Beware the Batman Ep 1 Review: Hunted
There’s a new Batman cartoon series and he’s back in Gotham fighting crime, but this time in CGI. Developed by Glen Murakami, Mitch Watson, and Sam Register, the show focuses on a younger Batman as he fights much more obscure villains along with his trusty ally Alfred and newcomer Katana. I’ll be doing regular episode reviews of the series to see how this new show holds up against the long legacy of good Batman shows. This week Batman fights Professor Pyg and Mister Toad as they kidnap some of Gotham’s wealthiest in: Hunted. Written by Mitch Watson and directed by Sam Liu
The episode starts out with Batman taking out some thugs in a rather good fight scene. Bats pulls off a nice smoke sneak attack to scare the guy, unfortunately his partner has some sort of strength enhancing gloves and overpowers batman. There’s a surprising wince inducing bit where Bats gets his shoulder dislocated and has to pop it back in. The opening gives us the idea that Batman isn’t invulnerable or untouchable like he has been portrayed before, especially when other heroes are involved. Things can challenge him and hurt him.
The new villains make their entrance kidnapping industrialist Simon Stagg and then go after Michael Holt with Batman trying to piece together what they’re after and who’s next. We get to see him doing some detective work to figure out what Professor Pyg wants, which is good to see that in Batman media since it’s not used that often at the moment. Stagg and Holt are connected to some DC heroes so I expect it won’t be the last time we see them, and I hope they get some more characterisation. The entire episode feels like it’s on a slow boil that gives us a nice view of the basics of the world but clearly is setting things up for later. I would not be surprised to see a lot things in this episode pop up later on in the season. That is probably why we didn’t learn much about Pyg and Toad as they were there for a plot Batman had to solve to show us how he works in this version. I hope next time they appear they get more focus and we find out more about them.
This Batman is still starting out, evident by the thugs from the beginning not being scared by him. He seems to be purposefully separating his life as Batman and Bruce Wayne into two separate people. That I hope will come into play later as it is a good thing to explore in his character. We don’t get to see much of his Bruce persona here or know that much other than he isn’t as involved in running Wayne Enterprises and deals are made without him knowing about them. The injury he gets at the beginning is with him through the entire thing and we see him struggling with it every now and then. I hope that attention to detail is kept up as the series goes on.
The big thing that’s different in this series is Alfred. He has a much more active role in this show compared to others, but unlike the first promo image he’s not running around with Batman with duel pistols, at least in this episode. He’s helping out on cases, making sure Bruce keeps alert and doesn’t get sloppy, as well as using his MI6 connections to get information. He seems much more Michael Caine crossed with Vinnie Jones, a man who’s been in quite a few brawls and knows a lot about this line of work. He even contacts Katana to bring her in as Bruce’s new bodyguard since he’s getting a little long in the tooth. Though we don’t see much of her since we only see her giving intel to Alfred and then accepting his offer at the end. Next episode we should get more. So far I like this take on Alfred; I just hope we don’t see anymore contrived ways to get him into the main plot.
The voice work is good, as usual. Everyone seemed to fit their parts and this follows the tradition of not casting a bad Batman as Anthony Ruivivar does a bang up job with this version. J.B. Blanc also does great work with this Alfred and I’m expecting good things from them. The animation a mixed bag. It’s very nice CG, great action scenes and the designs are pretty good in motion rather than in stills. However the draw backs of CG TV animation come in to play too. The backgrounds aren’t much to right home about, since creating character models cost more money the streets feel empty at times, though at night it does feel right for the streets of Gotham to be empty. With the models being expensive to create there’s going to be a few episodes where we won’t get a lot of characters showing up. That can lead to some atmospheric experiences or just the world feeling empty, depending on how well they do it. Their Batsuit is also a bit sparse on colour; it looks like it needs more blue, grey, and yellow to balance it out more.
I’d be remiss not to mention the slight controversy around the show, the guns. Because of the tragic Aurora shooting they decided to alter the guns in this to less realistic ones. That can usually be a tricky thing, depending on the tone of the show, but since a thug already had power gloves I don’t think lasers are too out of place. What I do find weird is that at the beginning the thug’s pistol was more realistic but slightly altered to be a laser gun, but when they had more fantastical guns they seemed to fire bullets. That seems more classic BS&P work; if it looks like a real gun then it must be, or sound like, a laser. However if it doesn’t look like a gun that you can buy then it can sound like a gun since those fake guns can’t be easily imitated. It’s a bit strange but I don’t think it hurts the show, especially when there are fantastical elements there already.
It was a good first episode that shows potential. It’s not that great at the moment but was solid at setting things up and these series usually don’t start with the best episodes but with things that show what the series is going to be like. It is really nice to see a Batman cartoon, or just a superhero show in general, that is about a solo character and not the wider universe. At the moment people seem to want to tell stories about the whole universe rather than solo characters and their supporting cast; so I enjoy and encourage the variety we’re getting here. I’m hoping for some good things in the coming episodes.