Batman: The Animated Series (1998) – Old Wounds, Legends of the Dark Knight and Girls’ Night Out

 

So what happened to cause Nightwing (Loren Lester) to have a falling out with Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Batgirl (Tara Strong) and has caused their relationship to be so strained since the beginning of the new series?

We find out in Old Wounds, which aired 3 October, 1998, as Dick Grayson aka Nightwing, reveals all to his young successor, Batman’s new Robin, Tim Drake (Matthew Valencia).

Told through flashback we see that Dick and Barbara were at the beginning of a romantic relationship, but his commitment to working with Bruce kept interfering with his life. During a confrontation with the Joker (Mark Hamill) things come to a head. Batman takes on a thug in front of his family, including a young child, and Robin sees how wrong that is.

Things are made worse, when Bruce reveals the Batcave and their secrets to Barbara, who by this time had already donned her own cowl.

Dick is angered by the reveal of Barbara as Batgirl, and that Bruce knew, and he didn’t, despite their relationships. He walked away, quitting, and became Nightwing.

There’s a nice reveal at the end, and this one comes across as one of the strongest episodes of the revamped series.

basoldwounds

Legends of the Dark Knight, another wonderfully strong episode, aired 10 October, 1998, and features a group of children giving their stories, and their interpretation of who Batman is.

As the story unfolds, there are changes in animation style, to match the different stories, In fact, the Jokers, the heroes and the music of each story sound completely different.

For the 50s style segment, the Joker is played by the wonderful Michael McKean, with Gary Owens and Brianne Brozey as the Dynamic Duo. This sequence looks great, and perfectly encapsulates the early years of Batman’s comic adventures.

Then there’s an 80s sequence, which embraces the Dark Knight look of Frank Miller’s comic, featuring Micheal Ironside as Batman, and Anndi McAfee as Carrie Kelly, his new Robin. Featuring one of the sequences from The Dark Knight, long before the entire graphic novel was adapted, it looks great, with panels brought to animated life, and of course Bats would sound like Ironside!!

But even as they share their stories they wander into trouble as they stumble across Firefly (Mark Rolston) who is committing one arson crime after another, and the Kevin Conroy Batman arrives to save them, just in time.

This is a great episode, celebrating the many incarnations of Batman, and how they can all be true.

LegendsSprang

The last episode of the week, Girls’ Night Out, is a bit of a crossover episode, as characters from the Superman series pop over into this one.

Airing on 17 October, 1998, Livewire (Lori Petty) has escaped in Gotham, and Supergirl (Nicholle Tom) and Batgirl have to team up to bring the super villain down, who in turn teams up with Harley Quinn (Arleen Sorkin) and Poison Ivy (Diane Pershing)!

Bruce is away, pursuing another case, so Batgirl is patrolling the streets, and is delighted in the help that he sends her.

It’s episodes like these that show the potential of the Justice League series that follows it. It doesn’t focus on any of the big characters from either series, and instead gives other characters a chance to shine, and they do, showing that they can carry the show just as well.

The interaction between the trio of villains is great and a lot of fun to watch, and poor Harley seems to be getting the worst part of the partnership, and they maintain a very strained partnership. Supergirl and Batgirl, on the other hand, lay a foundation for a strong friendship.

While not as strong as the previous two episodes this week, it was cool to see these heroes get some overdue screen time.

Next time, the series comes to a conclusion, one last Bat-Time, one last Bat-Channel!

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