DCAU #99: Deep Freeze

IN THIS ONE... A Walt Disney wannabe frees Mr. Freeze from jail so he can start a new ice age.

CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm; directed by Kevin Altieri.

REVIEW: So as not to desecrate the holy ground that is Heart of Ice, it took all this time for Mr. Freeze to return. But they did find a way to let him remain a sympathetic villain, and essentially a victim, by having the real villain, Grant Walker, reveal Victor's wife was alive all along, but in suspended animation. So it wasn't that Fries wanted to create a global ice age (though one wonders how even that big freeze gun would have affected more than just Gotham), but that he needed to go along with the mad plan if he hoped Walker would use his technology to revive Nora. Indeed, his tech had already been appropriated by Walker, and what he was really needed for was turning Walker into a second Freeze.

Because yeah, Grant Walker is an evil Walt Disney. He's obsessed with cryogenics, builds theme parks, etc. But like a Bond villain, he wants to reset humanity with only the best and brightest (and the ones who smile the most creepily along with his crazy scheme), on an island utopia while the rest of the world gets frozen over. He uses cool robots that allow for some great action scenes, and sinks with his island, now immortal. And that's really the new wrinkle added to Freeze's plight. His life is wretched, yet it has been slowed down to the point where he might never grow older, extending that state of wretchedness. In that way, we understand Walker's punishment to be great indeed, but Freeze ends in another cell, a chamber in a drifting iceberg, kneeling before his Nora. Not as sad as Heart of Ice's ending, but it generates some pathos nonetheless.

The episode has other nice surprises in store for us. Robotics expert Rossum comes back for another episode, and he's brought some very fun toys along (see In the Comics). There are some nice editing tricks, such as cutting from the freezing water of Walker's "tomb" to Robin's hot coffee. The sequence with the shark torpedoes is exciting. The M-9 robot is a cool design full of tricks. The 1984 references aren't lost on this viewer either, though they're a wink and no more.

IN THE COMICS: Rossum's creations were all pulled from the Silver Age of DC Comics - Bat-Mite, the imp who pestered Batman; Mr. Mxyzptlk (classic look), the imp who instead pestered Superman; and Krypto and Streaky, Superman's super-dog and Supergirl's super-cat respectively. IN THE MOVIES: Having Nora Fries survive in suspended animation was used in the film Batman and Robin, and said to have been inspired directly by this story.

SOUNDS LIKE: Grant Walker is played by Daniel O'Herlihy, who was Grig in The Last Starfighter, and the Old Man in Robocop. Bat-Mite is played by the voice of Krang himself, Pat Fraley; he also voiced Ace on G.I. Joe, Casey Jones, BraveStarr, Cousin It, Tuffy Smurf and dozens (not to say hundreds) more animated characters.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A good return engagement for Mr. Freeze, though of course it can't beat his original story. Walker as a villain perhaps takes too much room.

5 comments:

American Hawkman said...

Evil Walt Disney is a trope I tend to enjoy, and here was no exception. Good stuff.

Green Luthor said...

Brad, Lana's ex in Superman III, was played by *Gavan* O'Herlihy, Dan O'Herlihy's son. (And on a completely irrelevant note, Gavan also played Chuck Cunningham, but that has nothing to do with this.)

LiamKav said...

Freeze is pretty unique throughout the DCAU. His every appearance is part of an ongoing story. He's never the villain of the week the way that, say, Two-Face sometimes is. If he's in a story, he IS the story. He's constantly sympathetic, his motivations always make sense (I don't think he ever ends up in Arkham). And bits like the revelation of his slowed ageing here almost make it seem like they're planned him out to Batman Beyond and, er, beyond.

Grant Morrison wrote an Animal Man story in 1990 that featured Limbo, a place where forgotten characters dwell. Mr Freeze was in there, showing how far his stock had fallen. BTAS gets credit for introducing Harley Quinn, but it all but re-introduced Mr Freeze and shot him right into Batman's A-List of Rogues.

Plus, his gun sounds like a photon torpedo. Bonus points for that.

Now, regarding Robin: I like Robin. I like the concept of Robin. I like Dick Grayson as a character. I like his BTAS design. I like how Loren Lester plays him. I like his relationship with Batman. I think he's an absolutely crucial part of Batman's lore, and ignoring him as lots of adaptions want to do is missing a huge part of what makes Batman work. It's a tribute to all those factors that I don't find his forced inclusion in "The Adventures of Batman & Robin" too painful. But he's getting to be rescued a bit too often. He gets captured before Batman does here. He's shot by Freeze, requiring Batman to withdraw to save his life. In Bane he was also captured and reduced to having a fight with Candice, a fight that shouldn't have lasted more than 6 seconds. Come on, producers. Just because you're annoyed at having to include him every episode, don't make me be annoyed by him as well.

LiamKav said...

I'm also shocked that Pat Fraley (who voices Bat-Mite here) doesn't get a mention in "Sounds Like". Dude was Krang in the 80s TMNT. Krang! And Bravestarr and a million other things as well, but Krang! The best character from the Fred Wolfe TMNT!

I Like Krang.

Siskoid said...

Corrected. That wasn't done on purpose, I just got interrupted during the writing and thought all categories were filled out correctly!

 

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