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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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 named Simon Trent and finds him to be unemployed and short of money. In an act of desperation after trashing his display cases in frustration, Trent attempts to sell his Gray Ghost memorabilia to a toy collector Ted Dymer. Later that night, Trent awakens to find his memorabilia back in his apartment and his display cases restored. Trent also finds a letter from an anonymous person to meet in an alley. 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 occuring 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."

Episode of "The Gray Ghost"[edit]

The following are the titles of The Gray Ghost episodes as written on the film reels owned by Simon Trent. The reels are also numbered, which shows where one or two episodes are still missing from the collection. This list also includes "The Mad Bomber", the episode which inspired the toy collector's crime spree.

  • "Have a Heart"
  • "Red Ghost Run"
  • "The Claw"
  • "Take a Hike"
  • "One on One"
  • "The Mad Bomber"
  • "Dr. Death"
  • "Jimmy's Homecoming"
  • "The Doll Maker"
  • "Gray Ghost Returns"
  • "Missing Link"
  • "The Card Shark"
  • "Spy Smashers"
  • "The Secret Chamber"
  • "The Road Trip"
  • "Terror in the Sky"
  • "Earthquake"
  • "Sweet Revenge"
  • "Electronic Man"
  • "Sweating Bullets"

NOTE: "Terror in the Sky" is also the title of an actual Batman: TAS episode (airdate November 12, 1992)

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]

Popular culture[edit]

  • The Gray Ghost made a return appearance in an early issue of Batman: The Gotham Adventures in the late 1990s, and turned up again years later in the most recent Batman Adventures series in 2004, in a story about the making of a Gray Ghost film.
  • In Batman Beyond, one of the original costumes for the Gray Ghost hangs in the Batcave. In the episode "Black Out", Bruce Wayne dons the hat and goggles of the Gray Ghost to hide his identity from Inque, who had infiltrated the Batcave.
  • In the Justice League Unlimited episode "Epilogue", Terry McGinnis and his family are shown leaving a theatre playing "The Grey Ghost Strikes" while the Phantasm is waiting to murder his parents. This indicates that the Grey Ghost franchise continued to thrive well after the release of the television series. Although the Phantasm does not follow through, this scene parallels the traditional origin of Batman, where Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered as he and they leave The Mark of Zorro. The Justice League Unlimited comic series also referenced the Gray Ghost in the Christmas-themed issue #28. Superman mentions that he had also watched the show as a child, and he was terrified by it but still loved it. The Gray Ghost toys play a key role during the issue.
  • The “Grey Ghost” (Grey, not Gray) appears in Batgirl vol. 2, #15 in 2011; he attempts to become the sidekick of Batgirl. His attire is similar to Dr. Mid-Nite, but in shades of gray, and he also wields a shotgun. His real identity is Clancy Johnson.

References[edit]

External links[edit]