Hello, my friends. The main series had churned out some neat animated stories over the years, but there’s some interesting tales beneath the surface that deserve a look over as well. As such, I welcome you to the beginning of a new series called…
Here, we will be covering comics and animated features that serve either to expand upon and/or supplement a film within the main line. First up, we begin by looking at the first entry in a web show called…
This series has had an interesting path towards its creation. Bruce Timm, the man who gave us a stellar run in the DC Animated Universe from 1992 to 2006, created the beloved Harley Quinn alongside Paul Dini and served as either producer or executive producer on the DC Universe Animated Movie line from “Superman: Doomsday” to both parts of “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”, stepped down on March 29, 2013. At the time, he was also the supervising producer to Warner Bros. Animation. While taking some time off from the series, he still worked on some DC-related shorts, including the 75th anniversary films for both Superman and Batman. During Timm’s absence, DC’s parent company Warner Bros. purchased the website Machinima on March 2014 and even created Blue Ribbon Content on October 21, 2014. Headed up by Sam Register, this allowed Warner Bros. to make live-action and animated series for digital platforms. Now, Timm has returned as a developer and producer. While we wait for the main film to come out in July, let’s dive in and build on its universe with the Chronicles’ first episode: “Twisted” (originally released on July 8, 2015).
We open upon a city at night as a figure flies over to a warehouse. Upon entering, it turns out to be Batman (voiced by Michael C. Hall) whose investigation leads him deep within the building. However, he discovers another room that appears to be akin to a slaughterhouse, complete with various cutting tools, hooks hanging from the ceiling and blood stains all over the place. He even discovers severed limbs and decapitated heads inside a refrigerator. Discovering a blood trail that leads towards some stairs, he makes his way down before discovering three colored boxes. First up, a normal jack-in-the-box. The second one however, a dead corpse missing his lower half and dressed up like a clown. Upon opening the third box, he discovers a woman tied up and gagged.
Just then, her captor arrives who turns out to be Harlequin (who greatly resembles Harley Quinn and is voiced by Tara Strong). Batman manages to counter her hammer strike, allowing the female hostage to escape. Furious at losing a victim, she proceeds to chase after him.
Shortly upon entering a hall full of broken mirrors, Harlequin proceeds to tussle with Batman. After the mirrors end up getting obliterated, he ends up punching her through a looking glass that also had a doorway behind it.
Upon entering, Batman discovers a set of smelly, rotting corpses positioned like a family household. Just then, he’s confronted by Harlequin who’s now wielding a chainsaw. He manages to dodge her constant strikes before she unintentionally strikes a thick, concrete support beam which causes the chain to snap off and violently cut her in the stomach.
At that moment, Batman comes in and grabs her wrists, effectively bringing the fight to an end. Harlequin admits defeat as she prepares for jail. However, this Dark Knight isn’t interested in arresting her. And so, Episode One ends with the revelation of Batman revealing his fangs as he bites Harley’s neck in order to drink her blood and kills her.
As we know from the build-up towards the main movie, this is actually Dr. Kirk Langstrom a.k.a. the normal DC Universe’s Man-Bat. From what he get out of him in this short, his vampire make-up gives him the ability to not only fly, but also possess super-strength. That part was subtly shown when in the hall of broken mirrors, a failed strike by Harley that results in her hitting the ground allowed him to place a foot on the weapon. As a result, she struggles mightily to pick it up. More than likely, his background will be firmly told in the main film.
Finally, we have our villain for this piece, Harlequin. All we get out of her is that she plans on kidnapping people, killing them, and then using their corpses for her own sadistic means. Because this is an alternate DC Universe, I wonder if the Joker either doesn’t exist or was killed off prior to this encounter and her mental stasis went completely off the deep end as a result. Either way, this alternate Harley feels more psychotic with barely any spunk to her. Tara Strong does a decently good job with what she’s given, delivering an unhinged beast until her ultimate demise at the end.
The action is simple, allowing for a nice flow to help the fight move from one room to another. The animation is flawless and was without any bit of lag. Finally, while the small time frame doesn’t allow for much character development in this short, I’m hopeful that the main film will deliver the main details of not only Batman, but also fleshing out this alternate DC Universe. After all, there doesn’t seem to be any other green-lit projects in this line for the time being. For better or worse, we’ll see how this universe shapes up. I’ll give my overall opinion on this particular series when we get to Superman and Wonder Woman’s tales, but for now, this was a fairly nice start to the series. While it is a bit disturbing with its images of dead bodies for some people, it’s never too dark for a general adult audience. It gets in, tells an effective tale, and gets out without any gestures to be had. Here’s hoping that Bruce Timm’s return to the franchise means more glorious DC tales to be had. See you next time for Episode 2.
Batman (created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger), Justice League (created by Gardner Fox) and all related characters are owned by DC Comics.