Batman: The Animated Series - When the Dark Knight Met His Idol


Welcome to the twenty-third edition of Adventure(s) Time, where we look back on an episode of a classic animated series, and an issue of its tie-in comic that shares a similar theme. This week, we examine a famous Batman: The Animated Series episode, and a little-known follow-up from the final days of the Batman Adventures series. Are you prepared to face the Ghost in Gray?

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Airing on November 4, 1992, "Beware the Gray Ghost" was the eighteenth episode of Batman: The Animated Series produced, although its premiere was delayed a few weeks, airing as the thirty-second episode. Written by Dennis O'Flaherty, Garin Wolf and Tom Ruegger, and directed by Boyd Kirkland, anyone familiar with the series remembers this one. "Beware the Gray Ghost" is the Adam West episode, the story of Batman meeting the actor who portrayed his childhood idol, after a series of crimes mimic an episode of the hero's television show.

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The narrative of the episode jumps between Batman's memories of a Gray Ghost episode of his youth and today's series of bombings. Hoping to stop the bomber, Batman tracks down the only owner of a complete collection of Gray Ghost episodes -- the actor who played the adventurer, Simon Trent.

Batman learns the elderly man is no hero in real life, and even briefly suspects him of having a hand in the bombings. Trent eventually finds the inner strength to do what's right, however, coming to Batman's aid and helping him apprehend the deranged bomber. The culprit turns out to be another figure who can't escape the past -- toy store owner Ted Dymer, who claims he needed this ransom money to collect all of the expensive toys of his youth.

"Beware the Gray Ghost" is a story of childhood passions and warm memories, and now that decades have passed since its original airing, the nostalgia snake has officially eaten its own tail. The Gray Ghost was a play on the initial masked heroes of the 1930s, like the Shadow, who inspired the creation of Batman. He was voiced by Adam West, the actor who defined Batman for a generation in the 1960s. The producers were so adamant about having their favorite Batman voice this character, they say they wouldn't have done the episode without West. Today, this episode evokes pleasant memories of childhood for adults who remember watching the unusual episode in the early 1990s.

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