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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Animation > TV > Batman – The Complete Animated Series (1992 – 95/Warner DVD)

Batman – The Complete Animated Series (1992 – 95/Warner DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B



After debuting in animated form from Filmation on the heels of the Batmania of the live-action TV series in the mid-1960s, Batman was in non-stop animated action until the early 1980s.  Only Superman could compete and he logged less animated adventures.  After those circulated all over international television and played themselves out (including in some late 1980s Canadian toy store ads prior to the Burton revival), the 1989 Tim Burton revival led to Warner’s animated division to launch a new era of DC Comics Superheroes.  Batman – The Animated Series (1992) was the beginning and the DC Universe entered a new prolific era we are still enjoying.


With Kevin Conroy voicing Batman/Bruce Wayne and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. voicing Alfred The Butler, the show would be a darker take than had ever been committed to film before, even more than The Burton films would ultimately manage.  With the greatest line-up of villains in Superhero genre history, this show would actually be the first time some of his greatest opponents ever surfaced outside of the printed page.  Besides smart, clever revivals of key characters like The Riddler, The Penguin, The Scarecrow, Clayface, The Mad Hatter, Catwoman and of course, The Joker (brilliantly voiced by Mark Hamill), The Creeper, Killer Croc, Ra’s Al Ghul, Man Bat and other characters made their filmed debuts.  A new-styled Robin and Batgirl eventually joined the series, while in the masterpiece episode of the series Heart of Ice, Mr. Freeze (a character created for the Adam West TV series by the late Max Hodge) comes back as one of the most formidable adversaries in Batman history.  It won an Emmy and rightly so.


However, the whole show is loaded with surprises and there are so many people who loved the characters and knew how to put it on the screen, including Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, Kevin Altieri, Boyd Kirkland, Dan Riba, Eric Radomski among others, as well as behind-the-scenes heroes of Batman’s past like Neil Adams, Marv Wolfman, Denny O’Neil, Len Wein and the great one himself, Batman creator Bob Kane.  Though the shows can be uneven when taken as a whole, they are much more hit than miss and was the first time in comic book history that the literary aspect of the art form had been so extensively captured on film, though we love the Fleischer Superman shorts.


The show did change when Robin was introduced, but the lightening was nowhere near as bad as the live-action versions, so I give all further credit for doing this aspect of the history with substance.  Despite newer animated versions of Batman and affiliated characters, the show more than holds its own and with this set, I hope it is finally recognized for the landmark classic it is.



The 1.33 X 1 image across the four seasons of shows is consistent enough for DVD, though the real variant issue here are the several studios the producers outsourced the shows to, meaning they can vary in the quality of the actual animation.  You can see cell dust in many of the shows, but they have a consistent look and the fact that they used black background cells instead of clear ones gives it an edge in this increasingly digital era.  The use of color is also decent and that comes through.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is labeled as having Pro Logic surrounds, but they can be fleeting and vary between shows.  However, the audio is decent as well and the late, great Shirley Walker’s music is amazing.


Extras from the individual sets previously released include previews for other Warner product, 12 audio commentaries on key episodes and 8 featurettes that all hold up very well.  The new set comes in a beautiful coffee table-sized slipcase that contains a 40-page booklet of concept art from the series including some never-before-published work contained inside the top of an all-black case that has Batman art in black you need to shine light on to fully appreciate and two separate cases holding all 16 DVDs with all 109 episodes.  The second case also has a bonus disc with more previews and a new retrospective documentary called Shades Of The Bat and Batman Gotham Knight: An Anime Evolution.  I only hoped that we might get a preview for the new Batman Brave & the Bold animated series, but that must not have been ready at the time of pressing.


However, this is a great gift set, is highly collectible and after both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, this series holds up against the current darker Batman image very well.  This is impressive and Warner should issue all their DC Comics animated shows this way.  Fans will certainly agree.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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