Beware the Batman: “Tests” Season 1 Episode 3 Review

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So Anarky is obviously the replacement for the Joker, and not a very subtle one.

In The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger’s now iconic version of the Clown Prince of Crime urged Harvey Dent to “introduce a little anarky.” The creators of Beware the Batman took that literally, considering there is a lesser-known Batman villain that takes the name Anarky. He laughs less than Joker, but his schemes are more or less the same.

Once again, I appreciate the writers’ attempt to expand Batman’s well-known rogues gallery, but last week we basically got a Catwoman story, with Magpie slapped on the iconic cat burglar so that it was “different”. The same happened with Joker and Anarky this week. It’s not enough to say you are going to use new villains and only switch costumes with other more iconic foes.

Still though, Batman and Joker’s dynamic is the most fascinating of any set of arch-enemies in all of comics (would all of fiction be too superfluous?). That gave Tests a little more charge even though the Joker was not present.

I loved how he kept tricking the two graffiti “artists” into taking their crime to the next step. I love how he challenged Batman in the end with the bombs attached to the trams. I just wish it was Joker…

On the other hand, maybe I don’t want to see the Joker’s retorts written by these guys. Batman’s were really awful in this episode (“I’m sorry!” “Yes. You are.”).

I also am beginning to think that the writers just haven’t read any significant story about Bruce and Alfred before. I can put aside the gun toting spy we saw in the pilot. I can put aside the Jason Statham look. But the biggest sign that these guys just don’t get Bruce and Alfred came in this episode when Bruce beat Alfred at chess and Alfred made some remark about Bruce always winning.

Any respectable Batman fan knows that Bruce Wayne’s life is full of loss. This is partially because he never let his need for revenge go after his parents were killed. He never let go, thus, never allowing him to grow. Alfred has always been a father to what is essentially a grown child. He needs to be able to tear Bruce down. Had this chess scene went the opposite way, I would have sung its praise. But Alfred needs to have this ability to tear Bruce down and keep him in line. Otherwise, Batman has potential to overreach his boundaries, just like we all do. But the fact that someone has his eye on him, with hopes to keep the beast at bay, is why Batman remains on the side of heroism instead of villainy. The Batman in Beware is too powerful, too smart, and too perfect. That is a major problem that needs to get sorted out if this show hopes to be of any true value to Batman fans.

The story of Katana going through Bruce’s tests was a bore. That’s really all I have to say about it.

So this is probably the last episode I’ll be reviewing of Beware the Batman. This show just isn’t good enough for me to keep putting time into it. I love Batman, Alfred, and the famous rogues gallery a bit too much to watch this bastardization. Grade: C

By Matt Dougherty

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