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Shadow of the Bat!
Original Airdate - April 22nd, 2011
Batman gets infected by a vampire bite, and proceeds to attack his JLI friends!

Written by J. M. DeMatteis
Directed by Michael Goguen
Review by klammed
Media by Bird Boy


Teaser: We get another from ĎBatmanís Strangest Casesí. Will this be a running formula for the teasers? For a moment there I wasnít quite sure if this truly was the right episode, until of course the words ĎJungle Batmaní came out. Another clever little mind trick just to keep you on the edge of your seat, you can be sure. Well for starters, you had JUNGLE Robin, which made me choke on my food as I was eating it, then JUNGLE Batman after him, which made me choke on my food again. For those of you who donít know (and I didnít, trust me), this was taken from Batman #72, and the costume design mirrors that very closely. Iím not actually sure how parents sitting next to their children would feel about this one. It seemed highly, shall we say, charged. Bat-Ape (Batman #114) was a very strange non sequitur, but pretty funny, and the touch of angst at the end from Catwoman a sharp contrast from her behaviour earlier in the teaser, which seemed a touch jarring. Despite that tiny problem I had with it, this was probably one of the most entertaining teasers Iíd seen in a while.

Main Episode: Forget what I said about not being sure about parents watching the teaser with their kids. This one pretty much takes the cake for creepiest Brave and the Bold Episode, ever. Starting with the slightly freaky Tim Burton tone in atmosphere and colours, what it did give us along with that, was fantastically fluid animation, Iíd say the best weíve seen from the show in a while in terms of creativity and execution. They utilised the colour palette immensely well, and all the backgrounds going through Gotham were a joy to see. Vampire Batmanís movements were stunning, and the different transformations (violent shaking head and turning into rats?) left me more and more bug-eyed. In fact, itís pretty safe to say that I spent this entire episode slack-jawed, bug-eyed, with my eyelids twitching at odd moments.

I choose to look at this as a good thing.

Vampire references galore, if you can count them, from Batmanís form, to his shadow moving independent of him, to not having a reflection. Iím not sure if Iím disappointed or not that there werenít really any Bloodstorm references, since Iíd been hoping for that since hearing about the initial synopsis. At the end of the day though, between the greyed out skin, pointed face and cape design, and lots of vampire/bat/vampire-bats in between, I think theyíve done a great job in making Batman truly creepy, with just that touch of the severely deranged.

Adding to the whole atmosphere was the music, very Dracula esque with the thin violin strains, deep bass thumping rhythms, as well as the sound effects, like Batmanís cape stretching taut, or the sound of him crunching on prey, which truly made me want to cringe. Sure, most of that biting stuff occurred off camera, or was obscured, but it still made me wince and blanch a bit. Thank-you, the power of suggestion and sound. This made it, pretty authentically Vampirish, as far as Iím concerned.

That said, it was wonderful seeing the JLI again. Pity Skeets wasnít around to provide a bit of banter, but the cast did wonderfully. Martian Manhunter finally got to show how and why he was the most powerful of Vampire Batmanís foes, and got a considerable amount of action, as well as providing us with a suitably creepy-ish interpretation of Adams Familyís Thing. Booster Gold had some really great lines (ďBooster, the Vampire Slayer!Ē, very nice Buffy ref), and I love the little eccentricities once again of each team member, however brief they were, seeing as the third act seemed pretty much filled with trying to get away from the Vampire Batman.

So it got the point where I was truly hoping that it Ďwas all just a dreamí, despite that being a rather cop-out ending. And as it turns out, it was, or was it? Creepy ending music and a glimpse of the moon, and weíre left to decide for ourselves. Also, since I liked this more than the last one, I should probably stop rating the episodes. Might be a bit too weird for some, though. Not the episode you want to use to introduce your kid cousin to if you donít want the parents after you.
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