TV Review: Young Justice (2010- )

Also known as: Young Justice: Invasion (Season 2), Young Justice: Outsiders (Season 3)
Release Date: November 26th, 2010 – current
Created by: Brandon Vietti, Greg Weisman
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Based on: characters from DC Comics
Music by: Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis
Cast: Stephanie Lemelin, Jesse McCartney, Danica McKellar, Nolan North, Khary Payton, Jason Spisak, Kelly Hu

DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, 46 Episodes (so far), 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*Written in 2015.

I didn’t watch Young Justice while it was on. I only got into it once it was on Netflix and even then, it was clicked on mainly out of boredom. I wasn’t aware that it was a somewhat beloved show by many.

I was glad I discovered it on my own without a bunch of hype built around it. I was surprised with the quality and how adult the themes of the show were.

The animation is damn good, the story arcs are fantastic and the characters are all cool and likable.

The show follows the sidekicks of DC Comics’ most famous heroes and puts them together on a team where they are sort of a junior squad to the Justice League. It is sort of like Teen Titans but not as adolescent feeling, which is probably why it wasn’t a new Teen Titans show.

The first season is solid but the second season is excellent. The beginning of season two is slow and interest started to wane but after about four episodes, I was hooked. The season two story arc is one of the best sagas ever told in a DC animated series.

Young Justice is a quick watch. The episodes fly by at 22 minutes. There are also only twenty or so episodes per season.

The DC cinematic universe could learn a lot from the tone and style of this show. I hope that once they get into making the Aquaman film, they take their cue from how the Atlanteans are handled on this show.

Sadly, the show was cancelled after the second season but there are rumors that it could find new life on Netflix. I think that’s a stretch, being that they are in bed with Marvel, but you never know.

Update:

After fan support the show was resurrected and there will be more episodes in the future, even though there’s been a big gap in time by this point.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Recent Teen Titans animated features, as well as other DC Comics animated films.

Film Review: Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016)

Also known as: Batman ’66 (informal title)
Release Date: October 6th, 2016 (New York Comic Con)
Directed by: Rick Morales
Written by: Michael Jelenic, James Tucker
Based on: Batman (the ’60s TV show) by William Dozier, Batman by Bob Kane, Bill Finger
Music by: Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis
Cast: Adam West, Burt Ward, Julie Newmar, Steven Weber, Thomas Lennon, Jeff Bergman, William Salyers, Wally Wingert

Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros., 78 Minutes

Review:

“Quickly, Robin, to the crosswalk!” – Batman

It’s kind of cool to see the old ’60s Batman get some life again over the past couple years. There was the Batman ’66 comic series, I already reviewed all the collections, and then there were two of these animated features that were made just in time to use the voices of the original cast: Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar. Sadly, West recently passed away, so a third film in this series probably won’t happen.

But I’m here to talk about Return of the Caped Crusaders, which is the first of the two Batman ’66 movies. I’ll review its sequel at a later date.

I guess the thing that I liked best about this movie is that the tone and the humor were spot on. It really captured the spirit of the show and felt like it was written by people that cared about the source material.

I also liked that this could be much larger in scale than the show. It featured a dozen or so of the television series’ villains but had a larger focus on the big four from the series: Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman.

There is also a whole side plot where Batman turns evil and has to be saved from himself by Catwoman and Robin. If you remember the show, you probably remember the rivalry for Batman’s attention between these two characters. It just makes for some good, amusing moments.

This is a quick and action packed film like everything else DC Comics has been doing as animated features. But this one really stands out due to its style and how well it works without DC sticking to their regular animated formula.

Good, fun story and overall, a really awesome experience for fans of the old show.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: The sequel to this film: Batman Vs. Two Face, as well as the 1960s Batman TV show and movie, the Batman ’66 comic and other DC Comics animated films of the last decade.

Film Review: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Release Date: July 27th, 2010
Directed by: Brandon Vietti
Written by: Judd Winick
Based on: Batman: Under the Red Hood by Judd Winick, Doug Mahnke
Music by: Christopher Drake
Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Kelly Hu

Warner Premiere, DC Comics, The Answer Studio, Warner Bros., 75 Minutes

Review:

“I’m being forced into negotiating with a psychotic.” – Black Mask

This is one of the best DC Comics animated features that I have seen. But I was also a massive fan of this story in the comics and this film benefits from being written by Judd Winick, who also wrote that comic story.

I love that these feature length animated films by DC are not made for kids, they are made for those of us who grew up reading comics in the ’80s and ’90s and who are probably the same age as the people working on these films. It’s like some of us grew up, got jobs at DC and decided to high five the rest of us by making adult animated comic book films.

I liked the art in this, the tone was perfect and the story was well structured. Plus, I always like stories that feature Nightwing and Black Mask. I friggin’ love Black Mask and think he’s underutilized. So seeing him come to life in a feature length story was a lot of fun and just f’n cool.

Also, Nightwing was voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, which was kind of cool too.

My only real complaint was that Kevin Conroy wasn’t Batman and Mark Hamill wasn’t the Joker. I think this was made when they retired from the roles for fifteen minutes. Because they did eventually come back to do other animated features for DC, as well as the Arkham series of video games.

I still thought that Bruce Greenwood was good as Batman but I can’t not hear Kevin Conroy in my head whenever I read a Batman comic, so when it’s not Conroy’s voice in an animated feature, it throws me off. He just is the voice of Batman to me, as Hamill is the Joker.

Apart from that, there isn’t much to shake a stick at. This was well crafted and came off feeling just right.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: Other DC Comics animated films of the last decade.

Film Review: Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)

Release Date: March 31st, 2017 (WonderCon)
Directed by: Sam Liu
Written by: Ernie Altbacker
Based on: The Judas Contract by Marv Wolfman, George Perez
Music by: Frederik Wiedmann
Cast: Stuart Allan, Taissa Farmiga, Brandon Soo Hoo, Jake T. Austin, Kari Wahlgren, Sean Maher, Christina Ricci, Miguel Ferrer, Gregg Henry, Meg Foster, David Zayas, Kevin Smith (cameo as himself)

Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, 84 Minutes

Review:

“They prepared well. Their reaction time is much better.” – Robin, “Robin, stop complimenting the bad guys.” – Nightwing

I don’t watch a lot of the animated films that DC Comics puts out but it was hard for me to not check out an adaptation of The Judas Contract, as it was a story I loved when I was reading Teen Titans as a kid in the ’80s. Granted, I haven’t read it since the ’80s but it was my introduction to one of my all-time favorite characters, Deathstroke.

And yes, Deathstroke is a big part of this, which was a big selling point for me.

This film starts with a sequence that sees Starfire meet the Titans for the first time. It then fast forwards to a time where she is in charge and Dick Grayson has been off being Nightwing for awhile. Dick comes back and works with this new version of the team. However, one team member is a spy for the villains of the story, one of which is Deathstroke.

I love how all of the characters were used in this and I also loved that there was a bit of profanity and a level of violence that lets you know that this isn’t a cartoon for kids. I guess this is the norm with a lot of the DC animated feature films now, which is kind of cool considering that I’m an adult that has grown up watching these characters for decades but am too old to really dig a Saturday morning cartoon at my age.

The voice acting was well done, the action was solid and the script was really good. You felt for these characters and their struggles.

You also get to see a cameo by Kevin Smith playing himself in the animated DC universe.

I was happy with this and am glad that I gave it a shot. Honestly, it’s made me want to check out some of the other animated features by DC.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Other recent DC Comics animated features.

Film Review: Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)

Release Date: January 12th, 2018 (Newseum premiere)
Directed by: Sam Liu
Written by: Jim Krieg
Based on: Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola
Music by: Frederik Wiedmann
Cast: Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Carpenter, Anthony Head, Tara Strong, Bruce Timm, Kari Wuhrer

DC Entertainment, Warner Bros., 78 Minutes

Review:

“[faces the Ripper] Well, I won’t beg. And I won’t get hysterical. I won’t give you the satisfaction. Know this: I forgive you.” – Sister Leslie

I was a big fan of the old Gotham by Gaslight story, which came out when I was just really getting into Batman circa 1989. It was also the first Elseworlds Tale, which has become a big imprint under the DC Comics banner. Strangely, although this shares the title, the time frame and the villain, it is it’s own story and not an animated adaptation of the famous comic.

At first, I was caught off guard by the alterations and didn’t think I’d like the film but by the time it got to the end, I was digging it.

Reinventions aren’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes they work quite well and with this film version of Gotham by Gaslight, it was cool going into familiar but really under explored territory in the DC mythos and seeing someone else give their own take on it. Had that take been bad, I’m sure I wouldn’t feel the same but the end result and the story were really good.

The one things that really stuck out for me was the animation. I wasn’t super keen on the character designs but when we got to those high octane action parts, this film really came alive. The big finale, which features a vacant World’s Fair setting and a massive burning Ferris wheel was spectacular. Also, the scenes where Batman was riding through the streets of Gotham on a steam powered motorcycle, looked fantastic.

Ultimately, this film didn’t blow my socks off but it was worth a watch. The animated DC stuff has been really good the last few years, especially the Batman movies. This one is a bit better than their recent average and it was a welcome change to just having another straight up, modern Batman adaptation.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman animated films.

Retro Relapse: Ranking Every Episode of Batman: The Animated Series

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2014.

I recently reviewed Batman: The Animated Series. So I figured that I would rank every single episode of the series, as I just got done revisiting it and took a shit load of notes.

In this list I am including Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin and The New Batman Adventures, as all three were really the same show with just some slight changes. Additionally, the creative teams on all of these variants of the show were comprised of the same primary people.

I will list these by episode name with the season number, episode number and the villain featured. Two-parters are ranked as one episode.

If you disagree or are puzzled with my picks, feel free to discuss in the comments.

1. “Heart of Ice” (Season 1, Episode 14 – Mr Freeze & Ferris Boyle)
2. “Mad As a Hatter” (Season 1, Episode 27 – The Mad Hatter)
3. “House & Garden” (Season 2, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
4. “Mad Love” (Season 3, Episode 21 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
5. “Growing Pains” (Season 3, Episode 8 – Clayface)
6. “Sideshow” (Season 2, Episode 1 – Killer Croc)
7. “What Is Reality?” (Season 1, Episode 48 – The Riddler)
8. “Sins of the Father” (Season 3, Episode 2 – Two-Face)
9. “Never Fear” (Season 3, Episode 6 – The Scarecrow)
10. “Batgirl Returns” (Season 2, Episode 20 – Catwoman & Roland Daggett)
11. “Deep Freeze” (Season 2, Episode 19 – Mr. Freeze & Grant Walker)
12.  “Feat of Clay: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 20 & 21 – Clayface & Ronald Daggett)
13. “Heart of Steel: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 38 & 39 – H.A.R.D.A.C.)
14. “Birds of a Feather” (Season 1, Episode 47 – The Penguin)
15. “The Demon Within” (Season 3, Episode 18 – Klarion the Witch Boy)
16. “Cold Comfort” (Season 3, Episode 3 – Mr. Freeze)
17. “Two-Face: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 10 & 11 – Two-Face & Rupert Thorne)
18. “Beware the Gray Ghost” (Season 1, Episode 18 – The Mad Bomber)
19. “Old Wounds” (Season 3, Episode 17 – The Joker)
20. “On Leather Wings” (Season 1, Episode 1 – Man-Bat)
21. “Over the Edge” (Season 3, Episode 12 – The Scarecrow & Bane)
22. “Double Talk” (Season 3, Episode 4 – The Ventriloquist)
23. “Judgment Day” (Season 3, Episode 24 – The Judge, Two-Face, Killer Croc, The Riddler & The Penguin)
24. “If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich?” (Season 1, Episode 40 – The Riddler & Daniel Mockridge)
25. “Harlequinade” (Season 2, Episode 7 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
26. “The Demon’s Quest: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 60 & 61 – Ra’s al Ghul)
27. “Beware the Creeper” (Season 3, Episode 23 – The Creeper, The Joker & Harley Quinn)
28. “Joker’s Favor” (Season 1, Episode 22 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
29. “Robin’s Reckoning: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 32 & 33 – Tony Zucco)
30. “Avatar” (Season 2, Episode 4 – Ra’s al Ghul)
31. “Tyger, Tyger” (Season 1, Episode 42 – Emile Dorian)
32. “Harley and Ivy” (Season 1, Episode 56 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy)
33. “Legends of the Dark Knight” (Season 3, Episode 19 – The Joker, the Mutants & Firefly)
34. “Torch Song” (Season 3, Episode 10 – Firefly)
35. “Read My Lips” (Season 1, Episode 64 – The Ventriloquist)
36. “Time Out of Joint” (Season 2, Episode 8 – The Clock King)
37. “Mean Seasons” (Season 3, Episode 13 – Calendar Girl)
38. “Harley’s Holiday” (Season 2, Episode 16 – Harley Quinn & Boxy Bennett)
39. “Shadow of the Bat: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 57 & 58 – Two-Face, Rupert Thorne & Gil Mason)
40. “The Last Laugh” (Season 1, Episode 4 – The Joker)
41. “Catwalk” (Season 2, Episode 9 – Catwoman & The Ventriloquist)
42. “Baby-Doll” (Season 2, Episode 11 – Baby-Doll)
43. “Vendetta” (Season 1, Episode 23 – Killer Croc)
44. “The Laughing Fish” (Season 1, Episode 34 – The Joker & Harley Quinn)
45. “Pretty Poison” (Season 1, Episode 5 – Poison Ivy)
46. “The Man Who Killed Batman” (Season 1, Episode 51 – The Joker, Harley Quinn & Rupert Thorne)
47. “Cult of the Cat” (Season 3, Episode 15 – Catwoman & Thomas Blake)
48. “The Worry Men” (Season 1, Episode 65 – The Mad Hatter)
49. “Joker’s Millions” (Season 3, Episode 7 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Penguin & Poison Ivy)
50. “Animal Act” (Season 3, Episode 16 – The Mad Hatter)
51. “Showdown” (Season 2, Episode 13 – Ra’s al Ghul)
52. “Almost Got ‘Im” (Season 1, Episode 46 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc and The Penguin)
53. “Terror In the Sky” (Season 1, Episode 45 – She-Bat)
54. “Trial” (Season 2, Episode 3 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, The Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face & The Ventriloquist)
55. “A Bullet for Bullock” (Season 2, Episode 2 – Vinnie the Shark)
56. “Love is a Croc” (Season 3, Episode 9 – Baby-Doll & Killer Croc)
57. “Riddler’s Reform” (Season 2, Episode 14 – The Riddler)
58. “His Silicon Soul” (Season 1, Episode 62 – H.A.R.D.A.C. & Duplicate Batman)
59. “Joker’s Wild” (Season 1, Episode 41 – The Joker & Cameron Kaiser)
60. “Mudslide” (Season 1, Episode 52 – Clayface)
61. “Be A Clown” (Season 1, Episode 9 – The Joker)
62. “Christmas With the Joker” (Season 1, Episode 2 – The Joker)
63. “Perchance to Dream” (Season 1, Episode 30 – The Mad Hatter)
64. “The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne” (Season 1, Episode 37 – Hugo Strange, The Joker, Two-Face & The Penguin)
65. “The Mechanic” (Season 1, Episode 55 – The Penguin)
66. “Holiday Knights” (Season 3, Episode 1 – The Joker, Harley Quinn, Clayface and Poison Ivy)
67. “Dreams In Darkness” (Season 1, Episode 28 – The Scarecrow)
68. “The Clock King” (Season 1, Episode 25 – The Clock King)
69. “Blind As a Bat” (Season 1, Episode 59 – The Penguin)
70. “Bane” (Season 2, Episode 10 – Bane, Killer Croc & Rupert Thorne)
71. “Girls Night Out” (Season 3, Episode 20 – Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Livewire & The Penguin)
72. “Zatanna” (Season 1, Episode 54 – Montague Kane)
73. “I’ve Got My Batman in My Basement” (Season 1, Episode 13 – The Penguin)
74. “Fear of Victory” (Season 1, Episode 24 – The Scarecrow)
75. “See No Evil” (Season 1, Episode 17 – Lloyd Ventrix)
76. “Nothing to Fear” (Season 1, Episode 3 – The Scarecrow)
77. “Eternal Youth” (Season 1, Episode 29 – Poison Ivy)
78. “You Scratch My Back” (Season 3, Episode 5 – Catwoman)
79. “Off Balance” (Season 1, Episode 50 – Count Vertigo)
80. “Make ‘Em Laugh” (Season 2, Episode 18 – The Joker & The Mad Hatter)
81. The Ultimate Thrill” (Season 3, Episode 11 – The Penguin & Roxy Rocket)
82. “Appointment In Crime Alley” (Season 1, Episode 26 – Roland Daggett)
83. “Cat Scratch Fever” (Season 1, Episode 36 – Catwoman, Roland Daggett & Professor Milo)
84. “The Cape and the Cowl Conspiracy” (Season 1, Episode 31 – Josiah Wormwood)
85. “Lock-Up” (Season 2, Episode 17 – Lock-Up)
86. “Second Chance” (Season 2, Episode 15 – Two-Face, The Penguin & Rupert Thorne)
87. “Chemistry” (Season 3, Episode 22 – Poison Ivy)
88. “The Cat and the Claw: Parts 1 & 2” (Season 1, Episodes 15 & 16 – Catwoman & Red Claw)
89. “Night of the Ninja” (Season 1, Episode 35 – Kyodai Ken)
90. “I Am the Night” (Season 1, Episode 49 – The Jazzman)
91. “Moon of the Wolf” (Season 1, Episode 43 – Professor Milo & The Werewolf)
92. “Paging the Crime Doctor” (Season 1, Episode 53 – Rupert Thorne)
93. “It’s Never Too Late” (Season 1, Episode 12 – Rupert Thorne & Arnold Stromwell)
94. “The Terrible Trio” (Season 2, Episode 6 – The Terrible Trio)
95. “Day of the Samurai” (Season 1, Episode 44 – Kyodai Ken)
96. “The Lion and the Unicorn” (Season 2, Episode 12 – Red Claw)
97. “Prophecy of Doom” (Season 1, Episode 19 – Nostromos)
98. “P.O.V.” (Season 1, Episode 7 – A drug lord)
99. “Fire From Olympus” (Season 1, Episode 63 – Maxie Zeus)
100. “The Underdwellers” (Season 1, Episode 6 – Sewer King)
101. “Critters” (Season 3, Episode 14 – Farmer Brown)
102. “The Forgotten” (Season 1, Episode 8 – Boss Biggis)

TV Review: Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995, 1997-1999)

Also known as: The Adventures of Batman & Robin, The New Batman Adventures (relaunched direct sequel series)
Original Run: September 5th, 1992 – September 15th, 1995 (original series run), September 13th, 1997 – January 16th, 1999 (sequel series run)
Created by: Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski
Directed by: Kevin Altieri, Kent Butterworth, Boyd Kirkland, Frank Paur, Eric Radomski, Dan Riba, Dick Sebast, Bruce Timm
Written by: Laren Bright, Alan Burnett, Sean Catherine Derek, Paul Dini, Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, Randy Rogel, Brynne Stephens
Based on: Batman by Bob Kane
Music by: Danny Elfman (theme), various
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Bob Hastings, Robert Costanzo, Loren Lester, Mark Hamill, Arleen Sorkin

DC Comics, Warner Bros., Fox, 109 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

*Written in 2014. Also covers the sequel series, which is more or less now considered the final season of the show.

I’ve been revisiting this series lately, as it has been a long time since I’ve watched it in its entirety. Also, I wanted to do a list for this site that counts down the top fifty episodes of the series. That post will come in the near future.

In my estimation, this is probably the greatest animated series of all-time. Many will argue against that but I can’t think of any other that was as entertaining, epic, stylish, consistent, engaging or that had the quality of this series. There were a few hiccups with episodes drawn by lesser quality animation studios but those houses were quickly let go, as the show’s producers felt a necessity to maintain the show’s otherwise impeccable quality.

Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski created a unique world for Batman to play in and Paul Dini (who later went on to write amazing Batman comics) created some amazing scripts. In fact, their legacy and the influence of this show will live on forever, as many of the characters and situations created for the show, went on to live in the comic books.

Without this show, we would not have Harley Quinn, Renee Montoya and the awesome origin of Mr. Freeze, which was so awesome that it propelled him to being the greatest villain in this series and lead to him being featured as the main protagonist in the second animated film based off of this series.

Batman: The Animated Series was also innovative in the way that they produced it visually. As opposed to the industry standard of designing large set pieces and landscapes by coloring in white paper, they instead used light colors painted over black backgrounds. It provided this show with a dark atmosphere but not in a dreary way; it was more of an inviting film-noir style with very complimentary and carefully chosen colors added in.

The voice actors in this series were top notch. Mark Hamill, who was typecast after playing the iconic Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy, was given a second life when he was cast to voice the Joker. Kevin Conroy was equally as good as Batman. Both men actually continued to voice these characters for years after this show went off the air. In fact, both voiced these characters as recently as the Arkham video game series and some of the animated movies.

For an American produced animated series, this show is about as perfect as you can get. There are very few shows that can maintain a level of quality this high for over 100 episodes.

Rating: 10/10