"I am vengence. I am straight-to-DVD promotional release."

Well, this alone significantly improves the Freaking Awesome rating for the week by itself (a week sorely in need of a Freaking Awesome improvement, in case you didn’t know):

It’s a clip from the new Batman: Gotham Knight DVD that will be released on July 8 and will be in my DVD player shortly afterward, assuming I get away with my plan to call out sick from work that day with a case of the joe chills. It’s six animated shorts that take place in the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, written by some pretty big deal screenwriters (including Josh Olson, who wrote A History of Violence) and put together by anime directors. Very similar to the whole Animatrix thing, though hopefully it hypes up, um, a good movie and not an overly convoluted and unsatisfying sequel.

The best part about this DVD is that Batman is voiced again by Kevin Conroy, the man who I will proudly argue here is the best actor to be attached to the Caped Crusader. Conroy helmed the Batmouth for an impressive 14 years through every incarnation of the Batman animated series, right up through the recent Justice League series. His voice has the appropriate range of bubbly bachelorism needed for playboy Bruce Wayne to the angry gruff growl needed to surge fear through the cowl, a spectrum neither Michael Keaton nor Christian Bale ever achieved (Bale, who is a very good Batman, don’t get me wrong, sounds more like he’s growling through a dirty sock when he’s Bat-voicing).

They brought in a different bat voice for the new DVD release Justice League: The New Frontier, and it didn’t click. It was like hearing your older brother try to do Bruce Willis’ voice. Oh, and the guy they brought in? Jeremy Sisto, who you might remember as Elliot from Clueless. Roll with the homeys on out of here, please.

Conroy was also part of what many critics (not just geeky fanboys with blogs) consider the single best Batman movie made, 1993’s Mask of the Phantasm. “But, that’s an animated movie!” you say, fingers stuck to your mouse in horrified disbelief. Yeah, an animated movie with heart, not to mention mystery and intrigue and some damn fine acting to boot. It’s practically a tear jerker by the end. That movie captured the essence of the tortured, conflicted nature of Batman, while Joel Schumacher was in a closet somewhere attaching nipples and codpieces to the Batsuit.

And through all of the animated serieses, Conroy is acting opposite Mark Hamill as the voice of the Joker. What more can you ask for?

Here’s what Conroy looks like, and the squareness of his jaw should be enough to convince you to never commit another crime again out of fear for what lurks in the night:

Oh, also, that new animated series The Batman Cartoon Network is campy and terrible. Why do we keep going back and messing with things when they were already successful to begin with? I suspect George Lucas is involved.

PS: Warner Bros, please feel free to send me a free copy of the DVD for the selfless promotion mentioned above.

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