Nerds can’t agree on anything. Star Trek or Star Wars? Android or iOS? Marvel or DC? There are no definitive answers, as each has their staunch defenders and their vicious haters. There is, however, a single universal (or, at least, nigh-universal) geek truth—Batman: The Animated Series is one of the greatest cartoons of all time.
Why trot out this undisputed accolade? Simple: you can now own the entire series in an absolutely astounding deluxe limited edition box set. And, yes, you should.
Collecting all 109 episodes of its three “seasons”—Batman: The Animated Series (65 episodes), The Adventures of Batman & Robin (20 episodes), and The New Batman Adventures (24 episodes)—in a 10-Blu-ray set would’ve likely been enough for most fans, but The Complete Animated Series goes above and beyond.
In addition to each episode, this collection also boasts two bonus discs containing the recently-re-mastered animated films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. There are some 25 bonus featurettes (including Arkham Asylum case files and a Batman: The Animated Series making-of documentary entitled “The Heart of Batman”) and 12 episode commentary tracks from the likes of designer Bruce Timm, writer Paul Dini, and director Boyd Kirkland.
But wait—there’s more! This deluxe limited edition also comes with tons of collectible goodies: miniature Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn Funko Pocket POPS and seven lenticular collector cards of original animation artwork. It really is the mother load of Dark Knight memorabilia, and at under $100—the MSRP is $112.99, but Amazon has it currently listed for a reduced $99.96—it’s an easy recommendation.
In truth, my review copy (lovingly provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment) skimped on the packaging and pack-ins, but the Blu-ray transfers of all my favorite episodes have more than made up for it. So far, the kids and I have thrilled along with the original pilot and Man-Bat origin story (“On Leather Wings”), the first appearance of Harley Quinn (“Joker’s Favor”), Joker’s madcap marine mutations (“The Laughing Fish”), and many, many more.
It’s almost impossible to overstate the important and overall influence of Batman: The Animated Series. Timm’s character designs went on to help shape the visual style of much of the early DC animated universe, including Superman: The Animated Series, futuristic spin-off Batman Beyond, and even the sorely-missed Teen Titans. Dini’s Harley Quinn, originally a one-off femme Joker henchman, quickly became a fan favorite and one of modern comics’ most well-known faces. And lest we forget, B:TAS also favored us with Kevin Conroy’s stoic Caped Crusader and Mark Hamill’s iconic Clown Prince of Crime—still the character’s definitive representation! (Don’t @ me!)
All this is to say that Batman: The Animated Series won Emmy’s and hearts back in its broadcast heyday, and its gorgeously stylized visuals, skillful thematic cohesion, and unparalleled voice cast still hold up more than 25 years later. If you are an old fan, you’re likely long overdue for a return trip to Gotham. And if you’re a series newbie, there’s no better place to start than this definitive edition.
Review materials provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Mark Hamill Joker for life!