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"Batman Beyond Season Two": Back To The Future We Go!

The gamble Kids WB! made with their Batman franchise paid off big time, with Batman Beyond becoming the country’s number one cartoon and delivering huge ratings and critical acclaim for the network in the first season. There were a few fanboy complaints, but lets not kid ourselves, there’s always a few complaining fanboys who whine about a show. “The show is too teeny!” “Terry isn’t Batman!” “Gotham has a red sky, not purple!” etc etc. Ignore these childish nitpickings and you’re sure to enjoy what is one of the best action cartoons of this or any other time.

However! Kids WB! For those always annoying “demographic” reasons had decided that making Batman a teenager and giving him a teenage supporting cast wasn’t quite enough and insisted that Batman be given a best friend who play a major role in each episode – enter Max, Batman’s ever annoying would be sidekick. This of course pushed the focus on Old Man Wayne and Terry out of the way. Thus, each episode had less time devoted to the villain and the show failed to reach the previous brilliant levels it established in it’s opening season. Yes, Max was as annoying as hell. She is generally regarded as one of the major negatives of the DCU, with good reason. The show, simply put, is better when she isn’t present. Thankfully, around this era, the spectacular Return Of The Joker Direct to Video was released, and Max was nowhere to be found in the feature.

One shouldn’t write off the show on the admission of one irritating character though – there is still plenty of great stuff to be found here. The show still looks and sounds stunning and is cast terrifically. The season has a nice mix of returning villains from the previous season and new, original villains. As this season is twice as long as the original, one couldn’t expect the perfect run of great episodes like before, and yes, there is a few stinkers in here. “Rats!” “Sentries of the Last Cosmos” and “Zeta” aren’t episodes that you’ll rush to watch again but there’s plenty here that you will. “Splicers,” “Egg Baby” and the unquestioned highlight “Eye Witness” are amongst the best episodes the show ever did and it’s great to finally be able to watch them all in DVD quality. It’s very true that this season is the weakest the show had, but there’s much to be found here and it’s a worthy purchase for the majority of the people reading this review.

The presentation of the episodes isn’t quite as sharp as those found on the Justice League Unlimited set, but these episodes aren’t in widescreen. It does look great on DVD however; a nice sharp transfer with very little grain and minimal interlacing. The audio rings through clear which is great – the score in these episodes is usually nothing short of astounding.

Moving on to the special features, commentaries are available on two episodes, which seems a bit low since all 26 episodes from season two are on the set, but beggars can’t be choosers. The selected episodes are both strong, worthy candidates. Even better is that Will Friedle, Batman himself, joins the crew on the commentaries! He and voice directing legend Andrea Romano are both full of all sorts of goodies about the process of voice acting/recording in both commentaries. The final commentary, “Egg Baby” isn’t as much fun but is still well worth a listen. The crew comment on the love/hate relationship the fans have with the episode, which is always fun to hear.

“Inside Batman Beyond: The Panel” is the standard featurette one has come to expect from the DCAU DVDs, in which the crew talk about their own thoughts on the show, what the fans thought of the show and the usual list of problems they have and what they really enjoyed about working on the show. As always, they are a little short but coming from someone who has a DVD collection full of discs that have special features of childish games, pointless trivia and boring bios, I’m thankful that we get to hear from the creative crew. No point spoiling what they talk about too much – watch it and find out for yourself.

Chances are if you’re reading this you were probably going to pick this set up anyway and I’ve done very little to change your mind. If you weren’t however, please do – Batman Beyond is certainly worthy of a purchase. For the DC devotees, enjoy this set and remember, the best is yet to come. Who isn’t looking forward to seeing the infamous “And you hit like a girl” scene from “Out Of The Past” in all it’s digital glory?

The images in this review appear courtesy of The World’s Finest Batman Beyond site.

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