Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Review: Batman TBATB "Invasion of the Secret Santas!"

Mayhem, attempted murder, and the death of Batman's parents. And Santa getting kicked in the face. 

Merry Christmas!
But seriously, this was a well done episode in many different ways. The teaser was a good 'un. Sportsmaster was nicely Silver-Agey, and he was presented as a competent threat, albeit a goofy one. I wasn't a particular fan of bringing back Blue Beetle yet again, but there's nothing particularly wrong with that. And indeed, who else would ask Batman to celebrate Christmas with them? Besides Superman, obviously.

In the main episode, the guest characters were well done. Red Tornado took a lot from Data in his quest to be human, like going through the motions of humanity without understanding the intent fully. But that's not to say the character is written as a Data clone. Lore and B-4 are enough. Red Tornado is a unique character in his own way. Along with his super-powers, he has the verbal tic of prefacing his sentences with their type. (Interrogative, Exclamation, etc.) You'd think this would get annoying, and you may be right. I can only speak for myself, of course, but I found it to be a bit endearing. The character's quest to find Christmas Spirit came to an end, but is quest to be human is far from over. In his next episode (and the last one with him as a focus, I believe), he decides to build a son who can feel all the emotions that he cannot. If I may descend into fan-canon, I think he tried to program emotions into his son based on his short-circuiting experience here. That would explain why his son's emotions needed lightning to activate them as well as... well, we'll get to that episode.

Fun Haus did what he needed to. He provided a threat and an evil plan. They based the character's appearance on the Superfriends version of the Toyman, so I'm a bit confused as to why they went to the bother of making a new character for a single episode, especially when the actual Toymaker ended up appearing. Rights issues? I don't know. Overall, Fun Haus was neither good nor bad, he was a means to an end.

That end, the plot, was a good one. Fun Haus' continual misdirection was clever, and his overall plan wasn't bad either, though the overtness of it didn't lend itself to not being thwarted. Red Tornado's quest is heartwarming and well-handled. In making the ultimate sacrifice, he got his Christmas wish. Of course, he wasn't down and out, and so his tingly-feeling didn't last.

Batman's story makes a lot of sense. It's a bit cliche to tie in the plot of a story to the night Batman's parents died, but it works in this case. Batman (who canonically hates Christmas) gets a reason to dislike Christmas that makes sense. Specifically, his guilt over his reaction to his Christmas gift indirectly leading to the deaths of his parents. The multi-part flashback sequence provides a B-plot which also provides a perspective on Batman's aversion to Christmas as well as an interesting mystery.

Though there may be other reasons for Batman's attitude towards Christmas....
The ending is one of the greatest moments of heartwarming in the series, possibly only outdone by the very end of the last episode.

Overall, this is quite a good episode, but with the caveat that it definitely matters what time of year you watch it. During Christmastime, the sheer Christmasiness of it is quite welcome (especially the reference to Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, for me). Other times of the year, it kind of loses its charm.

Still, it's Christmastime now. If you find yourself so inclined, I recommend this one over the next couple of days.
Merry Christmas, to one and all. Have a safe and happy holidays!

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