The Matt Signal Beyond – Episode 35: April Moon

Plot summary: Batman contends with a gang of cybernetically-enhanced bank robbers and a deceptive doctor.

After completing the original run of Batman The Animated Series, Matt Waters looks to the future each Saturday and Sunday with recaps of every episode of Batman Beyond, building an overall ranking along the way. Plus best performances, the ever-popular Villain Watch and more!

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Notes

Episode Title: ‘April Moon’

Original Air Date: April 22nd, 2000

Directed: Butch Lukic (11)

Written: Stan Berkowitz (12) & James Tucker (1) (story)

Named for the Sam Browne song of the same name from 1990.

This marks the third Batman role for Ed Begley Jr., after playing Charlie Collins in ‘Joker’s Favor’ and Roland Daggett’s neurotic henchman, Germs, from ‘Feat of Clay‘.

The second of two episodes in which nobody throws a Batarang.

Recap

A cybernetically enhanced gang break into a bank vault, attracting Batman’s attention. Eventually their numbers advantage (and modifications) prove too much for Terry and they get away with a swag bag.

Terry hands over a servo-motor recovered from the fight, and Bruce informs him it’s identical to the ones in the Batsuit and he purchased them from Dr. Peter Corso, a prosthetics expert.

Speaking of Corso, the gang hammer on his door and demand he fix ‘Kneejerk’s damaged knee. He reluctantly performs the repairs, as their leader, Bullwhip, has leverage over him, insisting he will get what he wants when they don’t need him anymore.

Terry arrives moments after they leave to interrogate Corso, but is almost immediately injected with a tranquiliser and when he wakes up it’s morning and the house has been cleared out.

Max points out to Terry that Corso gave up the opportunity to unmask or kill Terry, so tests her hypothesis by… calling in a fake double amputation to Corso’s company, luring the good doctor back to Terry.

Corso reveals that Bullwhip’s gang kidnapped his wife, April, forcing him to do their bidding. He reveals that their mods all contain shut down codes that he’s planning to use once their deal concludes.

Bullwhip’s gang arrive and kick Terry’s ass again, forcing him to set off a smoke bomb, jump out the window, and fly away… but then loops back around and tails the gang back to their hideout.

Corso approaches him, forbidding a rescue attempt in case April gets hurt. Unfortunately they witness April doing some hurting of her own, having been in cahoots with Bullwhip all along!

The devastated Corso makes too much noise and attracts the attention of the gang. Batman stows Corso out of sight and then takes them on for the third time. Figuring out the deactivation voice command, “April Moon”, Terry disables everyone but Bullwhip, who flees.

Bruce correctly deduces that because Bullwhip is unaware Corso knows the truth, the two would link back up and the doctor would take revenge.

Best Performance

Given Bullwhip’s gang included Johnny Galecki and Ethan Embry, it’s surprising those two barely speak and all of the talking is done by the lesser known Jason Nash and Eric Michael Cole. Nash leads the group and is the only viable candidate in this category. He constantly runs his mouth, taunts Corso and Batman, plays his advantage, and is a manipulative son of a gun.

Ed Begley, Jr. is only okay as Corso. I was expecting much more from him, but given the character ends up being annoying when he’s meant to be sympathetic, I can’t help but pin some of it on the performance not being up to snuff.

I wish April got some more scenes, because I actually liked how Daphne Zuniga initially played her as angelic but flirty, and then gave her more edge after the reveal.

Ranking

What an oddly specific reference to name an episode after and hinge a plot around that almost none of the intended audience would get. I assume Stan Berkowitz or James Tucker were huge fans or had recently listened to the song, which was by no means a hit. The (really cool) solemn jazz soundtrack that repeats throughout the episode doesn’t even sound anything like the song!

That aside, this was a solid middle of the pack episode. The cyberpunk gang were the best part of it, but given there’s a whole section for villains below, I won’t dwell on them here, beyond saying they made for some cool fight scenes. The April twist was good too, contrasting Corso’s potentially slanted flashback of their meet-cute with the reveal she is and possibly always was Bullwhip’s girlfriend. They even changed up her wardrobe and voice acting direction, which was a nice touch.

But there was something missing in the connective tissue. I get Corso being afraid for April’s life, but the degree to which he wants to stop Batman from going after Bullwhip’s gang felt stupid. He has a magic phrase that shuts them down! Surely they could have colluded on a way to use that at an opportune time and then rescue April? Instead, Terry has to figure it out for himself to save his own life. Likewise Max being able to just call in a fake injury to lure Corso into a trap felt like a clumsy way to advance the plot. It also might have been nice to have Corso admire the Batsuit given it contains pieces of his own design work.

There were a surprising number of grizzly moments, from ‘Kneejerk’ tripping and shattering one of his knee-blades, to the jarring shutdown of their prosthetics in the heat of battle, and the gnarly ending with Corso murdering Bullwhip on the operating table to get his revenge.

  1. Meltdown
  2. Eyewitness
  3. Babel
  4. Final Cut
  5. Disappearing Inque
  6. Spellbound
  7. A Touch of Curaré
  8. Shriek
  9. Rebirth Part I
  10. Bloodsport
  11. Splicers
  12. Zeta
  13. Armory
  14. Hidden Agenda
  15. Lost Soul
  16. Earth Mover
  17. Black Out
  18. Dead Man’s Hand
  19. Sneak Peek
  20. Rebirth Part II
  21. Once Burned
  22. Revenant
  23. April Moon (NEW ENTRY)
  24. Heroes
  25. The Eggbaby
  26. Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot
  27. Mind Games
  28. Hooked Up
  29. The Winning Edge
  30. Ascension
  31. Joyride
  32. Golem
  33. The Last Resort
  34. Plague
  35. Rats

Villain Watch

Bullwhip’s Gang (Jason Nash/Ethan Embry/Eric Michael Cole/Johnny Galecki)

I feel I said this a few episodes ago, but finally, some cyberpunk villains in this series set in the future! Bullwhip has wrist-mounted retractable metal whips, Terrapin has retractable metal armour that covers his entire body, Kneejerk has chainsaws attached to his wrists and knees, and Knux has piston-fists. That’s a pretty fun combination of modifications, and you can see how Terry would struggle with them at first.

Bullwhip is the only one with any kind of personality, and is suitably sleazy, lording his leverage over Corso and being revealed to have either seduced his wife, or having been in cahoots with April before the two even met.

  1. Inque
  2. Shriek
  3. Curaré
  4. Mr. Freeze
  5. Spellbinder
  6. The Jokerz
  7. Derek Powers/Blight
  8. Stalker
  9. The Royal Flush Gang
  10. Armory
  11. Ian Peek
  12. Earthmover
  13. Willie Watt
  14. Dr. Cuvier (and pals!)
  15. Mad Stan
  16. Robert Vance
  17. The Terrific Trio
  18. Bullwhip’s Gang (NEW ENTRY)
  19. The Mayhem Family
  20. Agent Bennet
  21. The Brain Trust
  22. Kobra
  23. Dr. Stephanie Lake
  24. Howard Hodges & General Norman
  25. Paxton Powers
  26. Jackson Chappell
  27. Cynthia
  28. Falseface
  29. Mr. Fixx
  30. Ratboy
  31. Dr. Wheeler

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 including Return of the Joker.

My other recap column, Marvel Mondays, is on hiatus until the next MCU show starts. In theory I may drop some one-off articles or something, but life is hectic right now so… don’t bet on it.

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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