This week’s trip to Gotham brings us part II of Heart of Steel, which aired on 17 November, 1992. Batman (Kevin Conroy) is trying to stop H.A.R.D.A.C. (Jeff Bennett) and gets some help from Miss Barbara Gordon (Melissa Gilbert).
H.A.R.D.A.C. is solidifying its plans, and even assaults its creator, Rossum (William Sanderson), when the scientist tries to shut the supercomputer down.
Batman, meanwhile, meets up with Barbara, who reveals the belief that her father isn’t her father, she suspects there is something very wrong going on. As the Dark Knight investigates, he learns that H.A.R.D.A.C. is creating duplicants of important people in Gotham, and replacing them as it solidifies its power, the list grows, including Gordon (Bob Hastings), the mayor (Lloyd Bochner) and even Bullock (Robert Costanzo).
Everything was caused by Rossum’s mourning of his daughter, H.A.R.D.A.C. wanted to create duplicants that wouldn’t die like its creator’s daughter did. Once again, the computer, within its strict guidelines, is doing what it thinks is the right thing, once again creating yet another grey-shaded villain.
It’s easy to see that Barbara enjoys helping Batman out, as she helps the Caped Crusader rescue the people H.A.R.D.A.C. has replicated, and you have to wonder how long it will be before she too dons a cape and cowl.
A solid episode.
If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? introduced the Riddler aka Edward Nygma (John Glover) to the Animated Series Rogues’ Gallery. The episode originally aired on 18 November, 1992. Nygma, a skilled puzzle designer, assumes the guise of The Riddler when he is fired from his job, and seeks revenge on his employer, Daniel Mockridge (Gary Frank).
Dick (Loren Lester) is playing one of Nygma’s most famous games in the Bat-Cave, which leads Bruce to suspect the puzzle-fiend to be behind everything, and races to help Mockridge before he walks into a trap. But they are too late, and the Dynamic Duo have their first encounter with The Riddler.
I quite like this episode, because it’s one of the ones that lets Batman exercise his intellect instead of his brawn this time around. He and Robin have to race through a Minotaur’s maze to reach and save Mockridge in time, while eluding the traps, pitfalls and queries the Riddler has filled it with.
Batman has to out think Nygma, deal with the puns, and resolve the maze, and do it in a timely fashion.
This is a fun episode, and Glover makes for a great Riddler, I hope we get to see him again in soon…
The final episode this week is Joker’s Wild, which aired on 19 November, 1992. The Joker (Mark Hamill) is irked to learn that a casino owner, Cameron Kaiser (Harry Hamlin) is using the Clown Prince’s likeness to promote his business. Deciding to exact vengeance on the business man, the Joker breaks out of Arkham Asylum… but there may be more going on here than the Joker realizes.
This episode boasts another great voice cast, including Ernie Hudson, as a security guard, and Brion James as Irving. It also sees an appearance by Diane Pershing as Poison Ivy. This show and the ones that followed it, definitely knew how to voice cast, with some wonderful stunt casting on occasion.
The Joker’s escape from Arkham is pretty well executed, and Hamill’s manic laughter filled performance continues to be the best portrayal of the Joker to date.
Learning of the Joker’s escape Batman investigates Cameron’s office trying to understand why the casino is using the villain’s likeness and discovers why Kaiser wants to draw the Joker’s ire.
But with countless lives at risk with the Joker on the loose Batman has to put a stop to the villain and Kaiser. A wonderfully fun episode showing that not all villains are in Arkham, and some wear suits.
You couldn’t ask for a better pairing than Conroy and Hamill as Batman and the Joker. Each time they share an episode, everything just pops!
Come back next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.