This month’s Top 5 list features my favorite episodes from Batman: The Animated Series. I was inspired to put this list together when I saw a panel at Emerald City Comiccon celebrating the 20th anniversary of the show. Of course, that headline also made me feel really old. This is what cemented my love of Batman, but I’ll save talking about how wonderful this show was for a different post. Here’s the list.
|5.||“Almost Got ‘Im”||Joker, Killer Croc, Penguin, Two-Face, and Poison Ivy all meet at a poker table, each telling a tale of times when they almost defeated Batman. At the same time, Harley Quinn is about to kill Catwoman.
This episode made the list because it is probably the episode my wife and I quote from the most. And it’s only one line. When Killer Croc is telling his story, he builds up the suspense, and then simply says, “I threw a rock at him.” The others at the table question how he almost got Batman, and he responds, “it was a big rock.”
|4.||“Beware the Gray Ghost”||Simon Trent, an actor best known for his past role as “The Gray Ghost”, is on the verge of bankruptcy thanks to his declining career. To save himself, he sells off all of his Gray Ghost merchandise. Immediately afterwards, a series of crimes related to the old show begin to occur. Batman, having himself been inspired partly by the show to become the crime fighter he now is, goes to Trent for help, and they team up to put an end to the crimes.
This is on the list because not only is it a great story about childhood heroes not disappointing you, but Adam West is the voice of the Gray Ghost. That is what you would call “awesome.”
|3.||“Robin’s Reckoning”||During a fight with some gangsters at a construction yard, Batman and Robin learn the name of their boss: Billy Marin. While Robin looks forward to going up against Marin, Batman becomes distant, and after a falling out at the Batcave, Batman doesn’t allow Robin to accompany him on the search for Marin. Robin investigates on the Batcomputer, and soon realizes that Billy Marin is not the boss’ real name. Rather, it is an alias of Tony Zucco, the man who killed his parents. Robin sets out to find Tony Zucco instead of saving Batman, all the while plagued by the memories of his parents’ death and how Bruce took him in as his own son. Eventually, Batman manages to find Zucco at an old amusement park, but breaks his leg during the fight. Robin arrives, and prepares to kill Zucco in revenge. He initially scoffs Batman’s advice, but realizes that justice and revenge are not the same. Zucco is arrested, and Batman makes amends with Robin, stating that he wouldn’t let Robin accompany him under the fear of Zucco killing him.
This is on the list because I love Robin’s origin story. In the comics, it doesn’t even matter which Robin. I think Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake all have good origin stories. But this episode, with Robin going after the man that killed his parents, had an emotion to it that is rare with kids cartoons.
|2.||“Christmas With the Joker||After escaping Arkham Asylum on Christmas Eve, The Joker takes over Gotham’s airwaves and terrorizes the city. He then challenges Batman to find his hidden TV studio and free his hostages, Commissioner Gordon, Detective Bullock, and Summer Gleason, before midnight.
This is by far my favorite Joker episode. And it ends with Batman getting a pie in the face. I think today’s superheroes need more pies in the face.
|1.||“The Demon’s Quest”||When Robin is mysteriously abducted from his college campus, Batman begins a fruitless search, until he is astounded by the sudden appearance in the Batcave of Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s quickly reveals that his daughter, Talia, has been abducted under circumstances similar to Robin’s, suggesting that the same persons are responsible. So an uneasy truce is formed between Batman and ‘The Demon’. After freeing Talia from her father’s clutches and escaping from an avalanche, Batman and Robin follow the only clue they have, the word ‘Orpheus’. After discovering that ‘Orpheus’ is Ra’s private satellite that will orbit over the Sahara, the duo travel to the Demon’s desert stronghold. There, Batman learns that the satellite is actually a weapon which will explosively destroy all the Lazarus Pits simultaneously, throughout the world, destroying all the life that exists.
Ra’s Al Ghul is my favorite Batman villain, so naturally, an episode featuring him is going to be my favorite.
Honorable Mention: “Mad Love,” “Harlequinade,” “Harley and Ivy,” “The Man Who Killed Batman,” “Joker’s Wild”