More adventures this week with The Dark Knight as I dive into the next trio of episodes of the incredible animated series. These three episodes aired on the 8th, 9th and 10th of September, 1992 respectively.
First up is Feat of Clay, Parts I & II, which sees a renowned actor, Matt Hagen (Ron Perlman) masquerading as Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) and blackmailing Wayne Industries tech, Lucius Fox (Brock Peters).
Batman (also Conroy) knows that Wayne is innocent (for obvious reasons) and begins to investigate. Hagen, we learn, is in deep with crooked pharmaceutical king, Roland Daggett (Ed Asner), who has created a facial cream that will allow a person to mold their appearance into anything they want to become.
This is a boon for Hagen, who was a very successful actor until a disfiguring accident, but he’s hooked on the cream now, and Daggett decides to get rid of him once and for all, now that he has his hooks into Wayne Industries thanks to Fox’s blackmailing.
His thug, Germs (Ed Begley Jr.) douses Hagen in the cream, and leaves him for dead.
Instead the cream bonds with his molecular structure, and his whole body becomes malleable, turning him into the villain, Clayface. He’s vaguely T-1000 like with his ability to mimic people and weapons, and Bats definitely seems to have his hands full as they confront one another over the course of the two episodes.
The bat-wing makes an appearance in these episodes, and once again, the series takes its cue from the Tim Burton film, and it looks awesome!
I also like seeing Bats taking on Clayface, who is rather monstrous. And while yes, the show itself is fairly action oriented, it’s cool to see that Bruce has to use his brains at times top outthink his enemies.
But speaking of action oriented, the next episode, is a little different in tone, pacing and style. It’s Never Too Late tells a tale of lost youth, gang warfare, and perhaps a chance for peace. This episode features flashbacks, to when mob boss Arnie Stromwell (Eugen Roche), and Father Michael (Paul Dooley) were children, best of friends…
But a terrifying encounter on a train track has haunted Arnie for years, even as he carved out a piece of territory for his criminal activities.
Now though, a new mob boss, Rupert Thorne (John Vernon) is threatening Stromwell’s position, and may cause gang warfare to tear up the streets of Gotham.
Batman turns to Father Michael for help, learning about Stromwell’s past, and with the priest’s assistance may be able to reach out to Arnie, and bring him back from the edge he seems to be teetering on, with the safety of the city hanging in the balance.
This one is a little more serious than some of the other tales we encounter in the series, there are no super villains, just very human characters on both sides of the law, and the way lives and mistakes play out.
It’s a very solid episode, though may not necessarily hold the attention of kids (who want to see bat heroics), it definitely keeps an older viewer watching with its storytelling. The series proves again and again, that it is more than just a Saturday morning retelling of the adventures of the Dark Knight. There is some real substance here.
Until next time! Same Bat-Time, same Bat-Channel!