"Hygiene is a critical part of every young man's life, Robin. Use this preview to wash that KILLING JOKE taste from your mouth."

The rejection by the world at large of WB Animation’s The Killing Joke adaptation was something to behold. One of the most revered Batman stories of the past 50 years was finally adapted for the screen, and it was hard to find anyone who even thought it was a good idea (which then made it harder to find anyone who even saw it). As a result, the thing kind of came and went, despite some pre-release hype and hand-wringing, and it feels… forgotten already? But hey, lesson learned: you’ve gotta read the room, and in this case no one was particularly feeling an oversexualized, rapey adaptation of that particular fork in comic history’s road.

So what’s an animation division to do? You forge ahead – and backwards – and adapt an even more beloved period in the character’s history, but one that will be less of a sociopolitical minefield (I mean, I think it will be less of one, but who knows with that stuff anymore). Honestly, though, since Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders was most certainly in the pipeline before The Killing Joke was released, signs point less to this being WB marketing damage control, and more toward one of those cosmic events where the universe senses an imbalance and moves to restore it - like Bowie rising as Elvis fell, or like the Earth’s polar ice caps melting in the next century to wipe out a human race intent on destroying the planet.

Where was I? Oh yeah - prepare yourselves for Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders!

Now that’s more like it. Adam West, Burt Ward, and Julie Newmar return to voice their respective characters; their dead co-stars do not. And we get an adventure that can afford flourishes and grace notes the live-action series never could – a reverse angle on the Bat-Poles (and inserts shots of the cowl going on!), proper car chases involving vehicles with outlandish gimmicks, a mustache on Commissioner Gordon. They’ve pulled out all the stops, and though the purist in me would have loved to see them more strictly adhere to the show’s aesthetic limitations, this will be a day-of-release purchase for me.

Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders THWACKS! us in the wallet on November 1st.