remember thinking. In the following twenty eight minutes, I knew exactly why.

This episode, to me, is the perfect Batman episode. Yes, I know the bat-symbol is inverted for about two seconds. Yes, some of the freeze effects are a bit jumpy. And the snow is weird looking for a few second, but so what? It doesn't matter! I still get amazed that people cite these reasons for the episode being poor. Or that the animation was lacking somehow, which I find to be the most ludicrous reason I've ever heard. Beautifully animated by Spectrum Animation, this is one of the best animated episodes. The quality is especially high, given how early the episode came in the production schedule. The Batman series did start a bit shaky, yes, but this was not one of those episodes. And it still holds up against any of the newer episodes. The animation is beautiful, and the story magnificent, and the voice work flawless.

I really can't imagine Mr. Freeze any other way than how he's presented in this episode. From his tragic background, to his fight for revenge, to his bitter defeat. This is a villain that, in just a few appearances, rocketed to the top of my personnel villains list. The Joker is still great, definitely. Two-Face is spectacular, without a doubt. But this episode just shot him to those ranks. From his terrible beginnings in the comics, he was redeemed in this episode. The fact this
this origin, and variations of it, was used in the comics and movies, shows how powerful and instrumental this episode was to both Freeze's character, as well as the series.

This episode served as my introduction to the animated Batman mythos. I missed the sneak peek the Saturday before, as well as the Sunday prime-time airing. It wasn't until I caught this episode that I realized how serious and how different this series was going to be. This episode hooked me right in, and I was hooked into Batman, through good (P.O.V.) to bad (Moon of the Wolf). Usually nostalgia makes something better than it was. That's not the case with this episode, and I doubt it ever will be.

The voice work on this episode is a true roller coaster. In the span of a mere twenty minutes, the viewer is presented with anger, desperation, sadness, cockiness, and tones of other emotions that the voice actor had to nail, and boy did they ever! Mark Hamill's cocky Ferris Boyle is some of the best work on the series. He does sparkle as the Joker, but here, he does some of his best work. Sounding like a twisted version of his self, Hamill plays Boyle to perfection. Like the Joker, this is another character who can't imagines being voiced by anyone else.

The true star of this episode is Michael Ansara. His character is put through the ringer in this episode, and Ansara steps up to the plate every time. He delivers a powerhouse performance. It's amazing to listen to his timid 'Victor Fries' voice, only to here his cold 'Mr. Freeze' voice moments later. It's such a change in tone and execution, it's truly spectacular. It's those little moments that make this character, and the actor behind him, truly amazing. No one else can do Ansara. Much like Kevin Conroy, he is irreplaceable. He's had some of the best lines of the series:

MR. FREEZE: "Think of it - to never again walk upon a summer's day with a hot wind in your face and a warm hand to hold. Oh, yes, I'd kill for that."

MR. FREEZE: "You beg? In my nightmares I see my Nora behind the glass, begging to me with frozen eyes. How I've longed to see that look frozen on you."

MR. FREEZE: "I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it. I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness and pray you hear me somehow, someplace... Someplace where a warm hand waits for mine."

And of course there's the pitch-perfect Kevin Conroy. I don't think I could ever sing his praises enough. There's simply no one else who can be Batman. He's dead-on perfect.

The animation, story, and voice work behind this episode truly meshed to be one of the best Batman offerings of the entire series. Hell, it's safe to say that this episode is one of the most powerful episodes of any cartoon every made. There's little that can be compared to this episode. A true landmark in animation, and just my absolute favorite episode. I know my feelings towards this episode is presenting an obvious bias or two towards the episode, but no one can dispute the importance and brilliance of this episode. Do I care about what other people think of this episode? Not really. I enjoy it, and recognize it for what it is, and that's all I need.

I know there are a few small flaws, but everything has it flaws. Regardless, this episode gets perfect scores across the board.

Oh, and the chicken soup? Hilarious!
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