Cartoon Network’s Beware the Batman premiered today, marking the start of the sixth cartoon series starring the Dark Knight. With Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice gone from the DC Nation roster, viewers may be skeptical of their replacement. But as a fan of Young Justice, I admit Beware the Batman isn’t as bad as I thought it might be. In fact, it’s pretty fun. More in the style of The Clone Wars than MTV’s Spider-man: The New Animated Series (Don’t remember that disaster? Exactly.), Beware the Batman is a computer-generated series with a slick albeit plastic-y look. It shares a darker tone with the Batman: The Animated Series, distinguishing itself from the kookier Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
Anthony Ruivivar voices a young Batman, still working out how to balance Bruce Wayne and his alter ego—or is it the other way around? The highlight of the show so far is the new adaptation of Alfred Pennyworth, Wayne’s loyal butler and father figure, voiced by J.B. Blanc. Unlike previous incarnations, this Alfred is more Jason Statham than Jeeves, as he also acts as Wayne’s bodyguard. A former MI6 agent who isn’t getting any younger, Alfred is concerned with the future protection of his charge. By the end of the episode, he introduces Wayne to Tatsu Yamashiro (Sumalee Montano), Wayne’s new driver and bodyguard. Yamashiro, the civilian name for the comic book hero Katana, may or may not be, in this version, a future love interest, sidekick, villain, or some combination of all three.
Other new takes include a pre-Commissioner Lt. Gordon and the Grant Morrison-created villains Professor Pyg and Mister Toad. There’s something oddly terrifying about an evil toad in a newsboy cap. But I’m still not sold on the Jack the Ripper in a swine mask vibe that Professor Pyg exudes. I appreciate diversifying the representation of Batman’s rogues gallery, but baddies like the Joker, Poison Ivy, and Two-Face are iconic for a reason.
Beware the Batman airs Saturdays at 10 a.m. on Cartoon Network. What do you think of DC Nation’s newest addition? Does it live up to the expectations of the other cartoon Gotham Knights?