The Matt Signal: Gotham Adventures (Part 1)

To coincide with the series being retitled to The New Batman Adventures, the comics were once again rebranded to match, leading to the longest run of all: Gotham Adventures. It lasted a shocking 60 issues, plus a one-shot.

I read it all so you don’t have to and will now present my findings, including a ranking of every issue, starting from 60 to 31.

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Each Saturday and Sunday Matt Waters recaps an episode of the legendary Batman: The Animated Series, building an overall ranking along the way. Plus best performances, the ever-popular Villain Watch and more!

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Notes & Overview

Ty Templeton started the book off but handed over to Scott Peterson after fourteen issues. Peterson edited The Batman Adventures, and is in my opinion the weakest of the five main writers who worked on these comics (Kelley Puckett, Paul Dini, Ty Templeton and Hilary J Bader).

Chuck Dixon wrote issue 29, Ed Brubaker wrote 33, Jason Hall wrote 51, Dan Slott and did 58. Plus Kelley Puckett got to return to bring his creations, The Threatening Three, to a surprisingly touching end.

It’s strange to me that this is by far the longest-running comic of the tie-ins, because while there are some strong issues and fantastic little moments, the overall quality is not very high in my opinion.

I mostly miss the art style of the first two runs, but part of that is my preference for the original series character designs over The New Batman Adventures (with a few key exceptions). The art gradually changes over time and near the end there are some genuinely creative visuals after the books had mostly tried to strictly adhere to house style.

And because of how much of it there is you can read Part 2 tomorrow with 30-1.

Ranking

61) Crazy Talk (#58)

Batman and Creeper form an unlikely alliance to stop The Ventriloquist. They do a split-page mirrored actions thing which is theoretically cool but… I still hate Creeper. Like… so much.

60) Daddy Dearest (#17)

Bruce reluctantly arranges a meeting between a mobster and a teenager discovered to be his biological son. The kid’s not into it though. Just a bit limp.

59) Like a Bat Outta Gotham (#18)

A pharmaceutical CEO tricks Kirk Langstrom into stealing chemicals from a rival to save Francine. Well-trodden Man-Bat ground.

58) How This World Goes (#21)

Batman struggles to solve a child kidnapping as the only ‘witness’ is a blind musician. Just a bit too cheesy for my tastes.

57) Masterwork (#54)

A hacky writer keeps getting in Batman’s way while writing a novel about him. Funny and clever for a while, but it quickly runs out of steam.

56) Notes (#28)

Riddler forces a famous musician to help him leave hidden riddles in song. The clues are completely lost on Bruce but Dick tries to have some semblance of a life so does the heavy lifting for once.

55) Saving Face (#46)

Ventriloquist and Scarface begin to bicker, with their followers unsure who to side with. Should be another interesting wrinkle to the Ventriloquist concept… perhaps in better hands.

54) Do the Wrong Thing (#23)

Ra’s al Ghul seizes control of 25% of the world’s oil supply to inflate prices and force more energy efficiency. For some reason Batman objects to this, telling Robin sometimes he has to stop people doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. Urgh.

53) Green Mind (#53)

One of Poison Ivy’s experimental plants overruns Gotham while she’s living peacefully in the Amazon. The art is great, but Batman threatening to blow up part of the rainforest is mindnumbingly bad writing.

52) Case Study (#47)

Batman seeks Two-Face’s help profiling a defence attorney framing his own clients. Makes Bruce look like a bit of an idiot because the intel Harvey gives him is incredibly basic.

51) Tuesday Night (#42)

Batman & Robin spend a long night rescuing people from fires across Gotham, caused by… sunspots. They’re trying for a ‘look how many people the heroes help!’ story but it wraps terribly.

50) When In Rome (#34)

Maxie Zeus kidnaps an entire production crew to build him an Ancient Roman theme park. One of the workers does try to point out that Maxie is obsessed with Ancient Greece, not Ancient Rome, and I can’t decide if that makes it dumber or not.

49) Lessons (#27)

Batman struggles with the innocence of a brilliant law professor ostensibly framed for murder.

48) Captive Audience (#16)

Alfred proves to be more difficult to keep hostage than his kidnappers anticipated.

47) The End (#13)

The Threatening Three finally dissolve their partnership in the middle of one last job as Kelley Puckett bids farewell to his creations. Dedicated to Archie Goodwin.

46) Sticking (#38)

Batgirl & Robin investigate a series of assaults by a peewee hockey coach. More fun than it sounds, particularly as a story of the kids breaking out on their own.

45) Identity Theft (#56)

Riddler breaks out of Arkham after a copycat steals his gimmick. It turns out to be Kim, the ‘artistic’ criminal from issue 49.

44) Running the Asylum (#45)

Arkham is locked down following a hostage crisis. It turns out the cook is behind everything as he resented the idea the doctors ran the place.

43) Masks of Love: A Harley Quinn Romance (#14)

Harley Quinn’s book (from issue 10) flops so she returns to a life of crime to try and boost sales via infamy.

42) Dagger’s Secret (#7)

Dagger (inexplicably returning from The Batman & Robin Adventures) recognises Tim, but shockingly helps protect his secret despite being tortured by Penguin.

41) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (#8)

Batman & Batgirl travel to Paris on the trail of the League of Assassins and encounter a vigilante who cured himself of cancer with a formula similar to Clayface’s, hideously disfiguring him in the process.

40) Last Chance (#6)

Boston Brand is assassinated but given a chance to avenge his death as a spirit named… Deadman! Shockingly this piece of canon to the comics has stuck around to present day.

39) Polar Opposites (#5)

Batman recruits Mr. Freeze to help rescue some scientists as one of them is Nora’s new husband. Notably this marks the return of Grant Walker who was presumed dead after the events of ‘Deep Freeze‘.

38) Cash ‘n the Hood (#15)

Bane reveals his intelligence by going Robin Hood to gain support from the poorest part of Gotham, which will be paid off in a later issue.

37) The Real Deal (#57)

Robin feels the pressure as he tackles Riddler alone while Bruce is out of town. He recruits Kim, the Riddler copycat from Issue 56 to help.

36) The Art of the Steal (#49)

Killer Croc commits a string of robberies on behalf of a douchey man named Kim obsessed with the artistic aspect of crime. Wildly, Kim makes repeated appearances after this issue. The art is great, particularly juxtaposing Bruce’s investigation with Croc actually committing the crimes.

35) In Arms (#26)

Gotham’s criminals and multiple intelligence agencies race to capture a baby for complicated reasons. Batman gets there first and is forced to carry it with him on a typical evening of crime-fighting. In a bananas turn of events, Batman hands over a sample of his blood to the FBI, claiming it’s the baby’s, so they have his DNA on file.

34) A Little Thing (#19)

Robin becomes complacent about not being able to do any permanent good., so Nightwing & Batgirl dress as whimsical fake criminals to try and cheer him up.

33) The Remote Controller (#32)

Scarecrow induces a fear-based frenzy throughout Gotham via a television broadcast. You’ve seen it, you’ve read it, there’s nothing new. More of Scarecrow’s cool new design though.

32) Recognized, In Flashes, and with Glory… (#25)

The Flash spends an evening getting lectured by Batman as they seek out a Central City hacker. The panelling is really good, but I liked the story more in theory than practice.

31) Images (#37)

Mad Hatter traps Batman in an endless loop of saving damsels from Joker & Penguin in a Dick Sprang art style. Bruce eventually breaks free, realising he could never truly be happy in a very grim ending. A little redundant given ‘Perchance to Dream’, but the moment where the two art styles swap back over is excellent.

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, continues its coverage of What If…?

There Will Be Movies continues Ben & Matt’s look back at the 90s each Wednesday. This week we delve into the highest art produced by the world’s most famous director… Jurassic Park!

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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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