Last night, I dropped $85 bucks I don't really have on the Batman: The Complete Series box set that came out last Tuesday, and it's really nice. A clear, plastic slipcase covering what's essentially a "Batman" cigar box with a cool, subtle images on the outside and inside, and an awesome booklet of production sketches and really fascinating "theory" pages, which are just a bunch of quick, reference sketches of Batman's face, cape, hands, head, etc. in every notable contortion or position. There's of course, every season of the series and a should-be-longer-but-still-cool featurette that focuses on the evolution of Batman in animation since the 1960s.
What's so cool about Batman: The Animated Series or rather, the cool thing I'd like to talk about is how the series was in a way, a cash-in on the success of the Tim Burton Batman movie that totally took advantage of that to make something really awesome. That's to say, in the early 90s, when everyone was rocking "Batman" shirts--shirts you can now buy replicas of at Urban Outfitters--the lamest, most played-out version of a Batman cartoon could've come out and people would've eaten it up. Think of how the release of the recent The Dark Knight brought about a not-bad "Arkham Asylum" mini-series and the Azzarello-written Joker, which somehow ends up being even more kinda torture-porn and cynical than the Nolan film; in short, these are not challenging and they certainly aren't doing a whole lot of "good", while the success of Burton's Batman gave way to probably the most challenging and interesting animation ever on TV.
Still, DC dropping The Dark Knight ball or not, if there's one thing that is exciting or interesting about the recent superhero movie craze, it's those weird comics that are O.K-ed by Marvel or DC either because they're just signing off on anything related to their hyper-marketable (or hopefully marketable) superhero movie or because there's some solid dudes behind the desk that are like "Here's our chance to do something weird and people'll still eat it up, so let's do it". I'm thinking of the particularly odd artwork by Seth Fisher in Batman: Snow, which came out around the time of Batman Begins or the brilliant Silver Surfer: Requiem coinciding with the release of the not good but unfairly maligned Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer or the re-releases of classic Michelini stories like "Demon In a Bottle" or "Doomquest" and of course, last week's Iron Man: The End.