I thought the premiere episode of Cartoon Network's "Beware the Batman" was a solid entry that served to set the tone for the new cg animated show but left ample room for some improvement. Did the second episode take a step forward or back?

Reviews Opinion

OVERVIEW | I'll go ahead and state that I liked the second episode of "Beware the Batman" much more than the first. While the episodic case took to the forefront we did get little peeks into Bruce Wayne's psyche along the way and the introduction of Jim and Barbara Gordon also helped make the show just a little more Batman-like. Magpie was also way more interesting than Professor Pyg or Mister Toad as we were able to learn about her origin and motivation. Still, this episode felt like another one-off that didn't introduce any overarching, season-long storylines unless there's something more in regards to the animal motif present in the three villains shown thus far.

PRODUCTION INTANGIBLES | Watching the episode in HD OnDemand allowed me to pause the episode a few times and really inspect some of the cg characters and backgrounds. What I saw was impressive, every surface has an indication of texture whether through lighting or tone. For instance, at a glance, Magpie's hair looks to be a single-rendered block but close-ups reveal that her hair is actually made of individual strands. Once again its the visualization of movement that truly shines, as the fight sequences between Batman and Magpie were truly fluid and reactive. The voice acting from guest actors Summer Cree and Grey DeLisle also added an extra layer of precision.

QUESTIONS | This was a near perfect episode. The sole moment I questioned came when Magpie fell some 20 stories and landed atop a parked car only to scramble back up and scamper away. The only explanation received came later in the episode when she revealed that she can't feel any pain but that fall seemed like it should have killed her, regardless of whether she could feel it or not.

HIGHLIGHT | The highlight this episode was the detective skills on display by Batman. He literally pieced together the clues and stayed one step ahead in an episode that was carefully crafted to misdirect the audience into arriving an incorrect conclusion. There's also an awesome moment at Wayne Manor where Bruce and Tatsu have an exchange wherein Bruce quickly and accurately sums up her relationship with Alfred based solely on the inflection in her voice.

VERDICT | "Beware the Batman" appears to be headed in the right direction and I'm sure the visuals will grow on traditionalist just like they did for "Green Lantern: The Animated Series." Good story-telling trumps all.

'BEWARE THE BATMAN' Creators On Why You Should Watch

DC References
Miskastonic Psychiatric Hospital A closed mental hospital in this episode, it appears to be a precursor to Arkham Asylum (if you pause the scene where Gordon is reading the Gotham Gazzette there's an article about the number of Arkham residents rising). The facility has it's earliest roots in the fictional works of H. P. Lovecraft. It's also a facility in Alan Moore's Supreme comic book series which features Professor Night, a clear derivative of Batman.

Gotham Gazette Jim Gordon and Tatsu are seen reading this fictional DC Comics newspaper in the episode. The Gotham Gazette first appeared in "Detective Comics #105" back in 1945.

Blackgate Prison Blackgate Penitentiary is also referenced this episode. The prison facility first appeared in "Detective Comics #629" in 1991 and is where sane criminals are kept (Arkham keeps the insane).

Lunkhead Lunkhead makes a brief appearance this episode as an informant for Jim Gordon. The character was created in Dan Slott's 2003 limited series "Arkham Asylum: Living Hell."

Curare A real life deadly poison, the toxic substance has been used a number of times in various DC properties. A villain in "Batman Beyonds" takes their name after the poison and The CW's "Arrow" has their version of Deadshot lace his bullets with the toxin.

Magpie The villain of the episode, Margaret Pye first appeared in "Man of Steel #3" back in 1986 but probably had her most memorable appearance in "Arkham Asylum: Living Hell." She was a casualty in the underworld war between Penguin and Great White Shark in 2000's "Batman #651." She had a brief stint as a Black Lantern during Blackest Night.

Running Time: 30 minutes
Season One Premiere: July 13, 2013
MPAA Rating: Tv-PG
Starring: Anthony Ruivivar, Sumalee Montano, JB Blanc, Greg Ellis, Kurtwood Smith, Udo Kier, Lance Reddick, Tisha Terrasini Banker, Cree Summer
Directed by: Sam Liu
Producers: Glen Murakami, Mitch Watson, Sam Register (executive producer)

"Beware the Batman" is an American produced animated cartoon program airing on Cartoon Network starting July 13, 2013. Sam Reigster serves as executive producer with Glen Murakami and Mitch Watson as the hands-on showrunners. The voice cast features Anthony Ruivivar as Batman, Lance Reddick ad Ra's Al Ghul, Cree Summer as Magpie, Sumalee Montano as Katana, JB Blanc as Alfred and Kurtwood Smith as Lt. Gordon."
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