Welcome to a very special edition of Boomb Tube, Multiveristy’s ongoing animation column dedicated to coverage of Cape Cartoons. It’s been a rough time for me lately, especially with some events that occurred at San Diego Comic-Con. Not only did did we fail to win an Eisner, but Marvel also announced that it’d be releasing a new Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon and a second season of Hulks and the Agents of SMASH. The Guardians cartoon could be good, sure, but the latter announcement means I am contractually obligated to cover 26 more episodes of Hulk telling a teenager voiced by Seth Green to hug it out.
This cannot stand.
All weekend, I tried to reconcile these two major setbacks, until I was reminded Beware the Batman was set to return that Saturday night. The show had been one of the few cartoons I’d enjoyed covering on Boomb Tube recently and its absence was sorely missed. Unfortunately, Cartoon Network had decided to keep it on hiatus in the United States for several months. Even worse, Cartoon Network elected to air Beware the Batman at 2:30AM, when the only people who’d be watching were comics journalists and fat people on the couch whose corpses wouldn’t be noticed for a few more days.
Thankfully, after a day or two of reflection I found this problem had a very simple solution. The only audience more dedicated to cartoons than journalists were children, and the only type of journalism better than comics journalism was investigative journalism. The lightbulb over my head flashed and I knew what I had to do.
In an effort to get more children to watch Beware the Batman, I set out to break into people’s home and watch Beware the Batman at 2:30 AM with their children.
Now, I couldn’t just break into anyone’s house willy nilly. I’m a journalist and I needed to do my homework. I started my investigation at the local mall, where I waited in my jean shorts and t-shirt that Five Guys let me keep after they fired me for “crying all the damn time”. Soon enough, a little Aryan-looking boy around the age of ten wearing a Batman shirt trotted along with his mother in tow, skipping into GameStop while his mom headed into H&M. Once I was certain she was engrossed in the store’s 30% capris sale, I ducked into GameStop. The boy was playing with the Wii U display, jumping through New Super Marios Bros Wii U.
“Hey” I said to him. He didn’t respond. “So you like Batman, huh?”
“I guess, yeah.” The boy muttered.
“My name’s James. What’s yours?”
“Uh… Dylan?” he said cautiously. He’d diverted his attention from me towards the game. My further attempts to talk to him about Batman were met with no response as Dylan continued to play through the Mushroom Kingdom. It was going to be hard to break him out of this trance, but I’d thankfully spent many hours with Demo Wii U’s at GameStop and knew their catalogue like the back of my hand.
“You know they’ve got a demo for Arkham City on this, right? You should really try it.” I helpfully declared to the increasingly rude lad. He offered absolutely no response. In fact, I could’ve sworn he was trying to break eye contact. “Here, let me help,” I firmly stated as I grabbed the Wii U controller from his hands and quit the dumb demo for him. The boy, apparently a pussy, started crying almost instantly. There was no way he’d survive in a Five Guys, I mused to myself.
Unfortunately, the baby’s wailing attracted a GameStop employee who asked if either of us would be interested in a PowerUp Rewards membership. After the young snitch told the GameStop employee I was “harassing” him, I was told to vacate the mall or sign up for a PowerUp Rewards Pro membership and just leave the GameStop instead. I sighed and wrote down my e-mail address, Brian@MultiversityComics.com.
The encounter left a bitter taste in my mouth but I knew I’d found my test subject. Dylan obviously had a love for the Dark Knight inside of himself under that Batman shirt he was wearing and I was determined to get underneath this little boy’s t-shirt. I waited an hour or so by the Cinnabon across the way, occasionally having to remind the employees there it was perfectly reasonable for a man to take that long to finish one of their sticky monstrosities. Finally, Dylan’s mother walked by the GameStop and whistled for her son who came running. After utilizing some skills I picked up from Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, I followed the two to their minivan in the parking lot which I then trailed with my ’92 Honda Accord.Continued below
After a fifteen minute drive to their house in the suburbs where Dylan’s mom pulled into her driveway, I parked myself around the corner and waited the 14 hours until showtime with nothing to read but my Cinnabon bag and the fine print on my PowerUp Rewards card. I smiled. Brian was definitely going to love the year-long GameInformer subscription I gave him.
However, my good deeds for the day weren’t done just yet! At 2 AM, I made my way through the back yard and an unlocked window, into the home and up the living room stairs to what I’d hoped was Dylan’s room. As a millennial, I couldn’t resist taking a congratulatory selfie.
I slowly opened the door and peeked my head in. In order to make sure it was Dylan and not his parents or siblings, I whispered a question. “Hey. Do you like Batman?”
A weak voice answered me, “Am… am I going to die?”
Lady Luck was with me. I’d found Dylan.
“Don’t worry, it’s James from GameStop.” I warmly whispered, “You said you liked Batman and I didn’t want you to miss the Batman cartoon that’s airing real soon.”
“What cartoon?” Dylan sleepily answered.
“Beware the Batman. Come! I’ll show you!” I took Dylan’s hand and led him downstairs to his living room. I knew the TV would wake his parents so I decided to watch a pirated version of the episode on my laptop. Since I was watching the torrent at 2:30, I was sure this would still help Beware the Batman‘s ratings in the near-future. I plugged my laptop into the nearby outlet (it’d died at Cinnabon when I broke into Brian’s e-mail and ordered the Tales of Esponia strategy guide for 10% off with his credit card info I’d stolen at NYCC) and loaded the episode. As part of the effort to not wake Dylan’s parents, I’d also elected to listen to the episode on headphones. Unfortunately, my Dell only had one headphone jack and since I was the journalist here, Dylan would have to make due with the torrent’s Czech subtitles.
Beware the Batman had left off with scientist Jason Burr was under the control of the super-villain Cypher and Lady Shiva had recovered R’as al-Ghul’s body from Anarky. I asked Dylan if he remembered this but all he did was gently cry. Thankfully, I was able to wrap a blanket around his mouth before he got too loud.
And now for the episode at hand. After taking down the aptly named Lughead with his partner Katana, the duo take him to Blackgate Penitentiary where Magpie, the crazy shine-obsessed jewel thief who was apparently allowed to keep her Lady Gaga costume in prison, calls out to Batman. Evidently he’s been visiting her until recently due to his work with Katana keeping him busy, which makes Magpie jealous. Magpie even goes so far as to assume Batman wants her to take out Katana so she can be with him. “Just like a woman, am I right?” I asked Dylan. He couldn’t say anything with the blanket tied around the lower half of his face, but a tear did fall from his eye. A drop traced down my face too. One day women would fight over me. Just like the Batman.
Magpie calls over to Lughead in the next cell over, who’s asking the guard for candy. She offers Lughead her own stash of candy in exchange for breaking her out which Lughead does by kicking down his cell door which flies out onto a guard causing him to fall off the railing, probably killing him. Unfortunatley for Lughead, he’d committed another felolny for nothing, as Magpie threw him over the railing too. Knowing this was a good time for a lesson, I paused the video and looked Dylan straight in his eyes and whispered “This is why you don’t trust anyone who offers you candy.”
He stared at me with a glazed in the eyes look. If I’d taken the blanket out of his mouth, I’m sure I’d find a frown there too. After a moment of awkward silence, I figured he’d probably just need even more advice.Continued below
“Or women.” I finally muttered. And with that, I went back to the show.
Batman and Katana find Magpie robbing a jewelry store and the latter instantly gets in a fight with Katana. Apparently insanity gives you the ability to successfully defend yourself against a ninja trained by an organization unironically named “The League of Assassins”. After Batman tells the two to stop fighting, since Magpie should be less beaten up and more given treatment, Magpie parkours her way out of there and commits robberies all over the city. In order to keep Katana from getting hurt by Magpie, Batman elects to hunt for the latter alone which certainly won’t end badly. Also, Alfred mentions that it’s pretty messed up for Batman to have been secretly meeting with Magpie for the last few months. On one hand, it’s nice of Bats to keep in touch with a patient and help her rehabilitation but on the other hand no one’s said the sentence “I’m secretly meeting up with the woman who wears nothing but thigh high boots, underwear, and a bustier because I don’t want to make out with her.” and meant it.
Batman drives over to Magpie’s hideout in an attempt to talk her down which is really a neat part of their relationship. Batman doesn’t want to just throw Magpie into the system and let her rot, he wants to actually help her. Magpie meanwhile, is trying to convince Batman to give in to his dark side and join her. It’s a pretty deep conversation for a kids show, if Dylan mumbling the words “I don’t understand” through the blanket to himself was any indication.
Katana shows up on her bike which infuriates Magpie who knocks out Batman and has an intense fight with his partner who straight up cuts down some fluorescent lights and kicks Magpie into them. It’s awesome, but not awesome enough to stop the seemingly immortal Magpie from tranquilizing Katana with the poison on her fingernails. Batman then wakes up and, since he’s a jerk, heads back to the Batcave without looking for Katana. Fortunately, Magpie leaves some debris in the streets that forms a URL that leads Bruce to a livestream of an unconscious Katana who Magpie will blow up in thirty minutes. Since Batman’s The World’s Greatest Detective™, he deduces that Magpie buried Katana in the empty grave Gotham City made when they wiped Magpie’s mind and “officially” killed her old identity, the awesomely named Margaret Sorrow. This leads to the third most badass of the night: “Magpie’s buried Katana’s alive in Margaret Sorrow’s grave.”
At the cemetery, in what is honestly one of the best scenes I’ve seen in a cartoon in the past year, Katana tries to break out of the coffin with a shattered piece of glass from the countdown clock Magpie left inside for some reason. Batman also arrives to dig her out, only to open the coffin and realize his partner’s in another casket. Magpie arrives to have a verbal and physical showdown with Batman who states he only visited Magpie to help restore the humanity he thought she had left. Apparently she didn’t and instead of refuting his point Magpie kicks Bats into the empty coffin, proving him right. She’d have won the day too, except Katana actually dug herself out of the grave and said the second most badass line of the night: “You should’ve buried me deeper.”
Honestly, these types of sequences are exactly what I’d love to see from more Cape Cartoons and I would’ve loved it more if Dylan hadn’t started kicking his feet on the ground for some reason. Thankfully, I was able to tie those together with the emergency rope I’d brought with me.
Back in the show, Katana kicked Magpie’s ass while saying what is actually the most badass of the night: “When you find a grave you like, let me know.” Magpie tries to fight back by saying Katana’s just a pale imitation of her but she’s a hundred percent wrong. Beware the Batman‘s Katana is the glory and the light and the last thing everyone will see before they die. After Batman cures himself of Magpie’s poison, they defeat her by kicking her into her own grave, the tombstone of Margaret Sorrow falling on top of her because of symbolism. Finally, back at Wayne Manor, Katana and Alfred discuss Bruce’s mental state with Alfred saying that being Batman means surrounding some of yourself to the dark side, which Magpie did fully. He and Katana have to make sure Bruce doesn’t end up like she did, or Gotham could really be in trouble.Continued below
My Verdict: 8.9 – Even though the depiction of Magpie’s mental health (where her insanity doesn’t seem to be any real diagnosable thing and gives her superpowers) is a little problematic it still hits enough tones of authenticity to be scary. Magpie’s blatant evil and sudden parkour skills may be outlandish, but her tendency to deny everything and the way she can get under Bats’ skin makes her an incredibly threatening villain. Even without the intense action sequences, this would still be a great look at Batman’s psyche that actually feels like something new.
Dylan’s Verdict: 10.0 – Dylan finally gave in and fell asleep during the episode, which I think just proves how calming Beware the Batman can be for children everywhere. It also seemed to be pretty emotional for him too, as shown by how red his eyes had turned after all his crying. I left him there on the couch. He seemed to be in a good deep rest and untying his legs or mouth would’ve upset him. I decided to let his parents handle it when they found him in the morning. In order to explain to them what happened and remind Dylan of his new favorite show and airtime, I retrieved my red crayons and notepad from my bag and left a note near his sleeping frame. “Beware the Batman – 2:30AM”.
And with that, I crawled out the window like a benevolent fairy and got into my car. I didn’t know where I’d be going as the mall didn’t open for a few more hours, but I knew that wherever the road took me, I’d find a way to change some other child’s life, just like I changed Dylan’s. Next Saturday couldn’t come soon enough.