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The New Batman Adventures – “Never Fear”

never fearEpisode Number:  6 (91)

Original Air Date:  November 1, 1997

Directed by:  Kenji Hachizaki

Written by:  Stan Berkowitz

First Appearance:  None

If you’re at all familiar with Batman: The Animated Series then one look at the title of this episode will tip you off to who the villain of the day is. The Scarecrow is back with a new look and a new voice actor. Pretty much every villain from the prior series received a redesign for this one, but The Scarecrow’s is one of the most extreme and memorable. It’s interesting because he was also the villain to receive the most severe redesign during the original series, moving from a tear-drop shaped mask in his debut to a much more hideous and frightening one in his subsequent appearances. For The New Batman Adventures, his redesign reads like a change in philosophy. He now resembles an undead preacher and the noose around his neck implies the manner of execution was a hanging. He wears a duster jacket and hat and wields a stick to complete the ensemble. We’re left to assume that underneath the new costume is still Dr. Jonathan Crane, though since he’s now voiced by Jeffrey Combs (replacing Henry Polic II) I suppose that could lead some to question if this is an all new villain. Combs portrays Scarecrow with a much softer and quiet voice, a lethal whisper, so to speak. It makes this version of the character similar to The Phantasm, minus the smoke effects.

new scarecrow

Behold the new Scarecrow!

Also returning is Scarecrow’s fear-based methods aided by his various serums and toxins. Both Batman and Robin have had to deal with Scarecrow’s fear-inducing methods previously and have overcome them, so how can the show change things up this time? The answer is by swinging in the total opposite direction. Where Scarecrow’s old gas once induced a debilitating terror in his victims, his new weapon now removes all traces of fear making the victims reckless and uncaring about consequences. It’s an interesting approach, but does it work?

The episode opens at night with a crowd of onlookers watching a man swinging around the buildings of Gotham. Only this man isn’t Batman, it’s just some paunchy guy (voiced by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.) awkwardly swinging around. Batman and Robin spot him and make the determination that this activity appears quite unsafe. They swing after the guy, who just seems to keep going almost like the end of his rope is attached to a helicopter or something. The guy is having a good time, until he smashes into a neon sign causing him to lose his grip. The man apparently possesses great upper body strength, as well as finger strength, as he grabs a ledge on the way down saving himself. Batman and Robin have to take care of the debris from the sign so it doesn’t injure any of the onlookers, but soon turn their attention to their odd thrill-seeker.

acrophobic man

Just some guy out for an evening swing.

They eventually get to him and Batman asks him what he’s doing and advises against it. The man seems almost euphoric. He explains he has no fear, and apparently he sees no reason for the crime-fighting duo to put an end to his fun. He playfully shoulder tackles Batman off the ledge, forcing Batman to use his grapple-gun to save himself and grab ahold of the lunatic, who also had fallen. The crowd cheers as this little episode comes to a close.

Nearby, a man in a white suit looks on and seems a touch displeased. He heads inside to an auditorium and there we’re introduced to this new version of The Scarecrow. Scarecrow is angry with this gentleman, who goes by the name of Guru (Charles Rocket), for losing control over the crazy man we just saw swinging around Gotham. Apparently this guy was a test subject for Scarecrow’s new drug and he was supposed to be guarded closely.

The next day, Bruce Wayne is heading to his office. His secretary informs him that someone has been trying to get ahold of him all morning, while another person waits in his office for him. With a “Let me guess,” Bruce enters his spacious office to find Tim playing in his office chair. When he questions why the boy isn’t at school he points out it’s summer vacation. Tim wants to know if Bruce has any more info on the guy from last night. Bruce tells him he does, as the police learned an interesting fact about he him – he has acrophobia, a fear of heights. Before their conversation can continue, they’re interrupted by Seymour Grey (Ken Berry), a dissatisfied employee of Wayne’s and likely the one who has been calling all morning. He rants about being ignored for 18 years and claims to have a bunch of wonderful ideas, but he’s not here to share them. He just wants to yell finally tossing a bunch of papers in Wayne’s direction before declaring that he quits. On the way out, he takes a rather lurid peek at Wayne’s secretary and then grabs her and places a kiss on her. She does not take that well, and Bruce surprisingly doesn’t deck the jerk as security comes in to remove him. As Mr. Grey is taken away, Bruce notices he dropped his wallet and inside it is a business card for a company called Never Fear.

bruces bad disguise

He just doesn’t put the same effort into his disguises as he used to.

Bruce finds an address on the business card and heads to the location in perhaps his worst disguise yet. He just looks like Bruce Wayne, but with a really thin, fake mustache which is even less convincing than Superman’s alter ego. Nonetheless, no one appears to recognize him as he attends what turns out to be a self-help seminar hosted by the Guru. Not surprisingly, the seminar is all about letting go of fear and as Guru goes on and on Bruce slips away. He ducks into an office and starts nosing around. He picks the lock on a drawer and finds a bunch of canisters inside. Before he can figure out what it is, a shadowy figure emerges behind him and blasts him in the back of the head with a club. As Bruce crumbles to the floor, the camera pans up to reveal the Scarecrow as the assailant.

Bruce wakes up to find himself in a zoo. He’s just outside a crocodile exhibit and as he looks around he’s soon alerted by the presence of The Scarecrow. He wants to know what Bruce was doing in the office, and he too is apparently unaware of who Bruce is. Wayne plays dumb and says he was just scrounging around for cash which Scarecrow seems to buy. That doesn’t mean he’s going to let him off the hook though. He shoots Wayne with a gas gun and then dares him to approach. Scarecrow is positioned behind the crocodile enclosure, so Bruce opts to go through it. In a bit of a confusing scene, Wayne hops the fence and is in ankle deep water, but the crocs emerge from underneath it. They’re massive, and they drag Bruce under water, which is now apparently several feet deep. As the water turns cloudy with blood, a satisfied Scarecrow departs with a rather amusing taunt of “Welcome to the food chain.” We’ve seen Batman tangle with massive reptiles before though, and soon just the back of a croc breeches the surface limply as Bruce emerges, seemingly unscathed.

scarecrow meets wayne

This Scarecrow is surprisingly playful.

Alfred and Tim are just hanging around Wayne Manor when Bruce comes storming in soaking wet. Before they can even ask what happened he orders Tim to suit up and get in the plane. The Dynamic Duo then take off and Batman fills Robin in on what he saw. He explains that Scarecrow is behind a new gas that removes people’s sense of fear. Robin takes note of how recklessly Batman is operating the Batwing prompting him to ask if he was exposed to this new toxin. Batman confirms that he was, but curtly informs his young sidekick that he can handle it. Robin seems unconvinced of that as Batman continues to fly in an irresponsible manner.

guru

Nice chin, Guru.

The two return to Scarecrow’s hideout. They return to the office where Batman found the canisters as Bruce Wayne only to find they’re gone. The Guru then shows up with some armed men in tow. Batman charges at them and is more than fortunate to not get shot. Robin’s approach is more professional as he uses batarangs to disarm the thugs allowing Batman to bash them into oblivion. He sets his sights on Guru, but the sharply dressed man isn’t talking. Batman ropes him up and tosses him over a balcony. Guru is now frightened, but it isn’t until Batman starts slicing the rope and musing about how little he cares if Guru falls does he start talking. He tells them that Scarecrow took the gas to the subway where he plans to unleash it on the city. Batman, having received what he wanted, remarks that his plan is just in time for rush hour (I guess he’s referring to the morning rush hour) and simply turns his back on the man and heads for the Batwing. The rope snaps, forcing Robin to make the save as Guru screams and passes out from the experience. Robin, despite being about a third of the size of Guru, manages to haul him up.

On the rooftop, Batman is heading for the Batwing when his own rope is used against him. He falls to the ground in a bind with Robin standing over him. He’s incensed and demands to be untied, but Robin tells him he’s in no condition for this. He once again insists that he can handle the toxin, but Robin tells him to sit this one out and removes his utility belt. As Robin walks away, Batman softens his tone and tells him he’s right. Telling Robin that he’ll be in charge on this mission, he once again asks him to untie him. Robin approaches, but stops short, telling Batman he almost fooled him. Batman then again returns to a state of heightened agitation with a “Why you little…!” but he at least stops short of swearing at the kid who leaves him on the roof top.

robins stand

Robin does what must be done.

Robin enters the subway system to confront Scarecrow and whatever help he brought with him. He enters a train that Scarecrow has apparently commandeered. There he finds Scarecrow in the midst of recording a ransom video intended for the mayor. When he flashes an inhaler indicating it’s the antidote, Robin nails it with a batarang and barges in. As he prepares to handcuff the Scarecrow, one of his men creeps up behind Robin and clubs him with both hands knocking him out. They cuff him, and apparently they’re content to just let him hang around until the job is done.

Meanwhile, Batman has escaped from his restraints and made his way to the same subway train. He boards it, apparently retrieving his belt at some point (or Tim just left it on the rooftop), and thunders through the cars. He grabs Scarecrow’s men and tosses them from the moving train. He moves right past Robin and takes Scarecrow from behind in the control room. He manages to get his hands around Scarecrow’s neck and he looks intent on finishing the job. During the fracas, the controls are damaged and the car is now out of control. This also seems like a good time to point out that this is by far the weirdest subway tunnel I’ve ever seen, resembling more of a mine train setting than a subway.

batman v scarecrow

Batman in full-blown murder mode.

Robin is able to free himself of his own bonds and jumps on Batman’s back. He tries to talk Batman down, but he has no success. He then spies the inhaler on the ground that contains the antidote to Scarecrow’s gas. He gives Batman a good blast in the face with it, and he quickly snaps back into sanity. Batman recognizes the dire situation, and orders Robin to evacuate. Robin hesitates, but Batman insists he’s fine now and that he’ll get he and Scarecrow out of there. Robin does as he’s told, and Batman grabs Scarecrow and bails before the subway train plunges into a ravine.

As Batman, dragging Scarecrow, and Robin walk out of the tunnel, Robin tries to apologize for what he did, but Batman tells him it was the right thing to do adding that a little fear is a good thing. The only thing missing from this ending is a sweet hug.

“Never Fear” is an episode that quickly abandons its premise. We’re shown how removing someone’s sense of fear could change him through the acrophobic individual at the beginning and the Wayne employee Mr. Grey. It’s easy to understand why someone who had a fear of heights would want to do something daring after suddenly having the fear removed. Similarly, Mr. Grey was likely a meek employee afraid to speak up for himself for years and now finally has the courage to do so which explains his actions in Wayne’s office.

robins bravery

Batman is pretty awful in this one, so much so that it almost seems implausible that Robin could just brush it off as the effects of some drug.

For Batman though, this new drug goes well beyond removing fear. Batman is a murderous psychopath when on this drug. Not only is he no longer afraid of consequences, the drug has seemingly removed any sense of value he once placed on the lives of Gotham’s criminals. Is the episode implying that it’s simply the law that prevents Batman from murdering his foes? Essentially, I feel like the episode began with a premise, and then the staff realized that a fearless Batman just wasn’t enough so they needed the drug to just turn him into a rampaging beast. For that reason, I’m not sure if they intend for us to draw any further conclusions from Batman’s actions. Even so, this Batman is very unlikable and as a viewer I can’t just forgive and forget, which makes the ending feel unearned because that’s exactly what Robin does. I feel like that drug peeled back some layers on Batman’s character, and what has been seen cannot be unseen.

This episode is one of the few not animated by the tandem of Dong Yang and Koko Ltd. It’s the work of the much acclaimed Tokyo Movie Shinsha, or simply TMS, and was directed in-house by Kenji Hachizaki. This marks a new turn as TMS previously animated episodes back in season one, but directing responsibilities were still performed onshore. Of course, with animation arrangements like this sometimes the credited director isn’t always the one doing the most directing so the real credit should almost always go to multiple parties. Still, it’s a nice honor for Hachizaki which reflects the standing of TMS in 1997. The studio will animate a handful of other episodes in this run and most of them are among the show’s most memorable. TMS is perhaps the best 2D animators on the planet during the 90s, and the quality is easy to spot in anything the studio works on. Though with this more streamlined design, the differences in animation quality are far less obvious than they were before. Or maybe that’s just a complement to the likes of Dong Yang which really improved noticeably during the life of BTAS.

This is also the Batman debut for writer Stan Berkowitz. He had previously worked on Fox’s Spider-Man as well as a bunch of live-action stuff before joining the staff of Batman. Berkowitz will contribute to more episodes in this season as well as many episodes of Superman. He’ll transition to Batman Beyond where he wrote a number of episodes, including the pilot. He’s basically hung around the DCAU ever since and should be a familiar name if you’ve kept up with those properties.

shadowy scarecrow

One thing seemingly not up for debate is that this version of The Scarecrow is superior to the previous one.

As for The Scarecrow, this new take on the character is easily the greatest success in terms of character design for The New Batman Adventures. No other redesign works as well as this one to improve what came before. It’s also nice to see the character returned to a more prominent role as he had been reduced to comedic relief in the final episodes of BTAS. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get much exposure in this new series making that neat design feel almost wasted. He will return one more time in a role that features minimal screen time, but the effects of which result in what is probably the show’s finest episode. As for “Never Fear,” it’s a good debut for this new twist on the villain even if I have some issues with the tone and direction the episode took. I suppose if you’re more willing to forgive and forget the actions of Batman in this episode then you may feel it’s a great deal better than I think it is, and maybe one of the best. For me, it’s almost too uncomfortable and it’s hard for me to at least partially not associate The New Batman Adventures version of Batman with the character we saw here.

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

Demons_Quest_TitleEpisode Number:  60

Original Air Date:  May 3, 1993

Directed by:  Kevin Altieri

Written by:  Dennis O’Neil

First Appearance(s):  Ubu, The Lazarus Pit

We have reached what feels like a seminal piece of Batman:  The Animated Series:  “The Demon’s Quest” and the true debut of Ra’s al Ghul. There’s no denying that the biggest break-out star from this show was Harley Quinn, a character created for the program who has gone on to become a rather popular part of DC. She was an original star, and if we were to pick a break-out from the list of pre-existing characters from Batman’s past it would come down to two villains:  Mr. Freeze and Ra’s al Ghul. Freeze was already fairly well-known to fans of Batman, both casual and hardcore. His presence in the 60’s television show is largely responsible for that, and even though his portrayals are rather lame in comparison to what this show did for him, he didn’t experience the same boost that Ra’s did, for he was only known to the hardcore fan base. Without this series, does he get featured-villain treatment in Batman Begins? Probably not. And while he debuted in “Off Balance,” this episode is essentially his real unveiling and where the audience gets to learn just who this guy is.

Robin_Attacked

Well, Robin, at least you don’t have to do any homework.

The episode opens unconventionally as it jumps right from the opening credits into the action without a title card. Robin is returning from a night out and is sneaking back into his dormitory. The interior of his room is dark when he climbs in through the window, but we can see he keeps a framed picture of Bruce on his dresser which is just adorable. We wouldn’t be seeing this though if something important wasn’t about to happen, and Robin is confronted in his room by some shadowy men. They tranquillize him, and as he falls to the floor the camera pans up on a darkened figure and a flash of lightning gives us a look at this green-cloaked figure with a horned mask.

robin kidnapped

Batman has a new frenemy in Ra’s al Ghul.

The title of the episode is then introduced, but over a “live” shot as Batman enters the Batcave on one of his motorcycles. Alfred is there to greet him and ask if there’s any word, to which Batman responds there is no sign of Robin or Dick Grayson anywhere in the city. Alfred is clearly distressed and hands Batman some mail that arrived for him as he heads upstairs to wait by the phone in case Dick calls. Batman opens the envelope and is angered to see it contains a photo of a bound Robin with a crooked dagger being pointed at his face. His anger is further fueled when a voice from the dark calls to him and a figure walks into the light.

Demanding how the man got in, Batman rushes at him only to have a dagger strike the ground in front of him. A second, much larger, man emerges as well and the first, soft-spoken figure apologizes for his overzealous protector. The man is Ra’s al Ghul (David Warner) and his attendant is Ubu (Manu Tupou). The viewer saw Ra’s in the closing moments of “Off Balance,” but this is Batman’s first time meeting what he refers to as The Demon’s Head. It would seem Ra’s has a reputation. He reveals that, via a second photo, that his beloved daughter Talia (Helen Slater) was abducted the same night as Robin and he wants Batman’s help in rescuing them. Batman, after seeing the weapon and rope in the image, knows them to be of Indian origin and the preferred weapon of a mercenary cult there. An impressed al Ghul declares they should then head to India aboard his aircraft.

ubu and batman

Batman and Ubu are going to have some problems.

As they depart the Batcave, Batman makes the mistake of walking in front of Ra’s al Ghul causing Ubu to toss him aside. Ra’s apologizes and asks Batman to consider it a case of overzealousness, but Batman instead refers to it as strike one. Aboard the aircraft, Ra’s explains how he figured out Batman’s identity and also alludes to how old he is by referencing a conversation he once had with Napoleon.

ras unhealthy

Aboard the airplane, Batman gets a sense of how unwell Ra’s is.

On the streets of India, Batman notes a building of interest thought to be connected with the mercenary group they’re looking for, and once again makes the mistake of passing in front of al Ghul leading to strike two. Once inside the building, the trio are attacked by ninja-like assassins. Ubu ushers Ra’s out of the way and the two seem content to watch Batman at work. He neutralizes their attackers, but leaves one conscious for interrogation. The frightened mercenary (Frank Welker) says the others have left and taken the hostages with them. They’re heading for Malaysia.

The group heads for Malaysia, though this time via automobile. As they drive through a rain forest, Ra’s al Ghul reveals more of himself. He condemns those who prioritize profits over the environment and rattles off statistics about the rain forest’s rapid destruction. Batman attempts to defend the good name of Bruce Wayne by mentioning how much money he donates to environmental causes, but Ra’s is unimpressed. It will take force to fix what is wrong with the world, not capital, and Batman asks if Ra’s is the one who will wield such force, but he’s non-committal citing his advanced age.

nice kitty

Not the sort of foe Batman is accustomed to dealing with.

At the temple the merc instructed them to check out, Batman races ahead and finds himself trapped. A black panther emerges to do battle, and Batman is forced to suffocate it, but not kill it, with his cape. As he replaces his cape, Ubu smashes in a giant steel door that had slammed shut behind Batman and he and Ra’s enter. They seem dismayed to see little of value in the room, save for a map. Batman notes there’s a scratch on the map likely left by a fingernail and determines that it likely represents someone tracing a route on the map. It starts at the temple, and leads into the Himalayas. Ra’s says he’s familiar with the area and knows where they could land an aircraft and the three set out. This time, Batman beckons Ra’s to go first with a polite bow and smirk for Ubu, who nods approvingly.

High above the mountains, Batman is preparing to parachute to the base of the mountain while Ra’s and Ubu will land closer to the summit. Batman doesn’t seem thrilled about having to trudge through the harsh, winter, conditions while the other two get to fly, but Ra’s insists it’s needed so Batman can gather intel. Dressed in a warm looking parka, Batman jumps and begins his descent down. A flash catches his eye and soon a rocket zooms past him and strikes the chopper causing it to burst into flames and crash below. Before Batman can even be allowed to wonder if the other two escaped, machine gun fire starts heading his way forcing him to ditch the parachute.

A pair of mercenaries on skis arrive at the wreckage and see what appears to be Batman face-down in the snow. They open fire, but it turns out Batman had simply ditched his parka as it bounces around from the gunfire. He emerges from the snow behind the mercenaries and takes them out. Looking rather cold and miserable, Batman follows the trail left in the snow from their skis to their origin.

There he finds a cave which leads into a fairly large temple. Robin is there bound to a chair and Batman races over to check on him. Robin is quite glad to see Batman, and Batman lets him know he’ll have him free in a second.

clapping

Batman has a receptive audience in the form of Anubis, it would seem.

Famous last words? Knives and spears immediately come flying in from the darkness at Batman who deftly dodges them only to be met by a rush of masked men wielding giant axes. Batman tangles with them, while we’re left to mostly experience the fight through Robin’s expressions as he marvels at his mentor’s abilities. Once all of the men have been dealt with, Batman frees Robin and also reveals he know who kidnapped him. Before he can explain, some clapping can be heard as the shadowy man with the horned mask enters the room. Batman rushes him, removing the mask, and revealing the man behind it:  Ra’s al Ghul.

she likes me

“Whoa! She…loves me?”

Batman is obviously rather irritated at this whole sideshow, but he does go into detail how he figured out it was Ra’s all along. Ra’s seems impressed, and when Batman demands to know why he orchestrated this whole thing Ra’s reveals his intentions. He’s old, and nearing the end of his already well-extended life, and he needs someone to take up his mantle. He has his own view of justice, of which we were privy to some of that during their conversation on the rain forest, and he thinks Batman is the man for the job. Not only is he a worthy warrior and detective (the name Ra’s uses for Batman throughout the episode), but he has also captured the heart of his beloved daughter, Talia. She also enters the picture showing off far more skin than before, and Batman’s eyes turn into that half-circle shape when Ra’s mentions that she loves him. She gives him an inviting gaze and for a second it seems like Batman might be for this (who could blame him?), but his cutely shaped eyes turn back into narrow slits and he refuses.

freaky ras

The Lazarus Pit can do some weird stuff.

Batman then takes his leave with Robin at his side. Ubu runs up to him and reminds him that his master did not give him permission to leave. When Batman says he didn’t ask, Ubu takes a swing. Batman catches his fist and holds it in place. As we hear the bones in Ubu’s hand crack, Batman declares that this is strike 3 and dumps Ubu on his back. Ubu, who was apparently strong enough to smash in a steel door earlier, can’t match Batman’s strength nor can he withstand a simple arm-drag. At this point, Ra’s is irate, and as the sweat beads on his forehead he declares that they shall now be enemies. A fit of coughing overtakes him and he crumbles to the floor. Talia begs for help, but Batman insists he isn’t playing any more of their games. Talia insists this is no game and that her father is dying. Batman checks his pulse and determines there’s no faking that, and Talia tells him they must take her father to the Lazarus Pit in this mountain.

ras emerges

Talia pauses to admire the posterior of the Batman.

Batman carries Ra’s as the others follow and Talia leads the way. They come to a cliff-face inside the mountain with a gurney on a pulley. At the bottom of the cliff is a pit of green, boiling, liquid. Robin thinks it’s crazy to put Ra’s in there, but Talia insists it’s the only way. Batman declares that it will have to do, as Ra’s has stopped breathing. They place his body on the gurney and lower him in. As the two heroes look on in wonder, Talia stands there smiling. Down below, the liquid swirls and the outline of Ra’s al Ghul appears in the water with fiendishly glowing red eyes. The liquid bursts forth in a water spout and Ra’s lands back on the cliff looking strong, and fit. He begins to laugh maniacally as Talia rushes in to embrace him. He looks completely crazy, and he grabs Talia around the waist and continues to laugh in her face in this demented fashion. He then hoists her above his head, prompting Batman to demand he let her go. He rushes al Ghul, only to be kicked and sent flying backwards. As Batman continues to demand he release Talia, Ra’s al Ghul’s laughter continues as the episode ends.

“The Demon’s Quest” is an effective and exciting way to introduce Ra’s al Ghul. He was already mysterious and interesting after his first appearance, and this episode illustrates just what makes him special. His apparent immortality makes him a more supernatural foe in a series that’s fairly grounded for a cartoon. He also has an almost supernatural ability to acquire information and setup elaborate traps to ensnare Batman. And at the same time, he’s dangerously relatable. Who didn’t identify with Ra’s al Ghul’s thoughts on the rain forest devastation in 1993? It was a hot topic and kids especially would have been expected to take his side in that argument. His motivations are still mysterious and we don’t really know just what he does that makes him a villain. He has ideals and principles, and very clearly is not afraid to operate above or outside the law as he’s willing to stage a kidnapping just to test Batman. And then there’s the madness of the character at the episode’s conclusion. Is that his true nature or a side effect of the Lazarus Pit? His behaviour there makes him a more natural villain, especially as he seems prepared to harm his daughter, which perhaps is a way to make sure the viewers don’t move fully to his side.

ras laugh talia

The maniacal laughter of Ra’s al Ghul is more than a little creepy.

The reappearance of Talia is also welcomed. She and Batman have unfinished business stemming from her first appearance, and it was rewarding to see that followed-up on. There’s still a lot of questions surrounding her. She and Batman seemed to hit it off in “Off Balance,” but how much of that was just she playing him? Even here, Ra’s claims that Batman has captured his daughter’s heart, but we don’t know how much of that is true and how much is deceit. She’s obviously well-trained so anything is possible. It’s also clear she’s devoted to her father, so Batman better watch out. As a child viewer, I think I wanted to see Batman go for it with Talia, but as a more mature viewer now I must say I think he was trying to do the right thing in just walking away from that hot mess.

Dennis O’Neil wrote this episode and he was responsible for the works from which it originates, Batman #232 and Batman #244. Other episodes of the show were based on his comic stories, but this is the only one he was either asked to write for the show or the only one he chose to write. And interestingly, he’s just a co-writer on Part II as he shared duties with Len Wein. Wein is credited as handling the teleplay which leads me to think he may have only received credit for the original work, while Wein handled the translation of comic to screen. At any rate, if you’re only going to write one episode of the show this (and the conclusion, Part II) is a pretty good one.

In addition to the fascinating villain of the episode is also the presentation. Robin working his way through a stormy night at the episode’s open is an attention-grabber. The scene itself isn’t thrilling from the start, but just the way it decides to forego the title card is enough to make it unsettling. It feels like an important episode from act one. It also looks fabulous and that’s largely due to the animation of Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMS). TMS works on some of the most elaborate and expensive animation in Japan so every episode of this show they handle feels extra special. While this doesn’t top the fantastic work the studio did for “Feat of Clay – Part II” it’s certainly not a slouch in the animation department. If I had one piece of criticism though it’s that they may have gotten a bit too horny with Talia. Her bust is massive and dominating and, at times, oddly shaped as if they were paying way too much attention to making her sexy. It’s all the more stark since Part II was animated far more tastefully. I’m not against her being sexy, as seduction is one of her weapons, it’s just a bit over-the-top.

“The Demon’s Quest – Part I” sets up what should be a rather interesting conclusion. With Ra’s gone mad and Batman and Robin stranded in the Himalayas, it would seem they’ll need to get rather resourceful if they want to get home. In terms of setup, it might not be quite as exciting as some of the others, but the possibility of a worthy pay-off seems just as likely.