If you grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons in the mid-90’s or you’re just a big fan, then you know that there is no show like Batman: The Animated Series. In way this cartoon revolutionized the way superhero cartoons were made. Without it, we wouldn’t have Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League or Batman Beyond, which followed soon after. This Emmy award-winning series gave us Batman, the way he was meant to be and the first season of the series was a great example of cartoons at their finest. So, here are the top 5 episodes (in my opinion) from season one of Batman: The Animated Series.
If you’ve seen this episode, you’re probably wondering why it would be in the top 5 of the season, but sometimes the best Batman stories are the ones that rarely have Batman in them at all. A disturbance at a warehouse leads to three different point of views from three different police officers, each with their own unique sighting of the Caped Crusader. What made the episode great was the fact that each of their stories intertwined with the other. Batman did make a big appearance at the end to thwart the enemies’ escape, as he normally does, with the help of Officer Montoya.
Favorite Moment: The rookie cop believes Batman to be “unstoppable” by the way he explains how he took down the criminals. Nice to see a cop other then Gordon giving Batman some praise.
4. Feat Of Clay Part Two
Normally in a two-part episode, the first is used to establish new characters or introduce a new villain and the second is when the action really starts to pick up. This was the case in the conclusion to Feat Of Clay. Batman has a terrific showdown against Clayface, ending with what was arguably the best piece of animation in the entire series. The effect of Clayface uncontrollably changing shapes at the end of the episode was animation to admire. Even by today’s standards, it was something special.
Favorite Moment: Batman leads Clayface into a room full of TV monitors with pictures of him throughout his acting career. The shock of what he used to be compared to what he has become leads Clayface to become unstable and morph into many different characters at one time.
3. Nothing To Fear
The Scarcrow was always one of my favorite Batman villains. His famous fear toxins would always pose a threat to Batman just like it did in Nothing To Fear. Just the third episode of the series, Batman has his first encounter with Scarcrow, and his inner most fears. After a dose of fear gas, Batman has horrifying images of his father telling him he’s “failed”. This thought was put in Batman’s head after one of Thomas Wayne’s old colleagues called Bruce “a disgrace to the family name”. But there is nothing like seeing Batman overcome his fears in order to defeat the Scarcrow. As an added bonus, Batman doses Scarcrow with his own fear toxins as Scarcrow believes Batman to be a giant bat-like creature…awesome.
Favorite Moment: After Scarcrow escapes his first meeting with Batman, Detective Bullock accuses Batman of with holding evidence from the police, so when Bullock shoves Batman, he shoves back.
2. On Leather Wings
In the very first episode, some of the greatest moments of the season can be seen. Batman is a vigilante in the eyes of the police, which leads to an action-packed confrontation between the cops and the Dark Knight. Even though they used a “less important” villain in Man-Bat, it worked great as a starting point for the series, especially since it sparked differences between Batman and the police when reports said, “A bat-like creature robbed by lab.” Until they discover Man-Bat that is. Spectacular animation is used when Batman latches on to the foot of Man-Bat as he takes him on the ride of his life across the skies of Gotham.
Favorite Moment: The police appear to have Batman surrounded within the Phoenix Labs building, but with a batarang, a few smoke pellets and a dumb SWAT team member who throws a grenade into a room full of explosive chemicals, Batman is able to avoid capture, escape and save a solider from the explosion in the process.
1. Heart Of Ice
This episode, written by Paul Dini (producer), redesigned Mr. Freeze as a villain and as a character in general. Before this episode, Freeze was just a criminal with a “freeze gun”. In Heart Of Ice, Dini creates an entirely new origin story for the character. A scientist, working on a cure for his wife’s rare disease, is involved in a lab accident, which afterwards requires him to wear a high-tech suit designed to keep his body temperature below 0 degrees to survive. Mr. Freeze broke through in this episode and became an elite villain in the Dark Knight rogues gallery. His actions and battles with Batman in this story are just a couple reasons why Heart Of Ice is the best episode of the first season.
Favorite Moment: Mr. Freeze is faced with a slight dilemma. He needs to get twenty stories up to crash a party, but instead of just using the door, then elevator or stairs (depending on if he “needs the exercise” or not), he decides to kick open a fire hydrant, fire his freeze gun into the water and propel himself up into the building. Why use a door when a frozen fire hydrant can suffice.
My top 5 may look noting like yours, but based on animation and good storytelling, it is clear that these five episodes are worthy of some respect. There is a total of 4 seasons of Batman: The Animated Series, so stay tuned for the top 5 episodes from season two.