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REVIEWS


Episode #64 - Lost Heroes, Part 1
Original Airdate - March 8th, 2008 - Series Finale

The most powerful members of the Justice League are abducted one-by-one. Batman, Robin and Green Arrow discover the mystery surrounding their disappearance – The Joining has returned (with some earthly villainous assistance) and has transferred the Justice League's powers into alien androids. It's up to Batman, Robin and Green Arrow to help their JL friends regain their powers and prevent an alien invasion.

Episode #65 - Lost Heroes, Part 2
Original Airdate - March 8th, 2008 - Series Finale

The most powerful members of the Justice League are abducted one-by-one. Batman, Robin and Green Arrow discover the mystery surrounding their disappearance – The Joining has returned (with some earthly villainous assistance) and has transferred the Justice League's powers into alien androids. It's up to Batman, Robin and Green Arrow to help their JL friends regain their powers and prevent an alien invasion.

Review by Stu
Media provided by Warner Bros. Animation
Credits
Written by Stan Berkowitz (Part 1), Alexx van Dyne (Part 2)
Directed by John Fang (Part 1), Vinton Heuck (Part 2)
Music by Thomas Chase Jones
Animation by Dongwoo Animation Co., LTD.

Voices
Rino Romano as Batman / Bruce Wayne
Evan Sabara as Robin / Dick Grayson
Danielle Judovits as Batgirl / Barbara Gordon
Richard Green as Toyman / Hugo Strange
Chris Hardwick as Green Arrow
Dorian Harewood as Martian Manhunter
John Larroquette as Mirror Master
Dermot Mulroney as Green Lantern
George Newbern as Superman
Robert Patrick as Hawkman
Charlie Schlatter as Flash

Images


Review:

Having been several weeks since the finale aired (yeah, I’m really behind. Blame MAA) it’s given me a rare opportunity to review something new without having looking through it with nostalgia’s eyes or simply writing down whatever crap fills my head only seconds after watching the episode.

The story, taking place over two parts, sees various members of the Justice League go missing with only Batman, Robin and Green Arrow eventually left standing. The season comes full circle as the various guest stars who’ve popped up throughout this season of The Batman and his Amazing Friends now finally join together to battle the reason Batman formed the League in the first place – The Joining.

I actually see the sense in the League forming through the main characters eyes, as Batman admits that there are some things he can’t do alone. Whereas previous versions of the character would never say that out loud even if they admit it to themselves (and if it was anything like the ill-written comic books of recent years, been a complete a-wipe about it), this Batman clearly realizes that The Justice League is a good idea – despite how it goes against comic book traditions, making Batman the leader of the Justice League is perfectly in line with the character, and just makes more sense, to me, anyway. While the sheer number of guest stars got a little thing over the course of the season, especially as a lot of the episodes more or less shared the same plot, it was cool to see them all come together for the finale. I have to admit; I didn’t miss Wonder Woman’s appearance here either.

Now, to the story itself. Again, we see the past come back to haunt Batman as it were, as those which destroyed his city return and probably his most personal recurring foe join together in an attempt to give the show that big, season finale epic it’s been craving since it started. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work out as well as planned – I’m sad to say that even the show’s best hero/villain dynamic in Batman/Strange still isn’t all that great (the show never really did a great job with it’s villains as Batman seemed to beat them all effortlessly every time he faced them) and The Joining lacks character – going back to what I said in last season’s finale review, this story again could’ve worked better if The Joining had been given more characterization – how much better done would this have been had they made The Joining into Brainiac and given him of that characters, well, character? Having said that, it’s not terrible or even bad – like pretty much everything else this season, you just get the feeling it could’ve been done better. The story never quite reaches the high notes you expect from a season finale – there’s also not a truly character defining moment for Batman like you would expect. There’s not even a really defining Justice League moment either, which is incredibly disappointing since the entire season has been pretty much nothing but their formation being built up.

I admit to cringing slightly at the conclusion to part one seeing the League pitted against giant robot versions of themselves… this was done so much better in Justice League Unlimited’s Divided We Fall because the evil Justice League, however brief their appearance actually had characterization to them. That’s how you do a season final – the big build up, the fantastic fight scenes that when you boil down to it - revolve around the characters.

I don’t really mean to rag on the finale, but it doesn’t really feel any different than a normal two part episode. It’s good for what it is, but it really should be better.

Which brings us back to what’s plagued the show for it’s entire run – far too many missed opportunities. Now, I realize that as a Batman fan, this was never going to be the show I was always hoping for (I’m thankful I’ve had several utterly outstanding versions of Batman while I’m young enough to appreciate it in years prior). We’ve had so few character defining moments for Batman and despite the strong episode here and there, it’s never really captivated me like it arguably should’ve. Now, we can sit and whine here all day about why it’s never quite been as good as it should’ve been – the wrong people in charge, the network, the state of animation itself – the list goes on but one must wonder – if Marvel can make a Spider-Man series that airs on the same network as entertaining as they have, why can’t DC do the same for Batman? No offence to any fans of the show, but The Spectacular Spider-Man hasn’t just outclassed The Batman – it’s demolished it. Even on it’s worst day, the new Spidey show has outclassed Batman time after time.

After all these years, you do get the impression that a lot of the people involved simply don’t get Batman’s character. I get that they can’t make it dark as it’s a kids cartoon but they’ve barely tapped into Batman’s character – I understand that showing his origin was also probably a no-no due to Batman Begins (which, if I can be frank, is a really, really stupid idea which only hinders the character’s potential growth – nice one Levitz) but there are other ways to develop Batman’s characters without screaming “it’s because my Mom and Dad were killed in a random mugging when I was a kid!” - Batman is a character simply born out of a bad day, which, despite his efforts, he couldn’t get over. There’s never even any real hint of that. Sorry to compare it to Batman: The Animated Series but there’s one scene that always stuck out in my mind in that show. I’ve grown less and less fond of the comic book character because he’s become too much of a jerk lately for my liking in an attempt to make him an uber cool bad ass but there’s this one scene in TAS, no, this one line in TAS, which explains him utterly perfectly.

He hands back Harley Quinn a dress she wanted to buy but couldn’t – a simple mistake on her part lead her to have the crappiest day she could imagine which eventually sent her back to Arkham.

HARLEY: There's one thing I gotta know. Why did you stay with me all day, risking your butt for somebody who's never given you anything but trouble?

BATMAN: I know what it's like to try and rebuild a life. I had a bad day too, once.

There – he’s not an arse, he’s not smug – he’s simply there to stop criminals from hurting people. If he has to help criminals to do that, then that’s what he’ll do.

I won’t lie; the show messed up a lot of other things – dull supporting characters (bar Robin – you didn’t think I was going to get away without some Robin praise in a The Batman review did you?), terrible villains, many of whom barely even present the slightest challenge to him and some of the most clichéd, childish plots you could ever imagine but when you can’t make you’re main character interesting, I think you’ve just got to accept the fact that somewhere, you’ve failed.

Somewhere in here there was a review of this show’s finale. To reiterate, the episode itself is still plagued by the same problems that have haunted the show for years. Five seasons on, you’d have thought the kinks would’ve been ironed out. We’ve a new Batman cartoon now, which, from what little we’ve seen, looks to have exactly the same problem – they think people will watch it just because it’s Batman despite how juvenile it looks. It seems that both WBA and DC don’t really know what to do with Batman anyway. While I do one day hope that I can see a Batman that captivates me like Batman TAS did back in the day, I guess after 5 years I’ve now gotten used to the fact that the only place I’ll see that is on DVD and thankfully, in the cinema every few years.

Better luck next time, Batman.

 

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