Overview: In Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two, Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Robin take down the Court of Owls, Mad Hatter, and a new assassin named Muscle.
Editor’s Note: This collected edition includes all seven issues of the miniseries Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two, which had its first issue released in June 2021 and the final issue released in December 2021. This review focuses on the story as a whole rather than the individual issues that made up the limited series.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): As Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two begins, Boston Brand, better known as Deadman, glides through Gotham City. First, he stops at Mayor Hamilton Hill’s penthouse, where the mayor and his wife are arguing. When Mrs. Hill tells her husband that he left the window open again, Hamilton goes to investigate.
Deadman next visits Haly’s Circus, where Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson are out on a date. Someone recognized Dick, and his attendance is announced to the visitors. Deadman then travels through the streets and follows the Batmobile to Hill’s residence. It seems something with big, owl eyes has murdered the mayor.
Batman investigates the crime scene with Commissioner Gordon. He notes the claw marks left behind, and upon gazing out at the city, catches someone fleeing. It’s a Talon.
Later, Batman pays a visit to Veronica Vreeland to look at her father’s Court of Owls collection. There, Batman learns from Mr. Vreeland that the Court of Owls is very real, having been created by industrialists ages ago. When Batman leaves, Deadman sticks around.
Boston spots a Talon outside of the Vreeland home. When he approaches it, Deadman realizes that the Talon can see him. The two spar and Boston tries to possess the Talon. It doesn’t work. The Talon then attacks Mr. Vreeland. Deadman, having no other choice, possesses Veronica. Using Veronica, Deadman is able to hold off Talon until Batman arrives. Batman and Talon battle until Talon flees.
General Vreeland is taken to a hospital where Nightwing and Robin (Tim Drake) take turns guarding him. Back at the Batcave, Batman analyzes Vreeland’s Court of Owls collection. A tip from Deadman tells Batman that Talon is a zombie, which pushes him to track down Zatanna for some assistance. Zatanna gives Batman an amulet, which will allow him to contact Deadman. He uses the amulet and is finally able to see and speak with Boston Brand, the only man who can help Batman solve Mayor Hill’s murder.
Batman analyzes some DNA from Talon’s glove in his lab, trying to source this zombie. When Alfred tells them that it’s time for Mayor Hill’s funeral, Bruce Wayne gets dressed up to attend, and Deadman cases the event, looking for clues. Deadman finds more zombies at the funeral, and Batman arrives just in time, collecting a finger to analyze back at the Batcave.
Batman deduces that the zombies can be killed with cold. While talking with Deadman, he also realizes that the Talons might be coming from the old City Hall, which was built when the Court of Owls was at its most active. The two run off to chase down this clue.
At the Court of Owls’ lair, Hamilton Hill Junior, who has been taking his father’s funds and pushing to serve as a replacement mayor, is brought before the court. After being dropped off by Talon, Junior is stunned to find that the Owl running the show is his father, reanimated and looking younger than ever. Hamilton Hill Sr. stole General Vreeland’s book on the Court of Owls and used it to bring the Court back from the dead, with himself installed as its leader.
Batman and Deadman arrive. The “dynamic duo” take out Hill’s zombie army and Talon. Hill activates charges he had installed as an official city project, bringing down the old City Hall. Batman saves Hill Junior, who only tells the police that Batman saved the day from a plot by the man who murdered his father. After some back and forth, Batman and Deadman part ways.
The second story found in Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two takes place on another night, as Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) tracks down Batman to a building where he’s battling Black Mask and some thugs. Batman’s pressuring Black Mask for a contact named Jimmy “The Jazzman” Peake. When Black Mask confesses he doesn’t know how to contact the Jazzman, Batman leaves, ordering Batgirl to stay out of it. She’s too close to the case as the Jazzman shot her father once.
Batgirl goes off on her own, tracking down associates that lead her to a tattoo parlor where the Jazzman is getting a new piece of his “history” added to his back. Batgirl captures Jazzman, but as she’s bringing him out of the parlor, Huntress shows up. Batgirl flees with Jazzman, and they barely make it to the old Gotham Stockyards.
Huntress wants to kill Jazzman as vengeance for the murder of her family. Batgirl tries to talk her down, but as they banter, some thugs, tipped off by the tattoo parlor owner, break things up.
After beating up the goons, Batgirl saves Huntess’ life and uses it as leverage to keep Jazzman alive. He has information that could put Black Mask away, and once he divulges this information, Batgirl will let Huntress take him. Huntress agrees, and Jazzman is brought into the station. After giving up the files on Black Mask, he’s escorted to his cell by Huntress in disguise as a police officer. Case closed.
The next story found in Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two takes place on another night, as Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya bust up a Rupert Thorne drug operation. Batman keeps tabs on them while they take down Thorne’s men. After the bust, an assassin opens fire on Montoya. He misses but manages to escape. Thorne’s furious that this assassin, a man known simply as “Muscle,” escaped.
On the eve of Montoya’s commendation, Bruce Wayne offers to drive her home after the ceremony. While riding in a limo, they are attacked by Muscle. Bruce helps stop the assassination attempt, but in stopping this scenario, he’s opened up another opportunity for Muscle to abduct Gloria, Montoya’s partner.
Muscle uses Gloria to lure Montoya to a gym that he’s using as a hideout. Batman follows, and together, Montoya and Batman take down Muscle once and for all. They even manage to arrest Rupert Thorne as well.
The final story found in Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two takes place sometime later, as Batman and Commissioner Gordon arrive at the murder scene of a business manager. The man had ties to all sorts of crooks and criminals in Gotham, as well as one Emerson Mayfield. Mayfield, a former mayor, recently resurfaced and made a bid for reelection. He also hired Muscle before Batman took the assassin down.
Back at the Batcave, Batman tells Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl about his first year as a vigilante, the year when Emerson Mayfield ran and won the mayor’s office. It was during that time that Mayfield put together his own elite police squad, the M-Force, which was above the GCPD. Mayfield used them to murder criminals and steal the loot, lining Mayfield’s pockets. Batman investigated them, and when he was captured by M-Force, the use of his smoke pellets meant the M-Force members killed each other in their own crossfire.
Batman then coerced Mayfield to resign from public office after shutting down the M-Force. With Mayor Hill dead, it’s no surprise that Mayfield has returned to Gotham, but Batman wonders why the former mayor is no longer afraid of him.
After paying a visit to Mayfield, Batman isn’t any closer to solving this mystery. Shortly thereafter, he’s attacked by an agent sent by Mayfield. Batman’s sure it’s Clayface, but when he checks out Arkham Asylum, there’s no evidence Clayface escaped.
Meanwhile, Barbara Gordon infiltrates Mayfield’s campaign as a volunteer. She’s given instruction to run the social media efforts, and in snooping around Mayfield’s campaign headquarters, she finds the Mad Hatter behind Mayfield’s tech.
At Arkham, Batman discovers that the guards believe Clayface has been in his cell this whole time, but in reality, Clayface has escaped. Mad Hatter has just mind-controlled the guards. After taking down Clayface, Batman sets his sights on Mayfield.
At Mayfield’s campaign headquarters, Barbara Gordon is put under Mad Hatter’s mind control and sent out to give a speech about how she was a plant by the Hamilton Hill Jr. campaign sent to infiltrate and destroy Mayfield. She also adds that she finds Mayfield a great candidate.
After Barbara’s speech, Mad Hatter orders his associate March Harriet to kill Barbara. Nightwing swoops in and saves Barbara. Meanwhile, Mayfield and Hatter arrive at Arkham, promising full pardons if the inmates throw their weight behind Mayfield’s campaign.
The Bat-Family arrives and puts a stop to Mayfield’s proposal. Joker, who ignored the call-to-arms and went to watch TV, notes that the election results are in. Despite using every dirty trick in the book, Mayfield still lost to Hamilton Hill Jr.
The ending of the story sees Mayfield sent to Arkham for his crimes, and Barbara Gordon is offered a book deal.
Analysis: Whereas the last volume of Batman: The Adventures Continue felt like more of a celebration of Batman: The Animated Series, this follow-up season breaks away from the tradition of retelling classic Batman stories in the animated series style and focuses, mostly, on a new narrative. At work is a plot running through the background of all of the stories about an upcoming election. After Mayor Hill’s death, Hamilton Hill Jr. throws his hat into the ring to fill his father’s shoes. This plot also welcomes a new arch-villain to the fold, someone from Batman’s past that serves as both a meditation on dirty politics and as a replacement for Rupert Thorne, who is locked away earlier on in this collection.
One of the great aspects of this season is that, unlike traditional cartoon plotting, there’s a sense of growth and change to Gotham across the stories. Readers are treated to a narrative that juggles “villain of the week” well against this idea of progress, that the Gotham our animated heroes inhabit is a real, breathing city full of unique characters with their own ambitions and goals.
Ultimately, Emerson Mayfield’s plot fails, and Hamilton Hill Jr. is installed as the new mayor of Gotham City. Despite all of his attempts to seize the throne once again, even going so far as to enlist Mad Hatter, he still lost. It seems a Hill is always destined to run Gotham City.
It’s worth noting that the Court of Owls is reimagined and brought into this Gotham universe. Instead of being some ancient secret order that still rules over the city, it turns out they’re a defunct faction that Hamilton Hill Sr. twists and uses for his own gain. This is a neat idea, and it blends well with the noir-leanings of Batman: The Animated Series, serving as more of a whodunnit mystery than the unraveling of a centuries-old conspiracy that Batman somehow hasn’t stumbled upon.
Most of the art in season two continues with the designs from the fourth season of Batman: The Animated Series, though there are some flashbacks where Batman’s classic dark blue look from the earlier seasons of the show makes an appearance. It’s a nice touch, and the artists do a great job of lending an authentic look and feel to this “season” of the show. It should be noted that Ty Templeton, who did the art for the first volume, provides work for only the first couple of issues collected in this volume. Rick Burchett takes over art duties for the rest of the book, and he brings a very complimentary look and feel to the animated series-inspired designs.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with copies of the original issues of this series as they were released, but not of this new edition. You can find this collected edition and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this edition digitally either for Comixology through Amazon, or as a physical copy in a paperback form at Amazon or from Things from Another World.