Guess whose back? Well, Batman: Wayne Family Adventures on Webtoon, for one, but that means that Steph and Ian are back too and have been chatting about the Batman: Wayne Family Adventures #52-54! Let’s see what they think of the new episodes. As always, spoilers ahead.
Steph: Ian!!! Season 2 of Wayne Family Adventures dropped! How excited are you?
Ian: I am EXTREMELY excited! After the triumph of season 1, season 2 promises to get right back to the “adventures” – light-hearted and serious – that we came to love!
Steph: I think we need to do a quick PSA and tell people that if they’ve not read a Webtoon yet because they don’t like reading traditional comics on their digital devices, the format of Webtoons is NOTHING like a regular comic! They are designed to be read on your phone, and the flow and arrangement of panels are designed to be easily read and enjoyed.
Ian: Indeed! And it’s FREE! Give it a try! And Wayne Family Adventures is especially nice because it is like a Peanuts cartoon – you can basically pick any thumbnail that looks fun and jump right in!
Steph: So, back to the main deal, what did you think of the first episode, #52 – Assassin?
Ian: I thought it was pretty funny to see the kids and their relationships with each other, even if it’s a bit odd that they’d distract each other in the deadly Gotham City crimefighting! But I think we know that Wayne Family Adventures is a more Animated Series, even Batman 66 level types of threats – our heroes have to struggle, but they won’t usually face the same kinds of darkness that their main continuity counterparts often do (though they have kept some of the darker moments, such as Jason’s history with the Joker) What did you think?
Steph: I sort of agree, but I think that, as professional vigilantes, they’d have a good bead on when a villain fight isn’t high stakes, and little fun while they fight, is fine. How many times in the comics do they have conversations about personal life stuff while beating people up? I loved the peek into the relationships and comradery of the family. I think this was Harper Row’s first appearance, wasn’t it? They’re definitely going for a more hardcore/badass look. She appears older than she has been in the main comics lately.
Ian: That’s an excellent point about having personal conversations while fighting – efficient, that is! 😉
This was Harper’s “grand entrance” to the world of WFA, similar to how Duke was introduced in season one in the first episode. I’m quite curious to see how they integrate her into the stories – she doesn’t quite have as many iconic stories or histories to back her up as the 10-80 year-olds of the rest of the Bat-Family. Duke, in a similar position, got a brand new storyline about his one-day girlfriend – perhaps they’ll create a similar type of storyline for Harper?
I think for her design, they definitely went more with her more elaborate Batman Eternal/Batman and Robin Eternal look rather than the Infinite Frontier look we saw in The Joker backups.
I think it’s quite interesting that Harper didn’t appear in the next two episodes of the season – do you think that indicates she’ll probably be about the same level of appearances and focus as Duke in the first season? Some fans have complained that Duke was “promised” to be the main character of the first season and were irked that he basically appeared roughly as much as the other Bat-Family characters. I can see why they’d say that, but I don’t really agree – I think the balance was pretty reasonable.
Steph: I see Bluebird as “Batwoman-lite” in this series (at least that’s the feeling I’ve gotten), so I wonder if she’ll be a second or third-tier character like Kate has been – she doesn’t show up much at all and isn’t too intricate to most storylines she is in. I didn’t see this as an introduction of her as a main storyline character.
I think it’s totally fair to feel misled by the initial introduction of Duke. Looking back on it, it does seem like he was a plot device to introduce the family. But, there are SO many Bat-Family members that you are limited on how to tell stories. You can have all the members all the time, which doesn’t give anyone screen time or substance, you can give some characters ALL the time, which isn’t fair to those left out, or you can do arcs focusing on different ones and switch it up. And, to appeal to the most people, you want to have the more popular and mainstream characters be a little more prominent. None of the options are ideal. As they say, if you make everyone happy, you’re doing something wrong.
Ian: I think you summarize the position nicely – and honestly, I think Duke got just as much time and focus as the other characters. Nothing really followed up on his moving into Wayne Manor (except the delightful driving lesson episode), but he got his own arc just like the other main characters and was present quite a bit.
Steph: What did you think of episode 53 – Online?
Ian: Online was quite cute. Building off of Jason’s characterization last season as loving literature and having a secret sensitive side, I think it was quite in character for WFA. I’m not quite sure how it fits with the Jason we see in Red Hood: Outlaws (See our recent podcast interview with the creative team for that comic for more information!) Reading this as happening after Red Hood: Outlaws, it’s hard to see how Jason (and Bruce, for that matter, who is extremely dark and harsh in the other comic but sweet and a bit bumbling in WFA) quite match. But that kind of character dissonance is usual for different creative teams working in the same universe.
I also really liked Oracle’s presentation – the little bits of the Bat-Family’s lives in her social media sweep and the secret blackmail material she has on Dick and Bruce from their early adventures (though Nightwing’s pride in his Sparklewing costume from his early days indicates that blackmail wouldn’t really work on him anyway 🙂 ). A lot of little details in this episode!
Steph: I did think the idea and execution were really cute. It definitely cements the feeling of sibling-type love between Bat-Family (unlike the main comics where Steph is the only one talking to Jason right now).
Ian: (see our review of Task Force Z #12 for more!)
Steph: I will say this is the first episode where I felt the art was rushed and suffered a bit. I wonder if they were pushing the episode release.
Ian: If you check the credits, there are a lot of new art team names on this season
Steph: That makes sense. It’s almost like….the main comics!
Ian: My understanding is that Webtoon schedules are pretty brutal, similar to manga schedules, so I’m not surprised they’ve worked with a large and rotating art team to get the strips completed. I don’t mind the current art, but I do see a more simplified effect on a lot of characters and background characters – especially for me, Bruce.
Steph: Yes, for sure.
Ian: It’s funny since Bruce just showed up (and showed his face) in Red Hood: Outlaws, and it’s super clear that the Webtoon design for Bruce is one they’re passing to all the art teams.
Steph: Lol. I don’t think I’ve paid attention to that in particular. But, that being said, the art isn’t bad; it’s just been clearly mainstreamed and, as you said, more artists.
Ian: We had a few episodes last season where you could tell they’d swapped in a new art team for that strip
I wonder if this is the new art team going forward, though – I chatted with M. Li on Twitter, who did storyboards for the first season, and she said that she wasn’t working on the second season.
Steph: Interesting. I guess you have to pick between putting things out on a regular basis or keeping the integrity of maintaining the same team. How many years has All-Star Batman and Robin been waiting for the last issue? (is a joke, but makes the point).
What about the newest episode, 54 – S’tel ees a cigam wohs!
Ian: Well, I THINK this is the episode they’re calling a “crossover” with Zatanna and the Ripper, and I can see why. They kept Zatanna’s shirtless vest look, though like Red Hood: Outlaws, that comic is significantly darker than WFA. I thought it was quite fun, and the joke about Bruce and Superman was quite nicely done, especially with Nightwing’s contributions. Copperhead is quite the deep-cut villain to use, so nice to see him show up!
Steph: Well, not sure I’d call it a crossover per se, but it was cool to see the Zatanna look from her own series here. Obviously, she’s dealing with many different matters at different times over there. What do you mean by “deep cut”?
Ian: Not a villain I’d expect to see in a more casual-friendly context like WFA. He doesn’t have a lot of appearances, so seeing him is a callback to more obscure stuff 🙂
Steph: I did like that he had a great weapon at hand, took out Nightwing, and then patiently waited for Zatanna and Batman to get ready to beat him up while being jumped on by Night-bunny.
Ian: Bunnies can be very distracting! Just ask King Arthur in Monty Python! 🙂
Steph: So true. That was very WFA-esque. Well, I think it’s clear from these first few episodes and the names of upcoming ones that we are going to get a mix of fun, family bonding, and more poignant and serious stories, like last season. I’m really excited.
Ian: Me too! And we’ll keep a weather eye on the art as always!
Steph: This comic is the breath of fresh air I need after scarfing down the more serious and heavy issues of the main canon.
Ian: I’ve talked to friends on Tumblr who have never really read any paper or “digital first” Batman comics, but now they know so much about the Bat-Family and Batman’s world because of this window in their world. I think it’s great!
Steph: That’s great! Well, thanks for chatting with me Ian! I can’t wait to review the next three episodes with you!
Ian: Me either! See you in a few! 🙂
Editor’s Note: You can find Batman: Wayne Family Adventures #52-54 and all other past chapters exclusively on the Webtoon platform.