Beware the Gray Ghost

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"Beware the Gray Ghost"
Batman: The Animated Series episode
Beware-the-gray-ghost.jpg
Title card for the episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 18
Directed by Boyd Kirkland
Written by Dennis O'Flaherty (story), Tom Ruegger (story and teleplay), Garin Wolf (teleplay)
Original air date November 4, 1992
Guest actors
Episode chronology
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"Dreams in Darkness"
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List of Batman: The Animated Series episodes

Beware the Gray Ghost is the eighteenth episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It was directed by series regular Boyd Kirkland and first aired on November 4, 1992. The episode features guest star Adam West, best known for his portrayal of Batman in the 1960s Batman television series. West plays the Gray Ghost, a character who bears a strong resemblance to Batman antecedent The Shadow.

Plot[edit]

The episode opens with a young Bruce Wayne watching a black-and-white television show called The Gray Ghost. The episode cuts back and forth between the flashback and events in the present day, where a crime takes place in Gotham that mirrors the episode — a whirring sound is heard, an explosion goes off and the police receive a letter claiming responsibility from someone calling themselves "The Mad Bomber". The sequence ends with the Gray Ghost going into action on the television show, and Batman doing the same in reality.

In the present day, Batman makes the connection between the explosion and the television episode, but cannot remember what happened in the show as he fell asleep before it was over. He tracks down the actor who portrayed the Gray Ghost, Simon Trent, and finds him to be unemployed and short of money. In an act of desperation, Trent attempts to sell his Gray Ghost memorabilia to a toy collector, Ted Dymer, only to have Batman buy it back from the collector and deliver it to his apartment. When Trent and Batman finally meet, Trent is unable to recall the details of the episode featuring the Mad Bomber, and states that he does not want to help Batman and just wants to be left alone. After a second explosion, this time at the Gotham Bank, Trent relents and gives Batman a copy of the episode from his personal archive.

Bruce Wayne watches the episode and learns that the source of the whirring noises was a remotely controlled toy car, and that the next target will be the Gotham Library. Batman alerts the police to the threat and is able to defend the library against a wave of toy cars armed with explosives, capturing one of them in the process, but finds himself trapped by three of them. He is rescued at the last moment by Trent, who has donned his Gray Ghost costume one last time.

Batman and Trent travel to the Batcave, which Trent remarks bears a strong resemblance to the "Gray Ghost Lair" from the television show. They identify the unarmed toy car which Batman captured as an authentic prop from the Gray Ghost television show, and find Trent's fingerprints on them. After Trent convinces Batman of his innocence, the two realize that Dymer must be the Mad Bomber. Batman and Trent confront Dymer, who reveals that he is carrying out the attacks in order to raise money to buy more toys. Batman and Trent are able to capture Dymer and his toy store is destroyed along with all his weaponry in the process.

In the aftermath of Dymer's capture, Trent is hailed as a real-life hero, which prompts a resurgence in popularity of the Gray Ghost character and a subsequent reversal of Trent's fortunes as his videotape collection of the entire Grey Ghost television series is used to re-release it to the public on home video, thereby making Trent an extremely wealthy man. The episode ends with Bruce Wayne approaching him at a convention and asking for an autograph adding how the Grey Ghost was his hero as a child, an almost identical phrase said by Bruce Wayne's alter ego 'Batman' changing the last part to "and he still is."

Reception[edit]

"Beware the Gray Ghost" has been very positively received by critics. The A.V. Club gave the episode an A and called it "smartly written and gorgeously animated".[1]

Trivia[edit]

  • The Gray Ghost bears similarities to multiple classic pulp vigilante crime-fighting heroes, including The Shadow (1930) and The Spirit (1940).
  • The character of Ted Dymer, the Yesteryear Toys store owner, bears a striking resemblance to a young Bruce Timm, series co-creator, who also voices him.
  • The name of the live action studio which made the Gray Ghost TV show, mentioned in the episode, was called Spectra Studios; and the Batman overseas Animation Services as seen on the credits is Spectrum Animation Studio.
  • In Batman Beyond, Season 1 Episode 3, "Blackout," Bruce Wayne wears the hat and goggles of the Gray Ghost costume to disguise himself from Inque, who breaks into the Batcave.
  • The resurgence of The Gray Ghost lasts all the way to Batman Beyond, where a young Terry went with his parents to see a new film starring the character.
  • The producers stated that had Adam West refused to voice The Gray Ghost they would have canned the script.

References[edit]

External links[edit]