CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini; directed by Eric Radomski.
REVIEW: Huge fun! Just about the best villain team-up I can imagine for the 20-minute format, with the Joker, the Penguin, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and Killer Croc playing poker and telling war stories. They get a great introduction, just hands at the table, but the sequence full of clever touches - the Joker's cheating, the Penguin's tea, Two-Face always having a pair or two face cards in his hand and putting half-and-half in his coffee... And their dueling words are full of jokes. Ivy gets a chair at the table by besting Croc, of all people, and the man-monster is then seen liberating another chair from one of the underground casino's other patrons, causing mayhem in the background. Batman is of course the topic of discussion, and I love that Two-Face (of course!) thinks he's really an army of men hired by the GCPD. This episode is brilliant even before they tell a single story.
But of course, these short stories, basically the tale ends of their schemes, at the point where they've ALMOST got'im (Gotham?), just before Batman makes an amazing escape. Ivy's story highlights her lack of empathy and takes place in a colorful pumpkin patch. Two-Face's adapts the origin of the giant penny in the Batcave. The Penguin has killer hummingbirds and Batman freaking stabbing his opponents with them! And the Joker puts on a real show with Batman strapped to an electric chair powered by his audience's forced laughter, while Harley Quinn plays MC and fights Catwoman on the side. Because yes, just when you thought all the most prominent rogues from the animated series were in this, another one shows up. Played more as a hero, of course, but she's also after Batman, or at least his heart. And when she "almost gets 'im" at the end, almost convincing him to leave the masks behind and come away with her, well... that makes me entirely too happy.
As for Croc, his story is just a one-liner, the unimpressive and so hilarious tale of him throwing a rock at the Bat. Played as the group's idiot and the butt of everyone's jokes, this Croc is pretty different from the superstrong hit man of his first appearance, but he's way funnier. And it's not a problem because he's NOT the Croc we know. I'd forgotten and got to be surprised and delighted all over again, but he was Batman in disguise all along! Great reveal using a lighting effect, and very amusing too. There's nothing I don't like about this episode.
IN THE COMICS: The giant penny was a staple of the Batcave's trophy room in the comics, there since Batman's encounter with the Penny Plunderer in World's Finest Comics #30 (1947). Only later was it retconned to be the result of an encounter with Two-Face, as it is here. Two-Face does put both Batman and Robin in a similar death trap, flipping a giant silver dollar with the Dynamic Duo tied to it in Batman #81 (1954).
REWATCHABILITY: High - One of my favorite episodes, clever, witty and fun.