What’s an episode of Batman: TAS without Batman? Well, “the Man Who Killed Batman” addresses this very premise. This was one of those episodes that I hated as a kid, but I can now appreciate it for its greatness today. The episode begins with a rainy night as a man runs through the rain. His name is Sid the Squid and he is meeting with mob boss Rupert Thorn. The majority of the episode is told in flashback as we learn how this clumsy wannabe thug “killed” Batman.
Sid (who apparently has the same tailor as Bruce Wayne because both sport the piss yellow dress shirt and poopy brown suit) isn’t as bad as he seems. He is kind of wormy and clumsy, and even though he wants to be a big shot, he still apologizes after he thinks that he has killed Batman.
After a bar brawl, Sid finds himself in prison where there is a nice moment of characterization for Harvey Bullock. Throughout the series, Bullock has been portrayed as having a hatred for Batman, yet he is visibly distraught as he tells Officer Montoya the news that Batman is dead. For all his tough talk, this moment shows the audience that maybe Harvey Bullock isn’t as bad as everyone thought.
Dr. Harleen Quinzel posts Sid’s bail and the two leave the police station together. One has to overlook the obvious plot hole that Harley Quinn has been arrested numerous times and therefore would never be allowed to post a prisoner’s bail, but it’s the kind of storyline that has been in the Batman mythos for years now, so it is forgivable. Besides, the conversation between Harley and Bullock is particularly amusing.
Bullock: Say, haven’t I seen you some place before?
Harley: I served you a subpoena once. (pause) It was a very small subpoena.
It’s one of those jokes that you don’t really get as a kid.
Of course, the Joker wants to meet Sid to see the man who killed Batman and of course he wants to rob a jewlry store to see if Batman will come to save the day. It’s here that the best characterization of the Joker comes into play. When Batman doesn’t show up, the Joker laments over the fact that the game seems to be over. He shouts at Sid, “Thanks to you, I have this terrible feeling that he’s really not coming.” It’s all a game to the Joker and now that the other player has been eliminated, the Joker has no will to go on.
The point is further brought home when the Joker tells Harley to put back all of the jewelry and the scene concludes with the Joker saying, “Without Batman, crime has no punchline.”A few laughing gas grenades later, and the Joker and his men escape the police without any problems.
At Ace Chemicals, the Joker decides to hold a funeral for Batman. I would describe it all, but you can watch it for yourself at this link.
While this may be a bit of a silly episode, it’s still a great one for all of the characterization that it packs in. When Batman finally returns (he was never really dead. I know you were worried), he violently beats Rupert Thorne for polluting Gotham with drugs. It’s actually a pretty intense scene and one that ends the episode quite well.
Once again, Batman: TAS proves that cartoons can be subtle, funny, touching and entertaining all at once. Considering that episode is written by Paul Dini, it should come as no surprise that it’s as good as it is.