Nobody was happier than I was to see Batman: The Animated Series returned with Batman: The Adventures Continue. Alan Burnett and Paul Dini returning to their legendary version of the Caped Crusader with new DCAU-styled takes on since-released Batman stories like Under the Hood was a fantastic recipe for fun and entertaining stories. Along with longtime Batman: TAS comic artist Ty Templeton, their first “season” of books was, at the very least, a hit with this Batman fan. Now with Batman: The Adventures Continue Season 2 they’re taking on what happens to be one of my favourite comics of all time, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Court of Owls.
The book feels like you could place it at almost any point in Batman’s publication, a timeless aspect to this version of the DC Universe it retains from its animated origins. Much like how the then-contemporary character Bane was made to feel like a decades long standing Batman rogue in his debut episode, this book makes the Court of Owls feel like they’ve always been part of Batman’s mythos.
Anybody who every thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be cool if the Kevin Conroy Batman was in one of the best modern Batman stories out there?” will be more than pleased with where this book is going. We start out with a bang with the death of a long standing B:TAS supporting character, Mayor Hamilton, at the hands of a Talon assassin. Right away, the book doesn’t want to pull any punches.
Hamilton may not have been the biggest of presences in the show, but he was a familiar and recurring figure, and seeing that familiarity shattered is already exciting. It gives the sense that any supporting characters not destined to appear later in the DCAU timeline (I’m pretty sure Nightwing and Batgirl are gonna be just fine, trust me on that) have a chance to kick the bucket, which adds some real stakes to the stories going forward.
A surprise addition to this tale is Boston Brand, AKA Deadman, who haunts Batman’s attempts to solve the mystery of the Court of Owls’ sudden appearance in Gotham. While we don’t yet know what larger purpose he’ll play in this story, in this issue he serves to let the reader know that there’s more to the Talons than meets the eye, with his failed attempts to possess one of their ranks do to their supposed undead nature. Anybody who remembers the New 52 storyline will likely know where this is going, but Dini and Burnett haven’t yet showed their hand on what twists on the original they have in store, so there’s still plenty of room to speculate.
Deadman being the POV character of this issue actually fixes a minor complaint I had about the previous “season”, that being Batman’s narration. In the show, we never got much into Bruce’s head while he was working, only hearing what he bounces off the characters present in any given story (usually Alfred). He wasn’t very chatty, and it added an element of mystique and presence when you could only infer what he was feeling with his body language alone. The previous “season” had him narrating quite a bit, and while it was good inner monologue, it also meant it lost some of that traditional B:TAS feeling. With Deadman narrating this whole issue, we forgo that problem entirely.
The artwork by Templeton is fantastic, and that’s to be expected with how experienced he is drawing in this style. It’s bold and dynamic, just like the show, and like the comics he used to draw during the show’s heyday. My only complaint is in the coloring, which has a very unfortunate problem making characters’ skin tone vary from panel to panel, which wasn’t great.
In conclusion, I’m extremely excited to see where this is going. With some of my favourite Batman creators taking on the task of adapting the work of some of my other favorite Batman creators, I was practically predisposed to enjoy this. Even under a critical eye however, it holds up fairly well, with solid characterization and writing that feels like the original cartoon never ended.
Burnett, Dini and Templeton are masters of this character, and I’m really happy to see them playing around in this universe again. Their presence brings a real authenticity this this book, and I’m excited to see what they do next with it.
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