I don't want to go off on a rant here, but to me the effect the new animated series had was a sort of reverse-Darwinism. Many people thought it would be a better show because it looked sleeker, while others thought the new designs were a way to distract us from the poorer quality in writing. The proverbial 'Look, over there' that Hamlet's father got before being doused with ear poison. It's like expecting each member of Genesis to be better musicians just because their faces have been pulled taut, cha-cha. But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

SEASON SIX (1998-1999)

Old Wounds - October 3, 1998
Written by Rich Fogel; Directed by Curt Geda

Nightwing (Dick Grayson) tells Robin (Tim Drake) about the last time he stood alongside Batman as the Boy Wonder. In a flashback, Bruce reveals to Barbara Gordon the truth about Batman and Robin, and then brings her along as Batgirl to capture the Joker. Dick was not consulted on any of this, and that was the last straw between him and Bruce.

Comments: The Joker's part in this episode is minimal and really it could have been any villain in his place. But perhaps since he was involved with the comic book Dick Grayson's leave as Robin, maybe he was there for tradition of sorts. It doesn't help that this episode was adapted from an issue of the animated-style comic book that was used to bridge the gap between Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. There is no reason why a new storyline couldn't have been written, since the cartoon and animated comics have conflicted their own continuities in the past. But still, it's a pretty dramatic episode in a season that desperately needed one.

Legends of the Dark Knight - October 10, 1998
Story by R. Goodman and Bruce Timm; Written by Robert Goodman; Directed by Dan Riba

A group of kids spread some Batman folklore. Coincidentally, one story seems very much like a 1950s Dick Sprang-drawn Batman comic, while the other represents a certain 1986 "possible future" tale by Frank Miller. The Sprangish Joker (voiced with campy delight by Michael McKean!) fights a sort of "golden aged" Batman (voiced by Gary Owens!) in a music museum....complete with hideously gigantic instruments!

Comments: It is the Joker's segment that makes this episode so much fun to watch. The character designs look so much like Dick Sprang's work that one gets quickly absorbed by it and wants to see a whole series like this. The break in character design and voice casting may throw off the more casual fan of the series, but for Batman fans (particularly those who know their comic Bathistory) it's quite a treat.

Beware the Creeper - November 7, 1998
Story by Rich Fogel; Written by Steve Gerber; Directed by Dan Riba

While recounting the Joker's gruesome origin for a news broadcast (in which we learn that the Joker's real name is still not known!), reporter Jack Ryder has a rather similar accident and becomes The Creeper!

Comments: Although it's always great to see new "heroes" enter the animated Batman universe, fortunately the Creeper didn't become a regular character on the show. He's too Freakazoid!-ish for a series that is already a delicate balance between dark, gritty action, character-driven drama, and lighthearted fun. The Joker and Harley have some great lines ("Think Bats saw you, puddy tat?"/"Oh, he did! He did!"), many of which later showed up in the Batman: The Joker's Wild Animated Animations motion-and-sound sericel from 2000.

Mad Love - January 16, 1999
Story by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm; Written by Paul Dini; Directed by Butch Lukic

In the final episode of The New Batman Adventures, Harley decides to prove herself to "Puddin'" by capturing Batman. Meanwhile, we learn the sad origin of Miss Quinn's devotion to the Joker. Features some defining moments in Batman and the Joker's relationship.

Comments: As the old show business saying goes, leave them wanting more! Although an official "origin story" wasn't terribly necessary for Harley Quinn, the show's creators deliver big time...at the same time adding deeper elements into the Joker's obsession with Batman than the comic books rarely touch upon.

CAMEOS, REFERENCES, GUEST APPEARANCES

Speaking cameos*:
Fear of Victory - September 29, 1992
The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne - October 29, 1992
The Man Who Killed Batman - February 1, 1993
Batgirl Returns - November 12, 1994
Cartoon Network Batman Bumper - 1997

*with Mark Hamill's voice only

Non-speaking cameos:
The Forgotten - October 8, 1992
Dreams in Darkness - November 3, 1992
Fire From Olympus - May 24, 1993

References:
I am the Night - November 9, 1992
Zatanna - February 2, 1993
Birds of a Feather - February 8, 1993

Guest Appearances:
Static Shock - The Big Leagues - January 26, 2002

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker - December 12, 2000 (video release); April 23, 2002 (uncut DVD release)

In a possible future Gotham City, elderly billionaire Bruce Wayne and his protege Terry McGinnis face their greatest foe...The Joker! But something is definitely wrong, since the Joker hasn't aged one bit....not since the night he died! Terry dons his Batman Beyond guise once again to get to the bottom of the Joker's sudden ressurrection. Barbara Gordon advises him to keep far away from the Joker, and recounts the tale of Batman and the Joker's final showdown.

Comments: It would be great to say that this was the best animated Joker story ever, but there is so much to be desired. The story compromised a lot of the Joker's character to bring him down to Terry's level. And just from a dramatic standpoint Bruce should have been the one to defeat him (he had no problem donning his "Super Bat" outfit to fight Inque), and the way Bruce was "written out" (so to speak) just reeks of the producers trying to get the audience to root for Terry. It just doesn't work. There's no real reason to sympathize with him. As the Joker puts it, "You're not Batman!"

Video: Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

This page was last updated August 5, 2003.

The Joker, Batman, and all related characters are the exclusive trademarks and properties of DC Comics, a Time Warner company. ©2003 DC Comics. Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman and Robin, and The New Batman/Superman Adventures ©1992-2003 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.