Sunday, 11 April 2010

Why Batman Is Awesome #9: "Face reality, Harleen-- Joker had you pegged for hired help the minute you walked into Arkham."

Batman is awesome.

Batman always looks brilliant because he's the best at what he does. And what that is exactly, is beating the bad guys. We all know the set-ups by now, the death-traps, the riddles, the murder mysteries that Bruce Wayne can solve with one hand tied behind his back or whatever the handicap of the week is.

We've seen him buried alive, sent hurtling through time, murdered by a god. And he's brilliant and he escapes, because Batman is indeed awesome. But sometimes the odds are against him, and he's up against the wall, and he fails, or he struggles or he falters, and even then... he'll prevail. Because he's Batman.

Harley Quinn debuted in the Batman animated series from the 1990s, surely the greatest animation ever put on the small screen-- so good it spawned sequel series, films, and blazed the trail for Superman and Justice League to get there too. I've said it once, and I'll say it again-- Kevin Conroy is my Batman. You can keep Christian Bale, he's nothing compared to this guy. Anyway, Harely debuted on this show, and her crowning moment was the episode called "Mad Love", which was then adapted into a comic book.

In which, Batman is awesome.

Right, the lowdown-- Harley has Batman in the ultimate death-trap. He's tied up nice and tight, and there's a tank of piranhas below. Harley approached the Joker, the love of her life, with this plan before, but he dismissed it because it wasn't his idea, so instead, she decided to act on it by her lonesome, to remove the one distraction from their lives-- Batman.

So Batman doesn't have his utility belt. Any of his gadgets. He's groggy from being upside down for so long. There are drugs in his system. He's screwed. But you know what he does have going for him?

His mouth. She begins spouting off about how this will bring Joker and her together, and he just... well, see for yourself.

He smiles.

Batman is so awesome he takes Harley apart with words. He doesn't need to punch or kick her, he knows that won't work with her. Besides, he can't-- he's physically unable to. But he can talk like all hell, and he can tell it like it is.

So Harley calls the Joker, and the Joker is, obviously, furious. He storms over, punches Harley out of a window, and then frees Batman, apologetically. Then, he decides, what the Hell, he'll finish the job. But Batman is out of reach of the fish tank, he's got his bearings back, and the two brawl-- until Commissioner Gordon arrives and the Joker makes his escape, but...

(Batman got behind Joker on a moving train. Yeah, he's awesome.)

So Batman continues his verbal surgery on his enemies. And it's a beaut.

Boom. Drop the bomb. Batman really was screwed this time around, and his arch-enemy was the one to save him. The Joker is at his best in the animated show, I think. They balance homicidal lunatic and trickster perfectly, and he's never been at his best like this in the comics. In fact, whenever I read the Joker, I hear his dialogue as read by Mark Hamill, my favourite Joker, just as I read Batman's dialogue as Conroy. They're the epitome for me. The guys behind the show distilled all that was great about every character-- especially Batman-- and did beautiful things. I still miss that show. Anyway, I think I've proven my point once again: Batman is awesome.