Cartoon Network has no doubt made some strange decisions over the years. Namely the unceremonious cancelling of anything remotely resembling a hit show. Unless you’re Adventure Time, don’t count on lasting too long even if you got high ratings.
The first casualty was Teen Titans, who were resurrected into the hit or miss Teen Titans Go! that tries and fails to be Tiny Titans. They were replaced with two new shows. Young Justice and Green Lantern The Animated Series.
Young Justice got a lot of positive reviews (I never watched it because I couldn’t understand how and why Braniac was a good guy) while I’m sure Green Lantern was quickly ditched from lack of viewership due to association with the godawful movie.
So with the void left to fill again, we get Beware the Batman. Not only is it darker and edgier (or so it claims. It’s rated TV-PG so we’ll see if it lives up to that mantle), it’s also the most bizarre mashup of Bat-Elements I’ve ever seen.
Let’s see if Batmite cancelling Brave and the Bold was worth it.
The first thing you notice watching this show is that none of the characters wouldn’t look out of place in Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival. I’m wagering it’s the same company. The art style is certainly different but some elements are just… off. Batman having visible lips is one of them.
So we begin the first episode with two guys robbing a bank. Pretty standard fare so far. The show’s rated TV-PG for violence, yet the guy’s gun fires energy bolts. SIIIIGH. Anyway, Batman quickly dispatches him only to encounter another thug with robotic hands to increase his strength. We all know what happens when Batman gets one of those.
We then see billionaire Simon Stagg being chased by the shows main villains. When they said Grant Morrison’s creations Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad were going to be the main antagonist, I was skeptical at first. I mean, even in a PG rated cartoon you’re not going to see this:
Seriously. What the actual fuck?!
And sure enough we don’t. Professor Pyg looks like Kingpin from Spider-Man by way of Hoggish Greedly from Captain Planet. Oh, and he talks with a proper posh British accent. Like, the lead pig from the Animal Farm movie accent. Go on, read that scene up there in a British voice. I’ll wait…
Maybe if he sounded more like Nigel Thornberry?
Hell, in the comics, his real name is Lazlo Valentin. Does that sound British to you? I’ve never seen a Brit named Lazlo. Pyg is as British as Bane is Spanish! At least they kept him being a doctor… I guess.
Mr. Toad on the other hand, is just an anthro frog with a sonic ribbit. I mean, in the comics he was a circus freak so I assumed he was just malformed like Killer Croc. But here, he’s just a fucking anthro frog. Well, I’ve seen stranger in Batman, I’ll roll with it.
“Badger hates society, and invitations, and dinner, and all that sort of thing.”
Mr. Toad dresses exactly how you think he would if you’ve ever seen or read Wind in the Willows. I’m not talking that fucked up one JabberW loves either. He’s the Muttley to Pyg’s Dasterdly in a way. Oh, and they drive a jalopy with a cannon that fires cartoon bombs. Am I watching the right Batman show? Where’s Adam West?
Anyway, I only assume Simon’s last name is Stagg so Pyg can make a joke about a Stag Hunt while whipping out his blunderbuss. At least his last name wasn’t Mike. We see Toad’s sonic ribbit in action and Stagg is captured and tied to the hood like a trophy buck.
Meanwhile, Bruce is actually sleeping instead of his micro-sleeps, and is attacked in his bed by another armed thug. Bruce quickly dispatches said thug, only for us to learn that it’s:
This, ladies and gentlemen, is Alfred. Former MI6 agent and Bruce Wayne’s butler and bodyguard. While the whole former MI6 is from Earth One Batman, his look and role as bodyguard are completely new. In fact, he’s more like Race Bannon than Alfred. He figures Bruce and Batman are one in the same, and he has to protect both, and If that means a rigorous ass-kicking every now and again to keep him on his toes, so be it.
Now, most of the viewing audience will say, “Wait a minuet! Alfred is supposed to be the loyal butler who disagrees with Bruce gallivanting around in pajamas but helps him anyway!” Well, technically you’re right.
But Alfred had always been implied to have a military history even in The Dark Knight. Though I can’t imagine what MI6 would want with Burmese tangerine rubies.
No this whole MI6 thing was from the original Alfred, now known as Earth One. Most of the viewing audience probably only heard the phrase “Earth One” from one of Batman’s outfits in Arkham City. But from Alfred’s makeover into his mustachioed self up to 1985 when the multiverse collapsed for the first time, this was his back story.
This was the same Alfred who was killed off to make room for Aunt Harriet from the 60s TV show. The same Alfred whose body was dug up and accidentally turned into the Outsider.
Told you this was a strange concoction.
This Alfred is none of that save for the MI6 bit. This Alfred is a take no shit badass that’s about equal to if not better than Bruce. I can’t wait to see what they do with his character!
Anyway, Bruce and Alfred argue over how Alfred wants a more active role but Bruce knows as long as he’s just protecting Bruce Wayne he’s safe. At least this isn’t Frank Miller’s Alfred where he’s gay for him.
Alfred casually point out the news of Stagg’s abduction. Bruce turns on the news and here is where we learn Pyg and Toad are… Eco-terrorists….
So, not only is Pyg NOTHING like how he is in the comics in any way shape or form, he’s also got a bit of Ras al Ghul in him? Right, okay… maybe this show will do something awesome… keep calm.
So Bruce and Alfred espouse a little history on Wind in the Willows and equate the original inspiration to Pyg’s master plan. Batman deduces Michale Holt as the next victim. Alfred calls in a favor from an old friend to obtain Stagg’s finical records.
Meanwhile, Michale is on the run from Pyg and Toad’s jalopy, and Batman intercepts. Pyg tells Toad to respect their enemies and… okay… this isn’t the same Pyg at all. I bet Morrison is screaming and cussing.
Pyg and Toad ram Batman off the road, and he ducks into an alley to heal. They duo capture Holt and drive off. Here we see Batman’s form of communication is with the transparent iphones from Real Steel.
We see Alfred’s old friend is an Asian chick half his age. Alfred asks if she thought anymore about his offer and… wow… um… Alfred is a creeper? Alfred calls Batman with the information but he’s attacked by Pyg and Toad. Toad thought he was Bruce Wayne and Pyg chides him for his onset blindness.
Batman finds the connection between Stagg, Holt and Bruce Wayne about a land deal that destroyed some Gotham wetlands for development. We then see Pyg holding his captives at the very same building, announcing that they will be chained together and given a five minuet head start before he hunts them like the animals they so carelessly hunted.
Serious Captain Planet vibe here. So he’s a mix of Ras al Ghul and Catwoman? Then why bother using him at all? Why not make an original villain? Filmation did it!
Speaking of Filmation, we now see that either the Batmobile or the Batcomputer is sentient, as the Batmobile talks like KITT. At least JabberW got his wish of seeing a return of the sentient computer from the Filmation cartoon.
Alfred takes charge of the group and guides them past the booby traps. He rallies them to fight back while Batman makes his own way through the traps. A couple bombs roll in and Alfred saves the others at the cost of breaking his ankle. Stagg opts to be a dick and leave him while Holt is the good Samaritan paying it forward. And Alfred broke his ankle.
At least Pyg his his affinity for cutting off limbs for no reason. Toad sonic ribbit’s the others into the cage. Batman saves the day and dopes Alfred up on painkillers and gives him a cattle prod that we never see him use. They make their way out while Batman deals with Pyg.
Here, when he’s swinging around the handsaw, do we see a bit of the real Pyg. They escape via blowing the building up and Stagg bitches about how they were almost killed. Batman leaves pretending not to know Alfred, and Pyg and Toad live to fight another day.
Later on the news we see Lieutenant Gordon. Oh, so this is Year One continuity now? Why do they care what he has to say, shouldn’t they be asking Commissioner Loeb? Bruce made an anonymous donation to give the wetlands back to Gotham, as he had no idea he was even involved. Real smooth, Bruce. This is how Bane was able to steal your shit.
And so, all this time spent developing Alfred as a badass that can kick ass, and Bruce finally admitting that Batman needs Alfred’s help to. So what do they do? They use his broken ankle to make him third wheel to the Asian chick and the sentient computer.
So we learn that the Asian chick is none other than Tatsu Yamashira. Yes, that’s right. Katana from the Outsiders. She’s Alfred’s replacement bodyguard while he’s laid up, which means Bruce has his own Merci now. Later on we learn that she’s Alfred’s godchild from his MI6 days with her father who was uneventfully killed in a car crash.
Most Excellent Superbat! Me love you long time! Happy Ending?
So yeah, other than looking like Ninja Turtles and being the strangest assortment of Batman elements I’ve ever seen, it’s not bad. It has some growing to do, sure, but I want to watch more out of morbid fascination than rapt curiosity.
Especially after what I saw which Anarky they chose:
A recolored Spectre? Seriously? That’s it?
Granted the original Anarky wasn’t easy on the eyes, looking like a red Musketeer with a bad case of jaundice. It’s no wonder I fell in love with his more Guy Fawkes inspired look in Arkham Origins.