Episode Number: 5
Season Episode Number: 5
Production Number: 105
Airdate: January 2, 2009
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Director: Ben Jones
Voices: Diedrich Bader (Batman, Kilowog), James Arnold Taylor (Green Arrow, Guy Gardner), David McCallum (Merlin), Tatyana Yassukovich (Morgaine le Fey), Dee Bradley Baker (Jason Blood, Etrigan the Demon).
Plot: The famous wizard, Merlin, teleports Batman and Green Arrow to the ancient days of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in order to stop Morgaine Le Fey from turning everyone into stone!
Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Holy costumed cameos, Batman! This episode was loaded with tons of surprise cameos, all within the first five minutes of the show! Let's get all those out of the way before the actual review.
The show opener stars Batman as he helps contain a riot that has broken out at Green Lantern HQ thanks to the bumblings of Guy Gardner. There are many famous (and not so famous) GL's in the background, including Apros, Arisia, Chaselon, Ch'p, Galius Zed, K'ryssma, Katma Tui, Larvox, Medphyll, NautKeLoi, Palaqua, RRU-9-2, Salakk, Tomar-Re, Xax, and of course, Kilowog (voiced by Diedrich Bader). Let me know if I've missed any.
During the riot at Iron Height Prison, there are two groups of cameos. The first group is made up of villains that Batman had sent to jail in previous episodes. You can see the Clock King, Felix Faust, Kite Man and his henchmen, and the human Gorilla Grodd.
The second group of cameos is made up of villains that Adam West sent to jail in the 60s. That's right, perfectly caricatured are the villains from the Adam West Batman series from the late 60s. These characters include Egghead, King Tut, Ma Parker, Louie the Lilac, Shame, Mad Hatter, Black Widow, Bookworm, Archer, False Face, Marsha Queen of Diamonds, Minstrel, and Siren. This is a real treat for hard-core fanboys.
Now let's get on with the episode.
Day of the Dark Knight doesn't deliver any real meat with its tale of knights and wizards. It was great to see Morgaine le Fey in her 'historic' Arthurian roots as well as hearing Etirgan talk in rhyme consistently throughout the episode, which he didn't do in previous animated incarnations, but other than that, it wasn't a tale really anything special.
However, this episode was very special in that the whole thing is one big nod to comic book legend Jack Kirby who created Morgaine le Fey and Etrigan in The Demon #1 in 1979. The Demon series was canceled after sixteen issues, but the characters lived on. Morgaine's design differs significantly from Kirby's original design and instead looks more like she does in the Camelot 3000 series from the 80s. Etrigan, on the other hand, is very true to Kirby's original design.
The other major nod to Jack Kirby is this Golden Age version of Green Arrow which is lifted straight from the pages of Kirby's short lived run on the Green Arrow comic book from 1958.
Back when Kirby was writing/drawing Green Arrow, readers were hard pressed to find differences between Green Arrow and Batman. Both were billionaire playboys who were superheroes that relied on gadgets rather than powers. At the time, Green Arrow had a teen sidekick, Speedy, many vehicles including the Arrowcar and the Arrowplane and he even had an Arrowcave to keep them all in!
This episode is an homage to the Kirby days of the Green Arrow by turning their blatant similarities into a friendly rivalry. Many young viewers probably don't know about this and maybe you don't either. But go back and watch this episode again with this in mind and you will find it much more enjoyable.