DCAU #274: Shriek

IN THIS ONE... A new sonic villain attacks Bruce Wayne.

CREDITS: Written by Stan Berkowitz; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: The only real problem with this episode is its villain, Shrief. And that's a pretty major problem. The look is fairly cool, and his sonic tricks are varied and interesting; that's not it. It's his motivation. Like, what is it? When we first meet Mr. Shreeve, he's just an engineer whose company was bought out by Derek Powers and who thinks his tech has applications for construction (well, demolition) and such. Because Powers wants a return on his investment, Shreeve somehow agrees to become an assassin. And when he's made by the police, he apparently "goes crazy" (debatable) and lets Powers talk him out of killing him when he's handed the Shriek code name, as if that made losing one's normal life all better. He's just Powers' puppet, absent any real character. At the end, he's deafened when his equipment is damaged by Batman (by powerful tinnitus, actually), and THAT would give him a villainous motivation for repeat appearances. They just can't wait and make him a more conflicted figure in this episode.

The heroes, however, are in excellent form. Bruce Wayne comes out of his manor to engage Wayne-Powers' board, trying to save Gotham's historical district which Powers wants to buldoze and build on. You wonder what "history" Bruce would want to save given Gotham's grimy past, but then you realize he can't have Crime Alley erased. The episode makes it clear that though Bruce hasn't been Batman in 20 years, that's still his true identity, the same memories haunt him and drive him still. But the voices he hears after his first encounter with Shriek are, of course, the villain's, not his parent's, and that's his life line even as he's thrown into the psych ward for hearing things. Bruce vs. the hospital staff is, I must say, a lot of fun.

As for Terry, he gets a LOT to do. His detective skills are put to the test when he figures out where the voice Bruce here's is coming from (it's pretty clever), and as a hands-on investigator, he poses as a pizza delivery boy and ingratiates himself to Shreeve to learn more. Then there's that amazing null sound fight that makes you realize how important sound is to support visual cues, making use of weird sound desig and an orchestral score instead of an electric one to contrast it even more with the show's normal style. And hey, Ace also gets to save the day thanks to his ability to hear sounds in a different range from humans.

SOUNDS LIKE: Shriek is played by Chris Mulkey, who was the corrupt Deputy Ward in First Blood.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The Batman Family do very well, despite the lack of a coherent motivation for their villain.


American Hawkman said...

Bruce's bit about the voices calling him the wrong name is my favorite character bit of the series.

LiamKav said...

Like a few things from this era, I like the line, but not what it led to. The whole "Batman is the true man and Bruce is the disguise" thing which I think is too simplistic, but a lot of creators ran with. (Likewise, I blame the DCAU for Batman losing the yellow oval in the comics, something I've never been able to forgive.)


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