? In 1992, Batman: The Animated Series debuted on Fox, and overnight changed the way we looked at DC superhero cartoons. Gone were stupid jokes, cheap animation, and the damn dog in the cape. Now there were stories based on famous comic books, cameos from characters from the deepest recesses of DC lore, and a highly-stylized art technique that defined what an entire universe — the DC Animated Universe.
But what about DC’s other cartoons? You know, the ones that aren’t part of the world of Batman, Superman, Justice League, and the rest? They might not be as beloved or as consistently good, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have some awesome moments all on their own. So here’s a look at 10 fantastic episodes and scenes from DC’s other animated works — not in any particular order, and not pretending to be all-inclusive. In fact, feel free to tell us your favorite moment in the comments.
10) “Day of the Dark Knight,” Batman: The Brave and the Bold
?The ’60s Batman show, for legal reasons, doesn’t often tie in with any DC products. But in the opening jailbreak of this episode we got to see the old Adam West villains again! Among the escapees are King Tut, Egghead, Bookworm, Shane, the Archer, Siren, Falseface, Black Widow, and Ma Barker! Holy legally-sketchy flashback, Batman! (Season 1, episode 5)
9) Joker Beats Jason Todd, Batman: Under the Red Hood
The Joker beating Jason Todd with a crowbar is one of the most significant moments in DC history. In the DVD release of Under the Red Hood, we got to see it all. Every backhand, every blood spatter, every collapsed lung. Dear Lord, it was horrible. But it made you hate the Joker.
8) “The Substitutes,” Legion of Super Heroes
If you know only one thing about the Legion, it’s that they hold try-outs for new members. “The Substitutes” showed the five heroes who didn’t make it (Porcupine Pete, Infectious Lass, Color Kid, Chlorophyll Kidd, and Stone Boy), and how they came together to win against the villain Starfinger. It’s great to see the second-stringers kick some ass. (s1, e9)
7) “Detention,” Teen Titans
Mad Mod has always been a joke Titans villain, but his animated introduction was one of the highlights of the show. Using veteran voice actor Malcolm McDowell and stunning mod imagery pulled straight from British staples like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, A Clockwork Orange (which McDowell started in), and Yellow Submarine, this episode made us sit back and say, “Now THAT’S a good-looking cartoon!” (s1, e10)
6) Batman Meets Martian Manhunter, Justice League: The New Frontier
Batman, king of intimidation. After meeting the Martian Manhunter and discovering his weakness to fire, Bats straightens the Martian out with one dynamite line: “Make no mistake, I have a $70,000 sliver of a radioactive meteor to stop the one from Metropolis. All I need for you is a penny for a book of matches.”
5) “Seconds,” The Batman
Comedian Dave Foley guests as the villain Francis Gray who can reverse time, and uses this power to predict all of Batman’s moves. The time-jumping is a neat power, but the real key moment happens at the end: Batgirl uses Gray’s son as a hostage to get Gray to defuse a bomb. But the bomb goes off, and everyone dies. Really. Thankfully, he uses his powers to set things right, but damn. He killed everyone. (s4, e9)
4) “Sundown,” Legion of Super Heroes
In DC comic continuity, a Sun Eater is an unstoppable creature with the ability to drain stars of their energy. When one is released by a renegade Controller, the Legion gets their futuristic asses whupped. In order to make the final stand against this insurmountable threat, the team is forced to call on both the Legion of Substitute Heroes… and their perpetual nemeses, the Fatal Five. (s1, e12-13)
3) “How Long is Forever,” Teen Titans
The second season of Teen Titans began with Starfire tossed into the future to confront what becomes of her team when she’s gone. Cyborg is immobilized, permanently attached to a computer, Beast Boy has resigned himself to life in a sleazy circus, Raven is hopelessly insane in an asylum, and Robin, without Starfire’s positive influence, has become the justice-obsessed Nightwing. A serious turn for a normally less-than serious show. (s2, e1)
2) “Mayhem of the Music Meister,” Batman: The Brave and the Bold
No one could play the over-the-top musical mastermind the Music Meister better than Broadway singing star Neil Patrick Harris. Not only did his star power make the episode a hit, everyone in it got a chance to sing! And how many other cartoon episodes get their full soundtrack released on a CD? (s1, e24)
1) Superman Vs. Doomsday, Superman: Doomsday
We’re all used to seeing heroes take a few punches, but Superman: Doomsday took that to the next level. Superman and Doomsday absolutely destroyed each other, and when it was over we saw Superman broken and defeated. When he came back from the dead, that was cool, but it still couldn’t top the scenes of pure demolition that came before.