Well, I spoke too soon. In my review of Batman Fluxx, I was a little bummed that Looney Labs used the revamped artwork from the New Batman Adventures portion of Batman: The Animated Series. But I tried to look on the bright side: I pointed out that at least Scarecrow isn’t in the game, “so you aren’t subjected to the terrifying redesigned Scarecrow.”
Of course… now they’ve gone and released Scarecrow as a promo card.
Scarecrow? Really? If they were going to do another promo card, couldn’t they have picked someone else? Mad Hatter? Ra’s al Ghul?
The new-look Scarecrow just really grinds my gears. Originally, he was actually an interesting character: deranged scientist Jonathan Crane on a mission to get even with the world. We saw him both with and without his mask, showing a range of anger, fear, and gleeful insanity. The second incarnation of Scarecrow is just a skull-faced whisperer with the personality of a robot.
I mean… Scarecrow wasn’t even in that many episodes, was he?
I set out to prove that the choice of Scarecrow was a bad decision. With numbers.
Ranking the significance of villains
To determine which villains actually should appear in Batman Fluxx, it was necessary to determine the significance of each villain in The Animated Series. The obvious metric for this is: “How many episodes does each villain appear in?”
Using the DC Animated Universe Wiki, in conjunction with my own encyclopedic knowledge of Batman: The Animated Series from when I was eight, I wrote a Perl 6 script to document and tally up the number of episodes that each villain appears in throughout the primary Batman: The Animated Series canon. I counted an “appearance” as the character or a likeness of the character (such as a double, impersonator, robot, or photograph) appearing on screen in an episode.
I included all episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, and also any appearance in the related movies Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman and Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Mystery of the Batwoman, or the Chase Me short film. I excluded the recent Batman and Harley Quinn movie because it was released after Batman Fluxx, and also because it sucks. I didn’t include any related media like video games, or any of the non-contemporary-Batman-centric DC Animated Universe TV shows.
Total Appearances in Batman: The Animated Series
The following table shows how many episodes each villain appears in, along with whether or not they are included in Batman Fluxx. This excludes villains who only appear in one episode, as well as recurring henchmen like Ubu and Rhino. It also excludes The Creeper, because, technically, I guess he’s not a villain.
That gives us a list of 29 characters.
|Ra’s al Ghul||5|
|Talia al Ghul||3|
A number of things immediately become clear:
- Joker appears in the most episodes, by a fairly wide margin.
- Bane, with only three appearances, has the fewest appearances of any villain who also appears in Batman Fluxx.
- Obviously I spoke too soon again, because Scarecrow (blech) is the highest ranked villain who would not otherwise appear in Batman Fluxx.
But not all “appearances” are created equal. The table above credits Joker and Penguin each with one appearance when, for example, Joker appears on a poster in the background for a few seconds in an episode that’s all about the Penguin. If we eliminate minor and insignificant appearances (like being on a poster), it will give us a better picture of who the most prominent villains in the show are, right? Surely someone will rise above Scarecrow if we take a closer look!
Total Non-Cameo Appearances in Batman: The Animated Series
Continuing to reference the DCAU Wiki and my DVD box set of Batman: The Animated Series that I’ve watched a million times, I classified all appearances by whether or not they qualify as a cameo. I defined “non-cameo” as “active participation by the character in more than one scene.”
This definition of cameo doesn’t line up exactly with what the DCAU Wiki calls an “uncredited” appearance, because occasionally a character will have a speaking role that is insignificant (e.g., Joker making a quip as Batman walks past his cell in Arkham), or a non-speaking role that is relatively prominent (e.g., Scarecrow pushing Batman around and swinging a scythe in “Trial”). However, this definition lines up very well with what we intuitively think of as a cameo. Going through the episodes, I discovered that, whenever a character appears in more than one scene, they almost always appear many times throughout the entire episode.
Only a couple appearances were truly challenging to classify as cameos or not. In “Second Chance,” Penguin and Rupert Thorne both sort of only appear in once “scene,” depending on exactly how you define what is a contiguous “scene.” However, they’re mentioned repeatedly in the surrounding scenes and act as major red herrings, so I ended up rating those as full appearances. On the other hand, Riddler appears multiple times in “Trial,” but he’s always just sitting in the back of the jury box and never says anything—I rated that as a cameo.
|Ra’s al Ghul||4|
|Talia al Ghul||3|
We still get the same 29 villains, but now they appear in a slightly different order. Joker is still on top, but Harley Quinn edges out Two-Face for second place. Also, Riddler drops down to a tie with Bane at only three real appearances.
And someone who’s not in Batman Fluxx jumped ahead of Scarecrow! Yes! Rupert Thorne! We may tend to forget just how much of Batman: The Animated Series focuses on Batman’s war against organized crime.
But… can I seriously say that Rupert Thorne should have gotten a promo card over Scarecrow? Gotham’s go-to gangster is not a “supervillain” and also never appears in the redesigned New Batman Adventures portion of the show. How would they even make a card for him if we don’t know what he looks like now? This is a hollow victory for statistics.
However, given that Batman Fluxx specifically uses the revamped look of the The New Batman Adventures and has The New Batman Adventures logo on the box, maybe we make a case for someone else over Scarecrow if we limit ourselves to just that portion of the show?
Total Appearances in The New Batman Adventures
Unfortunately, if we just look at appearances in The New Batman Adventures, Scarecrow is merely tied with the villains who don’t have a Batman Fluxx card: Firefly, Mad Hatter, and the Ventriloquist. And he’s almost certainly the most famous of that bunch—he’s the only one out of that group to appear in a live action film—so it’s understandable why he got a card and they didn’t.
Also, note that this table again excludes villains with only one appearance—unless they also appear in Batman Fluxx. Bane and Mr. Freeze each only appear one time in the revamped show. These two found their way into Batman Fluxx while other villains who appeared more frequently were passed over.
At this point, we might as well take one last look at just non-cameos in The New Batman Adventures. Maybe that will make someone else jump ahead of Scarecrow?
Total Non-Cameo Appearances in The New Batman Adventures
Nope. No one is ahead of Scarecrow by this standard either.
Interestingly, Firefly is the only villain with two or more non-cameo appearances in The New Batman Adventures who doesn’t have a card in Batman Fluxx.
Also, note that Riddler is even worse off than Bane and Mr. Freeze—he has zero non-cameo appearances in the latter part of the show.
After all that, I guess I have to admit that it made sense to put Scarecrow into Batman Fluxx. He’s as much a part of The Animated Series as any other villain. And the game is called Batman Fluxx, not Batman: The Animated Series Fluxx or The New Batman Adventures Fluxx, so it probably should include the most famous villains from Batman’s rogues’ gallery, even if they’re not the most prominent characters in the show.
Plus, ultimately, I’d thought that Looney Labs was done making promo cards for Batman Fluxx. I never expected another one, so I also have to admit that I was actually really happy to see it, even if it was Scarecrow.
So, at this point, given my track record, what else is there to say except I sure hope they don’t release any more promos. Like a Mad Hatter card. Or Ventriloquist. Or Man-Bat. Or Talia al Ghul. Or Firefly. It would sure be a shame if they did something like that and messed up all of my carefully constructed charts in this article. Or, you know, if they came out with more fun action cards like the “Two-Face Flip.” Or added some of the other hero characters like Nightwing. Or Gray Ghost. Or Montoya and Bullock. Surely that’s not going to happen.