In September, comic book fans everywhere will celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of one of the greatest TV shows (and certainly one of the greatest cartoons) ever made – “Batman: The Animated Series.” It’s a big deal because, for many so-called “nerds” of our generation, myself included, it served as a first foray into the world of comic books and superheroes. Now, a quarter-century past the introduction of the caped crusader’s finest screen adaptation, I look back at it with a mix of warm-and-fuzzy nostalgia and a stark realization – “Batman: TAS” made me who I am today.
It’s a dramatic statement and yet it’s not unfounded. As an adult, I’m still a huge fan of comic books; my collection of loose issues, graphic novels and mint-condition action figures would rival any basement-dwelling geek hoarder and my recently watched list on Netflix is full of titles like “Young Justice” and “Daredevil.” I attend Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX every year (sometimes in costume) and I’m not ashamed to admit that I have two full drawers stuffed with superhero T-shirts (although sadly, professional adult life doesn’t often lend itself to the wearing of them).
Yet, despite all this physical evidence of comic book fandom, there’s something more formative and deeper than bundles of fabric and well-molded plastic. Comic books have shaped my entire mindset. My values exist, with emphasis on bravery, justice and dogged determination because of the things I learned in the pages of the comics and the scenes of the shows and movies I have enjoyed. I’ve come to realize that my personality and even some speech patterns have been subconsciously influenced by what I’ve read and heard within these super-worlds.
I owe it all to Batman. I owe it to the show – darker and bolder and more mesmerizing than any I’d ever seen – that captured my childhood attention. I owe it to the simply-drawn hero and his sometimes terrifying, sometimes heartwarming and always interesting adventures aided by a small but close set of companions.
“Batman: TAS” is not my favorite show. It’s not even my favorite superhero cartoon (that title goes to “Teen Titans” – the original, not the ill-conceived “Go!”). It is, however, the show that introduced me to the world of comics that I’ve never left. I’m not alone, especially among the twenty- and thirty-something convention-going crowd, in saying that I wouldn’t be who I am today if “Batman: TAS” hadn’t opened the door to comic books. For that, I say a thank you to the cartoonish, chilling, silly and absolutely incredible 25-year legacy of this amazing show. If you haven’t seen it yet, do – it’s never too late to join the ranks of Batman aficionados.
Batman: TAS is now streaming on Amazon Prime.