Okay, Season 3 was good and Season 4 was even better. Now here come thirteen more episodes. If you like your Batman integrated into the wider DC superhero universe, then Season 5 will be hog heaven (but don't get it twisted; THE BATMAN is not at all placed in the same continuity as the shows in Bruce Timm's DC Animated Universe). This fifth season finds a darknight detective even more amenable to teamwork, although that's not to say he's all of a sudden the life of the party. Dude still broods muchly and cloaks himself in mystery and intimidation; that's just how he rolls. But, continuing the trend begun in Season 4, Season 5 showcases members of the Justice League. The two episode arc "The Batman/Superman Story" kicks it off by teaming up the World's Finest, Batman and Superman, in a nifty story featuring a whole gang of supervillains and the Bat going up against the Man of Steel. I guess it's appropriate that the season (and the series) would close with the two-part "Lost Heroes," a big-scale Justice League adventure.
Superhero cartoon shows don't get a lot of run nowadays, do they? THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES animated series just got the axe. And, yes, horribly, this is the last season in THE BATMAN series, so all the more reason to enjoy this one. The best part is Batman and Robin teaming up with various of the Justice League. Robin's awed reactions to meeting these other heroes are priceless. One downside to so many spotlights on the JLA is that less time is given to the Bat family. I miss Batgirl and her sarcasm; here, she's relegated to less face time. We do learn that time hasn't been standing still for Barbara Gordon as she's now old enough to attend college ("Attack of the Terrible Trio"). Speaking of the Bat fam, there's a sighting of Nightwing; unfortunately, he's a character in an Internet game ("The Metal Face of Comedy"). The good news is that Bat Mite doesn't show up at all.
Regarding the storytelling and the visuals, I don't believe Season 5 to be better than the prior two seasons, which are very good. THE BATMAN was always intended for the younger set of kids, so the stories here aren't as dark or psychological or as thematically layered as those in, say, BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Should this season find more favor with the viewers, it'll be because of its glittering star power. And if the driving theme song reminds one a bit of Hawaii Five-O, well, that's not such a bad thing, is it?
I can't envision a future in which there isn't an ongoing Batman animated series. Hopefully, the powers that be can dust off Kevin Conroy to do what he does best.
In the meantime, here are the 13 episodes of Season 5 (note that, depending on the reader, the following might contain some minor plot SPOILERS):
- Episodes 1 & 2 - "The Batman/Superman Story (Parts 1 & 2)" - Fun two-parter as Superman and the Bat finally meet and fight a lot of super-villains. But then Luthor gets the upper hand.
- Episode 3 - "Vertigo" - Green Arrow comes to Gotham to investigate Wayne Labs, which is somehow linked to people suffering mysterious ailments.
- Episode 4 - "White Heat" - Firefly and his brainy girlfriend steal radioactive isotopes; the debut of Phosphorus; and, finally, a sighting of Batgirl this season.
- Episode 5 - "A Mirror Darkly" - Flash comes to Gotham to help Batman and Robin take down the Mirror Master. One of my favorite episodes.
- Episode 6 - "Joker Express" - Get on board the Cuckoo Choo Choo. An outbreak of "giggle bandits" sweeping Gotham could only mean the return of the Joker.
- Episode 7 - "Ring Toss" - With Sinestro taking Hal Jordan out of action, the Green Lantern power ring ends up in the clutches of the Penguin.
- Episode 8 - "The Metal Face of Comedy" - A Joker henchman's invention leads to the formation of a digital Clown Prince of Crime.
- Episode 9 - "Attack of the Terrible Trio" - Thanks to Dr. Kirk Langstrom's mutagens, three college outcasts mutate into beasts and proceed to get their revenge on those what done them wrong. Also, Batgirl's a college freshman.
- Episode 10 - "The End of the Batman" - Gotham's criminal element gets its own costumed champions: Wrath and Scorn, who seem to hold a personal grudge against the Dynamic Duo.
- Episode 11 - "What Goes Up..." - A gravity-defying episode as Black Mask escapes with the help of the Shadow Thief, and the pair goes after a Thanagarian meteorite. Can a certain winged Thanagarian lawman be too far behind?
- Episodes 12 & 13 - "Lost Heroes" (Parts 1 & 2)" - Hugo Strange and the Joining return as, one by one, Justice League members begin to vanish until, finally, only the two least powerful heroes are left - Green Arrow and Batman.