Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003)

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003)

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Is it just me, or are the dimensions of her costume unnecessarily suggestive?
Is it just me, or are the dimensions of her costume unnecessarily suggestive?

Twitter Plot Summary: Batman has to discover the identity of the Batwoman, a new vigilante that is more ruthless than old Bats himself.

Five Point Summary:

1. Batwoman is in light grey – surely it should be black?
2. Lots of women all entering Bruce Wayne’s life at once.
3. Greatest Detective gets it wrong!
4. Oh right, so that’s who the Batwoman is.
5. Bane fight. Standard.

Batman The Animated Series had been off the air for almost 10 years by the time Mystery of the Batwoman had its release, although that same Batman was still alive and kicking in the Justice League TV series and had not much earlier been seen stalking the streets of Gotham in The New Batman Adventures. This standalone story seems an odd choice for release at that time, more so because it retreads similar ground to 1993’s superior Mask of the Phantasm.

Opening with an exciting chase sequence, we’re introduced to the Batwoman, a new vigilante who has no affiliation with Batman. Her outfit in fact is reminiscent of the design used for Batman Beyond, but that was probably a deliberate choice. Shortly thereafter, Bruce Wayne encounters three women, variably from his past or newly introduced as employees of Wayne Industries and so on. Clearly, because scripting convention demands it, one of these women is the unauthorised user of the “Bat” prefix, so of course it’s then up to Batman to work out who it is.

Whilst the final resolution will come as no surprise, it is at least cleverly scripted in order to leave you guessing right up until the appropriate time. It’s also a good story in terms of linking Batman’s quest to a more standard calibre of criminal – although with that said there is quite a substantial part for Bane and the Penguin to play in these proceedings. It wouldn’t be a Batman story without a hefty dose of emotional angst and family drama that are a staple of the character and the DC universe, once again acting as a mirror to Bruce’s own tragic circumstances. The storyline between Kathy and her criminal father Carlton has the most impact as both of them have the most to lose if they were to go their separate ways. There’s slightly less interest in the storylines for other female newcomers Rocky and Sonia, but given the relatively tight running time there are always going to be sacrifices, especially when introducing three new characters in quick succession.

Bane's actually pumped full of Mountain Dew.
Bane’s actually pumped full of Mountain Dew.

The animation is typical of the animated series, featuring lots of gothic art deco designs and layering Gotham in various levels of darkness, although as this is spun out from The New Batman Adventures, it’s ever so slightly less grim than the original Animated Series. By this point in their production cycle, to expect anything less than excellence from the DC animated stable would be a foolish thought. Typically, they deliver despite lacking the polish that would later be applied to the stories not directly related to the DC Animated Universe.

Whilst it might not do anything overtly unusual with its story or setting, Mystery of the Batwoman does at least provide an engaging story that fits in nicely with the previously established canon without making any substantive changes that would affect Batman Beyond or the Justice League storyline. It’s perhaps directly because of these limitations that it doesn’t do very much to progress either Batman or the DC animated universe, but in any case it’s a story that gets in and out before quickly vacating the building.

Is there an Alan Rickman plummet?: Yes

Score: 3/5

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