The Matt Signal: Gotham Adventures (Part 2)

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 for 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 from 30 to 1.

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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

I went over some of the overall details in Part 1 so check there if curious.

It’s hard to wholly recommend a 60-issue run of many things, and there are some real clunkers, but the self-contained nature (and lack of convenient collections) makes it easy to skip entire issues in favour of the good stuff.

Ranking

30) Acts (#39)

Mmebers of the Bat Family go undercover in a production of Macbeth staged by Barbara’s classmates after a series of ‘accidents’. Turns out Clayface really misses acting 😦

29) Colder Than Arctic (#40)

Mr. Freeze aligns with Ra’s al Ghul who wants to force a global extinction event. Bruce naturally tries to reason with Victor, who also potentially develops a crush on Talia, but I may have been reading into that.

28) With a Price on His Head (#1)

A Gotham businessman offers $50m to anyone who kills Joker, forcing Batman to protect him by hiding him in the Batcave. Naturally this creates some fun tension as Joker keeps nearly discovering his secret.

27) … And Oh So Delicious (#20)

Poison Ivy creates an enormously popular organic cereal that Batman struggles to prove there’s anything wrong with… so Nightwing gets a job at the company to investigate.

26) Just Another Day (#3)

Tying into an issue of Batman Adventures, Batman is assisted by the son of one of a woman he was briefly dating but abandoned to fight crime. The kid leads a lonely life, but it ends up being a sweet tale.

25) Choices (#44)

Batman relentlessly hunts down Two-Face, leaving Robin to perform CPR on Nightwing. Tim and Dick argue about whether Bruce’s actions were justified. A little heavy-handed in execution, but some good ‘Is Batman a prick?’ discourse.

24) Minute Differences (#22)

Batgirl and Jim Gordon team up to capture criminal brothers. Barbara endeavours to spend more time with her father as a result of the caper. Get it? One family investigating another etc. Very Deep. Much Themes.

23) A Tale of Joe (#41)

Batman continually encounters an aimless twenty-something called Joe who almost gets involved with crimes but never does. He and the Bat Family stage an elaborate rouse to get Joe to help somebody and turn his life around. Slightly ‘get a job, hippy!’ but still fun.

22) Claws (#4)

Catwoman kidnaps the CEO of a cosmetics company that tests on animals and goes to extreme lengths to try and make her see the errors of her ways, disgusting Batman. (Notably Selina stops using the blonde hair dye the company produces, shifting her to her more traditional look)

21) A League of His Own (#9)

Batman & Batgirl travel to Nepal to try and capture The League of Asssassins’ Sensei, who is of course revealed as an agent of Ra’s al Ghul. (There’s also a lengthy debate about guns.)

20) Rescue Me (#55)

Batman helps fake a mobster’s death to get him away from organised crime without repercussions and reunite him with his wife and sister (who is married to his main rival and desperate to get out.) Stylish, clever, slick.

19) Payback (#59)

Bruce unravels a robbery committed by Wayne Enterprises employees. He endeavours to take a greater interest in his company going forward, firing a corrupt higher-up.

18) Deals (#30)

Batman lets Clayface out of Arkham in order to assist a little boy with a medical condition similar to his own. One of the better Clayface stories out there as he bonds with the kid and considers how he’s treated by others.

17) Lucky Day (#2)

Two-Face hijacks a TV gameshow when his estranged father wins $2.2m. Batman stops him from murdering his dad, but Harvey defiantly burns the money and surrenders. Notably the issue proposes that Lester Dent used to flip a coin before beating Harvey as a child.

16) Mightier Than the Sword (#10)

Harley Quinn lands a book deal after getting a clean bill of mental health. Fearing what she may write about him, Joker breaks out of Arkham to try and kill her. It’s eventually revealed to be a sappy romance novel about Batman. Notably Joker makes hints about what Harley may write about Ivy too.

15) Turnabout (#43)

An incorrectly diagnosed patient from Harley’s time as an Arkham doctor seeks revenge. One of many fun Batman/Harley reluctant team-ups. Peterson pushes the Harley & Ivy are ‘just good friends’ narrative. Boo.

14) Hard Knock Life (#52)

Continuing his actions from previous issues, Bane builds an army of loyal child soldiers, making him effectively untouchable. Tim infiltrates the operation and helps the other kids see his true nature, though there is an element of doubt if he truly had good intentions for the children.

13) Six Hours to Kill (#29)

Robin races against the clock to save Batman from succumbing to a fatal poison, seeking help from the likes of Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn as he tries to solve the puzzle.

12) Missed Connections (#24)

Catwoman lays a trap that captures Robin, Nightwing and even Killer Croc in an effort to get Batman’s attention. Barbara has to clue Bruce in on Selina’s romantic intentions, which is fun.

11) Madness and Chaos and All ‘cause of Me!!! (#31)

Joker plunges Gotham into a total blackout, causing riots, but is frustrated that without news coverage, nobody knows or believes he was responsible. A great Joker story.

10) Batgirl Adventures (One-Shot)

A Paul Dini joint, featuring Batgirl in an unlikely team-up with Harley Quinn to rescue Poison Ivy from Kit Nozawa. Perhaps the most fun aspect is Barbara trying to get a straight answer out of Harley about her relationship with Ivy. It’s a shame this is just a one-shot and they couldn’t support multiple spin-off books for BTAS.

9) Leaves (#60)

The grand finale of the series, Bruce struggles with his parents’ death on another anniversary. After another battle with Joker to rescue Commissioner Gordon, Bruce comes to accept Dick, Barbara and Tim are his new family. It’s a fitting ending, but nothing spectacular.

8) World Without Batman (#33)

Guest-written by Ed Brubaker, The Phantom Stranger shows Bruce a world where his parents were never killed, and while his life is better (he and Selina are married with children), Gotham and his allies are much worse off, with Dick and Tim becoming criminals and Barbara ending up as… a cop. Shudder.

7) World’s Finest (#36)

Superman follows a Metropolis criminal to Gotham and he and Batman spend the night bickering over their methodology. Fantastic action scenes, cleaner art, and easily the best team-up in these comics.

6) Early Thaw (#51)

Clayface impersonates Nora Fries and breaks Mr. Freeze out of Arkham to trick him into helping him. This is the last straw for Victor, who gives up on writing letters to the real Nora, unaware she finally tried to visit him after discovering her new husband had been hiding them from her. Far and away the best Mr. Freeze story in any of the books.

5) Stepping Forward (#35)

Bruce is picked for jury duty for the trial of a criminal he knows to be guilty due to his actions as Batman, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. He actually confesses his secret because he’s asked if he has any conflict of interest while under oath, but everyone laughs it off.

4) Never An Option (#12)

Two-Face is slipped a weighted coin during therapy, causing him to continually commit acts of good. Sounds good, right? Well, not so much, as his therapist begins to worry his ‘Judge’ persona is subliminally trying to kill him via increasingly reckless heroism. An excellently written Harvey Dent story that delves into the subtle ways in which he’s broken.

3) Second Timers (#50)

Bruce reflects on his history and feelings for Catwoman after she’s hospitalised saving him from an explosion. Features a gorgeous Darwyn Cooke cover and a fantastic dual-timeline split art style.

2) Actions (#48)

Tim questions Bruce’s humanity, so Alfred relays a story about some of his good deeds, making Tim realise he simply struggles to communicate verbally, but will go to extreme lengths for a meaningful gesture, whether for Dick, Tim or a total stranger. Three artists draw the three narratives. Very cool.

1) The Oldest One in the Book (#11)

Riddler tries to go straight, sending Batman clues to help him catch other criminals. Unfortunately he fails to realise he has also left subconscious meta-hints to his own location despite swearing he didn’t want Batman to find him. Nygma’s devastation realising he may be insane after all is beautifully tragic, and I would have loved to have heard John Glover take a crack at this story.

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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