Batman. When I was a kid, Batman was a semi-comic camp live action series and I was collecting Marvel comics. While I liked the gritty Dark Knight reboot, I also got really tired really fast of the obsessive Bruce Wayne and his childhood trauma. I enjoyed Batman the Animated Series (very much for the actors it featured, like Roddy McDowell and David Warner,) when I caught it on TV, but for the most part, in between Miller’s comic and the 2010 reintroduction of Batwoman, I basically ignored the series altogether.
I knew of Dick Grayson as Nightwing and of course knew about the reboot of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl, but honestly had only vaguely heard of Batwing, because I wasn’t following the series, except as news headlines. I love David Warner as Ras-al-Gul and remembered his daughter vaguely from the 2005 cartoon.
I tell you all this so you understand my background when I began to watch Batman: Bad Blood. Not a fan, but not completely unaware of the cast in Gotham or the Bat-family.
So let me start the review again. Batman: Bad Blood is a story of family and romance, cloaked in a bat-costume, with a little light emotional and physical torture and some rather good fight scenes.
In the course of a battle, Batman disappears and Dick Grayson, Kate Kane and Luke Fox have to band together with Damien Wayne, the newest Robin, and hold Gotham together until they can find Bruce.
The story has, I have to be honest, some of the most hackneyed writing I have ever seen. Laughably predictable dialogue, but it was still an enjoyable watch. But clearly, you must be thinking about now, there must be something about this that make it worth discussing on Okazu, Erica? Of course, there is.
Kate Kane, Batwoman, get a solid chunk of the 72 minutes to have her story animated. And not just her backstory – abbreviated in a brief flashback of socialite Kate being saved by Batman, which leads to her determination to become Batwoman, punctuated by Bruce’s insistence that she give it up. But also a moment when Bruce tells Nightwing that “something happened” to Kate in the military. “It broke her.” We, having read Batwoman: Elegy, know that what broke her was her country’s rejection of her because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and her removal from military service. These moments were necessarily brief, but so were the equivalent moments defining Nightwing, Batwing and Robin. So that was all interesting…but not what made this animated feature worth watching.
Kate – not Dick, and not Luke – gets a moment of off time at a bar, where she meets and clicks with the only other lesbian in Gotham City – Renee Montoya. (Joke, joke, there’s also Maggie Sawyer. Gotham’s a big city.) She leaves Montoya with a clear indication of interest.
Dick and Kate get a moment close to the climax where they discuss their own relationship. Dick admits he thought Kate pretty cool, but she thought he was a pain. “I wasn’t good with the whole girl thing,” Dick admits. “Neither was I,” replies Kate. And we’ve already seen Kate’s father ask if she’s met a nice girl. So in this version, it’s well known and accepted that she’s gay. That alone is notable. There is no coming out scenes, no “I accept you.” just – Kate. That was pretty wonderful.
So then the plot happens and it’s a Batman cartoon, so I don’t have to tell you we wallow in his parent’s death and the bad guy talks a lot and it all turns out to be a lover’s quarrel and some other shit. And then they win. and Batman gets over his bad self and accepts that the Batfamily is a thing. And…out of the shadows, we see the new Batgirl stepping into the light of gloom, ready to fight this same battle all over again, and I think, what a great fanfic Bruce dealing with his pain ending up creating a tribe would make.
But the end for us is again more interesting as Kate answers the door, to see Montoya, read to go on a date with her, while Colonel Kane beams approvingly. A far, far step forward from 2010, when Kate’s pain was the plot, not her joy.
Animation – crappy art, but excellent fighting scenes. Everyone’s hair was criminally bad. With all those Japanese and Koran animators, I expected better hair.
Story – Batman and enemies and his parents were killed, did you know? Right in front of him. zzzz
Characters – I liked Luke (he seemed to think everyone else’s issues were theirs to deal with) and Dick didn’t annoy me as much as expected. I kind of like Kate, more than I did in Elegy, even though this was the same Kate. Damien’s got no choice but to be annoying and Bruce was a dickhead.
Lesbian – Yes.
Service – No.
Overall – 8 Not bad and plenty good, better if you actually like Batman.
All in all, a very Batman Christmas. And worth the $4 to rent on Amazon. ^_^