Guys, I might be the wrong person to review this in any kind of fair critical sense. Batman: The Animated Series and the resulting DC Animated Universe are collectively my favorite cartoon shows of all time.
One of this book’s biggest strengths is that it knows who its audience is right away. Rather than dealing out a ton of exposition, Dini and Burnett go right into the story at hand. It feels like this could have been the premiere of season two of The New Batman Adventures. There are references to the Joker/Lex team-up from “World’s Finest” that place this storyline not too long afterwards. You don’t need to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the shows to follow this book, but there’s a lot of love on display for the folks who like to keep their timelines tidy.
Not only that, but the artwork from Templeton is a DCAU fan’s absolute dream. The character designs are a lovely mix of TNBA and the first few seasons’ aesthetics. Bruce Wayne is drawn to resemble his TNBA appearance, but Bruce’s ex, Veronica Freeland, pops up at one point to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Oh, and the opening page features a title card reminiscent of the ones in the original run of Batman: The Animated Series. It hit a sweet spot with this nerd right here.
The plotting feels the same way, perfectly combining the tone of the earlier and later animated Batman adventures. The action sequences between Batman and the robot are fun, feeling like something out the more colorful TNBA/Superman era. Still, there’s a darker undercurrent to the storyline (particularly when it comes to one mystery man in the shadows) that brings to mind the more mature serialized plotting of Dan Abnett and Ty Templeton’s superb second volume of Batman Adventures.
It’s a very quick read, but the artwork and character interactions are so fun that you’re going to want to go back and give it a second read. This is especially true if you’re a longtime fan of the DCAU and have been hankering for a return to this timeline.
This first issue definitely feels like something of a pilot episode in many ways. There’s a fun opening battle sequence and the sly introductions of a few ancillary figures that will likely be a large part of the series going forward. The goal of this book is to introduce characters that were never included in the original cartoon, and there’s already an effort to do that within the first few pages. In other words, this book is already fulfilling its promises in some surprising ways.