I think I've been spoiled by Time/Life's excellent release
of The Six Million Dollar Man: The
Complete Collection. They did it right,
gathering all of the episodes of that show, the crossovers, and the TV
and putting them together in one cool boxed set. Warners
has just released Batman Beyond: The
Complete Series, and I was hoping for
a comprehensive collection of this solid series, telling the whole
story of the
Batman of the future. While buyers will
get all three seasons of the show, which are all very good, the set
movie based on the series as well as a couple of crossover appearances,
notably the episode of Justice League
Unlimited that wraps up the whole tale.
In the year 2039 a young high school athlete with a penchant
for getting into trouble, Terry McGinnis, finds himself being chased by
of Jokerz, gang members who emulate Batman's most famous villain. He ends up in a wooded area where he makes
his stand, and though he handles himself very well, he's just
outnumbered. Things look bad for him until
an old man
turns up and thrashes the youths easily.
The old man becomes incapacitated from the excursion, so Terry
man home... to Wayne Manor.
It turns out Terry was on Wayne's estate and that Batman had
retired 20 years earlier after suffering a heart attack in the middle
battle. Wayne enterprises was taken over
(it's now Wayne/Powers Enterprises), and now bitter and alone (there's
a row of
empty costumes in the Bat Cave, once belonging to Robin, Night Wing,
Batgirl) Bruce spends his days with his dog, Ace. While
the millionaire is sleeping, Terry
pokes around the mansion and discovers something that he wasn't
supposed to: The Bat Cave.
Bruce wakes up and chases out the teen who runs home.
When he gets there, he discovers that his father has been
murdered. It looks like the work of the
Jokerz, but Terry isn't so sure. He
discovers that Derek Powers (the man who took over Wayne's company) and his bodyguard
were responsible for his father's death.
Terry goes back to Wayne Manor and steals the Batsuit, now
high-tech gadgets rather than just incorporating a utility belt, and
use it to capture Powers and Fixx.
When the 'real' Batman finds out that Terry has appropriated
his suit, he gets very irate.
Communicating with the teen through the suit's build in radio,
demands that Terry return to Wayne Manor.
Of course, Terry argues and continues on his mission to bring
Powers. He does meet up with the man,
but in the battle Powers is exposed to radiation and a new chemical
changes him into the villain Blight.
Grudgingly Wayne has to admit
that Gotham needs a Batman, and that
would make a good hero. He hires him and
starts training him to become the new Batman.
Of course Terry isn't a wealthy playboy like Bruce was. He still has to go to school, do his
homework, babysit his younger brother, and make excuses to his mother
leaves in the middle of the night. Oh
yeah, and fight crime.
Aiding Terry in his fight is Max Gibson, a girl who stumbles
upon his secret identity. She's one of
his closest friends and, as all intelligent high school kids who appear
shows are, an computer expert. He also
gets some help from the Gotham City Police Commissioner, Barbara Gordon. As daughter of the Commissioner Gordon who
helped out Bruce Wayne, and someone who took up the hero mantle
Batgirl, she realizes how dangerous the job is, and how much the city
One of the most memorable aspects of the original Batman was
his rouge's gallery, and Terry soon gets one of his own.
In addition to the previously mentioned
Blight, there's also freelance criminal Inque, who can turn her body
liquid, the insane Shriek who can create destructive sound waves, and
a big game hunter who thinks that Batman is the biggest game of all. The series also features appearances of some
of the original Batman's foes, though only a few. Being
nearly immortal, it's not surprising
that Ra's al Ghul should show up, and Mr. Freeze makes an appearance as
When this show was first announced, I had my doubts.
Though I really enjoyed 1992's Batman:
The Animate Series, I assumed that Batman Beyond
was just an attempt to make Batman hip and cool and
bring him up to the 1990's. Getting rid
of many of the things that made the character so intriguing, his
origin, the enemies he fought and the allies he made, and replacing him
young kid in a stupid looking suit (I'm still not a fan of the new
it feel like they were willing to sacrifice the character for a quick
buck. Turns out I was wrong about
that. The series was helmed by Bruce
Timm, the creative force behind Batman:
The Animated Series and Superman: The
Animated Series as well as Justice
League/Justice League Unlimited
and he brings the same sense of fun and adventure that he filled those
with to this project.
The things that make the show succeed are the same elements
that made other Timm series so exciting:
good stories, solid dialog and a good dose of imagination. With a syndicated series, the writers had the
luxury of developing the characters over a longer time frame than in a
and creating subplots that worked out over time. That
adds a lot of richness to the series and
helps to make this one of the better Batman adaptations, in film or on
While I really enjoyed the show, this set was a bit of a
disappointment. It includes all three
seasons, 52 episodes in all, that have previously been release and a
(mostly) new bonus material. But that's
all. With just a few additions this
could have been a great, complete set, but it isn't.
So, what's missing?
The most notable omission is the direct to video movie, Batman
Beyond: The Return of the Joker. This isn't only a great adventure, but it
also fills in a lot of gaps in the 'future history' of Batman, like
happened with Robin and why Batgirl retired.
There was a spin-off series, The Zeta Project, that
started with a two-part crossover with
Batman Beyond. The first episode, an
installment of Batman Beyond, is
included but the Zeta Project chapter
There was also an episode of Static Shock that
featured Terry as Batman (Future Shock), and half of a
two-part time travel Justice League Unlimited
the JLA meets Terry (The Once and Future
Thing, Part 2: Time Warped).
Including these would have been really nice and made the package
The final show that is missing from the 'complete series'
set is the wrap up of the whole story: Epilogue, another episode of Justice League
Unlimited. This episode draws
parallels between Terry
and Bruce Wayne, reveals secrets about Terry and his father that didn't
in the series proper and serves as an excellent way to tie everything
up. It's a real shame that it wasn't
the bonus disc.
The three seasons arrive in a large nicely illustrated box
with a clear acetate slipcover that adds a lot of the visual appeal of
collection. Inside the box is a large 8
X 12 24-page booklet with character sheets, background images, an essay
episode list. The discs themselves are
housed in a double-width clear keepcase. They are exactly the same as
previous season sets, right down to the numbering and art.
The stereo audio
track fits the show. Though I would have
enjoyed it if they had remixed it for 5.1 sound, the two channel
a fair amount of panning and the action sequences are fairly dynamic
for a 90's
TV show. The dialog is clean and clear
and there aren't any defects worth mentioning.
The full frame image is fine. It's a tad
soft, and there are just a few
errant specks, but the show is over a decade old now and was created
before computer animation was the norm.
The colors could be a little brighter and the detail could be a
sharper, but overall it's a solid looking show.
This set contains the same extras as the earlier season
sets: Commentaries on 4 episodes ( two
each from the first two seasons) and a roundtable discussion with the
discussing their favorite moments in season three.
There's also an Inside Batman Beyond panel
for each season, where the staff discusses the origins of the show and
There's also an exclusive bonus disc that's just so-so.
It includes three new featurettes and a
recycled docu. First is Tomorrow
Knight: The Batman Reborn (11 minutes)
which looks at the new characters that appear in the series. Gotham:
City of the Future (5 minutes) covers the design of the future Gotham, and The
High-Tech Hero (6 minutes) discusses the new gadgets and weapons
new Batman employs. None of these really
got my blood pumping.
They also included the documentary Secret Origin: The Story
of DC Comics. This was released on its own DVD this month, so I'm not
it's included here too. It's a nice
overview of comics in general and DC in particular and well worth
This could have been a great set. As it
is, if you're a fan and you have the
earlier season sets there's no reason to upgrade. The
bonus disc really isn't worth it. If they
had included the Batman Beyond movie as well as the Zeta Project, Static, and
Justice League Unlimited crossovers
it might have been a different story.
Alas those aren't included so this 'complete' series is missing
important parts of the story. It's a
great show though, well worth checking out, so it's recommended on that