Batman Beyond: The Complete Series
Blu-Ray Deluxe Limited Edition
In celebration of both the 20th anniversary of its television premiere on January 10, 1999 and the overall 80th anniversary of the debut of Batman in comics, Batman Beyond is now collected in a deluxe Blu-ray collection, "Batman Beyond: The Complete Animated Series Limited Edition." The collection boasts all 52 episodes of the series, the recently remastered Return of the Joker direct-to-video movie, all special features, and two new featurettes, namely Nostalgic Tomorrow - a nearly one hour long roundtable discussion between cast and crew, including Bruce Timm, Glen Murakami, James Tucker, Kevin Conroy, and Will Friedle. Very much like the limited edition of the Batman: The Animated Series collection, this collection also has exclusive lenticular art cards and an exclusive Funko POP figure - a chrome Batman Beyond. The Complete Series Limited Edition is individually numbered for a release of 50,000 only. It released digitally on October 15, 2019 and on Blu-ray on October 29, 2019. No regular edition is in the works.
The conversion to Blu-ray for this series is a rather fascinating study for Batman Beyond as about half the series is traditionally animated and the other is when animation went digital. The differences from the DVD format and improvements are noticeable from the first episode and on, especially with the characters and props -- even comparable to the digitally animated episodes. In layman's terms, the tone of colors for characters like Batman and Bruce Wayne look clearer. Side by side, the DVD version looks like there's a shadow cast on them. The red Bat logo on Batman's chest looks sharper than ever. Blight is more radioactive than normal. Stalker's red and black flashback in "Bloodsport" looks more amazing and visceral. Even audio seems improved, such as the underground half of the "Earth Mover" episode. If it's not old age getting to me, then there's a lot of new audio to be heard in this set. What a difference that 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio is.
Now, the bad. Unfortunately, some of the traditionally animated episodes retrained some dust and scratches due to the ravages of time. "Dead Man's Hand" in particular has a lot of "snow" at times. You may see some in smaller amounts "Bloodsport" and "Once Burned." When the set was first announced, the PR team was upfront about irreparable damage to 11 of the 52 episodes and that they had to be "Smart Rezzed" from standard definition Digibeta video: "Eyewitness," "Final Cut," "The Last Resort," "Armory," "Sneak Peek," "The Eggbaby," "Zeta," "Plague," "April Moon," "Sentries of the Last Cosmos," and "Speak No Evil." To those with the trained eye, upscaling issues will be seen. To the rest, they still look decent enough and it's not a deal breaker by any means. A real oddity that made me paranoid about the whole set was in "Rebirth Part One" when Bruce suffers his heart attack - because it was such a big moment seared into my memory - one of the visual effects is absent! Or maybe it was an issue isolated to this one episode like damage to the source that they made to edit it out or the source they used didn't have the final effect in yet. Just another weird piece of trivia for us fans. And more of a gripe but still, not really a complete series set because it doesn't include any of the crossover episodes from The Zeta Project, Static Shock, Justice League Unlimited, the super quick cameo at the end of Batman: The Brave and The Bold's "Night of the Batmen!" nor the DC Nation short. The Return of the Joker is the uncut version only. It's odd both the cut and uncut versions weren't in the set, it's only right to honor the history of the series and have everything... right?
The physical set comes in an oversized cardboard box adorned with the Batsuit circuitry and stock art. The front features a section to peak inside at the Funko figure. In between the Funko packaging and slipcase are the lenticular art cards in a plastic sealed bag. The slipcase's art matches the cardboard box and is solid and sturdy. The set itself is a 4 part fold out digi-pack. The first part has the classic shot of Batman in the Batmobile then the other parts each hold two discs. A minor quibble, I'm not the biggest fan of the overlapping spine set up because you have to remove the top disc to get to the bottom disc rather than the 1 disc a page format. The art cards are 90s-cool and always a welcome sight for some of the stock art made for the show. I'm not the biggest consumer of Funko, but even I was impressed with the chrome Batman Beyond figure. The set also comes with a download code to redeem a digital copy of all 52 episodes of the series and the HD Return of the Joker.
The two new bonus featurettes. "Knight Immortal" is more of a look back at Batman in general. It's around 35 minutes and takes us through the many and different interpretations of Batman in media from the last 80 years. There's clips and interviews with actors and creatives. If you know all there is to know about Batman, maybe you might learn something new with this one.
Now, the cherry on the delicious sundae of a collectors set, "Nostalgic Tomorrow - A Batman Gathering." Bruce Timm, James Tucker, Glen Murakami, Andrea Romano, Robert Goodman, Stan Berkowitz, Kevin Conroy, and Will Friedle talk Batman Beyond and they had my undivided attention for 53 minutes. They are given several topics to riff on. While the origins of Batman Beyond have been documented in print before, it's still a treat to watch them go over the infamous pitch meeting, admitting to the horrible ideas they heard like teen globe trotting Bruce or Batman on a journey through time (which got done in the comics anyway), doing the series back to back with Superman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, building a show from scratch with no bible, and keeping the continuity going rather than doing a reboot, and using an old movie idea for Justice League Unlimited's "Epilogue." The story behind how Will Friedle got the role of Terry McGinnis, Friedle learning the ropes of voice acting, and the varying types of guest actors are also illuminating. There's even some time to talk about the infamous history of claims over the past 20 years the show is coming back. There was even a false alert this year! A roundtable wouldn't be a roundtable without some discussion about the Emmy winning "Eggbaby" and James Tucker even tells a new anecdote to add to the mythos of that episode. It definitely comes off as an unscripted gathering of friends talk for an hour before they're finally served wine and bread. You might even want to just pop in Disc 5 and watch it first.
Batman Beyond: The Complete Series Limited Edition is an extremely recommended purchase. You won't find a better or comparable presentation of Batman Beyond anywhere else. The HD remaster takes the series and ups the ante, giving us how it was always meant to look - upgrading the traditionally animated 26 episodes and improving the 26 digitally-colored episodes even more. Exclusive merchandise and bonus features sweetens the pot. Even the occasional dust or "smart rezzed" episodes aren't enough to damper the experience. It's schway. I had to say it once in this review. While the regular price is $100, don't slag your chances of owning this set and as of this review's writing there are great deals abound.