He is the vengeance, he is the night, he is the single greatest on-screen incarnation of Batman of all time. On Tuesday,
What is Reality?
[/nerdist_section]Did you know that the Riddler only appeared as the primary villain three times during the entirety of
Over the Edge
Anyone who is close to Batman is a target for the scores of psychotic lunatics that want him and his loved ones dead. “Over the Edge” asks many questions: What if Batgirl died? How much of the blame can and should be laid at Batman’s feet? How would it affect one of Batman’s staunchest allies, Commissioner Gordon? This pitch perfect episode asks all of these questions in a tense, thrilling story that pits Batman against the Gotham City Police Department and threatens to tear the Bat-Family apart. Sure, it ultimately reverts to the status quo, but the bleak look into what could be when your secret identity collides with your actual identity is a truly haunting hypothetical.
The Clown Prince of Crime has rarely seemed more sinister than in “Joker’s Favor,” and that is saying something considering the psychotic pedigree of this character. When an average Joe named Charlie Collins cuts off the Joker in traffic, he winds up in a deadly game of car-and-mouse that ends with him exchanging his life for a favor that the Joker can redeem at some point down the line. Flash forward to two years later where Charlie has a new identity, a new life, and is living far away from Gotham in a brand new city… but not even that can keep him safe. The Joker ultimately tracks him down and pushes him to his psychological breaking point, illustrating how a chance encounter can ultimately ruin your life. Speaking of which, this episode also introduces Harley Quinn, whose life was basically ruined when she met the Joker at Arkham Asylum. You know, time is a flat circle and all that jazz.
Mask of the Phantasm
Is this cheating? Well, it’s my show, so who cares. Regarded by some as the best Batman movie ever made, this feature-length animated series episode finds Batman blamed for the murders of a series of mob bosses, which are actually being perpetrated by a new vigilante named the Phantasm. This new, cruel crimefighter is basically the murdery mirror image of Batman. It’s a dark, haunting, and ultimately heartening film that puts both Bruce Wayne and Batman under the microscope, examining why Bruce became the Dark Knight in the first place and what it cost him.
Almost Got ‘Im
An episode so good they turned it into an actual card game, “Almost Got ‘Im” is a nearly perfect piece of Batman television, featuring the Dark Knight’s greatest rogues–Joker, Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and Penguin–playing poker as they try to one-up each other with stories of how they nearly bested the Batman. It’s weirdly touching because in spite of their constant attempts to try and murder Batman, you realize that he is the glue that keeps their psychotic family together. My one complaint? Two-Face basically erases Penny Plunderer from history, which is about as rude as it gets.
Harley and Ivy
Like chocolate and peanut butter, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are a nearly perfect combination, and this episode is proof positive. When Harley Quinn gets fired by the Joker, she teams up with Poison Ivy to paint the town red, and the two set out on a quest to become Gotham City’s queens of Crime. If nothing else, it laid the groundwork for Gotham City Sirens, which is great because this episode shows kick-ass ladies kicking ass together is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Feat of Clay
With the ability to take on any form, Clayface is a truly chilling villain. There’s just something deeply unsettling about shapeshifters, but in “Feat of Clay” you learn that Clayface is far more sympathetic than his sinister, goopy exterior would suggest. Beneath that murderous mud-mound was a drug-addicted actor named Matt Hagen whose dependency on an experimental face cream to hide facial scars he incurred in a car crash led to the complete breakdown of his genetic material. In essence, his vanity ultimately consumed him, leaving him utterly unrecognizable, and quite literally turning him into a monster.
The corruption of Harvey Dent and his slow descent into madness and villainy has provided narrative gold for many Batman writers over the years, but the one-two punch of this two-part Jekyll and Hyde story on
Heart of Ice
No list of greatest
The Demon’s Quest
Ra’s al Ghul is one of the Dark Knight’s greatest foes, not only because he leads the deadly League of Assassins and is a global threat, but because of his fiendish intellect and virtual immortality thanks to the Lazarus Pit, a green goop jacuzzi that makes his skin baby-smooth and, you know, preserves his infernal existence. But what separates
I Am The Night
Those, dear reader, are the greatest
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