Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I saw Batman: Bad Blood...

Derived from such printed adventures as "Batman Incorporated" and "Battle for the Cowl", director Jay Oliva's "Batman: Bad Blood" is the latest in the animated Damian Wayne saga (represented previously by "Son of Batman" and "Batman vs Robin"), which means by its very nature, it's has a bratty quality.

As presented through J.M. DeMatteis' script, however, the concept isn't half bad: upon tackling a group of criminals, led by the tormented Heretic (a kind of cross between the Talon and Bane), Bruce Wayne/Batman disappears. It's up to his son and Dick Grayson/Nightwing, to locate him. While the two exchange quips, Alfred makes it appear that Batman is still ever present via electronic means, but as the case progresses, it's inferred that another in the crusader "family" should occupy the supreme spot as Gotham's protector. 

A new flesh-and-blood Batman surfaces, but his presence is a mislead, with a connection close to home, which foreshadows later events in the film. 

Throughout much of it, Heretic remains at the center of the ongoing trouble, even going so far as to attack Wayne Enterprises and wound Lucius Fox, but what's the fiend's ultimate motive, let alone his true identify? In that, the story becomes a who-done-it of sorts, with high prospects, except for...

There at times (particularly early on) when Damian's behavior becomes hard to digest. In fact, it was a distraction in the previous outings (in all fairness, probably more so then than now), but all the same, the lad's arrogance has become a retread. Mind you, Damian is nowhere as unlikable as Calista Flockhart's Cat Grant on "Supergirl" (no one could rival that meanness), but he often acts as a monkey wrench in an otherwise well oiled machine, and for one assigned to project Robin's honorable image, that just won't do. (For the record, there are at least a few later scenes, where Damian does seem to redeem himself.)

Thank goodness Grayson's Nightwing is there (despite some of his own bitterness) to steady the proceedings. Some of the supporting/cameo characters, whether good or bad, also help the story along, such as Katherine Kane/Batwoman, whose guilt over Batman's disappearance adds pathos to the plot; the resourceful Batwing (Fox's son, Luke, as an armored Batman solider); the contemptuous Black Mask; the power-hungry Talia al Ghul; and Jervis Tetch/the Mad Hatter, who makes quite a creepy impression with his crafty, mind-altering games.

About halfway through the story, a scientific twist is revealed regarding Heretic, which links to the League of Shadows and the Waynes' overall linage. It's a clever, satisfying revelation, but also unsavory. (For what it's worth--hint, hint--the "bad blood" revolves around Damian; and in more ways than one.)

As well done as this entry is, for the sake of the saga's continuation (and I'm presuming more "Son of Batman" entries are planned), there's got to be a shift. (Perhaps such is insinuated in the film's final phase, with its strength-of-family message.) If not, and this is the best culmination the producers can offer, I'd much rather see a new Nightwing and/or Batwing adventure: a better option, indeed, than watching our heroes constantly at one another's throats. 

As I'm sure most fans will agree, the legend of Batman and Robin deserves so much better than that. Anyway, let's keep our fingers crossed that "Bad Blood'"s resolution at least signals the shape of things to come. 

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