Fans who grew up with Batman: The Animated Series as their go-to cartoon superhero show have undoubtedly noticed the darker, more violent trend in those same cartoons now. I don’t think this is bad or even unwanted, as you can tell from my review of this month’s Batman vs. Robin. But a return to a more traditional, 90s feel is certainly welcome. That’s what we get in Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts.
The story brings together classic Batman foes and heroes to uncover the plot behind Penguin’s new invention of Cyber Animals. The robotic creatures keep popping up during strange crimes committed by the Animilitia, a squad of animal-inspired villains that includes Silverback, Cheetah, Killer Croc and Man-Bat. Luckily, Batman has his own squad to call on and Flash, Green Arrow, Nightwing and Red Robin answer.
Animal Instincts comes straight out of DC Entertainment’s desire to create a Batman animated film for younger kids. That sentiment registered strongly with screenwriter Heath Corson who “wanted to capture that fun of Silver Age Justice League comics.” He’s definitely done that here. Humor is used to great effect and is mixed effortlessly with both hand-to-hand and high speed action scenes. Fight sequences are often one-on-one giving each hero and villain a chance in the spotlight.
As is quickly becoming a tradition, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DC Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Animation unveiled a new Batman movie at a world premiere event at WonderCon on April 3. Inspired by best-selling graphic novel, Batman: Court of Owls, Batman vs. Robin is an excellent addition to the ever expanding universe of DC’s original movies.
Picking up on three months after Son of Batman left off, Batman vs. Robin showcases the still tenuous relationship between Bruce and Damian Wayne as they each try to better fit into their respective roles as father and son. Being crime fighting partners is both a help and a hindrance to their relationship, especially when it seems like Batman can’t rely on Robin to put aside his League of Assassins tendencies. The duo are to the test when Talon, the enforcer for The Court of Owls, tries to lure Damian in as his new protégé while Gotham’s secret society also enacts a plan that could destroy the city.
The film boasts a strong voice cast, including the return of Jason O’Mara (Batman), Stuart Allan (Robin), and Sean Maher (Nightwing). Allan once again brings the perfect amount of petulance to Damian and Batman vs. Robin goes the distance to remind us Damian isn’t a child the way the previous Robins, including Dick Grayson, were.
He was born and raised with assassins. Nightwing even remarks to Batman about Damian, saying, “He’s just a 10-year-old boy.” But Batman gently corrects him. “No. He just looks like one.” The film drives this message home so well it doesn’t seem as impossible for a kid to face off with full grown adults, even Batman, and hold his own or come out ahead.
Laurel brings Sara’s body to Oliver’s hideout. The others walk in to see Sara dead. Oliver is the only one who seems to be holding back his emotions.
Oliver promises Laurel that he’ll find Sara’s killer, and Laurel offers/demands to help. Oliver won’t let her, telling her to take care of her family. Laurel decides to hold off on telling Quentin, as she fears the news may kill him.
Oliver goes to the spot where Sara was killed to try and find some clues. Diggle shows up to let him know he has his back. Felicity calls them to let them know Quentin has called for the Arrow. When Oliver shows up, Quentin informs him of a fake archer that is murdering people in town. Quentin has no idea that his own daughter is one of the victims.
Felicity confronts Ray, who keeps trying to woo her to work for him. He even bought the company that owns the tech store she works at. With his statement that she’ll either work for him at Queen Consolidated or at the tech store, Felicity quits.
Based on some details Oliver strong-armed out of a drug dealer, the team is able to determine that the fake Arrow is a man named Simon Lacroix, AKA Kimodo. They hack Lacroix’s phone and are able to determine his location. Oliver heads there and chases Lacroix away on his motorcycle.
Finally, Arrow is back! After a second season that dragged a bit in the middle, but did a great job of picking up the pace at the end, season three begins at least 9 months after the events that concluded season two ended.
Detective Lance is now Captain, and has been pulled from active duty due to his heart condition. He has also publicly thanked The Arrow, and has decommissioned the anti-vigilante task force. Diggle and Lyla are having a baby, and she is due at any time. Roy has fully embraced his role in the team, and has managed to keep himself under control. Felicity and Oliver’s “relationship” has at least grown to not so obvious flirting, and Oliver and Laurel are working together (“You catch ‘em, I cook ‘em” as she said).
Things are going so well, that Oliver has a lot more free time, and Felicity is helping him prepare a speech for the Board of Queen Consolidated to try and buy the company back. Felicity has picked up a job at a tech shop. Diggle even convinces Oliver to finally take Felicity out on a date.
Hot on the heels of Comic-Con comes the next unboxing in the Loot Crate Wars series. For July and August, the guys at Loot Crate have created a two part crate. First, July kicked things off with Villains as its theme which started with an awesome super foe themed trailer on Loot Crate’s own YouTube channel. In it is some of the baddest of the bad as you’ll see in the unboxing video below.
Most notable of the Crate (while still trying to keep the article spoiler-free-ish) is a special variant comic for a number one that just came out from Marvel. Loot Crate’s subscriber base has gotten so big that just by putting it in the July crate, they literally doubled the preorders of the book.