The Matt Signal: Batman and Robin Adventures

When season 2 of the show got partially re-branded as The Adventures of Batman & Robin, the comic was adjusted accordingly, leading to 25 further issues from 1995-1997, plus more annuals and specials.

I read almost* all of the above so you don’t have to and will now present my findings, including a ranking of every issue.

*As of this writing the two specials are not available for digital purchase. One of those is an adaptation of Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero and the other is a non-canon story featuring a Batman/Wolverine hybrid character as part of a collection of Amalgam stories that were popular at the time. Comics are weird, man.

Notes & Overview

In my opinion none of the issues can compete with the best ones of Batman Adventures, but the overall quality level is better/more consistent.

Ty Templeton graduated to the main writer after writing a few stories in Batman Adventures. He apparently had many more stories planned but the series got cancelled due to the move to the next animated series incarnation.

Kelley Puckett got to return for issue 24… which I hated. Paul Dini wrote issues 1-3, 7 and the first annual, and again flexes his superior writing ability, as reflected in the rankings below. Hilary J. Bader (who wrote ‘The Lost Years’ comic and joins The New Batman Adventures as a regular writer) wrote the second annual.

Rick Burchett was the main artist, and while art is cleaner, it’s also slightly less evocative of the show. Perhaps the two are connected…

Ranking

1) Shadows of the Phantasm (Annual #1)

Andrea Beaumont returns to Gotham 3 years after the events of Mask of the Phantasm to protect Bruce from an assassination ordered by Arthur Reeves, who never properly recovered from Joker Toxin.

When Reeves learns Bruce is Batman, Andrea murders him to protect her love and leaves town again, armed with some nifty disguise tech.

It also shows how Joker and Andrea survived the explosion at the end of the movie.

2) His Master’s Voice (#7)

When Scarface discovers The Ventriloquist has a secret sock puppet, he breaks them out of Arkham in a jealous rage to go after Wesker’s family. Batman finds Wesker clutching a destroyed photograph of his dead mother, the only one he had… meaning Scarface is all he has left! It’s devastating.

3) Fifty Fifty (#22)

A criminal springs Two-Face from prison to seek his help getting revenge on an old acquaintance, but is frustrated by Dent’s wavering levels of cooperation due to coin flip outcomes.

A great examination of the nuances of Two-Face, particularly in comparison to his fellow criminals.

4) Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk? (#21)

With Batman out of town, Batgirl takes on a challenge from The Riddler after he takes Jim Gordon hostage. Elements of his puzzles combine to ‘solve’ the titular Lewis Carroll riddle with no solution. A fun little Barbara Gordon story.

5) Harley and Ivy and… Robin? (#8)

Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn make Robin their slave and force him to plan them perfect crimes… until Harley gets jealous.

There are some strong implications Robin performs sexual favours for Ivy.

6) But a Dream (#17)

Mad Hatter fakes his death to escape Arkham in order to ruin Alice’s wedding and mind control her into marrying him instead. The fake death is pretty well done, and the ending is pretty dark.

8) To Live and Die in Gotham City (#12)

Picking up from the end of ‘Bane’, the disgraced mercenary is beaten half to death by Rupert Thorne’s men (and Candice!) Nursed back to health by the only one who took pity on him, Bane seeks revenge, but ends up souring his rescuer’s opinion of him.

Bane also demonstrates an obsession with Batman as a pillar of strength, and Robin thinks he can’t read, so we’re still in Dumb Bane territory, unfortunately.

9) Blood of the Demon (#10)

Talia al Ghul pleads with Batman to stop her father from unleashing an incredibly rare and deadly plague (hence her actions in issue 9). It makes for a fun little stealth adventure and marks Talia’s 900th switch of allegiance.

10) Round Robin (#6)

When a false rumour spreads that Batman is seeking a new Robin, dozens of wannabes suit up to audition (including The Dark Knight Returns’ Carrie Kelly!), much to the irritation of the Dynamic Duo.

11) Token of Faith (Annual #2)

A hypnotist from Bruce’s days training with Zatara seeks a powerful amulet that lets him control minds. Some fun flashbacks with a younger Bruce and Zatanna, and how the villain fared then and now etc.

There was some kind of connection to a Superman The Animated Series annual that published around the same time, and it definitely feels like you’re getting an incomplete story despite the length.

12) It Takes a Cat (#16)

Catwoman has to avoid Batman & Robin and the police to prove herself innocent of a string of thefts committed by an admirer of hers, Thomas ‘Catman’ Blake, in a very different incarnation to how he will appear later in the show.

13) Tears (#9)

Talia breaks into a chemistry lab Barbara is working late in, leading to a confrontation between the two. Talia is easily winning until Barbara is able to concoct rudimentary tear gas from the available chemicals.

Talia kicks major ass in this one, which is nice given how lacking she was in the series.

14) Through the Late Night (#20)

The GCPD run a betting pool on how many perps Batman & Robin can capture in one night. Harvey Bullock draws the longest odds but finds himself directly involved in an enormous bust that could win it for him.

15) Two-Timer Part I (#1)

Joker takes issue with Two-Face making progress with his Arkham therapy, so convinces Harvey that Bruce has been having an affair with his wife, bringing his rage back to the fore.

The worst part is she actually does crack onto him!

16) Second Banana (#5)

After a psychiatrist declares on television that Riddler is the most intelligent resident of Arkham, Joker publicly vows to kill Nygma, forcing Batman to play defence.

17) Duty of the Huntress (#19)

A condensed verison of Huntress’ origin story. Batman warns her off continuing to operate after they team up to take out her father’s old businesses. Obviously, she ignores him.

18) Windows to the Soul (#11)

Man-Bat takes up residence in the Batcave and demonstrates the ability to speak, leading to some philosophical musings about the creature’s right to make its own decisions from Bruce.

19) Joker’s Last Laugh (#18)

Harley tries everything she can think of to cheer up a depressed Joker. Ultimately writing a fake parking ticket and putting it on the Batmobile does the trick.

If you’re one of those sickos who loves it when Joker is awful to Harley but she stays with him anyway, this one’s for you!

20) A Christmas Riddle (#3)

The Riddler hijacks the Gotham Peregrinators Club, convinced Batman must be rich so is probably a member. While Thomas Wayne was a member, Bruce found it too painful to attend, but by the issue’s end pledges to make sure it remains open.

21) Birdcage (#4)

Penguin seizes control of Gotham Zoo, demanding all the birds be returned to their native habitats. After a surprisingly difficult hostage situation, Bruce arranges exactly that.

22) Two-Timer Part II (#2)

Continuing the events of Part I, Two-Face kidnaps Batman & Robin. Bruce seemingly finally gives up on Harvey being redeemed at the end of the story, devastating Grace. The generic kind of Two-Face story.

23) Knightmare (#13)

Scarecrow plans to unleash a digital version of his fear toxin at the reunion concert of The Beatles The Beat Brothers. While Batman overcomes the effects and stops him, all plans for the reunion concerts are cancelled!

24) Second Chances (#15)

Not to be confused with ‘Second Chance‘. Dick goes undercover in Haley’s Circus when it becomes clear the performers are robbing attendees. He falsely suspects Boston Brand, who ends up as the new owner when its revealed Haley himself is behind it 😦

25) Touch of Death (#24)

A teenager from South America develops a unique condition that kills anyone he touches, with only Poison Ivy able to help. She goes back and forth on her feelings towards his plight and naturally begins scheming to unleash the toxin.

It sounds much better than it is.

26) Dagger’s Tale (#14)

A convict explains why he got a Batman tattoo after being captured by him. This character would return in an issue of Gotham Adventures for some reason.

27) Crocodile Tears (#23)

Killer Croc falls in love with Summer Gleeson (remember her?*) after she takes his side on television due to Batman & Robin’s declining popularity.

(*You genuinely might not, as she’s drawn with blonde hair, perhaps to differentiate her from Barbara)

28) Demon in the Sky (#25)

Ra’s al Ghul ostensibly got abducted by aliens, stole their ship and uses it to abduct Batman. Bruce escapes, refuses to believe it was legit, but goes to Area 51 at the request of some government spooks… who may have been aliens themselves. Just so completely off, tonally.

Plugs

Eager for more long-form coverage of Batman? Why not check out my podcast with Mike Thomas, The Tape Crusaders, which reviewed every Batman movie and delved a tiny bit into the animated series.

My other recap column, Marvel Mondays, has gone back to cover WandaVision with two episodes per week before Loki begins.

Published by

Matt Waters

Brit dude who likes both things AND stuff and has delusions of being some kind of writer or something. Basketball, video games, comic books, films, music, other random stuff.

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