Continue below for The World's Finest review of Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two, the trade paperback release collecting the 2021 mini-series of the same name based on Batman: The Animated Series.
BATMAN: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES - SEASON TWO
Written by: Alan Burnett and Paul Dini
Art by: Rick Burchett, Ty Templeton and Jordan Gibson
Cover: Riley Rossmo
The Story: Gotham City is changing. After Mayor Hill is killed by a mysterious assailant, Batman finds himself tracking down an ancient order that's long been buried under the streets of Gotham: the Court of Owls. An old face returns to the city, looking to take back power after Mayor Hill's death! Check out the all-new season in the Batman: The Animated Series mythos! Collecting Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two issues #1-7 and a short story from 'Tis the Season to Be Freezin' #1!
Format: Collected Edition, Trade Paperback
Release Date: June 14, 2022
Cover Price: $19.99
Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two Cover Gallery
Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two
Review by James Harvey
After an uneven but successful Season One, Batman: The Adventures Continue returns for a second round of new animated adventures inspired by Batman: The Animated Series and the DCAU. And while Season Two both builds upon and breaks free from the constraints Season One found itself under - namely pushing plot points tied to a now-canceled toy line - this season's lack of an engaging core story, continuity problems and inconsistent character writing result in an ultimately less satisfying sophomore volume. That said, it's not all doom and gloom, as some of the best moments so far from Batman: The Adventures Continue come from Season Two.
Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two finds that Gotham City is changing. After Mayor Hill is killed by a mysterious assailant, Batman finds himself tracking down an ancient order that's long been buried under the streets of Gotham: The Court of Owls. But what does this group have to gain from the death of Mayor Hill...and how can Deadman help the Dark Knight? Will the clues lead Batman to an ancient Gotham City legend? And who else besides Boston Brand will materialize as the Gotham Knights get to the bottom of this ages-old mystery?
The death of Mayor Hamilton Hill kicks off Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two, offering an interesting, potentially game-changing way to start things off. Unfortunately, the premise is squandered and ultimately feels unnecessary as Season Two stumbles toward its underwhelming finale, which boils down to essentially a soft reset of the Hills. However, while the destination might not be the best, and the journey there is filled with more than a few downs, there's also plenty of ups!
Please note this review may contain spoilers.
Writers Paul Dini and Alan Burnett return for Season Two of Batman: The Adventures Continue and continue to push the characters - and continuity - to the breaking point. Following the introductions of Red Hood, Deathstroke and Azrael, among others, in Season One, Season Two kicks things off strong with the DCAU debut of the Court of Owls. The fan-favorite secret society is arguably the season's biggest threat, and they stick around for a couple issues - and prove to be a thrilling foil here for Batman - before stepping aside for a mixture of returning faces and new foes. Other fiends who pop up this season include the return of Jimmy "The Jazzman" Peake (last seen in Batman: The Animated Series' "I Am The Night") and the introduction of new foes, including The Muscle and Mayor Mayhem.
Overall, the assorted storylines for Season Two are a bit of a mixed bag, but do lean more positive than negative, though near-barely. The opening arc is easily the season's strongest, even if the death of Hamilton Hill doesn't work as well as it should to introduce a secretive murderous society, and ranks up there some of the best Adventures Continue material to date. However, while Hill's death does make a bit of an impact, and even lead into the season's final arc, it ultimately feels like a waste for his character. The overall arc involving Mayor Hill and his family takes up five of Season Two's seven issues, and while there are some great ideas and moments initially, the arc essentially ends with a reset to status quo, with the exception of a couple small changes and a handful of continuity gaffs.
Outside of the extended Mayor Hill arc, Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two also rolls out a couple done-in-one issues. The first brings back The Jazzman - making him more of a Mr. Zsasz-type threat - and essentially gives Batgirl her own "Robin's Reckoning" story. The Huntress also appears in a continuity-crunching supporting role.
The season's other done-in-one tale introduces the new foe The Muscle and, save for some minor missteps, is arguably the season's strongest outing. A simple one-shot tale reminiscent of the more noir-heavy episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, here we get caught up with the likes of Rupert Thorne and Det. Renee Montoya. The further exploration of Montoya's personal life is a real treat, especially for long-time fans of the character, and The Muscle ends up being a neat addition to the rogue's gallery. It's an enjoyable outing that brings those old Batman: The Animated Series vibes more than any issue of Season One or Season Two to date.
And a big reason for why that issue soars is the fantastic artwork from Jordan Gibson, one of three pencillers on art duties for Season Two. Joining Gibson is regular series artist Ty Templeton and fellow guest artist Rick Burchett. Templeton provides the art on the first two issues, with Burchett on issues #3, 5-7 and Gibson with issue #4 and a special 10-page holiday-themed Batman: The Adventures Continue tale from the 2021 'Tis the Season to Be Freezin' DC Comics special. Templeton and Gibson's work here is fantastic, both expertly tapping into the "animated style" while adding their own unique touches. Gibson is especially a revelation here, absolutely nailing the aesthetic of this world and playing up the darker aspects of the world without letting it overpower the artwork. Gibson definitely deserves a return to Gotham City for Season Three!
Burchett returns here for a four-issue stint, picking up the baton from Templeton. Templeton unfortunately had to step away from art duties after the first two issues of Season Two due to a medical emergency. Understandably, Burchett's work here is far from his best, given the likely crunched schedule, and he does improve as he settles into the title, but his art remains noticeably looser and more 'scratchier' (for lack of a better term) than usual. It's closer to his work on the Batman & Harley Quinn tie-in comics as opposed to his incredible runs on The Batman Adventures, Batman & Robin Adventures and Batman: Gotham Adventures. There's the slight sting of disappointment when it comes to Burchett's work on Season Two, especially compared to the more polished work of Templeton and Gibson.
Similarly, writers Burnett and Dini also end up delivering material that lacks the polish of their previous works. As with Season One, character voices and actions occasionally ring false, and continuity seems to be an after-thought. The Huntress' appearance in issue #3, for example, not only causes some continuity flubs but she also doesn't feel like the character established in Justice League Unlimited.
And the above example speaks to the overall problems with Season Two. It's a book that's clearly tailored to long-time fans, but at the same time there's a host of continuity and character issues that the same audience will clearly spot and have issues with. Now, there's always wiggle room to fine-tune or fix continuity, especially one as vast and long-lasting as the DCAU, but Batman: The Adventures Continue instead seems to cause more issues than it tries to fix, and half the time a quick scan of DCAU continuity would've avoided a lot of the story troubles from this season. And outside of The Court of Owls and The Muscle, Season Two leaves no real lasting impression and kinda feels unimportant given how it goes against firmly established DCAU continuity and character development. And this seems baffling given the pedigree behind this book.
Also part of Season Two is an excellent 10-page holiday-themed short story (published in the DC Comics' 'Tis the Season For Freezin' 2021 one-shot) that is an absolute knock-out across the board and is well worth checking out, regardless of the overall iffy sentiment toward the season. Also worth a note is the excellent work of guest artist Jordan Gibson, who knocks it out of the park with his interior work and arguably the series' best cover, and colorist Monica Kobina, who continues to beautifully translate the look of The New Batman Adventures to the page. The cover gallery for Season Two is also bursting with some incredible talent.
Uneven across the board, Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two is a rickety return to Gotham City that falls short of its Season One predecessor. Still, there's something engaging about it, even if at times it's equally frustrating. Season Two kicks off with a strong two-parter, but the quality starts to wane almost immediately with the third issue and never fully recovers. There's great stuff here, including The Court of Owls and the solid "The Muscle" tale, and even some aspects of the book's final three-issue arc, which starts out decent enough before it gradually goes off the rails and wraps rather anti-climactically. It seems as though for every good idea the book has, there's an equally baffling or frustrating idea introduced to counter, which just saps enjoyment.
Despite everything, Batman: The Adventures Continue - Season Two is a legitimate page-turner, it really is, and, problems aside, it's ultimately worth reading. It's a mixed bag, yes, but there's plenty to enjoy here, and even the missteps end up being almost fascinating in their own right (in a "what is going on"-kinda way). That all said, some readers might not be able to tolerate the amount of continuity conflicts and rickety writing that's found here. There's good material here, but it just doesn't hit all the notes it should, so some readers may want to exercise a little caution and set expectations accordingly before purchasing. Recommended, but with reservations.
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