Batman The Animated Series: See No Evil

"See you around, Batman! Too bad you can't say the same!"

It's Batman vs. The Invisible Man!

That's it. That's the episode.

There's really no point in doing a superhero show if you can't indulge in the most pulpy of ideas from time to time. And having Batman going toe to toe with one of sci-fi literature's most famous creations is certainly an irresistible one. It's just a shame no one bothered to include much of a plot. There really isn't much to 'See No Evil'. A visually challenged villain is robbing Gotham's jewellery stores and Batman finds out who it is after talking to precisely two people because the inventor of the invisibility suit conveniently used to work for Wayne Enterprises. Boy, it really does pay to have all your corporate fingers in everyone's pies.

Unless, of course, you're the Gotham Police Department, because all these corporations having such extensive R&D programmes is clearly leading to a rise in crime since they're where so many of the city's criminals are getting their powers and tech from. The city would probably be a lot better off if Wayne Enterprises and the like just didn't give funding to every single crackpot in town with a crazy idea. Then again, if they didn't fund them those same crackpots would just turn to crime anyway. It's Catch-22. No matter what you do there's gonna be crime. There's only one option. Move all the city's scientists to Metropolis and let Superman deal with them.

Lloyd Ventrix is one of series' more successful efforts at creating its own villains, albeit not one with a long shelf life. I mean, there's only so much you can do with an invisible adversary before things start to get stale, which is probably why the writers threw in an invisible car so that the last act wouldn't just be Batman throwing punches at the air before finally figuring out how to "see" his opponent.

While Ventrix isn't exactly a sympathetic villain, he is an understandable one. He doesn't just want to use his invisible suit to make a quick buck, he also wants to be reunited with his wife and daughter. Which would be sweet, if he wasn't clearly a lousy husband and father who thinks he can just buy back their affection with money and fancy gifts. It was quite an ingenious move on the producers' part to cast Gross as Ventrix, taking the voice of a well known TV dad and turning it into something twisted and deranged.

Comic Book Connections

Lucius Fox was created by Len Wein and John Calnan and first appeared in Batman #307 (January 1979)

I Know That Voice

Lloyd Ventrix was voiced by Michael Gross, best known for playing Steven Keaton on Family Ties and Burt Gummer in Tremors, its many direct to video sequels and the short lived TV series. He later voiced Terry McGinnis' father, Warren, on Batman Beyond. Kimmy and Helen Ventrix were voiced by Elisabeth Moss (The West Wing, Mad Men, The Handmaid's Tale) and Jean Smart (Designing Women, 24, Fargo, Legion). Lucius Fox was voiced by Brock Peters who played Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird, Admiral Cartwright in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Joseph Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Notes and Quotes 

--This was the 17th episode produced, but the 56th to be aired.

--Originally, Kimmy was meant to be dragged along during the final chase scene. The invisibility suit was in danger of exploding before Batman could save her. Because of censorship rules against showing the endangerment of children, this was eventually changed.

--This construction worker's reactions to Batman seemingly shouting at no one are just priceless:


Lloyd: "Helen, please! Cut me some slack here, will ya? I'll give you anything you want!"
Helen: "Want? All I want is for you to disappear!"
Lloyd: "Okay, okay... but just remember the old saying: Be careful what you wish for."

Batman: "Peekaboo."

Homeless Man: (seeing Batman speed past on the roof of the invisible car) "I didn't know he could fly, too."

Batman: "Get ready for your biggest disappearing act, Ventrix. The one where no one sees you for ten to twenty."

Three out of four TV dads.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

3 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Wow. I had no idea Elisabeth Moss did voice work when she was a child.

Mark Greig said...

I'm often amazed by some of the names I stumble across when I look at the cast list for these episodes.

Chris said...

Aww, I think you were being a little harsh on this one. It's not amazing or anything, but solid, and as you said, the villain is one of the few examples where the writers succeeded at creating a new villain for the show that is actually good. That said, it's true that invisible foes get stale quickly.