DCAU #275: Dead Man's Hand

IN THIS ONE... Terry falls for a member of the Royal Flush Gang.

CREDITS: Written by Stan Berkowitz; directed by Dan Riba.

REVIEW: The Royal Flush Gang isn't a Batman foe, but it's very easy to push them in that direction with card motif crimes and to give it that Beyond feel, a family history. The Gang as aristocrats who propagate their crime wave through the generations is actually a better concept than mainstream comics' "we just need a quick fight here" villains du jour. Are we to think the current King used to be a Jack? And not even the one we'll eventually see in the Justice League shows since he would have been too young then? Batman's knowledge of them does open the door to the JLA, which is still some years off at this point.

But of course, the big story here isn't the blast from the past, but Terry gaining his own version of Catwoman. Ten (how could she not be sexy with that name) comes across him as Melanie Walker after he has a fight with Dana - the Batman life has finally caught up to their relationship - at the Juce Bar (that primary colored dance club in the opening credits) and a whirlwind later, they're in love. A clichéd trope, costumed heroes/villains meeting in the civvies by coincidence, but it's a mirror of the Bruce/Selina affair. As then, so now. Terry will find out his new love is a villain and have to pursue her a different way. Selina was sympathetic because her crimes were really activism; Ten is sympathetic because she doesn't seem to have a choice to go into the family business, her father an abusive man who won't brook any dissent (even though Ten does draw the line at murder at one point). But will jail time harden her? And can she return to the program without the whole Gang causing trouble. Stay tuned.

Whether you like Melanie or not, and I do, she's sad and conflicted and resigned to her melancholy life, expediency does beggar questions about Terry's character. He's very quick to forget Dana when this strange girl makes her move, especially given he was the dumpee, not the dumper. We're reminded that these are just high school romances, and perhaps not built on as strong a foundation as, say, Superman/Lois (not that they really have a relationship in the DCAU). Burned once, Terry even gets in Bruce's face about investing in this new relationship, contrasting with the older Batman's very specific trauma which has led him to believe that "one night makes a difference". If Batman takes one night off, that's the night some kid's parents are going to be shot in front of him. Tell that to the 20 years of murders you didn't prevent, Bruce. Ok, too harsh, but while Terry also has a parent's murder in his recent past, he hasn't yet processed the event as Bruce has his. Maybe the age at which it happened makes all the difference.

IN THE COMICS: The Royal Flush Gang is normally a group of Justice League of America villains, originally associated with Professor Amos Fortune. Though the aristocratic family element wasn't part of the equation, the characters were similar in look and function. There have been several iterations over the years. In most, Ace has been an android, and though that's not explicit here, the fact that he's a faceless, silent brute would tend to hint at the same.

SOUNDS LIKE: King is played by George Lazenby, the James Bond people tend to forget about. Queen is Amanda Donohue (from L.A. Law). Jack is voiced by Scott Cleverdon, who previously played Thomas Blake (Cat-Man). And Melanie Walker AKA Ten is Olivia d'Abo (Conan the Destroyer, The Wonder Years, Amanda Rogers on Star Trek TNG's "True Q").

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Some of that comics futurism I like, and a romance too!



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