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Episode #40 - A Matter of Family
Original Airdate - September 23rd, 2006 - Fourth Season Premiere

When the circus comes to Gotham, ruthless crime boss Tony Zucco demands protection money from the Flying Graysons, a family of trapeze artists. They refuse to pay and Zucco exacts revenge, leaving, Dick, the youngest Grayson an orphan. Having experienced a similar tragedy himself, Batman is driven to take down Zucco and in the process discovers an unexpected bond with Dick.

Reviews by The Penguin
Media by Bird Boy, Rick
Written by Michael Jelenic
Directed by Brandon Vietti
Music by Thomas Chase Jones
Animation by Dongwoo Animation Co., LTD.

Rino Romano as The Batman / Bruce Wayne
Evan Sabara as Robin / Dick Grayson
Danielle Judovits as Batgirl / Barbara Gordon*
Alastair Duncan as Alfred
Kevin Conroy as John Grayson
Grey DeLisle as Mary Grayson
Mark Hamill as Zucco
Maurice LaMarche as Bruiser

* - Credited but did not appear.


Screen Grabs



"How 'bout Robin?"
"Like the bird?"
"It's a family name."

This may be the strongest episode in the series thus far. We've had some good ones, we've had ones featuring the Cluemaster and then there is this one. This dramatic retelling of the origin of Robin has everything you could ask for in the story.

When fans talked about The Batman, a Kevin Conroy cameo would come up sooner or later. Looking back on this episode now, John Grayson was a perfect choice. The 'other' Batman turns in a solid performance, being both strong and caring at the same time. And Evan Sabara makes an impressive debut as Dick Grayson. The 14-year-old actor brings a youthful exuberance and energy to the role, but also a maturity that I believe will serve him well over the course of the season and beyond.

Getting back the story, I applaud The Batman team and writer Michael Jelenic for going with Tony Zucco. It would have been easy to insert The Joker or The Penguin into the story for added interest, but in addition to not being accurate, it would have taken away from Dick to have a more colorful villain in the story. The use of Zucco's brothers as henchmen really enhanced to the "family" theme of the episode and made it better.

The episode wasn't flawless (what is?) but it had all the major components and put them together well. The Grayson family unit was firmly established in their limited time on screen which made the death of John and Mary even harder. It played out perfectly and was an emotional moment. The flashback to young Bruce at his parents' grave brought everything in perspective with Bruce reliving what happened to him through the boy now in his charge. This was brought out even more when Bruce wasn't giving Dick a lot of attention and was hard at work as The Batman. "The criminal responsible for my parents' death was never brought to justice, Alfred. That's a burden I won't let Dick carry."

Dick however, wanted to relieve himself of that burden. He found the Batcave in a moment of grief and then Bruce revealed his identity, displaying a level of trust he has so far only placed in Alfred. The kid needed a friend and Bruce wasn't going to deny him that. Dick quickly became not just a friend, but a partner when he saved Batman, and I don't think I've ever seen Batman fight so hard to escape as he did when Zucco was about to bash Robin's brains in. After everything that had happened, Bruce wasn't about to let what happen to his parents and Dick's parents happen to the boy. Robin seems to have already learned a lot from Batman as well; saving Zucco was the same fall his parents took to make sure the mob boss got what he deserved—justice.


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