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RELEASES - BLU-RAY & DVD - SEASON ONE, PART TWO: DARK JUSTICE

Beware The Batman
Season One, Part Two: Dark Justice

Studio: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Warner Archive
Announce Date: 6/4/14
Street Date: 9/30/14
Closed Captioning: Yes
Run Time: 286 minutes

Episodes: Darkness, Reckoning, Nexus, Monsters, Games, Animal, Doppleganger, Unique, Hero, Choices, Enigma, Twist, Alone

Synopsis: Season 1 of the Emmy-nominated Beware the Batman TV series concludes with 13 action-packed episodes on a 2-disc set! The battle continues as Batman races to challenge the world’s most sinister criminal minds that have Gotham City in their crosshairs. This action-packed 2-disc set features Batman as the hunted as the League of Assassins offer a hefty bounty to rid them of the Dark Knight. Plus, an endless army of evil including the likes of Professor Pyg, Mr. Toad, Magpie, Phosphorus Rex, and Tobias Whale all clawing at the chance to shatter the bat. Join the fight for justice in this collection of covert missions, mysterious clues and jaw busting brawls that only Batman can deliver!

Package and Disc Art


 

Review
By James Harvey

It's going to be difficult reviewing this release without thinking about the terrible treatment Beware The Batman endured during it's television run. By now we all know the story - ignored and buried by Cartoon Network, then revived by Adult Swim ... only to have Cartoon Network write-off the show and pull it from broadcasting. Thankfully, Adult Swim managed to air all the episodes of this great animated series but, still, it's hard not to get a little frustrated when watching this series. A fantastic show cut down. But, thankfully, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has managed to get the last half of the series out on DVD (and Blu-ray), and it's a must-have addition to any Batfan's collection.

But let's not think about the ridiculous circumstances that led to this show's unceremonious demise! Instead, let's quickly look at the show before diving into the DVD release of this awesome series.

While Beware The Batman got off to a bit of an uneven start, it righted itself quickly into the first thirteen episodes, and then really kicked into high gear with the introduction of Ra's Al Ghul and, from there, just took off for its final thirteen. The show picks up there, with Batman facing off against Ra's Al Ghul for the first time (despite what the back cover text may suggest), laying the ground work for an intriguing storlyine that slowly unfolds over the remainder of the season. Seeds are planted that grow throughout the season, effecting each of the three main characters differently. Secrets are revealed, mistake are made, and ultimately, things get much worse before they get better. That's a very broad take on these thirteen episodes, but I'd hate to spoil any of the genuine surprises the show comes up with.

It was really great to see this show build off its first thirteen episodes with these latter thirteen. Characters introduced episodes ago start to seep back in, some in big ways, and others in more subtle avenues. It shows that even with the more one-off episodes, the creative team behind Beware The Batman did have a game in play for the show. Characters like Metamorpho, Magpie, Professor Pyg and Mister Pig pop back in the latter thirteen, some playing bigger roles in the overall story, or being used to further character exploration of the main cast (or themselves).

The stories unfold at a natural pace, with only the six-month time jump after the attack by Ra's Al Ghul coming off as a bit awkward for the show. The skip is mentioned sort-of in passing, but it feels as though no time has really passed. I understand why it was done (those six months do become crucial toward the end of the series), but it doesn't click 100%. The show even has the guts to take Batman down a very, very dark path and see him do things that, outside of maybe the PG-13 DC Universe animated movies, I don't think they've ever really explored in any previous Batman cartoons. Keep an eye on the episode "Animal" for some gutsy stuff.

And like that episode, this show takes some real chances with its storylines. Main characters make morally ambiguous decisions, motivations are sometimes skewed, and the outcomes don't always work out in favor of the good guys. Another example is Alfred, who is trying to do right by a past where he did some pretty bad things in service of his country (they don't say it clearly, but it's heavily implied). It's an intriguing spin on one of the forgotten/overlooked aspects of Alfred's past for the comics, and kudos for Beware The Batman for running with it and just nailing it.

If I had any complaint, it's that the show is left with a couple dangling plot lines that will never be resolved due to it being unfairly gutted by Cartoon Network. The fate of a couple characters remain in the air which, to me, takes a little bit away from the series. Again, it's nothing that could be helped, but it does take away from the final episodes just a shade. It's a minor quibble for this batch of episodes, and the only one I have for an overall stellar effort.

Episodes included in this release are "Darkness," "Reckoning," "Nexus," "Monsters," "Games," "Animal," "Doppleganger," "Unique," "Hero," "Choices," "Enigma," "Twist," and "Alone."

Overall, Beware the Batman - Season One, Part Two: Dark Justice contains thirteen fantastic animated adventures spotlighting the Dark Knight, full of legitimately great characters, surprising twists, and more than a few jaw-dropping moments. In what will likely go down as the most under-appreciated, mistreated Batman cartoon of all time, Beware The Batman stayed true to the Batman mythos while taking major risks that eventually pay off in spades. From the very first episode the creative team had a game plan in mind and we see it through to the very end, all the while leaving a few threads dangling for future exploration (which will sadly not come to pass). This series had all the trapping of a fantastic cartoon, one that could rival Batman: The Animated Series, but was cut down way too early. Beware The Batman is definitely a must-see for fans of DC Comics' top hero, and these final thirteen episodes are a testament to the amazing work of the show's creative team.

Turning to the DVD itself, Beware the Batman - Season One, Part Two: Dark Justice is a solid title from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The quality is exactly what you'd expect - top marks on the audio and video, though a failing grade on bonus content.

The video quality is quality stuff for a standard definition release. The image is crisp and clear with only a few blemishes to be found. The images experiences the odd tussle with banding, though that's likely the standard definition transfers trying to handle the high-definition source material. The audio is nice, heavy and full. Sounds excellent in all regards. By no means is it reference material, but you won't miss any dialogue nor will the action scenes sound lacking. In terms of bonus material, there's nothing outside of a handful of trailers (one of them for the previous Beware The Batman release, though).

Honestly, the Blu-ray release for this title is the way to go. If the first Beware The Batman collection from Warner Archive is any indication, there's no better way to watch this show than on Blu-ray.

It goes without saying that Beware The Batman will survive longer than most comic book-based animated series being made today. Incredible writing, great character work, compelling twists, solid animation - it has all the earmarks of a show that will looked back favorably upon for years to come while other lesser shows just disappear into the depths of Netflix. Beware the Batman - Season One, Part Two: Dark Justice takes the show out on top, a great collection of 13 riveting tales! The audio and video is as great as you can get out of a standard definition DVD, but this show yearns to be viewed on Blu-ray. If you can't go high-def, DVD works just as fine, but seek out the Blu-ray release from Warner Archive is you can. This release definitely comes Highly Recommended!



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