I love Tim Burton’s work on Batman and Batman Returns. I was indifferent to Batman Forever and couldn’t help but laugh while weeping when watching Batman & Robin, both under the care for Joel Schumacher. Christopher Nolan’s run was a roller coaster ride of opinions for me since Batman Begins was a long awaited return to form although it was followed by the slightly disappointing The Dark Knight and concluded abysmally with the single most pathetic take on the character in The Dark Knight Rises.
But throughout this medley of madness, the one depiction of the Batman that has always been consistently impressive, thought-provoking and raw is Bruce Timm’s.
Spanning 12 years, Timm began with Batman: The Animated Series before moving on to apply his style on the Man of Steel and, eventually, the entire DC Universe in the epic conclusion to his take on the mythos in Justice League Unlimited. So impressive was his vision of DC’s superheroes and their tales, that this series of animated shows have since come to be known as the Timmverse.
Having stepped down from his position as DC animation’s supervising producer in 2013, fans of Bruce Timm and DC’s animated content have awaited his return to production. The wait is over.
As part of the marketing campaign for the upcoming Justice League: Gods and Monsters, the latest entry to DC’s direct-to-video label DC Universe Animated Original Movies, a three-part series entitled Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles has been released on YouTube.
With Bruce Timm on both the writing and production teams—coupled with Alan Burnett and Sam Register, respectively—these animated shorts introduce the alternate reality in which Justice League: Gods and Monsters is set by giving us a glimpse at DC’s most iconic characters made unrecognisable.
Twisted – Introducing Batman
Helloooooo Bruce Timminess!! Beginning with what is undoubtedly his favourite DC hero, Timm takes the Dark Knight down a darker path into the seemingly supernatural!
While this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen Batman as a vampire, this version of the hero is in fact Kirk Langstrom, better known as the Man-Bat in regular DC continuity. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that this universes’s version of Gotham is gonna have a touch more goth than usual.
And if Batpire (Vampman?) is a character you find especially appealing, check out Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, and its sequels, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist.
Bomb – Introducing Superman
I love Superman. Not only is he my favourite superhero, he’s pretty much the model on which every superhero has been built on in the decades since the Man of Steel’s first appearance in 1938. Even heroes (like Batman) who have almost nothing in common with Superman, still took cues from the iconic boy scout by doing everything in opposition.
In Gods and Monsters’ not only is he the son of classic Superman villain General Zod, but another long-time villain, Brainiac, is now a product of the US government. In addition to being created by Dr Sivana (of Captain Marvel/Shazam! fame) to destroy the “arrogant bastard,” as the good doctor puts it, this Brainiac is more a victim cursed with godlike power than a villain… Leaving you to wonder, who are the monsters referred to in the title?
Similar to Vampman (I think Batpire had a nicer ring to it, no?), the idea of a morally ambiguous Superman is not entirely new. Between Mark Millar’s seminal Superman: Red Son, and the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us and its spectacular prequel comic tie-in series, the tedious responsibility of being the character that puts the super in superhero is explored in-depth. For something more Zod specific, The New 52’s Earth 2 series recently introduced a red-and-blue clad character named Val-Zod who’s the second in his reality to use the name Superman.
And the best part? All of these versions present interesting depictions of an unfamiliar icon without you having to sit through 143 minutes of mope-y Clark Kent watching Kevin Costner receive the world’s biggest blowjob… just ‘cause.
My love for Superman and vampires aside, this short has to be the most fun one. Featuring Bekka, the New God deity of Desire and Love, and wife of Orion, as Wonder Woman, this version has her at her warrior best.
While Bruce Timm and team have given us some great Wonder Woman moments in Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, and 2009’s animated Wonder Woman, this would be the first time her mythology is actually being extensively tweaked for an onscreen adaptation.
For more on this Xena-esque Wonder Woman, check out Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Wonder Woman with Jim Lee on art, Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies, and Matt Wagner’s Trinity.
Stories featuring Bekka can be found in Superman/Batman: Torment, which was written by Justice League: Gods and Monsters co-writer, Alan Burnett. And, as readers have pointed out, Bekka’s return in the New 52 can be found in the New Gods/Lanterns saga Godhead, after which she becomes a recurring character in Sinestro.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download on July 28th 2015 and can be preordered now on Amazon.
A second season of 10 episodes is set to be released in 2016… pity time travel’s more of a Marvel thing.