I am so tired of Batman being DC’s Iron Man, with armored suits, heads-up displays and too many gadgets. I mean the company is called DETECTIVE COMICS for a reason; Batman was the world’s greatest detective, not Knight Rider tooling around Gotham with explosives and machine guns on the Batmobile. We all have our favorite depictions of Batman, but to me, Keaton was a little soft, Christian Bale was badly overshadowed by his enemies and Adam West… well, Adam West was great, but he was obviously doing something completely different. R.I.P. Adam. Kevin Conroy was (and remains) fantastic, But nowadays his Batman is fighting some cosmic threat like Trigon or Darkseid. That’s why you have the Big Blue Boy Scout, fools. Batman has no business getting shot with a bullet that doesn’t kill him, but sends him back in time to pick up an ancient apocalyptic bat-monster and turn him into a pirate. Or something. Sorry, Grant, I love much of your work, but you screwed up Batman. And by the way, during the months that Bruce was moving through time, over at Marvel, Captain America was doing pretty much the same thing after getting shot with some magic bullet. These are not my favorite stories, but man, what a missed opportunity for a crossover. Oh, well.
THIS is the best depiction of the Caped Crusader since…I don’t know; Under the Red Hood? Mask of the Phantasm? The late Darwyn Cooke’s (another R.I.P.) New Frontier comic/animated movie in which Batman scared the hell out of Martian Manhunter with his ominous voice and maybe a book of matches? My god, that was like 25 years ago. But I can’t say enough about how refreshing to see Batman in a simple bullet-vulnerable costume using his HEAD, not a plethora of gadgets to solve a series of murders. And this is Part 1, so, as you might imagine, he hasn’t figured it out yet. He is formidable, but he makes occasional mistakes.
And Gotham looks AMAZING. Even better than in TAS. I’m guessing that, after years of shrinking the budgets of these once-great DC animations, they put some cash into this one. The falling snow looks 3D (in the best possible way), backgrounds and people in a crowd are detailed. Bravo! I love me some Superman, but “Man of Tomorrow” was just plain dull. DC needs to re-establish the Big Three by turning back the clock to depict them in the fashion that made them so popular in the first place. This one was wonderful. I hope Supes gets a similar treatment soon.
No background score. Just a delicious pure noir feeling of dread and the writers (and Jeph Loeb) did a great job establishing suspects, making you think “Oh, HE’S the killer”, only to be proven wrong minutes later. Those of us who have read the masterpiece upon which this animated feature is based know who the killer is. No spoilers here. I can’t wait for Part 2.
I do resent DC’s double-dip. They pack the disc with a Losers short, which was nice, nothing great. Wow, ever since Morrison reached DEEP into the DC drawer, reviving forgotten characters from Anthro to Kamandi and everyone in between, DC is either reviving obscure and forgotten properties or following Marvel’s lead and replacing older characters with more diverse versions. I sort of like Mister Terrific, but I’m old enough to have read reprints of the original. They could have teched him up and given him the Swiss Army Knife flying marbles and the sort-of cool “T” mask. Morrison lost me when Bat-Mite and the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh showed up. Anyway, DC stuffed the disc with the same old episodes from the various Batman series, a couple of ads for old animated features and, I dont know, maybe some blather from whomever hasn’t been fired yet. Turn off the a/c on your way out, Dan. The story could have easily fit on a single disc if they had trimmed the fat. But I will pony up whatever the going rate for half a movie on standard BluRay happens to be for part two. But I will be angry as hell if they DO publish a 4K version later on to try for a disgusting attempt to entice fans to pay up THREE times. Still, I did really enjoy part one. A few days after I watched it, I saw the dishwater-dull “Soul of the Dragon” featuring Shiva, Richard Dragon (I admit it was fun to see him) and a couple of loose martial arts IPs DC wasn’t using in anything better. Soul DID get the 4K treatment. So I would much prefer to watch a very good adaptation of superb source material than score that black jewel case. I wonder what color they will use to sell 8K.