The Dark Knight In The Bright Day

I think it’s safe to assume that anyone roughly my age considers Batman: The Animated Series to be the one, true, canonical Batman mythos. Kevin Conroy portrayed Batman/Bruce Wayne better than any other actor who was ever given the role. He was also the first actor to use different voices for Batman and Bruce Wayne. The series introduced the concept of Harvey Dent having an alternate personality BEFORE the accident that created Two Face, and it introduced Harley Quinn. And while we’re on the subject of definitive portrayals of classic DC characters, Mark Hamil’s Joker had a greater impact on me in terms of geek culture than Mark Hamil’s Luke Skywalker did. It was just flawless. It was also the first time I was exposed to the idea that Batman was entirely crazy, and that he was sort of ruining the lives of the kids he took under his care. Furthermore, it was the launchpad for the entire DC animated universe for the next 15 years. With all of that in mind…

COMMENTERS: What versions of classic, constantly reincarnated geek culture icons do you consider to be the definitive ones? Or just talk about how great Batman: TAS was. That’s fine too.

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42 Comments

  1. For Spider-Man? The Spectacular Spider-Man. (In fact, the past two movies have both taken cues from it, especially with Electro's origin.)

    For Ninja Turtles? The 2003 animated series.

    And I will probably piss off a bunch of people by saying this, but I prefer Beast Wars over the original Transformers cartoon.

    • 2003 Ninja Turtles?

      You infidel!
      87-96 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is ONLY true Ninja turtles!

      You damn kids not born in the 80s. What with your damn differing tastes, slightly different childhood influences and opinions on pop culture. WHY CAN'T YOU SEE THAT YOU"RE WRONG AND YOUR ICONIC FIGURES ARE THE WRONG VERSIONS OF MINE!
      (oh, and get off my lawn while you're at it & I'm keeping your Frisby)

      • MOOM! CRAZY OLD MAN JINGY STOLE MY FRISBY!

        (I'm actually just old enough to remember the latter half of the original cartoon, and I had a really old tape of the first movie when I was a kid that pretty much cemented my love of Casey. (And the only reason I didn't choose the movie is because I felt Mikey and Donnie were shafted in favor of Raph and Leo.))

      • The thing I like the most about it (and hate the movies for lack of) is that he actually makes wise-cracks! He isn't Spider-Man if he doesn't act like a smart-ass.

    • Wait, I just realized I do not know of a 2003 TMNT series. I just looked it up on Wiki and NOTHING sounded familiar. I guess I was too busy being a "grown up" in the mid 2000's. I do recall the part about them getting thrust into the future with the zillionaire great grandson of April and Casey, but that's it. No idea how I missed a TMNT cartoon for 6 years.

      • If you ignore the Fast Forward and Back To The Sewer seasons, it's surprisingly good for a series produced by 4kids. It takes most of its cues from the original comics, although there are some plot twists and additions that crop up here and there but generally serve to tie the whole universe together a little better.

        • Plus, there was the 'Turtles Forever' movie they did for the 25th anniversary, which was a crossover of all (though mostly the 1987 and 2003 animated) Turtle incarnations. It did an awesome job of poking fun at the differences of the different versions.

          • Turtles Forever is kind of a base-breaker, really. I enjoyed it, but I know of plenty of people who didn't;

          • That's how I know about it. The funny thing about it is there's two reviews on ThatGuyWithTheGlasses (by Nostalgia Critic, and someone else), and one of the guys loved it, and one of the guys hated it. I'm leaning towards the"Yeah, it's pretty cool" camp, especially with the way they brought in the original comic guys. Joel, "Turtles Forever" is probably a decent place to start.

            Here's the (brief) positive review:
            http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatg

      • It is. It's also the first Transformers series I actually remember having toys from. I had some before that, but I think they were mostly knockoffs.

  2. For Transformers, the current comics coming out–particularly More Than Meets The Eye–is fast becoming MY version (I was too young for Beast Wars, but will watch it soon.)

    Same as Allen on the Ninja Turtles, not that I care too much. I'm with you on B:TAS; I hear Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill whenever I read a Batman story.

  3. I concur Batman TAS is great. The dark opening was the open door for the superhero that has no super power and fights crime by his own resources. Saw it dubbed so can't comment about Mark Hamil's and Kevin Conroy's work, but the latinamerican version has a unique joker, they have not changed his voice in all this time, from Batman TAS, Batman animated movies (several) and the last one I saw, Dark Knight Returns. The amusing part is he made Taz's voice for Taz-mania.
    Anyway, thanks for bringing back those memories.

  4. The animated X-Men from the 90s is definitely what I always think of when trying to remember X-Men lore, though it hasn't held up anywhere near as well as Batman: TAS did. I had read a few issues here or there, but never really ended up getting into most comics (too expensive when your family doesn't have much income). I did really enjoy the Age of Apocalypse issues that I got for a gift (and Blink probably became my favorite X-Men character because of it).

  5. Conan for me. Roy Tomas, John Buscema & Ernie Chan in The Savage Sword of Conan The Barbarian have never been bettered. Conan is very easy to do badly, very hard to do well and fantastically difficult to do wonderfully. Roy Tomas, John Buscema & Ernie Chan stories have the essential swaggering confidence that makes them soar, an astonishing physical weight in the art graced with the most purple of prose seamlessly combine to deliver undiluted comics joy.

  6. I definitely agree about the 90s X-Men animated series. I loved that growing up, and didn't really get into the comics themselves for no apparent reason. I also have to second the 87-96 TMNT as my go-to. I watched a few random episodes of the 2003 series, and just didn't really like it. Then again, maybe I mostly saw the future season, and didn't stick with it long enough. I have fond memories of the Batman and Spiderman series mentioned as well, but don't remember them as well. TMNT was definitely my favorite growing up.

  7. The 90s Spiderman series was good, but Spectacular does a great job with things so I'd have to hand it the canon just for Texan Shocker alone. 90s X-Men, though I'm not sure if it was actually good or just because it's what I grew up with. Jem and the Holograms is definitely canonical over Hannah Montana.

  8. i feel like Grant Morrison's batman run was a definitive one, it treated everything ever published about batman to be canon including the more out there stuff like the batman of Zur En Arrh and bat-mite.

    • See, I actually came around to reading through the original Mirage books a couple of years ago, and I enjoyed them, but I prefer my Turtles a little more willing to joke around. (Plus, it's occasionally a little difficult to pick out which Turtle is which in them.)

      That and certain elements of V4 just piss me off.

  9. Agree with BatmanTAS and X-men being the first things my memory references. When I read the comics, those are the voices I hear reading the dialogue. And Conroy's performance in the Arkham videos games was phenomenal.

  10. By the same token, the Superman animated series by the same team is for me the definitive Superman. Not only did they manage to make ridiculous concepts like Mr. Mxyzptlk and Titano The Super-Ape work, their portrayal of Superman was spot-on: friendly by default, commanding when he needed to be, never a dick or a buffoon. It's a portrayal that Justice League/Justice League Unlimited never managed to capture, despite everything else they got right (which was pretty much everything else).

  11. Batman: TAS also had my preferred representation of ra's al guhl. (No offense to Liam Neeson) I think that a show that really carried the torch of the spirit of that show was Batman Beyond. The rogues gallery for Terry Batman was pretty well thought out, and most of them didn't feel like a focus group creation.

    • Yes definitely my favorite version of Ra's al Guhl. I love how he just showed up having figured out who Batman must be.

  12. The DCAU versions of most characters are the definitive versions for me, with some notable exceptions.
    I have no problem with animated Catwoman, and she would be the top version if it weren't for Julie Newmar. I daresay nobody will ever top her.
    Knightfall was Bane's defining story, and the animated series not using it, and in fact never letting him win, effectively neutered the character.
    Largely the same could be said of Doomsday. His whole thing is that he's the one that killed Superman (even if he got better). In the show, he's used purely to invoke the Worf Effect for Justice Lord Superman.

  13. To the dubious extent that people are agreeing about which Batman, Turtles, etc, are cannon, I also tent to agree. So stating it again would be boring. So I'm going to fire off a few other cannons. For Tenchi, Tenchi Universe is Cannon. For Dragon Ball, if its in a movie, any movie, it probably isn't cannon. That's enough from Japan. For Star Wars, there the cannon is surprisingly well defined because Lucas demanded it to be so. However, those couple of episodes of the Clone Wars TV show that dealt with the Mandolorians are NOT CANNON. Serenity was a cool movie, but not cannon. That one Dr Who…. Yea that one, your favorite. He wasn't cannon. (-:

  14. I still laugh a little every time I remember the Batman TAS episode where all the villains are sitting around telling stories about how they almost got Batman. Killer Crocs contribution is priceless.

    For Transformers G1 suffered like most 80's cartoons as being mass product placement for new characters. Beast Wars didn't seem to have nearly the new character pace, but it also didn't have Starscream.

    • It didn't have Starscream, but no other iteration of the franchise has Tarantulas.
      Also, I always thought it was pretty clever to introduce Dinobot as "The Starscream", playing on the viewers expectations, only to have him develop into something else entirely.

  15. This strip just got shared by The Escapist on Facebook. I had already read it, but it was kinda cool seeing it pop up in an unexpected place.

    I'm sure it's not the first time, but I thought it mentionable at least.

  16. Well Star Trek: TNG will always be the one true Star Trek for me. That was appointment viewing for my family when I was 4-10 years old.

    I missed Batman TAS, but I just saw that its on Amazon Prime, all four seasons. Worth watching now?

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