Beware the Batman: From Page to Screen
Beware the Batman: From Page to Screen by Jerry Whitworth
The popular series Batman: The Brave and the Bold ended last year to make way for another incarnation of the Dark Knight in Beware the Batman (Batman: TBTB making light of this fact in its finale joking about making way for a more serious CGI series, but described Batgirl in place of Batman in this context). This time animated with computer-generated images like the new series Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Beware will see Glen Murakami return to bring the Caped Crusader to the small screen since his work on The Batman. Returning to a darker tone, gone will be familiar characters like Robin and the Joker to make way for a new sidekick in sword-wielding Katana and obscure anti-establishment anti-villain Anarky. It’s unknown if there’s any relation between this new series and a similar sounding comic book series about another hero based in Gotham City in Beware the Creeper. The new series will premier on Cartoon Network as part of the DC Nation block of programming alongside Young Justice in 2013.
Orphaned at a young age when small-time crook Joe Chill killed wealthy philanthropists Thomas and Martha Wayne behind the Monarch Theater, Bruce Wayne dedicated his life towards becoming a champion of justice by using his massive inherited fortune to travel the world in the study of fields such as criminology, science, martial arts, stage illusion, and the art of invisibility. Returning to Gotham City, Bruce converted the cave beneath his ancestral home (connected by passages built for the Underground Railroad) into the Batcave, perhaps the world’s greatest law enforcement facility, and turned his father’s Wayne Enterprises into his personal research and development for a war on crime turning out marvels like the Batmobile, Batcomputer, and the Batsuit with its miraculous utility belt (leaving the business in the capable hands of Lucius Fox). Perhaps subconsciously inspired by his father who donned a Bat-Man costume at a ball held at Wayne Manor or more directly by a test subject bat belonging to Kirk Langstrom that crashed into the window of Bruce Wayne’s study as he contemplated what form to take for his identity, Wayne took the form of the Batman, preying on the fear of criminals who the hero deemed a cowardly and superstitious lot. At first a lone struggle with Bruce’s butler (and inherit father figure) Alfred Pennyworth supporting his master when home, the Batman would gain a virtual army of allies in time with the likes of Police Commissioner Jim Gordon and his GCPD, the Robins, Superman, Batmen of All Nations (later the Club of Heroes), Batwoman, Batgirls, Outsiders, and many more.
Faithful butler to the Wayne family, Alfred Pennyworth is a retired British intelligence agent (previously serving in the military prior to this) that fought in World War II (where he met and had a child with the infamous French operative Mademoiselle Marie) who took on the role of servant following the death of his father Jarvis, promising to inherit his role of butler to the Waynes. His position would change drastically upon the death of the elder Waynes in Thomas and Martha who were gunned down after taking their son Bruce to see the film The Mark of Zorro as they made their way home. In the aftermath, Alfred had to take on the role of father of the orphaned survivor, this role of parent shared with a select few such as physician Leslie Thompkins (close friend to Thomas), housekeeper Alice Chilton (mother of the Waynes’ murderer who takes care of Bruce out of guilt), and the generally-absent uncle Philip Wayne, but undoubtedly it was Alfred that was always there (later, businessman Lucius Fox would run Wayne Enterprises as Bruce grew into the role of CEO, though as an adult Bruce kept Lucius in his position). When Bruce left on his journey around the world, Alfred remained behind tending to the estate of his master and upon his return faithfully served him, in time tending to his wounds and assisting with equipment maintenance as part of Bruce’s role as Batman. In Beware the Batman, Alfred appears to be taking a more active role as the initial promotional image depicts him dual wielding pistols. This change is reminiscent of Norman Burg, butler to Roger Smith of the series Big O, an anime based in part on Batman: The Animated Series, who occasionally picked up his anti-armor rifle to join his master in his work as a negotiator (though, deadly butlers are not uncommon in anime with other notable examples being Walter C. Dornez of Hellsing and in series like Black Butler, Hayate the Combat Butler, and They Are My Noble Masters).
Tatsu was a typical teenager living in Japan who happened to excel in the martial arts. Falling in love with and marrying Maseo Yamashiro, in turn spurning his brother Takeo who went on to join the Yakuza, the couple had twin daughters Yuki and Reiko. Takeo would come into possession of a mystical katana named Soultaker, which when used to slay an opponent steals their soul and seals it within itself for all eternity ever its slave, using it to challenge his brother to a duel. In the end, Maseo would be cut down and his soul stolen as Tatsu bested Takeo, taking his sword, and escaped a fire that ensued from the conflict, albeit at the cost of her daughters. Training under the samurai Tadashi, Tatsu traveled the world in a quest for justice. This eventually led to joining Batman’s Outsiders which were formed in part out of the Justice League’s compliance with sanctions of the world’s governments regardless of the harm it caused and the Outsiders desire to do good without unnecessary restriction. Katana became close friends with Batman, moving into a penthouse in Gotham formerly used by Bruce Wayne, and has assisted him on occasion and been affiliated with various incarnation of the Outsiders and the Birds of Prey. The Beware the Batman version of Katana will likely borrow from Batman’s other female allies such as Batgirl, Huntress, or Spoiler, in all likelihood notably Cassandra Cain. Daughter of mercenaries/assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva (both instructors for Batman), Cassandra was a martial art prodigy able to defeat the world’s greatest fighters with ease as a child. Her father employed her skill and youth in assassinations before his daughter finally abandoned him and that life to become Batman’s protege Batgirl. In this way, Batman largely became a father to Cassandra, one she never truly had before, with Cass striking out on her own as the heroic Black Bat in Hong Kong.
Proposed as the son of the Joker and employing elements of V from Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, Lonnie Machin is the adopted son of Mike and Roxanne Machin and a child prodigy that deduced most of the social ills plaguing humanity derive from being controlled by governments (in turn controlled by corporations). In order to save the world, Machin became the anti-villain Anarky who started small by attacking corrupt businessmen and electronically funneling wealth from the ultra rich to the third world around the Gotham area in a bid to tear down governments (keeping track of Gotham’s heroes by employing the homeless to monitor them). Foiled on occasion by Batman and Robin, separately, Machin faked his death and constructed a technologically-advanced facility beneath the Washington Monument the while stealing magical implements and technology from the New Gods. Anarky uncovered his biological mother to be a showgirl named Linda Penman and his father a ‘madman,’ deduced by his artificially intelligent super-computer MAX to be the Joker (though, editors internally decided to not permit the Joker to be his father). For Beware the Batman, Anarky is being employed to take advantage of modern movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Hacker group Anonymous (both of whom already take advantage of the visage of Guy Fawkes).
A recent addition to Batman’s rogues, Lazlo Valentin was a circus operator who went mad, obsessed with transforming people into becoming “perfect.” Operating the Circus of the Strange, Lazlo becomes Professor Pyg and captures audience members, transforming them into obedient zombie-like drones called Dollotrons appearing asexual with doll masks permanently affixed to their faces numbering in the hundreds. Pyg has also employed drugs and viruses in his bid to make the world’s populace into Dollotrons. At times, Pyg has allied himself with Dr. Simon Hurt and his 99 Fiends. One of Pyg’s Circus of the Strange minions Mister Toad has also been slated to appear in Beware the Batman.
An obscure jewel thief with extreme sense of fashion (between model and punker), Margaret Pye was a curator at a museum driven insane by being surrounded by rare, valuable artifacts and being unable to take them resulted into a compulsion to steal. After being captured by Superman and Batman, Magpie became a resident at Arkham Asylum sharing a cell with Poison Ivy and performed sex acts for shiny objects. She would eventually get out and work for the Penguin before being executed by the Tally Man.