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Batman: The Animated Series - Why Couldn't Talia and Batman Find Love?

Kevin Conroy also delivers a fine performance. This is surely a redundant statement by now, but he's particularly great in "Avatar." Batman's affection for Talia is obvious, yet Batman's never truly "softened." He still sounds like Batman, still sounds like someone committed to his job. And even when Conroy is stuck dumping crazy exposition here, it sounds natural. As if this is just everyday stuff for Batman. It's the perfect tone for the character.

The final act has Ra's successfully resurrecting Thoth Khepera, who turns out to be an evil witch-mummy thing. Bruce Timm stepped in to punch up the action, storyboarding Talia and Batman's escape personally. (Check out the Batman Animated book to see the original boards.) Because Thoth is a mummy, the censors actually allow falling debris to flatten her. One of the very few unambiguous "death" scenes on the series.

Due to her dearth of personality, Thoth Khepera is probably the most forgettable aspect of "Avatar." What people remember is the finale, featuring Talia's choice between Batman and Ra's. Realizing Batman will be turning in her father, Talia must choose which man truly has her heart. Turns out, it's the same man who left her for dead minutes earlier.

Some viewers complain about this choice, but characters have to be free to make the "wrong" decisions in fiction. Talia is defined as much by her loyalty to her father as she is her love for Batman. That's largely what makes her an interesting character.

In one of the series' greatest closing scenes, Talia apologizes to Batman, who's left without a horse in the Egyptian desert. Ubu exhibits some humanity, tossing Batman a water bottle, his only means of survival. There's no hint on how Batman will escape. No tease that a Part Two is coming tomorrow. No inner monologue of Batman bemoaning his fate.

He's Batman. He'll deal with this. The creators trust the audience to accept their choice. And thanks to the continuity-light nature of the show, there's no real expectation of a direct follow-up. X-Men or Spider-Man couldn't pull this stunt. Batman does it as if it's no big deal.

Arriving over a year later was Batman Adventures #29 from Kelley Puckett and Dev Madan. (A rare fill-in for artist Mike Parobeck. Madan is nearly indistinguishable from Parobeck, however, perhaps due to the consistent inking of the fantastic Rick Burchett.) "Demon Seed" opens with Batman's shocked reaction to Ra's disappearance.  Even Alfred has to drop his British reserve.

After a week passes, Alfred suggests that Ra's is truly dead this time, gently hinting that now Batman and Talia can pursue their relationship.

Batman instead pursues the case of a stolen "experimental field generator" because he's Batman and that's what he's going to do. Puckett even drops the name of a certain scientist years before the future Internet will embrace the man.

And, by the way, what an amazing shadowy Batman from Madan/Burchett. Who could ever guess this wasn't a Parobeck page?

Talia, meanwhile, is searching Macao, where her father was last seen. Her path crosses with a disguised Bruce Wayne, and the two find themselves on the run from Ra's rivals.

Yeung, the shadowy figure Talia believes is responsible for Ra's disappearance, is tracked to Asia. In Hong Kong, Talia receives the confirmation she'd been dreading.

Thirsty for vengeance, Talia confronts Yeung, who is working for the even more mysterious "Narayan." Yeung reveals why his employer desires the Tesla device, and Talia quickly performs a mental calculation. The device could turn all electromagnetic energy unstable, transforming Earth to a pre-industrial state, the fulfillment of Ra's dreams.

Batman pleads with Talia not to follow her father's insane path. She refuses to listen, pleasing the mystery man waiting in the shadows.

The story's already at page twenty-two, so from there it's quickie fight with henchmen, easy destruction of the device, and another forlorn goodbye between Talia and Batman. As Batman tells Talia, "There's nothing left to say."

Page 3: The Wrap-Up

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