The animated adventures of Batman come to a close this week, with these last four episodes of the final season.
First up is Chemistry which aired 24 October, 1998. This plot for this one comes off as kind of odd, Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) falls for and marries (!) the perfect woman, Susan Maguire (Linda Hamilton) but she has a dark secret.
They meet at Veronica Vreeland’s (Marilu Henner) fourth wedding, an event that Bruce, Barbara (Tara Strong) and Tim (Matthew Valencia). Bruce seems taken with Susan immediately, and is even a little distracted while he’s on the job.
And they don’t even go out on a single date before he proposes to her, and reveals that he’s hanging up cape and cowl!
As the marriage progresses, Veronica calls in a panicked state, something is wrong with her husband! And the same thing may be wrong with Susan.
It’s all a plan put together by Poison Ivy (Diane Pershing).
Bruce figures it all out on his honeymoon cruise, just as Poison Ivy springs into action!
I don’t know about this one, everything in it seemed so rushed. I mean, I get that they only have 23 minutes to tell their tale, credits included, but this one just didn’t work for me.
Judgement Day, which aired 31 October, 1998, sees a new menace to the criminal underworld of Gotham city, in the form of the Judge (Malachi Throne) who is meting out lethal justice to those who threaten the city.
Batman is troubled to learn of the existence of the Judge, even as villains like Killer Croc (Brooks Gardner), Two-Face (Richard Moll), and the Penguin (Paul Williams) encounter this brutal new vigilante.
The Judge seems to have an inside man, someone giving him information about his targets, and Batman is determined to find out who it is, and find out how to stop the Judge, as well as his identity, before he can dispense more of his lethal vengeance.
Steven Weber adds his voice to the many stalwart actors who have supplied their vocal chords to the series, playing Corcoran, the Judge’s connection.
Things get bad for Corcoran when Two-Face learns of his existence, and uses him to send the Judge a message. And also becomes a target for the vigilante!
Batman needs to stop everything before it gets out of hand, and both innocent and criminal lives are lost.
I like the fact that Batman sticks his moral code, no deaths, no matter who it applies to, and saves Two-Face and Croc from the Judge.
Beware the Creeper aired 7 November, 1998 and is another bit of an odd one. The Joker (Mark Hamill) accidentally creates a new superhero, when he throws a reporter, Jack Ryder (Jeff Bennett) into a vat of chemicals.
He emerges as The Creeper.
I love that Ryder was doing an investigative report (love the dramatic re-enactment) on the Joker, going back to Ace Chemicals to do it, tying the series in rather nicely, once again, with the 1989 movie.
When the Creeper, who is fairly unhinged, goes after the Joker for revenge, the Clown Prince of Crime is upset that his creation is stealing his thunder.
Things I really loved about this episode – the three thugs the Joker and Harley (Arleen Sorkin) use are named after, and sound a lot like the Three Stooges and that Harley throws a private party for just her and the Joker to celebrate the night he fell into the chemicals.
This one ends up being pretty fun, as the Creeper isn’t only after the Joker, he is now a bit infatuated with Harley, and love seeing villain and creation square off.
The series comes to a conclusion with Mad Love, a look at Harley Quinn, her relationship with the Joker, and her origin.
The final episode aired 16 January, 1999 and was a perfect way to end the series, giving us a focus on a character that was created specifically for the show, and then took on a life all her own.
We also get a glance at how terrible (and abusive, as much as can be suggested on a family oriented cartoon, as well as sexual) her relationship with the Joker really is. There are flashbacks as we get a look at Harley’s arrival in Arkham, serving as one of the staff psychologists, before falling under Joker’s sway.
Trying to prove herself, she implements one of Joker’s discarded plans to capture and kill Batman, and comes dangerously close to succeeding.
And the Joker finally makes a meta joke with the line, May the Floss be with you.
Sure, some of the final episodes weren’t so great, Mad Love was amazing though, but overall, this series was nothing short of stunning from start to finish, and is probably the best adaptation of the Caped Crusader I have ever seen.
Next week, we continue our exploration of the DC Universe, as we dive into Superman!