Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review: Batman TBATB, "Journey to the Center of the Bat!"

"Journey to the Center of the Bat!" is a good episode, but that doesn't mean it can't benefit from a little analysis.

The teaser (despite shapeshifting issues) is better than it should be. Babyface is one of my least favorite villains in this show, but he's utilized well here. The teaser also relates to the plot of the main show with it's themes of bickering heroes. In the teaser, Elongated Man and Plastic Man hate each other because they're so similar. In the show proper, the bickering heroes couldn't be more different, and they end up pals.

Let’s begin analyzing the rest of the episode by taking a look at the Atom, in his first non-teaser appearance. The Atom in this show was based on Ryan Choi, the second Modern-Age character from the comics. I like this version of the character. I heartily approve the diversity brought to the cast by the character being Asian, and he actually has a personality beyond his race, and he’s not just a carbon copy of the more well-known version. This is how you do an "affirmative action legacy," people. Take note.

Throughout the episode, the Atom comes across as a consummate professional. He’s quick to identify the problem and quick to act. Also, his lisp is adorable. He starts off a little abrasive, but only because he sees Aquaman as a nuisance. By the end, the two are buds, and remain so for the series.

Aquaman, already the show’s breakout character, needed a character like this. Batman’s straight-man routine against Aquaman’s OUTRAGEOUSNESS works well, but what the character really needed was someone to banter with, and Atom provides that in spades.

I wish this show got a bit more attention. If not for the show’s sake, then for Aquaman’s sake.
We need fewer people thinking "loser who talks to fish"....

 ...and more people thinking THIS.
This episode had three main villains. The virus, Chemo, and the Brain.

The virus itself is fine, but the technobabble dropped the ball.

Chemo was a good threat, and Batman’s relentless pursuit of it made sense when one considers its destructive capacity.

The Brain… was meh. I did like the character’s portrayal and his scheme, but it lacked a personal touch. I just feel like you could have substituted almost any mastermind in his place. The reveal of the Brain as the culprit wasn’t the shocking twist that it could have been with some clever foreshadowing; even something as simple as Batman mentioning a theft of organ-submersion nutrients would have worked, though your mileage may vary.

This episode is good all around. Animation, story, voice acting, it’s all excellent, which is par for the course. The problem with the episode is the technobabble. With made-up technobabble, no one can prove you wrong. You can say that X-tonic light will vaporize you in seconds because X-tonic light isn’t actually a thing you can look up. But when you use terms that actually do exist and mean things, the holes in your script widen. If they had just said “self-replicating monoclinic phyllosilicate particles,” there would be no problem. That’s enough to explain the situation while still leaving enough of it vague. The problem comes when you don’t know where to stop. I already pointed out the fact that silicon-based viruses could not replicate inside a carbon-based lifeform because they have no silicon to reproduce with. It’s like trying to make a PBJ, but all you have is ham and cereal. You can’t even make a sandwich out of those! Though that's never stopped me from trying.

Technobabble doesn’t usually bug me a lot, because most of the time it’s there for five seconds, explains a plot point, and the plot moves along. In this episode, the technobabble was compounded by more and more technobabble. It tapered off when Aquaman started running away with the spotlight, so it didn’t really affect my enjoyment much. When it comes down to it, it’s just a show, and an entertaining one at that. There’s also the scientific issues with breathing inside Batman, and the fact that nuclear bombs don’t just explode without the trigger actually firing, but those issues can be easily handwaved.

All in all, I highly recommend this episode. See you all next time!

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