We all have we consider to be the ultimate version of Batman. Maybe you were at the right age when, Adam West was Batman on television, or Neal Adams began his run on the comic, or you saw Frank Miller’s The Dark knight Returns in some local shop, or Christian Bale in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Mine started in 1992 and starred in his own television cartoon, was a special guest star on another, and then became a major player in a superhero team up series, ending in 2006. Fourteen years is a long time in comics, and it was a spectacular run.

If you didn’t know, I’m talking about Batman: The Animated Series, and I dare to say I’m not the only one who thinks the production of visual style of Bruce Timm and the stories Paul Dini took part in creating are some of the absolute defining stories the Batman has ever had, and most of them take place in under thirty minutes.

First, the voice acting is some of the best I’ve heard. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are perfect for voicing Batman and The Joker. Conroy can be smooth and authoritative at the same time, unlike Christian Bale’s “I swallowed a bunch of nails and screamed at a metal concert for four hours” voice. Where you would need a good bit of rasp is The Joker. Mark Hamill has that, where his Joker can speak understandably in a laugh-like cadence, but his laugh sounds like Joker’s throat being destroyed by years of doing that laugh over and over. Honestly I didn’t even know that was him until I looked up who it was, and I was surprised. Not to put anyone else down. They were all great. When I read Batman comics to this day this is the voice cast I hear in my head.

This is the place where a lot of Batman’s rogue gallery introduced itself to me. If they weren’t on Batman 66′ T.V. series, like Scarecrow, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy. This is also the birthplace of the Paul Dini created Harley Quinn, The Joker’s girlfriend/ top henchwoman.

Harley Quinn

Also, it gave a personality to Mr. Freeze. Beforehand he was just a villain who like the cold. The Series gave him a personality that was as cold as his surname name, and now Victor Friese had same background with some humanity, and a reason for his cold lack of emotion. Freeze had a reason to steal whatever he was stealing. He was helping his sick wife. Giving sympathetic reasons behind some character like that gave Batman a different road to go down besides just, lock’em up in Arkham and let the doctors try to help them.

Finally, even though this was an “Animated Series” it was not a Saturday morning affair. It was a weekday after school show. Maybe that was reason enough to let Batman do things the Spider-Man cartoon series couldn’t do. Peter Parker never threw a punch that hit anyone in the Marvel show, but DC allowed Batman to punch a man in the face in the opening of the show.

The show still has some effects on today. If DC Comics announces a new animated Batman the first comment I usually read is “Is Kevin Conroy doing the Batman voice,” or Mark Hamill if The Joker is in it. Which I have asked myself a few times, but I don’t mind other people giving The Batman a voice, as weird as they will sound at first.

The Dark Knight

If you are young enough that this is “before your time”, check this out, the art and the stories hold up magnitudes higher than the Superfriends cartoon from the seventies and early eighties.

 

Specifically, if you’re interested

Two-Face” parts 1 and 2. Origin of Two-Face

Heart of Ice” Mr. Freeze’s origin

Beware the Gray Ghost” Batman teams up with his old hero, voiced by Adam West

Robin’s Reckoning” parts 1 and 2. Dick Grayson’s origin story

Over the Edge” Crazy Batgirl story, might be the best episode.

Almost Got ‘im” Four villains tell their story about how they almost got Batman while playing cards. My personal favorite.

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