Whoopsy – Ian and Steph blinked and suddenly remaining thirty-seven episodes of season 1 of Batman: Wayne Family Adventures have been released. With the entire season now released, the forgetful duo sat down to discuss the season. Be warned, there are spoilers ahead.
Steph: Um, Ian…it’s been while since we did a review of Batman: Wayne Family Adventures and…now season 1 is over. So I guess we should do a season review!
Ian: It is! Very sad! But we’ve gotten some great stories since we last reviewed the webtoon!
Steph: That is true. I have to say, for a series that started as pretty silly and fun, there were A LOT of serious, poignant, and emotional stories. I was making a list of the “few” times that the stories got serious, and the list kept growing, and growing…
Ian: There were! The writers were able to really draw on the character’s history and reference comics without being in continuity just enough to make the rich characterization and relationships come to life!
Steph: I totally agree. I really wish we’d get more stuff like this in continuity!
Ian: I think that would be nice, though I also think it’s nice to have this be it’s own consistent thing rather than trying to balance the tonal whiplash between dark murder mysteries and warm family bonding.
Steph: That’s true. But the rich personalities of the different heroes is what makes Batman comics so fun.
Ian: One thing that happened literally right after our last review was WFA started doing these little two-part arcs that focused on character history – what did you think of that slight change in format that allowed for more than just a main gag or joke climax for the weekly toons?
Steph: I really liked it. I think it started a little weak (#8-10 “Crush”) but still good and character enriching. But I love the extra time it gives to tell a short and emotional narrative. Of the more serious stories, which was your favorite, or at least, which stood out to you the most amongst Batman: Wayne Family Adventures Season 1?
Ian: I mean, do you even have to ask? “Belonging” (#36-37), the story of Stephanie Brown feeling like she never belonged, with Tim encouraging her, seeing her history as Spoiler, Robin, and Batgirl, and Bruce giving her his approval out loud finally – it was so amazing 🙂
What about you? (I liked all of them, with one exception)
Steph: Yeah…I think I know which one you’re going to say. It’s really hard for me to pick just one, but I think the Jason PTSD story (#45-46 “Strong Enough”) really made an impact on me. I loved seeing how everyone was doing their best to help him, and how sometimes, that’s just not enough. But I really felt the struggle of Dick in “Big Brother” (#1-2) and Barbara in “One More” (#49-50).
Ian: Jason, Dick, and Babs all had really strong stories. I also wanted to highlight Cass’ story in “All Seeing” (#32-33), which really works in the darkness of Cass’ history and mindset in a way that manages to keep the tone of the comic consistent. Very impressive work!
Steph: Oh yeah! That was a great story because it combined Cass’ upbringing and training as a weapon with the fact that she’s a teenage girl overanalyzing everything anyway.
Ian: What did you think of “Better and Brighter” (#40-41), the Tim Drake story (the one I didn’t think was very well done)?
Steph: Man…so you and I have talked about what makes Bernard such a bland character…he has no personality. But I was thinking that was a little unfair, so I went back and I reread “Crush,” where Duke’s love interest Ana is a bit bland and flavorless, and “Better and Brighter” with Bernard. Both stories are not about the love interest. They are about the Batman Universe character’s reaction to having a relationship. So in that way, I can forgive that Bernard AND Ana are boring.
HOWEVER!! Bernard is being pushed by DC. A lot. He’s not supposed to be just a plot point, a spring board for other people’s character development. He’s been featured enough in the comics at this point that he SHOULD be his own person. But he’s not.
Ian: The frustrating thing about this story, to me, is that it’s supposed to be Tim’s focus. Jason got to deal with his PTSD and the way his family loves him. Steph got to deal with her feelings of being an outsider and her connections to Tim, Cass, Babs, and Bruce. Babs got to deal with her being stretched in all directions as Oracle. Dick got to deal with his position as the oldest child. Damian got to deal with learning to be a friend, with the support of his family. Cass dealt with her abusive upbringing with the love of her sisters.
Tim…gets to deal with a romance that is literally only months old, has no real connection to his history, and doesn’t really touch on what makes Tim a unique character in the first place. And he does it with Kate, who is there because she is “the other gay Bat-Family member,” as if Dick or Bruce couldn’t give him dating advice even if Tim is now dating a boy instead of a girl. Kate even says she is the wrong person to ask about dating boys! It’s just such a weak conceptual piece.
Steph: That is all true. It does seem a little unfair that the rest of the Bat-Family got deep emotional focus and Tim got dating. Even Duke’s story was more on the difficulty of dating and the sadness of breaking up and the whole family being there for him. Tim was basically alone to figure it out. I get that some people can connect to that, but it seems unfair to Tim. I think that if one of the girls had gotten the “Too Nervous to Start Dating Arc” then that would have been called out as “stereotypical” storytelling.
Ian: Anyway, I think that covers most of our thoughts on the two-parter “character” focus stories – did we miss any?
Steph: I think there were a few single episodes that dealt with it too, but I think this was mostly it.
Ian: Yes, Damian got a sweet and dark one shot dealing with his mother that was quite good (“Mother and Son,” #18).
Steph: What was your favorite pairing? In particular pairings we don’t see often. I loved seeing Alfred the Cat and Bat-Cow on an adventure (#19 “Bat-Cow’s Day Out”). And Damian hunting down Jason’s weakness and instead getting tricked into reading Jane Austen was pretty magnificent (#31 “Dirty Little Secret”).
Ian: I’d say seeing Steph and Duke in “Driving Lessons” #30 was hilarious and really fit both characters.
Bat-Cow and Alfred were magnificently funny and cute, and I’m ALWAYS a sucker for Jane Austen, especially for building a relationship between Damian and Jason, who don’t often hang out. Luke and Duke talking about their secret identities was also something I think should happen more often – I’m a big Batwing fan, and I wish he were featured more.
And, of course, Alfred and the Kents hanging out in “World’s Finest” (#47) was absolutely fantastic – and led to our podcast cover recently!
Steph: How do you think the non-Batman characters were done? We didn’t get much, but there was at least one Teen Titans episode, and the JL and Supes showed up a few times. I think the Batman/Superman relationship was very well handled. Very funny, just the right amount of trust and arrogance (on Bruce’s part).
Ian: I thought they were featured in just the right proportion. I wouldn’t want a lot more, but showing Tim and the Titans, and Batman’s friendship with Superman, is the right way to show there’s a world outside of Gotham. What do you think the funniest/most cool standalone episode was in the last part of the season that we’ve not touched on so far?
Steph: Well, I have a biased one and one that’s just a little biased. “TMI” (#26) OF COURSE because it was Catwoman’s big appearance, and it was in a romantic context, which made my little Bat/Cat heart flutter with the feels.
The second one I think might be “Unaccompanied” (#14), where Bruce is looking for an escort to a benefit and reminisces about all the times he brought his children and why that will never happen again. How about you?
Ian: “TMI” was really great, and I really liked that the toon acknowledged Batman’s romantic relationship with Selina as well as his fatherly relationship with his kids.
You know what I’m going to say, again – “GCPD” (#35), featuring the introduction of Renee Montoya, and ALL FIVE of the Robins, including Steph! Each getting a hilarious and personality appropriate flashback! I love seeing the history paid attention to, and even some interesting costume redesigns for Jason! There were also some pretty funny chaotic episodes like “Detective Work” (#43) and “Shovel Talk” (#48), both featuring Steph being a whirlwind of destruction as she should be. 🙂
Steph: I will say, one of the ones that I liked, but also threw me a bit in that I’m not sure it was really true to the characters was “Escalation” #12. Tim and Damian are really mean to each other and do things that I think are little too unprofessional and un-Batlike but…maybe I just don’t have a sense of humor. I never liked fighting with my sister, so I can’t even imagine pulling escalating pranks like that.
Ian: I thought that was realistic and fun, and better than some of the stuff they’ve gotten up to in the main continuity. Perhaps my family has a bit more of an antagonistic relationship than yours 🙂.
Steph: I’m just a pushover.
Ian: So, what did you think of “Night In” (#51), the season finale? Do you think it feels like a finale? If not, what do you think might have worked better in the toon’s format? And do you hope for a season two?
Steph: I liked the concept – Harley and Clark are taking over for the Bat-Family in Gotham, so they can have a family night…but there was so little focus on the family night. I kind of wish it has been a super-sized episode, as I’m not sure I’d want to take any of the Harley/Superman stuff out (that was golden) but a series called “The Wayne Family Adventures” should have ended with way more Wayne Family in it.
I hope the next season continues dealing with the characters’ pasts, but also developing their futures. I do wonder if the author is in a story-telling place now that they can tell maybe 3-4 episode story arcs that have a bit more plot meat to them. But if it continued in this format I would NOT complain.
Ian: Yeah, I feel like something like Bruce searching for his family at Christmas, or some kind of summer party would have been better – pulling everyone together. The episode we got is great, but it doesn’t feel connected to the core concept of the series, and definitely doesn’t feel like a finale. The Wayne Family Goes to the Beach is my pitch for how it should have ended the season, basically. 🙂
Steph: Yeah! The Christmas episode would have been a great ending. I might have cried, actually.
So, overall, I think I would honestly rate this series 5/5. Emotional, got me in the feels sometimes, had me falling in love with all the characters, and with only 2 weak stories, 5 episodes in a 52 episode season, that’s not too shabby.
Ian: I would as well. A few notes that didn’t quite hit as well as others, as we’ve covered, but so many moments that really made my heart sing (seeing Steph show up as Robin when I didn’t expect it had me walking on clouds for days), and the heartwarming family stuff is just so nicely done. 5/5 Bat-Family Hugs
Steph: Lol..5/5 Cat-whip gifts for 9 year olds… I can’t wait ’til next season. Thanks for chatting with me about season 1!
Ian: Thank you, Steph! Can’t wait for season 2 as well, and hope if someone has been on the fence about the series, they give it a try. It’s free, after all!
Editor’s Note: You can find the Batman: Wayne Family Adventures Season 1 exclusively on the Webtoon platform.