Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"The End" Week: The Batman Adventures #36!


Another Batman cancellation? Unbelievable...this one's a sad one, but not for why you think: from 1995, the Batman Adventures #36, "The Last Batman Adventure" Written by Ty Templeton (with thanks by Kelley Puckett) art by Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett.

This was the conclusion of a three-parter: previously, plagued by headaches and a pervading sense of dread, Hugo Strange is working on a new invention. Or so he thinks...meanwhile, Catwoman makes one of her attempts to win Batman over, who won't bend on his stance against her crimes. Strange's invention was a memory-removing machine, which he actually wanted to use on himself, to take away his memory of his son David's murder. Instead, Strange gets trapped in that memory--seeing everyone's face as his son's--and Batman's memory is wiped, back to when he was six. Catwoman takes the opportunity, dressing Batman as Catman, and telling him he's had an accident but is part of the best cat-burglar team in Gotham.

While Robin and Gordon work the case and set up a diamond-baited trap, "Catman" is torn between his loyalty to his "partner" and his gut feeling that stealing isn't right. Robin is able to convince Bruce to go back to the Batcave and Alfred, whom he recognizes. (Stalling, Alfred tells Bruce his parents are out right then...) Bruce also knows of Batman, and is thrilled to be told he is Batman.

As Batman, the six-year-old mind of Bruce has all of his physical skills but none of his discipline. Robin enlists the help of Karl Rossum (from the episodes "Heart of Steel" and "His Silicon Soul") who uses Strange's notebooks to piece together what happened. Rossum explains that Strange kept removing chunks of his memory, not realizing he'd already taken out the one he wanted. (I think Strange may have invented his machine more than once, too.) The memories would be stored on a diamond, but there isn't one big enough to save Batman's memories...except the one he knows Catwoman has stolen and squirreled away.

As Hugo Strange decides Rupert Thorne should pay for his son's murder, and Alfred laments that Batman will have to relive his parents' murder; Batman asks Catwoman for the diamond. She offers a deal: the diamond, in exchange for Batman "looking the other way" for her. She thinks maybe then they could be friends, but Batman, hurt as only a child can be, tells her otherwise:

Feeling he's not a good enough Batman as is, he voluntarily takes his memories back; while Strange attacks Thorne, viciously defending his dead son. When one of Thorne's goons enters to help his boss, he recognizes Strange as "the little twerp that punched out my tooth last New Year's," David's murderer. Berserk, Strange snaps his neck.

Before Thorne can have the now-confused Strange shot, Batman and Robin show up; but Thorne is able to point out Strange was the criminal this time, and presumably he's taken off to Arkham. Finally, Catwoman summons Batman, with a Bat-signal painted onto the side of a building with water-soluble paint. She returns the ring she and "Catman" had stolen, trying to assuage her conscience. Still, Batman doesn't remember the deal they had made, nor does he imagine he would make such a deal; and Catwoman is thrilled to hear she's getting no special treatment from him.

This was the last issue of The Batman Adventures, but it would really continue with the Batman and Robin Adventures. Which I think I have the last issue of around here somewhere! But sadly, this would be one of the last issues for artist Mike Parobeck, who died of complications with diabetes at the age of 30.


1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Ah, Mike Parobeck. Damn was his death a shame. So young, so much promise. One can only imagine what he could've worked on had he not died so early. I remeber first seeing his work on the early 90's relaunch of the Justice Society, and loving the amittedly kiddish art. But damn could he tell a story!

Good issue here, and very nice story as well. Should've been an episode or two of the animated show back then.