DCAU #192: The Demon Within

IN THIS ONE... Klarion takes control of the Demon Etrigan.

CREDITS: Written by Stan Berkowitz; directed by Atsuko Tanaka.

REVIEW: Superman had The Hand of Fate, and I didn't think it worked as well as it should have. The Demon Within is also a team-up where our hero seems to have a history with a just-introduced mystic hero, but it works because we know the Bat Family has been advanced in time since the last series. The Demon and his world are well-rendered too, his barrel chest putting me in mind of the later Brave and the Bold cartoon, and I bloody love his Kirby fingernails. And while Superman is allergic to magic, Batman is just "of the night" enough to make mystical elements seem odd, but not forced. And we get some lovely magic stuff like a Batman full of spikes and conjured Batman exploding into bats. Jason Blood's disco ball magic effect is less successful.

Klarion does seem to get a pathology that pushes him towards the Batman end of the supervillain scale, and that's perhaps a weaker element. His crimes all have to do with juvenile things, like Terminator 3 (under a different name) and candy. It's a little silly, when the character is designed and acted as much darker, his final fate rather harsh, all things considered. He's not a physical villain, but there's plenty of action thanks to Teekl and the mind-controlled Etrigan (a sound way to make him say as few words as possible and keep the rhymes to a minimum - they happen but don't seem obligatory).

Magically separated from Etrigan while he  serves a different master, Jason Blood becomes a ticking clock, his body wasting away while Batman tries to stop the Witch-Boy. It's a clever way to use the characters, and whatever the heroes' relationship is, it's a fun bit that Bruce Wayne would throw a million bucks Blood's way just on the basis of their friendship. Truly, wealth is Batman's super-power, and this is how it would be used. To get Avalonian branding irons out of the public arena. It just makes sense. Morgaine will eventually appear (without the iron), and we should remember then how much trouble she caused in this episode without even appearing in it.

IN THE COMICS: Both Jack Kirby creations (which is why they crash into the Kirby Cake Company), the Demon and Klarion the Witch-Boy (he's called that off-handedly) have been at odds since Blood/Etrigan's original series (with Teekl, the were-cat, in tow). Though Morgaine does not appear, she is referenced, and was the character's main villain. Let us also note that Batman turning into a tree evokes the classic Justice League of America's origin story as told in JLofA #9.

SOUNDS LIKE:
Billy Zane (The Phantom, Titanic) plays both Jason Blood and - doing a remarkable Michael Dorn impression - Etrigan. For Klarion, they got Stephen Wolfe Smith, the voice of Allyn on the animated Prince Valiant show, for whom this was the last role before his untimely death at age 39.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A nice little team-up; I just wish Klarion wasn't just used as a silly little candy thief.

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