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Episode #4 - The Man Who Would Be Bat
Original Airdate - October 30th, 2004

Dr. Langstrom, a scientist in Wayne Industry's Genome Division, has been experimenting with bats, thus threatening to endanger Bruce's secret identity. But before Bruce can stop him, Dr. Langstrom gives himself the experimental serum he's been concocting and transforms into the hideous Man-Bat, before flying off to wreak havoc across Gotham!

Review by Bird Boy, The Penguin
Media by Bird Boy
Credits
Supervising Producer Duane Capizzi
Supervising Producer Michael Goguen
Producer Linda M. Steiner, Jeff Matsuda
Associate Producer Kimberley A. Smith
Written by Tom Pugsley and Greg Klein
Directed by Seung Eun Kim
Music by Thomas Chase Jones
Animation by DongWoo Animation CO., LTD.

Voices
Rino Romano as The Batman
Alastair Duncan as Alfred
Steve Harris as Detective Ethan Bennett
Ming-Na as Detective Ellen Yin
Peter MacNicol as Langstrom

Video

Screen Grabs






Pans




Review (Bird Boy)
: Originally debuted at Comic Con 2004, this episode was met with a flurry of mixed feelings. It was certainly a “new” take on Batman all right, but the dialogue and writing left a bad taste in your mouth. Now I wasn’t at that screening at Comic Con (or there at all, for that matter), but it had the same effect on me as it did to the crowd: cheesy dialogue (Bruce utters a “Chill” after locking Man-Bat in a freezer) and even worse writing (Batman calls Alfred to prepare a few things for him—Alfred presumably does so and Batman presumably goes to pick it up, but we never see any of that. He just arrives on the scene, magically prepared and packing new tech).

In a way, I get a sense the show’s writers are trying to do more with the show than what the network’s allowing. In a particularly creepy scene for a kids show, Man-Bat fly’s off to the zoo and grabs a goat. He lands on top of the mountain, the camera pans around him (in what looks like a direct copy of the pan-a-round of Batman that was done in the Return of the Joker flashback) and then there’s a scream from him and it goes to commercial. Later on in the episode, Alfred tells Bruce of a odd police report of “livestock at the local zoo” and how one of them was “drained of blood.” Odd that they wouldn’t let the crew of B:TAS do a vampire episode because it was too gruesome, but they allow Man-Bat to turn into a vampire bat. Rules change I guess, but usually they get less lenient, not looser.

That element aside (which lasted a whole fifteen seconds), this episode pretty much sucked the big one. As previously mentioned, cheesy dialogue popped up more than once in the episode (in addition to Bruce’s “Chill” there was a “Psyche!” from Ethan) and the writing of Langstrom/Man-Bat was a step down from his previous incarnations. Instead of just being a scientist hell-bent on his experiments, this one just wanted to turn himself into the Man-Bat so he could fight with The Batman and find out who was the better bat. What motivation! What originality! Why wouldn’t an evil guy turn into a creature that will eventually end up getting his butt kicked by The Batman anyway? So far, Bane is the only one who is a tolerable take on his character—everyone else either has weird designs (The Joker—though he’ll presumably change to a “regular” Joker down the way), giant bat ears (Catwoman) or a generic want to take on Gotham’s vigilante. Granted, in the show, Langstrom was the first to do it, but in terms of general writing and overall cliché’s…it pretty much takes the cake.

Another problem I had was Batman’s jet-pack-wing-glider-thing; I know it’s a fantasy cartoon and “anything can happen,” but how on Earth does move around like he does while packing a trio of jet-rockets, coupled with metal glider wings, not to mention the fuel needed to power said rockets. It defies the laws of…everything, and how he folds them back into his cape magically, however cool looking, doesn’t work either. I guess it really was just done for the “cool” factor, even if it didn’t make any sense.

There’s also the usual “oh no, the police are getting close to Bruce’s secret” that’s shown up in just about every episode so far. It’s usually saved by Bruce saying something stupid or Ethan making a joke, while Ellen looks on, suspicious of everything. In fact, Ethan even accused Bruce of being The Batman and that’s where that annoying “Psyche!” fits into the episode.

Animation though…animation is definitely the shows few strong points. Coupled with Matsuda’s sweet renditions of the Bat and his rogues’ gallery, the show continues to spit out great looking episodes, right after each other. The design of Man-Bat was quite a step-up from the B:TAS one we’re so used to—with his more gruesome look and giant leap-up in veins running throughout him, we also got a rather cool “first transformation” scene, complete with a scary shadow thrown against a “*gasp!*”ing Bruce. Silhouettes of The Batman and lighting on him are always great eye-candy to look at and the first use of his smoke-screen technique (very reminiscent of how it was used in Burton’s ’89 Batman flick) was also fun to watch.

Obviously the negatives outweigh the positives, as is generally the case with this show. It’s got the look and feel of Batman, and the backgrounds has definitely become more filled in (compared to what the first episode had anyway, with it’s one-building backdrops and solid color sky)…it just needs to really work on it’s dialogue and story telling. I fear, however, that this show isn’t really going to ever get much better in those departments—it’s obvious what Kids WB! wants the show to be and I don’t see it deriving from that position anytime soon.

Review (The Penguin): "I want to be like The Batman… I want to be feared!"

I'm going on record right now that if The Batman goes on for years this episode will be looked upon as one of the duds in the entire series.

I didn't mind Kirk Langstrom as a lonely scientist, but his goal of being like The Batman only better does not have enough of a story behind it to make it believable and more importantly, mean something. Dr. Langstrom just comes off as a nut with no real motive. A simple story like he had been obsessed with bats since he was a kid or a bat was his only friend when the other kids picked on him would have been better justification for creating the Man-Bat than what we were given.

One thing I liked about this episode was Man-Bat's sonar vision. It was cool seeing through Man-Bat's eyes as he tracked his prey. It gave you a greater understanding for his power and weakness and I appreciated it a lot more when Batman disrupted it.

I like the team of Bennett and Yin, but if they are going to come close to catching The Batman or figuring out Bruce Wayne is the Dark Knight every week then they are going to start coming across as not merely detectives, but bumbling ones at that. Sure, while Bruce Wayne is inexperienced he still has a lot on the GPD as far as training and technology, but there comes a point when I can't buy into it any more. Most officers that I know are able to follow… how do you say? Clues.

That said I liked how Batman became just annoyed when Yin accused him of being Langstrom in the alley. The simple "I don't have time for this" followed by a smoke pellet was rather funny.

Since Man-Bat is by his very definition an animal, I had no problem with him kidnapping Bennett in the scuffle with Batman and the detectives. The ensuing chase made things interesting with Batman getting one-up Yin again and using some detective skills when the tracker failed him as the sun came up.

To be honest I'm not really sure who was responsible for Langstrom's lab being cleaned out. If Bruce only had the bad doctor doing the research he believed he was doing and not anything for The Batman then there would be nothing to hide from the police.

To be honest I hope we never see Dr. Kirk Langstrom again. Even so, the ending image of the bats hanging on Arkham Asylum sign was a haunting one.

"In time, in time the night will belong to Man-Bat!"

 

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