Beware the Batman: Tests review (S01E03)

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Bruce puts Tatsu through a series of tests to prove her loyalty. As Batman, he battles against Anarky. Directed by Curt Ceda. Written by Jim Krieg. 

With all the talk of Anarky being Batman’s Moriarty my expectations for episode three were pretty high. But when Anarky showed up looking like Moon Knight and he didn’t even get a back story I was disappointed. His motivation for causing chaos was quite thin and it wasn’t as though he was trying to disrupt the established order as much as he just wanted to kill people and blow things up. He was a more simplified version of his comic book self. He wasn’t even a very pro-active character, instead choosing to hire two of the dumbest crooks in Gotham (the kids with spray cans from last week’s episode– pretty tight continuity and that’s worth applauding) to use some advanced weaponry to do his dirty work. Where Anarky got these futuristic weapons, however, is never explained. Even the voice provided by Wallace Langham didn’t seem to match-up with the character design and felt more suitable for a scrawny Riddler-type villain as opposed to the bulky ghost-like figure that is Anarky. SHOW SPOILER ▼

Much like the previous episode we don’t get a whole lot of Alfred, which is a shame because I think that the Bruce/Alfred scenes from the pilot remain some of the best moments of Beware the Batman so far. However, while Alfred’s role is minimized we do see Tatsu’s character get fleshed out quite a bit more and it’s her storyline that actually showcases the most detective work as she tries to unravel the mystery of her aloof employer Bruce Wayne. I found the Tatsu/Jade Sword subplot to be the most interesting element of the episode while the central plot regarding Anarky fell flat. I had suspected Batman vs. Anarky would be a battle of wits but this was actually a far more action driven story than the previous two installments and even when the action was at its highest point it still did not compare with what Magpie brought to the table.

The kids with spray cans turned out to be obscure comic book characters themselves. Daedalus Boch AKA “Doodlebug” and Tucker Long AKA “Junkyard Dog” are from Arkham Asylum: Living Hell which also featured the sole appearance by Lunkhead, a character who was seen in episode 2. In the comics they were shown to be crazy rather than stupid but here Daedalus and Tucker are depicted as complete morons that were used as comic relief rather than a credible threat. It was hard to see why Anarky kept going through all the effort to use this duo to execute his crimes over and over again, really. If he has the funds to make/buy these awesome weapons then surely he can find a pair of henchmen that are more competent. I’m all for having some laughable goons, but if the creators really want Anarky to be the arch enemy of season one then they need to try harder than this because Humpty Dumpty, Magpie, and Professor Pyg all seem to be far more formidable. Anarky didn’t appear to be a challenge at all. In fact, all Anarky and his crew did was cause a little bit of property damage and honestly Alfred piloting the batmobile via remote control caused more destruction than Anarky’s gang did and he did it in a fraction of the time.

While I’m still finding it hard to adjust to the CG animation I will say that this under-lit episode presented a Gotham that actually felt lived in. Here we actually see Gothamites walking down the street and the sound team added enough effects to make it seem like there were unseen crowds running for their lives. There weren’t as many sterile, empty environments as there were in the past two episodes.

All of the voice cast did a great job but I think Langham was miscast as Anarky or his character design should have been made to better fit his talents. Anthony Ruivivar makes a pretty solid Batman and I definitely want to hear more from JB Blanc as Alfred in the future.

Overall

Don’t freak out about the 6/10– I don’t use the scoring system the same way as video game websites who think a 9-10 is a good game, 7.5-8.5 is a rental, and everything from a 7 on down is utter crap. This was a fairly entertaining episode but I thought it fell way short of expectations and there characters were not as well written and explored as thoroughly as in the previous two installments. It’s okay, but not an episode that I’ll want to revisit for repeat viewings.

SCORE: 6/10

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