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Batman: The Animated Series – “The Demon’s Quest – Part II”

demons quest 2Episode Number:  61

Original Air Date:  May 4, 1993

Directed by:  Kevin Altieri

Written by:  Dennis O’Neil and Len Wein

First Appearance(s):  None

One thing I appreciated about Batman:  The Animated Series as a kid was that it was a week day afternoon show, so when these two-parters aired I had to wait only a day for the conclusion. With X-Men or Spider-Man, it was usually a week which is a long time for a 10-year-old. “The Demon’s Quest – Part II” picks up right where the first part left off and it has a lot to reveal. We know Ra’s al Ghul is a bad guy with some righteous qualities, but we don’t know just how bad he is since at the end of the last episode he looked ready to kill his own daughter. Batman had just saved him by plunging him into a Lazarus Pit which contains a green liquid that has apparently sustained Ra’s al Ghul for some 600 years. Batman had also just denied Ra’s al Ghul’s request to become his heir, because he’s apparently a sexist individual and will only pass on whatever it is he has to give to another male as opposed to his daughter. Doing that was considered a great insult by al Ghul, and forced him to declare they are now enemies. Well, Batman, you just brought one of your enemies back to life and he looks to be in superhuman physical condition now, what’s your next move?

mad ras

Watch that left hand, dad.

As the episode begins, Ra’s al Ghul (David Warner) is ready to toss Talia (Helen Slater) into the Lazarus Pit from which he had just emerged. Ubu (Manu Tupou) informs Batman that the pit can restore a dying man to life, but it will destroy someone so young as Talia. Batman is able to grapple Ra’s causing him to drop Talia onto the ground. She immediately approaches her father once more and slaps him across the face, which causes him to finally cease with the creepy laughter. His senses are soon restored, and Talia explains that each time he emerges from the Lazarus Pit he is momentarily insane and cannot be blamed for his actions. Batman and Robin look like they’re done with all of this, but Ra’s still repeats his offer to the detective and he once more refuses.

Once again, Batman has decided to make an enemy of Ra’s al Ghul, and Ra’s decides to destroy the mountain base they are currently in. Talia tries to talk him out of it, but he reasons that they have plenty of other locations and their desert base will do just fine. He activates a switch in the rock and bids Batman and Robin farewell as a steel door closes sealing the two in with the Lazarus Pit. Batman and Robin, amidst explosions and falling rocks, jump from the cliff they’re on to grab ahold of the rope affixed to the gurney system they used previously for Ra’s. Spying an opening in the ceiling of the chamber, they climb up and out and emerge in the snowy Himalayas once more. To add a dash of drama, the ground upon which they tread is collapsing into the pit they just escaped and the two jump off the side of the mountain towards the camera positioned below, a shot most will recognize as it will soon be featured in the opening credits for the show.

snowed in

I bet they wish they had some of Adam West’s trusty Bat-thermal underwear.

Trapped in the mountains and clearly not dressed for the arctic-like conditions, it would seem things are looking bad for our crime fighters. Batman picks Robin’s brain about his time in captivity, and he mentions he kept hearing the word “Orpheus” repeated by the men guarding him. As the two chat, the camera zooms out to reveal a Wayne Enterprises building at the base of the mountain. How convenient.

Inside an office, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are more conventionally dressed and searching a database, or the internet, for clues relating to the word Orpheus. Bruce recognizes the name from legend and also discovers it was recently adopted as the name of a satellite launched into orbit over the Sahara Desert. Bingo.

batmans disguise

Batman’s disguise doesn’t look like it would work very well.

Robin and Batman apparently commandeer a Wayne airplane and Robin positions them over the Sahara for Batman to eject. He’s going solo from here on out. Once he touches down in the chilly, night-time, desert, he spies a caravan of camels with some armed men aboard them. They’re riding single-file, which makes it quite easy for Batman to get the drop on the rear rider and take his place. In what is a rather amusing visual, Batman just puts the man’s clothes on over his costume and apparently no one notices the mask under the mask. He also apparently is so against guns that he doesn’t even carry the mercenary’s weapon to make his disguise look as authentic as possible.

They arrive at the base of Ra’s al Ghul, and old friend Ubu is there to command them inside. Batman, grabbing a bed roll for some reason, walks off away from everyone else which does not miss the eye of Ubu. He gives chase, but once he rounds the corner after him he sees only the lime green bed roll on the ground. Batman is then shown sneaking around, but soon Ubu ambushes him. The two fight, and when it looks like Batman is about to gain the upper hand more of the mercenaries show up and they all take him down. Ra’s al Ghul then appears and orders them to stop. He wants to know who this foolish, or brave, individual is that has infiltrated his stronghold and he’s not at all surprised to find it’s Batman. Proving that he might be smarter than most villains, Ra’s has them remove Batman’s belt and anything else that might aid his escape which means they get to rip his shirt off.

ras and batman reunion

Two guys who love capes.

Ra’s al Ghul may have been smart enough to partly defang his foe, but not smart enough to kill him or keep his mouth shut. Batman claims Ra’s has nothing to lose by telling him what he’s planning on doing, and Ra’s agrees (idiot). He reveals that the Lazarus Pit is a naturally occurring thing on the planet and that many of them are scattered across the globe, which explains why he didn’t mind losing the one in the Himalayas. He’s had his global agents work to position bombs above each one, and when the Orpheus satellite is in position this evening, a signal will go out to all of those bombs causing them to fall into the pits. The resulting explosions will cause the pits to erupt and spread their goo all over the world. He even has a number for the lives lost, totaling over 2.5 billion (which I assume would have been about half of the world’s population in 1993).

Batman declares Ra’s is insane, but he disagrees saying this cleansing is needed to restore the Earth to her former glory. He had initially planned on this cleansing taking place over generations, with his heir taking up his work, but since Batman denied him he’s just going to accomplish his goal in one fell swoop. He wants Batman to witness his triumph, so he has him taken away. Before the guards can lead him away, Talia requests a moment and gives him one, long, lingering, kiss.

en garde

They’re going to settle this like men.

Once locked up, Batman finds he’s been chained to the wall of his cell and his two guards demonstrate almost immediately that they’re going to underestimate him. Batman reveals a lock pick was slipped into his mouth by Talia, presumably, and quickly frees himself and effortlessly dispatches his captors. Once free, he’s able to move about the base undetected causing mischief before eventually detonating most of the weapons stored on site. The many explosions attract a lot of attention and also leads to another confrontation with old friend Ubu. Batman is able to beat him rather easily, once again, which just leaves the old man.

cross blades

Ra’s is clearly a misogynist, but he’s not above using eye-liner.

Ra’s al Ghul declares they must do battle to settle this, and because his opponent is bare-chested I guess he decided he needed to do the same. The two sword fight, because this is a classy fight, and neither appears to have the upper hand over the other. As Batman ascends some stairs to the Lazarus Pit located there, he realizes he’s running out of time if he wants to stop Ra’s al Ghul’s master plan. He hurls his sword and it zips past the head of al Ghul, a narrow miss? Nope, Batman was aiming for the satellite uplink dish below and scores a direct hit thwarting the operation. Enraged, Ra’s attacks the now unarmed Batman. Batman avoids the would-be fatal blow causing Ra’s to fall into the Lazarus Pit. Batman looks down to find Ra’s has saved himself by jamming his sword into the side-wall. Batman extends a hand, we’ve seen this before, and beckons Ra’s to do the same. For a moment, Ra’s looks like he’s going to comply, but then you can tell pride prevents him from ultimately accepting the aid of Batman. Declaring that Batman is the victor here, and expressing a desire to join with the planet he so loves (he’s like a demented Captain Planet), Ra’s lets go of the sword and plunges into the Lazarus Pit below.

talia sad

Talia is said to see her “beloved” go.

Out in the Sahara, Talia accompanies Batman to Robin who is waiting by the airplane. She explains to Batman that she shares her father’s ideals, but does not agree with his means. When she asks if she is now to become his prisoner, Batman simply  pulls her in close for a romantic smooch as the sun rises in the distance. Surprisingly, Robin has nothing snarky to say about this as Batman boards the airplane, leaving Talia behind. Once in the sky, Robin asks if they’ve finally seen the last of Ra’s al Ghul, as if he’s some villain they’ve been tangling with for years. Batman remarks it looks that way, which seems rather naive of him. And indeed it is, as we’re taken back to the edge of the Lazarus Pit to see a hand emerge from below and grab the edge as laughter rings out.

the kiss

The money shot.

After a more procedural Part I, Part II of  “The Demon’s Quest” is largely action-oriented. We get some stealth Batman action and even a sword fight amidst the backdrop of Armageddon. I suppose the stakes have never been higher in an episode before, not that the outcome is ever seriously in doubt. Ra’s al Ghul proves to be both smart and dumb as he seemingly has a backup plan for everything, but makes the villain mistake of letting the hero in on his plan while he still has time to stop it. He was willing to kill Batman at the episode’s start, but for some reason was not when they met up later. It moves quickly though and the action looks great. The outcome is satisfying enough too, with Ra’s defeated, but not dead. Talia is still out there and her father likely knows she played a role in orchestrating Batman’s escape so we’re left to wonder how their relationship will play out.

If you’re the nit-picking sort though, then you can probably get after this episode a bit. Batman and Robin’s frequent escapes are almost routine, and they’re lack of alarm at being stranded in the frozen mountains was odd, until Wayne Enterprises showed up. A total deus ex machina is that one, and the episode even ignores how the two gained access. Did they sneak in and steal some clothes? Can Bruce Wayne just go to any building with his name on it and demand an airplane? Batman also didn’t do anything about the bombs planted around the world, wouldn’t Ra’s have a simple manual override function on each one? He could radio his cohorts to all release the bomb at a certain time, the satellite really isn’t necessary.

ras goes shredder

Ra’s showing us his Shredder impersonation.

Like with Part I, Part II is animated by TMS and the results are pretty great. Curiously, there is a disconnect in visual style between the end of Part I and the beginning of Part II, implying the studio had two different teams work on it rather than treat it like one long episode. They must have been working on both episode simultaneously. They did maintain continuity with Robin missing his belt and Batman having claw marks on his shirt from his battle with the panther. Talia seems toned down though in terms of her sex appeal, but Batman gets to make up for it. Proving that TMS is all about keeping things equal, shirtless Batman is jacked and there’s a funny looking sequence where he’s knocked on his back and his pecs are gigantic. Ra’s is also rather proud of his physique, and rightly so.

Ra’s al Ghul, and Talia as well, feel like pretty big villains from this show. Interestingly, this is their penultimate appearance as foes for Batman. They will both show up in the season two episode “Avatar,” and Ra’s has one final appearance in the flashback episode “Showdown” which does not feature Batman. After that, they’re all done. Perhaps the writing staff just felt Ra’s was a special attraction and a villain they feared would be diminished if he showed up too much. After the conclusion of this one, he certainly needed at least one follow-up and they delivered there, but it’s really surprising he never showed up in The New Batman Adventures. Both do make an appearance in Batman Beyond and in sister series Superman:  The Animated Series. I’ll save my final thoughts on the characters for “Avatar,” but it does surprise me how infrequently the two were actually used given their presence over the series as a whole. As a true debut though, this was good and it did capitalize on the mystique of the character created in “Off Balance.” A rare example of a long-form story in this series being executed and also paying off.

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Batman: The Animated Series – “Blind as a Bat”

Blind_as_a_Bat-Title_CardEpisode Number:  59

Original Air Date:  February 22, 1993

Directed by:  Dan Riba

Written by:  Len Wein and Mike Underwood

First Appearance(s):  None

I think there’s some kind of law in art that if you have a bat-related protagonist you must make use of the phrase “blind as a bat” at some point, which brings us to today’s episode. This is another Len Wein written episode and we’ve seen a few of these in the second half of the production run on season one. It makes sense that the first chunk of the season would be left to those who created the show, with the second half drawing more directly from the artists who worked with Batman previously. This episode contains no real “firsts” for the show, but it does contain some “lasts,” which we’ll get to. It’s another Penguin episode, and interestingly, with his last appearance somewhat mirroring the events of Batman Returns this one brings to mind some events from Batman ’89.

Raven_X1-11

Wayne Tech’s new murder machine.

The episode opens at an airfield demonstration for a new helicopter being unveiled. The Raven X1-11 is a specialty stealth helicopter developed by Wayne Tech as a device best equipped for reconnaissance and rescue missions due to its quiet operation and stealth capabilities. It’s not solely designed for that though as it also features impressive offensive capabilities as well. Bruce Wayne is onhand for the demonstration as Wayne Tech is presumably looking to sell the device to the US government and various military personnel are onhand as well. Dr. Lee (Haunani Minn) is leading the demonstration as a flight crew circles the area in response. Everyone seems rather impressed, though Bruce remarks he has some misgivings about creating a weapon.

The Raven is a remarkable success at everything it demonstrates. Naturally, a weapon this fine is going to attract the attention of Gotham’s less dignified individuals, and indeed it already has. The Raven starts to fire on the crowd forcing everyone to scatter. When a group of officers check in the hangar from where the Raven presumably launched from they find the crew have been tied up and left behind. A voice soon booms from the Raven and it identifies itself as The Penguin (Paul Williams). Penguin has not only hi-jacked the Raven, he’s also apparently stolen Snoopy’s World War I flying ace costume as well. Penguin and his crew, led once again by Falcone (Walter Olkewicz), fire upon the crowd once more. Dr. Lee is directly in harm’s way forcing Bruce into action. As he knocks her out of the way he emerges to hide behind a vehicle which immediately gets lit-up by the Raven and explodes. Bruce howls in pain and is sent flying to the ground. Alfred soon approaches in the limo and ushers him inside as Bruce orders him home. When Alfred questions why they aren’t heading for a hospital, Bruce explains it’s because he doesn’t want anyone to know that he can’t see.

i cant see

A disheveled Bruce realizing he can’t see.

At Wayne Manor, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (Diana Muldaur) administers to Bruce. She thinks the blindness is temporary, caused by a flash-burn to the retina of both eyes, and orders Bruce to keep his eyes covered for at least 36 hours. Bruce is adamant that he can’t be out of commission that long insisting that Batman needs to track down the Penguin. He tries to stand up and demonstrate his fitness with his head wrapped in bandages and promptly tips over a coffee table. Making matters worse, loyal butler Alfred lets him know the Bat Signal is calling for him. Man, sometimes you need to keep your mouth shut, Al.

Commissioner Gordon is puzzled when Batman fails to show, but he can’t dwell on it much longer. He’s due for a meeting with Detective Bullock and Mayor Hill, and as the three sit around discussing their next move, the Penguin contacts them. He tells them they can have their chopper back, but it will cost them $100 million. Hill is aghast at the sum, but they’re not making much progress on their own. To show he means business, Penguin takes the Raven on a joy-ride. Some teens out doing the same notice the Raven as they cruise over a suspension bridge. The Raven opens fire and takes out the cables of the bridge causing it to collapse. The teens made it off though; we can’t have any fatalities, of course.

blind bruce

Bruce is not really in any condition to do Bat stuff.

With Penguin showing no signs of slowing down, Batman is forced into action. Somehow, he convinces Leslie to craft a special device for him that will allow him to see. Using the same technology that Wayne Tech built into the Raven, she solders him a helmet with the device implants. Once Bruce puts it on, it gives him the ability to see, but only in red and black. It’s basically Virtual Boy. He demonstrates its effectiveness in the Batcave and deems it satisfactory. There’s catch to the device though; it’s a battery hog. Batman needs to keep it connected to his the battery in his belt or else it will run out quickly. It has advantages too though, like giving Batman glowing red eyes when he puts his cowl back on. He hops into the Batwing, because that’s the best vehicle for a legally blind man to go with, and hooks the device up to the console in that and takes off.

aviator penguin

Hey Penguin, Snoopy called, he wants his costume back!

Batman first drops in on the Mayor who is still meeting with Gordon and Bullock. When they ask this badass, red-eyed Batman what they should do he tells them to do exactly what Penguin wants. Hill then takes over Gotham’s television airwaves to tell Penguin they’ve agreed to his deal. Penguin receives and notes it could be a trap, but has full confidence that the radar capabilities of the Raven will let them know of that before anyone can get the drop on them. They head for the ransom location and Penguin and Falcone retrieve a briefcase in the spot they requested. It only contains a taunting note though and soon the Batwing appears in the sky. Interestingly, Penguin makes the connection that the Batwing must possess similar technology to the Raven for them to not detect it, but he fails to take it one step further and determine that the Batwing must come from Wayne Tech.

Penguin and Falcone flee in the Raven but Batman is right on top of them. He quickly takes out the Raven knocking it from the sky as Penguin and Falcone dangle from it via a rope ladder. Somehow, they survive the crash landing without any apparent injury and so does the rest of the crew. They flee to the immobile, but not defenseless, Raven. Falcone climbs into the laser canon and takes aim at a charging Batwing. Penguin is there to basically shake his fist at Batman and this is the part that reminds be of Batman ’89 as it’s very similar to Batman’s approach with The Joker. Falcone nails the Batwing, and it’s sent careening through the sky as Penguin unleashes his trademarked laughter first popularized by Burgess Meredith.

not good

That’s not good.

With the Batwing out of control, Batman is forced into a crash landing of his own outside some kind of metal refinery. As he jumps out of the Batwing before it explodes, he forgets to unplug his helmet from the console and the jack is ripped off. Batman escapes the exploding Batwing, but apparently without a spare cord. Without being able to plug his helmet into the battery on his belt, he’ll soon run out of power and lose his sight once again.

Batman stumbles into the refinery as Penguin insists that he and Falcone give chase. As they catch up to him they note how he’s not moving properly and they assume he must be injured. Inside the refinery, Batman stumbles around as his sight goes in and out and finds himself on some stairs as he’s forced to dodge Penguin’s umbrella gunfire. If Penguin just carried a more traditional weapon I bet he’d have better aim. Batman stumbles onto a conveyor belt and gets his foot lodged into it. Helpless, he gets lucky when Penguin runs out of ammo and apparently he failed to bring a reload. Falcone declares that he’ll take care of Batman and, armed with a chain, he hops onto the conveyor belt and starts swinging. Batman is able to finally extricate himself from the conveyor belt, but tumbles off the side. He’s now dangling a few stories up as Falcone stomps on his fingers. Batman is able to switch to the other side, and as Falcone bends down to try to figure out where he went, Batman is able to see his head and executes a flawless head-scissors takedown.

about to drop in

Blind, but not helpless.

Falcone crashes to the ground far below, though he rises momentarily to apparently demonstrate that the fall did not kill him. Penguin is irritated, but that last bit of juice in Batman’s device has apparently run out. He stumbles off the conveyor belt and Penguin takes note of his erratic movements. He starts making noises and watches as Batman tries to hit the origins of the sounds with bat-a-rangs. It’s enough to let Penguin know that Batman is indeed blind as a bat, and begins to taunt him. Batman proves to be blind, but not helpless, as he kicks a few barrels into Penguin. He’s able to flee down a walkway, but it ends abruptly with nothing but molten metal below. Batman fires his grapple gun into the ceiling to escape Penguin, but he’s left dangling above with no where to go. As Penguin taunts him, he notices some water dripping down onto his head. Assuming there’s a water pipe above him, Batman searches for the valve with his hands, and finding it, opens it up to drop a ton of water onto the metal below. A huge amount of steam goes up which sets the Penguin to coughing giving Batman an aural target which is all he needs to take him out.

Sadly, we’re not shown how Batman got out of that mess after he subdued Penguin. He likely would have needed some assistance getting home and presumably Alfred helped him, but how they got in touch we do not know. The next scene is simply Bruce at home with Alfred and Leslie. She’s removing the bandages she had put in place while remarking that she wishes Bruce had followed her advice which is supposed to make us a bit fearful that his eyesight is permanently damaged. When the bandages fall, Bruce flashes concern on his face which causes Alfred to recoil in fear and drop the newspaper he was holding. Bruce deftly snatches it before it can hit the floor, and lets his old friend know that his eyes are just fine. He opens the paper to see coverage of Penguin’s capture and remarks he’s never seen anything prettier.

Interestingly, “Blind as a Bat” deals with Batman losing his sight in a similar manner to another Len Wein episode, “Off-Balance.” In case you forgot, in that episode a vertigo device made it difficult for Batman to navigate a room full of traps forcing him to close his eyes. I was kind of annoyed with how well Batman was able to then dodge all of the traps without his vision, but I’m happy to say this episode doesn’t make Batman do anything particularly super human when he’s blinded. Penguin is a terrible shot, which definitely helped him survive, and the various aircraft crashes definitely go beyond the realm of plausibility. It’s also pretty ridiculous for Batman to attempt this sort of thing alone. Where’s Robin? He really doesn’t trust the Gotham PD to do anything right, apparently, for him to go out blind. This is definitely an easy episode to nit-pick, but on the whole it’s still pretty entertaining. Not really one of the best, but far from the worst.

As for those “lasts” I mentioned, this will probably surprise you, but this is the final episode in which The Penguin is a main villain. He’s going to be reduced to a few cameos for the rest of this series, but he’ll come back in a more meaningful way with The New Batman Adventures. Still voiced by Paul Williams, he’ll undergo a major redesign that sees him resemble his classic comic self. He’ll also be “reformed” in that he no longer spearheads his own criminal operations, but he’s still rather clued-in on the Gotham Underworld. Batman will drop in on him as he operates his own club to try to shake him down for information, though I’d hardly describe him as an ally to the caped crusader.

leslie helmet

This is Leslie’s final appearance in a meaningful capacity, and she even demonstrates some new skills.

This episode is also the final appearance of Batman confidant and sometimes doctor Leslie Thompkins. She’s played a pretty nice role as a link between Bruce and his parents. As one of the few people that know about Bruce’s alter-ego, she’s played a pretty important role in this show. I don’t know why they chose to not feature her in season 2. She has one, lone, cameo in The New Batman Adventures, but that’s it. She also gets a mention in the Batman Beyond film The Return of the Joker. Whatever the reason for her absence after this episode, I will say I miss the character and I enjoyed her when she showed up.


Batman: The Animated Series – “Moon of the Wolf”

Moon_of_the_WolfEpisode Number:  43

Original Air Date:  November 11, 1992

Directed by:  Dick Sebast

Written by:  Len Wein

First Appearance(s):  Anthony Romulus, The Werewolf

 

Something happened in-between episodes 42 and 43 that feels like a big deal, to me anyway:  we hit the halfway point! The original run of Batman:  The Animated Series consists of 85 episodes and we are now halfway through that batch. I suppose our next milestone will be episode 52 since that will mark one year of posts on the subject, followed by episode 65 which marks the end(!) of the first season. For episode 43 we have a new villain and a returning one. I mentioned it in last week’s write-up, but coming up with an immediate 65 episode order is pretty challenging, and rather than come up with 65 unique, original, stories the staff on Batman sometimes turned to the comics for a story. This week’s episode is one such episode in which comic writer Len Wein was asked to adapt his story about a werewolf from Batman #255 for the show. It’s kind of a weird concept for Batman, but it’s in-line with the Man-Bat villain from episode one in terms of feasibility. It also feels like kind of anti-drug PSA. Government standards require a certain amount of educational content in children’s programming and I’m not sure if this one qualified for it, but we’ll get to that in the write-up.

Moon_Of_The_Wolf

Not a good night to be walking your dog.

The episode opens on a gentleman (Peter Scolari) walking his dog on a typical Gotham evening. The dog becomes agitated at something offscreen, but it turns out to be just a jogger. Or was it? A massive werewolf (Frank Welker) soon emerges from the brush and attacks! The man is helpless against the beast, but fortunately for him Batman is in the area. He confronts the beast, but their fight is cut short when the gentleman is flung from the park bridge. Batman dives into the water to save him, and as he pulls him from the water the wolf-man flees.

The setting shifts to Gotham PD and Gordon is wrapping up some business for the night. Batman interrupts him to fill him in on what happened in the park. He wants to know if anything could be linked to the werewolf character, but the only thing Gordon can find is some timber wolves were stolen from the zoo recently. The victim of that night’s attack, John Hamner, is a security guard for the zoo and Batman thinks that’s not likely to be a coincidence. As he leaves Gordon’s office, he floats an interesting possibility:  what if that wolf creature wasn’t wearing a mask?

MW_14_-_Wolf

Honey, I’m home!

Of course it’s not a mask, Batman, because where would the fun be in that? The episode is not at all interested in even making that a question as we’re taken to a construction yard and an individual with an unmistakable bowl cut is re-introduced. Professor Milo (Treat Williams), the villain from “Cat Scratch Fever,” is seated at a desk when the werewolf barges in. He’s rather calm in the face of such a frightening creature, but that’s because he knows exactly when this transformation will wear off. The creature becomes a huddled mess on the floor as he turns into an adult male. We don’t know who he is, and he isn’t shown in full frame, but he tells Milo that Hamner got away as he was foiled by Batman. Milo resolves to take care of that nuisance once and for all.

hqdefault-48

Tony Romulus is an expert long-jumper and track and field star.

Immediately, the show cuts to a skyline shot at day and a news broadcast can be heard. The broadcast refers to Anthony “Tony” Romulus (Harry Hamlin), a local Olympian about to make a large charitable donation. Geez, I wonder who the werewolf could be? Tony is training at a gym with Bruce Wayne, and his plan is discussed: he’ll make a 2 million dollar donation to charity, but only if Batman comes to his home and accepts the check. Wayne tries to figure out what his interest in Batman is, and Tony convincingly plays it off as wanting to meet the only man in Gotham who may be a superior athlete to him.

Romulus

Anyone with a unibrow and scarf is a bad guy – come on, Batman!

Batman heads to the home of Romulus that night and finds the superstar athlete in his study. He’s dressed in an absurd leisure suit with a scarf, and welcomes Batman in. He offers him a drink, Batman declines, and gets to making out a check as an impatient Batman looks on. We see Romulus flip a switch underneath his desk, and soon Batman notices the room getting hotter. He realizes that he’s being gassed, but before he can retrieve his gas mask from his utility belt he collapses and Milo enters. Romulus removes Batman’s utility belt, while Milo acts threatening.

Moon_of_the_Wolf_desperate

Milo and Romulus in a flashback when the lycanthropy first started to show.

Batman is then shown at the construction yard from earlier chained and unconscious in what looks to be an unfinished colosseum. Milo and Romulus are in the nearby shack and we get an in-depth look into their relationship. Milo is obviously responsible for Romulus’s condition, and he holds the cure to lycanthropy in a safe. He’s blackmailing Romulus, but don’t feel too bad for him. A flashback details how the two came to be involved. Romulus, seeking an edge, sought out Milo for steroids. Milo gave him a special, undetectable, steroid laced with wolf estrogen and Romulus greedily snatches it and drinks it down. The serum worked, and Romulus had a great fall games which enriched him exponentially. Romulus initially refused to pay Milo for his steroids, but soon the transformations began. They were only partial, and Milo was able to dupe Romulus into taking more of the formula to become a full-blown werewolf. His argument was the hybrid state he was in couldn’t be cured, but lycanthropy could be. We don’t know if he was lying, but it resulted in the Romulus we see now. Detective Bullock will soon confront Hamner at his security job at the zoo, and we’ll find out he’s the source of the timber wolf DNA as Milo paid him to unlock the cage, hence why the werewolf was sent to kill him at the start of the episode.

Moon_of_the_Wolf_fight

Ride ’em, cowboy!

Romulus soon transforms, and Milo wants him to kill Batman. He attacks Milo first, and in the scuffle the antidote is dropped and broken (we don’t see why Milo removed it from the safe). He spares Milo, and targets Batman, who has regained consciousness. Finding a pin nearby, Batman picks the locks on his chains to free himself just in time to meet the werewolf. The two scuffle, and Batman quickly realizes he can’t just go toe-to-toe with Romulus. He heads for high ground as the Gotham PD arrive on the scene (some citizens out for a walk saw the commotion and called the police) and surround the place. Bullock lets Batman deal with Romulus, as the two battle on top of the colosseum. Romulus winds up swinging from a crane and gets struck by lightning causing him to fall into a nearby river, ending the confrontation. The police are able to apprehend Milo, who is in need of medical attention, and he taunts Gordon that they’ll never be able to make charges stick (this sounds like the writers setting up for a return of Milo, but this is his last appearance). The episode ends with a pair of individuals touring the home of Tony Romulus. It’s up for sale as Romulus never returned following the fight with Batman. The episode ends on a most predictable note, with the werewolf howling at the moon.

This is a mostly straight-forward episode, and really uneven. It takes a lot of shortcuts, most obviously in how the werewolf is dealt with. There’s no indication that lightning is in the air prior to Romulus being struck, so it feels rather cheap. Maybe they didn’t have the budget for a full-blown thunderstorm. Milo and Romulus are also apparently uninterested in Batman’s secret identity, since they have him at their mercy and they choose to leave his mask on. The episode as no interest in setting up a mystery, basically answering the questions as they come up. There’s a throw-away scene between Batman and Alfred in the Bat Cave where Batman bemoans his lack of progress in figuring out who the werewolf is (this is just before he goes to meet Romulus) that didn’t need to be there. We do get to see Alfred casually working on the Batmobile though which is kind of neat. If the steroid angle was supposed to be an anti-drug message, I’m not sure how effective it could be since most 8 year old boys watching the show probably thought being a werewolf was pretty cool.

Romulus_DCAU_002

The episode ends in perhaps the most predictable fashion possible.

This episode was animated by Akom, and if you recall from the write-up on “Joker’s Wild,” Akom was fired for how poorly that episode came out. Who knows where this episode was at the time of the firing, but it was probably close to completed. It’s better than that episode, but not by a whole lot. The backgrounds feel sparse and boring, at least the external ones, and there’s a weird disconnect between the background and the characters in the early scenes on the bridge. The guard, Hamner, looks almost exactly like the guard from “Tyger Tyger” though he’s voiced by a different actor here so I don’t know if he’s supposed to be the same person. There are a bunch of animation errors though, with Milo’s jacket changing color at times and Batman’s yellow symbol going from yellow to white. The biggest screw-up though is with Batman’s utility belt. It’s removed immediately after he’s drugged, but it’s mysteriously back on when we next see Batman chained up. Since he does not use it at all during his fight with the werewolf, I half to assume it wasn’t supposed to be there. It certainly wouldn’t have made any sense for Milo to return it to him, though it didn’t make sense for Milo to let the werewolf kill him when he could have done it effortlessly once Batman had passed out.

In Akom’s defense, the werewolf looks pretty cool. He’s fearsome looking with saliva dripping from his open mouth. He might be my favorite design of the creature enemies, being more interesting than Man-Bat or Tygrus. Akom doesn’t attempt anything too grand with him, but what he does is interesting enough. Unfortunately, he’s the only interesting part of the episode as the plot and fight sequences are rather droll. This is filler television, further demonstrated by the lack of a re-appearance from either Romulus or Milo in future episodes. I will say I like the music in this episode, the werewolf has a fun theme and I probably do not sing the praises of Shirley Walker enough, who’s work on this series is fantastic and I take it for granted. Akom still has one episode left in the tank, “What is Reality?” and I’m interested in seeing how that one looks in light of their firing, but it’ll be six weeks or so before we get to discuss that one.