The first glimpse I remember having into geekery happened when I was very young, maybe 7 years old … when “Batman: The Animated Series” was broadcast.
It was the way I pictured Batman … dark, but not uncaring.
The animated series version of the Dark Knight was compassionate — not just for the people he was protecting in Gotham City, but for the criminals who were, for the most part, insane.
He saved them just as often as he had then incarcerated.
As a bonus, it was visually appealing, and not just for children.
The animators at Warner Brothers straddled the line between animation and realistic motion well.
The structures in the animation were all art deco, the vehicles all reminiscent of the 1930s and ’40s, but Batman’s technology was always incredibly futuristic for the time.
In addition, the balance between dark and light seemed perfect. The creators did not shy away from shadows.
In a generation when guns were allowed in cartoons, the violence still was realistic. Even Batman was not impervious to sickness or the violence that was shown.
This version of Bruce Wayne was not a playboy, like he has been portrayed in recent films.
He cared about people, had genuine friendships within Gotham and used his company for philanthropic efforts.
Some of those efforts included giving jobs to reformed criminals.
The cartoon set me up for heartbreak later in life when the movies changed both Wayne and Batman.
The character who I grew to love as a child never has been the same.
In fact, the cartoon was at its best in the first 2 1/2 seasons — after that point, the animation changed, as did the name.
Some of the voice actors remained the same, but there were things that never quite felt right.
For instance, Wayne went from having brown eyes to having blue eyes.
There was a new Robin and Dick Grayson no longer donned the costume. Grayson instead wore the Nightwing costume.
There are a few things that never changed, such as the voice actor who lent his talent to the Wayne/Batman character.
Kevin Conroy has portrayed these characters for a quarter of a century.
His was not the only talent the show was graced with — the Joker was brought to life by Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill, who nearly could tell an entire story just through the different laughs he created for the character.
One of my favorite episodes is “The Gray Ghost,” named after a television show superhero watched by a young Wayne.
The superhero’s name was, of course, the Gray Ghost and he was voiced by Adam West, who starred on the original “Batman” television series.
With 20-minute episodes, the show is a perfect after-school wind-down for kids, or a short break from reality for adults.