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BATMAN: BAD BLOOD (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno

Batman: Bad Blood is the latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie and is quite possibly the best Bat-family animation since 2010’s Batman: Under the Red Hood. The animated franchise rebooted itself to align with the New 52 in 2012 with Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and Batman himself, along with Damian Wayne and Nightwing, Alfred and the rest have their own continuity to follow now starting with 2103’s Batman: Son of Batman and the Court of Owls storyline in 2014’s Batman vs. Robin.

With a dynamic screenplay from comic book industry veteran J.M. DeMatteis (Justice League International, Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt), Batman: Bad Blood borrows heavily from New 52 storylines featured Grant Morrison’s Batman, Batman Incorporated, Batman and Robin and Batwing as well as Batwoman from Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III.

The stripped down Batman: Incorporated story in Batman: Bad Blood definitely works, with dynamic action, great character work and introduction and nods to the spanning comic stories that preceded this feature.

Batman: Bad Blood introduces some key members of the family, while piggybacking on Batman: Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin. Batwoman (Yvonne Strahovski) appears early on as an uneasy ally to Bruce Wayne (Jason O’Mara) before Batman disappears from Gotham City.

Lucius Fox (Ernie Hudson) and son Luke (Gaius Charles) introduce the popular Batwing character, though in the comics, Luke was the second one to wear the flying suit. Finally, comics fans can rejoice as Dick Grayson (Sean Maher) takes the Batphone call from Alfred (James Garrett, reprising the role from Batman: The Brave and the Bold) to put on the cowl and figure out the mystery of our missing titular hero. Stuart Allan returns as 10 year old ‘love him or hate him’ Damian Wayne/Robin.

Though Dick (who chooses the older, yellow emblem Batsuit) and Damian don’t play off each other with as in-depth or complicated relationship as in the comic pages, the two are a fairly decent team, with Kate Kane being the outsider in the team-up.

The crew is after Mad Hatter, Firefly, Electrocutioner, Tusk and new evil brawler The Heretic who seem to be working under a new crime boss in Gotham. Even Commissioner Gordon is concerned as he assures the people of Gotham that the Dark Knight isn’t needed to protect his city. Damian calls out Jim’s bluff as he watches a Channel 52 news feed from training abroad.

I enjoyed a great many things about this movie, but mostly the contrast between the relative simplicity of this story in contrast to the both of the Son of Batman and Batman vs. Robin storylines. I felt those movies to be a little too much setup and overly complicated. The tone is the same but having DeMatteis introduce these new characters and continue building on what he setup of his previous movie Batman vs. Robin really worked for me. Bad Blood really can stand alone as a movie without knowing the previous material on screen or in print.

The introduction of Kate Kane into this new universe of storytelling is done tastefully and true to the New 52 version of the character. She’s got her dad Colonel Jacob Kane as her Alfred and protector, her relationship with Renee Montoya is teased and she starts out being inspired by Batman rather than being trained by him, which puts her in the position of being able to use guns. She is not officially sanctioned to wear the Bat, so she uses this to her advantage.

Tonally, these recent Batman movies skew a little dark, but that’s appropriate for Gotham. The action and the fight scenes really pop under the direction of Jay Oliva. Wes Gleason takes on the casting and voice director role previously held by Andrea Romano. This new generation of filmmakers continues to impress. Gold stars for Ernie Hudson as Lucius Fox (though I’m typically terrible at this game, I called it as soon as he was on screen before confirming I was correct on IMDB).

This newly simplified canon with the mosaic of New 52 and the previous movies to fall in line with opens up a wider Gotham for Batman fans. Morrison’s Batman Incorporated introduced the idea of a larger global family both inside and beyond Gotham and this continues here in Batman: Bad Blood. The slate is clean for some other familiar Bat allies to join up in the next iteration or have their own solo features.

Batman: Bad Blood isn’t directly taken from the comics and is not an adaptation but a new story, and fans will be very pleased with that fact.

Batman: Bad Blood is now available on Blu-ray Deluxe Edition,
Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD.

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