“See No Evil”
Written by Martin Pasko
Directed by Dan Riba
Welcome back to What’cha Reading’s Batman: The Animated Series recap series. As we countdown to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, we’ve looked back on the first season of the Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski series of the 90’s. It was an interesting time for the character as he was iconic, but nowhere near the nearly god-like level he’s viewed as today. While the movies were quickly phasing out, fans still deeply admired the clear portrayal of the Dark Knight that still many hold as the definitive characterization today. The Batman: The Animated Series worked as an entertaining program for both children and adults and I, along with many others, have deeply fond memories of Batman at this time. Before Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan, and David S. Goyer re-envisioned and reawakened interest in the DC Comics hero, Bruce Timm and company did it first with their animated take on the iconic vigilante.
“See No Evil” is an interesting episode as it, yet again, features a newly created villain, but one that is far more relatable and less extreme as the Joker or Scarecrow. The villain in this episode, as written by Martin Pasko, is Lloyd Ventrix. He’s an ex-con with an ex-wife and daughter. His wife Helen (Jean Smart) has a 100 foot restraining order against him and is secretly planning on moving her and their daughter some place far away from Ventrix. Other than what we’re told, we’re never quite certain as to why Ventix needs to be kept away from his family. We could surmise that he was a thief and possibly abusive, but in lacking integral facts, he becomes a somewhat sympathetic villain. The real threat he poses in “See No Evil” is that he will stop at nothing to be with his daughter Kimmy (Elizabeth Moss), even if it means inadvertently putting her in danger. Ventrix, through usage of an invisible sheath being developed by a scientist associated briefly with Wayne Tech, is able to appear to Kimmy as an imaginary friend she’s named Mojo. With the invisibility cloak, Ventrix robs a jewelry expo near the beginning of the episode and plans on being able to provide for his daughter.
There are certain aspects of Lloyd Ventix that are reminiscent of the later portrayals of Flint Marko/William Baker Sandman villain from Marvel Comics. We’d like Ventrix to be able to make reparations with his wife, but he is dangerous. After Batman is defeated by Ventrix early on, he heads to Wayne Tech Optical Research and meets with Lucius Fox (Brock Peters).
- This is our first introduction to Lucius Fox, outside of the comics, It wasn’t until 2005’s Batman Begins that he became a major figure in DC Comics and Batman stories. Morgan Freeman played Mr. Fox throughout The Dark Knight Trilogy. The character was recently introduced near then end of FOX’s Gotham season one.
Bruce Wayne learns that prolonged usage of the invisibility sheath is toxic to the user. It’s this very toxicity that would have originally led to a plot that had Kimmy in danger after Ventirx abducts her. Due to broadcasting standards, the original sequence was cut and later rewritten to feature Ventix trying to abduct his daughter, only to be stopped by Batman. I very much enjoyed the work put into “See No Evil” and while the original ending would have been interesting, this cut was well done. The animation work is strong as ever, especially with the facial expressions created for Kimmy and Ventrix. We see her recoil at first sight of seeing that her father is really Mojo. It’s shocking and works far better than any sequence that would have placed her in danger. There’s a jarring realness to the fact that Kimmy has been turned against her father, probably because of everything her mother has told her about him. It’s this darkness that’s inherent in the Martin Pasko script for “See No Evil” that makes it such a great Batman story.
Upon re-watching Batman: The Animated Series, I am reminded of how pure the character was at this point. This was before a successful film trilogy, a series of acclaimed video games, and a flagship series by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. What Bruce Timm, Eric Radomski, and company gave fans was an expression of a hero that didn’t have any powers, existed in a timeless city, and went up against wave upon wave of rogues. Batman was scary. Batman was fun. Batman was iconic. The work done on Batman: The Animated Series holds up all these years later and is on equal footing with the work of Max Fleischer’s Superman shorts.
Stay tuned for more Batman: The Animated Series.