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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Superhero > Science Fiction > Animation > TV > Batman Beyond: The Complete Series (1998 - 2001/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray Box Set w/Toy)

Batman Beyond: The Complete Series (1998 - 2001/DC Comics/Warner Blu-ray Box Set w/Toy)

Picture: B* Sound: B Extras: B+ Episodes: B

When Batman: The Animated Series debuted in 1990, it landed up launching a new era of DC Comics animation still going on today, one that took the audience and characters more seriously, looking good and being dark in a way no animated TV show in the U.S. had been before, despite more serious shows occasionally like Valley Of The Dinosaurs, Planet Of The Apes and the first season of Filmation's Flash Gordon. Companion series like Superman: The Animated Series and Justice League were not necessarily as dark, but we finally had series that were more mature than most of what we had seen before. After the live action Batman films burned out by the later 1990s, DC/Warner surprised everyone with Batman Beyond, which dared to take place 40 years later after the series set in current, contemporary times.

In it, Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) has retired, but used a new jet black suit with state-of-the-art electronics that helped him strength and speed-wise (ahead of The Dark Knight Returns for that matter) on his last mission before throwing in the towel, et al, for good. However, he is still at the helm of Wayne Enterprises and with Alfred the Butler gone, only has the latest version of Ace the Batdog to keep him company and help around the house. Enter Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle) who is a high school student with a dad working in electronics and just trying to keep his life together.

When his dad is killed by a man who is also out to hijack Wayne Enterprises from 'Mr. Wayne', Terry is ready to take action first and knowing the secret identity of Wayne, steals that latest Bat Suit and goes into action. After the two have 'major disagreements' at the worst possible time, they slowly start to unite.

Running for three great seasons, the series had to come up with a new set of villains, including some that reflected the classic ones, create a new world and most important, try to predict technology and a future technologized world in a way no DC Comics property ever had to before. That final point was my top concern and curiosity. Could they pull that off and how would it age? At the time, it was very impressive and shockingly good, smart about what the technology meant narratively and is in the design of the buildings and some of the characters (note the computer chip motifs throughout the show) throughout.

Over two decades later, some of this has come true, some of this seems to still be on the way and the only thing that dates it a bit is the use of DVD/CD/Blu-ray type discs for data. Though 5-inch and 3-inch discs still get used, flash drives picked up since, though they are not as visually interesting in animation. Rewatching the show now, it has all new things to offer, from all that to the characters versus how the animated and live action DC Universe has unfolded since the show was cancelled. We know how the live action films have been a mixed bag of success and failure, both critically and commercially and as I saw these shows again, one big flaw is that the makers should have been required to watch this series all over again.

This is also among the last animated TV shows to still use hand-drawn cell art and was excellent then and still excellent now, a peak of that era of the artform. Detail might not be as minute as Akira (1987), but it is as technically savvy and honest. Though it has the style of the other DC animated shows, it still managed to have its own niche and that endures as well. The voice talent is great, writing smart and it is a thrill that it finally has arrived on Blu-ray and in such a great box set.

We did previous review the final season on DVD and it includes great details on the show, including how it was tied into the rest of the series and (like more than a few shows) never really had a concluding episode:


Even after all this time, it is a series people still love, still talk about and would like to see more of. At one point, Warner was very close to making a big budget, live action feature film, but that was cancelled like several film that should have been made. Instead, Marvel Comics movies started to finally get made and usually made well, so its not like DC/Warner had nothing to develop. Batman Begins shows what DC can come up with like no other fiction company, comic books world or otherwise.

When the original series debuted, HDTV and the idea of widescreen TV was a very new thing and the opening credits were letterboxed on every episode. I always wondered if the whole show was being made 1.78 X 1/16 X 9 and we would see a wider image when HDTV fully arrived. Well, you could zoom in and try to watch these episodes in widescreen, but they were made in the old-fashioned 'academy aperture', narrow vision, block style way and the episodes are presented on all the Blu-rays (centered in a 1.78 X 1 frame) in 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers. The result is a huge improvement over the decent DVD presentations, with far better color range, superior overall definition and a more solid, palpable look that makes the whole show a great new experience. Again, it has aged well and I love the look, though you can see tiny bits of cell dust here and there, it is not too often and the show just looks great, but an additional note. Return Of The Joker is also 1.33 X 1, though it has larger shots and could be zoomed in for 16 X 1/1.78 X 1 and you would not loose as much, being they were thinking soft matte when they made it.

Some of the episodes are not here in the best shape since some of them are missing their best materials (reportedly, some of the later 35mm materials have some wear issues for some odd reason, but we'll find out more later, though that means its time for some emergency restoration. Hope they are not lost for good!), so as the press release explains...

* Due to source material, episode resolution was enhanced (up-rez) instead of remastering. Those episodes are marked in the full episode guide list below...

Disc 1

  • Rebirth, Pt. 1

  • Rebirth, Pt. 2

  • Black Out

  • Golem

  • Meltdown

  • Heroes

  • Shriek

  • Dead Man's Hand

  • The Winning Edge

  • Spellbound

  • Disappearing Inque

  • A Touch of Curare

  • Ascension

Disc 2

  • Splicers

  • Earth Mover

  • Joyride

  • Lost Soul

  • Hidden Agenda

  • Bloodsport

  • Once Burned

  • Hooked Up

  • Rats!

  • Mind Games

  • Revenant

  • Babel

  • Terry's Friend Dates a Robot

Disc 3

  • Eyewitness*

  • Final Cut*

  • The Last Resort*

  • Armory*

  • Sneak Peek*

  • The Eggbaby*

  • Zeta*

  • Plague*

  • April Moon*

  • Sentries of the Last Cosmos*

  • Payback

  • Where's Terry?

  • Ace in the Hole

Disc 4

  • King's Ransom

  • Untouchable

  • Inqueling

  • Big Time

  • Out of the Past

  • Speak No Evil*

  • The Call, Pt. 1

  • The Call, Pt. 2

  • Betrayal

  • Curse of the Kobra, Pt. 1

  • Curse of the Kobra, Pt. 2

  • Countdown

  • Unmasked

Though the show was stereo on TV and only lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on the old DVDs, I wondered if the show had a better set of soundmasters and Warner/DC has proven me correct by offering an excellent set of DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes for the episodes that sound great, rarely show their age and are as impressive as shows being made now, so good that I swore it read 5.1 when I originally posted this review. The music is a beneficiary, as are the fun sound effects, plus you can hear the voice actors better and the action gets all the sonic boosts it deserves. Return Of The Joker is here in a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix that can be a bit weak in overall sound range, making me think they just repeated the lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix instead of going back to the original soundmaster, but it'll do for now.

We have the Limited Edition Box Set with the Batman Funko doll that is amusing like all their products and a nice plus, and we get a clear cellophane envelope of 3D lenticular cells of scenes from the show, while the box set's discs add the following (per the press release)...

Disc 1

  • Commentary on the episode 'Rebirth, Part 1' by producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini & Glenn Murakami and director Curt Geda.

  • Audio Commentary on episode 'Shriek' by producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Paul Dini & Glen Murakami, director Curt Geda and writer Stan Berkowitz

  • Music of the Knight - producer Bruce Timm introduces a feature allowing access to key scenes from Batman Beyond, accompanied by the compelling score created for the series.

  • Inside Batman Beyond - Meet the Creators - producers Alan Burnett, Bruce Timm, Glen Murakami and Paul Dini discuss the creative process behind Batman Beyond and its inaugural season. Jason Hillhouse moderates.

  • Batman 80th Anniversary Collection trailer

Disc 2

  • Commentary on the episode 'Splicers' by producers Bruce Timm and Glen Murakami, storyboard artist James Tucker, casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano and Will Friedle, the voice of Terry McGinnis/Batman.

Disc 3

  • Commentary on the episode 'The Eggbaby' by producers Bruce Timm & Glen Murakami, director James Tucker, Producer Glen Murakami, casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano and Will Friedle, the voice of Terry McGinnis/Batman

  • Inside Batman Beyond: The Panel - An in-depth discussion with producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami and Paul Dini as Season Two of Batman Beyond is explored with moderator Jason Hillhouse.

Disc 4

  • Inside Batman Beyond: Season 3 - A fascinating discussion on Season Three of Batman Beyond with producers Bruce Timm, Alan Burnett, Glen Murakami and Paul Dini.

  • Inside Batman Beyond Season 3: Close-Up On... - producers Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, directors Butch Lukic and James Tucker, and voice actor Will Friedle discuss their favorite moments among final-season episodes.

  • Inside Batman Beyond Season 3: Out of the Past - producers Bruce Timm & Paul Dini, director James Tucker and voice actor Will Friedle sit down together to talk about 'The Legend of Batman' musical (which appears in this episode) and other memorable moments.

  • Inside Batman Beyond Season 3: The Call, Part 1 - producers Bruce Timm & Paul Dini, director Butch Lukic and voice actor Will Friedle gather to discuss the additional heroes and the exciting action showcased in this episode.

  • Inside Batman Beyond Season 3: The Call, Part 2 - producers Bruce Timm & Paul Dini, director Butch Lukic and voice actor Will Friedle talk about the appearance of Starro and Superman in this episode.

  • Inside Batman Beyond Season 3: Curse of the Kobra, Part 1 - producers Bruce Timm & Paul Dini, director James Tucker and voice actor Will Friedle reminisce about the personal relationships that highlight the story of this episode.

Disc 5

Nostalgic Tomorrow - A Batman Gathering (All-New Featurette) - Nostalgia strikes like it's 1999. Seated at the table are the Batman Beyond Team: producers Bruce Timm & Glen Murakami, actors Kevin Conroy & Will Friedle, director James Tucker, casting/dialogue director Andrea Romano, and writers Bob Goodman & Stan Berkowitz. Care to join us for a chat?

Knight Immortal (All-New Featurette) - A visual and visceral celebration of the Dark Knight;s 80 years of crime fighting, narrated by storytellers of the past, present, and future.

Tomorrow Knight: The Batman Reborn (All-New Featurette) - Storytellers explore the rise of Terry McGinnis as Batman and Bruce Wayne's relationship with the young hero as he mentors a new Dark Knight for modern times.

Gotham: City of The Future - A Close-Up Look at Gotham City Circa 2039, the modernization and the inspirations for its high-tech design and massive scale.

The High-Tech Hero - Batman Beyond storytellers discuss the evolution of the new Bat Suit and its futuristic design and capabilities.

Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics (Documentary) - The Story of DC Comics and the rise of the Super Hero mythology as a zeitgeist in American pop culture.

Disc 6

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000) Remastered for Blu-ray, the heralded animated feature film spawned by the Batman Beyond series is included on a separate bonus disc in the box set.

All that makes the new Batman Beyond Blu-ray set one of the best of the year!

- Nicholas Sheffo


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