DC Animated Universe
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"Terror in the Sky" is the thirty-seventh episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on November 12, 1992.

Plot[]

Man-Bat eats

The "Man"-Bat happily chomps down on its meal.

On a dark winter night in Gotham, a couple dockworkers are suddenly assaulted by a giant bat creature that is very interested in the fruit that they are loading. After gorging itself on some choice pieces, it takes off into the skies and returns home.

Dr. Kirk Langstrom awakens in a panic, disturbed by his nightmares. His wife, Francine, asks him what is wrong but he says it's nothing. However, when he heads for the window, he finds the remains of some of the fruit the Man-Bat had eaten along with some rather large claw marks on the carpet.

The dockworkers explain the attack to some rather skeptical police, but Batman is listening in, and knows exactly what they are talking about. He heads out to confront Dr. Langstrom.

That morning, Francine finds the torn-up rug in the garbage and realizes what's going on. She goes to ask her father, Dr. March, about Kirk, and he tells her that Kirk has been in the lab since morning. Francine confronts Kirk, who is working on a formula that he claims is a cure. Batman arrives, and Kirk continues to deny that he's deliberately turning into the Man-Bat, blaming Batman for failing to properly cure him. Unable to take the stress, Francine runs from the room while Batman takes a DNA sample from Kirk to confirm if he's telling the truth.

Outside, Batman is attacked by the Man-Bat. This creature has a distinctive advantage over Batman, and he is forced to flee on the Batcycle. In the subway, Batman eventually manages to snag the Man-Bat with his grapple, but it's too strong and the Batcycle is destroyed by a train. Fortunately, he has managed to get a hair sample, which is all he needs to run his tests.

Meanwhile, Francine has left Kirk, who is desperately making calls to the airport. Batman arrives and tells him that his tests have proven that Kirk was in fact cured and that this is a new Man-Bat. Kirk tries to figure out who it is, but Batman tells him to focus on getting Francine back.

Batman goes to March's lab and opens his file cabinet. March appears behind him aiming at a tranquilizer rifle. March admits that he continued Kirk's research since he still believes that only a man/bat hybrid will be able to survive the planet's next evolutionary cataclysm. The new serum he's created could be even more powerful than Kirk's, though March doesn't know for sure, since he hasn't been the one taking it. Batman disarms him and demands to know who has. March remembers working late to refine the formula, but Francine walked in on him. To his surprise, he dropped the glass beaker containing the new formula onto the floor. Francine, blissfully ignorant of his experiments, helped him to clean up, but a shard of glass from the beaker pricked her finger...in horrified realization, March realizes that Francine has been injected with the serum and is the one now wreaking havoc as the "man"-bat. In anger, Batman removes the file with March's research notes from the cabinet and throws them at his feet, asking if he is truly willing to let his own daughter die before he ends the madness, then leaves to track down Francine.

Later, alone in the lab, March silently touches a lit match to his file and drops it into a wastebasket to burn.

Francine transforms

Francine starts to transform.

During the flight, Francine admits to the attendant that she's not feeling well and asks for some aspirin. Unbeknownst to her, Kirk is on the plane and asks her to come home, claiming that it can be proved that he's not the Man-Bat. Francine agrees and starts to embrace her husband, but she's struck by another attack and runs into the bathroom where she transforms. Unhappy with the confinement, she breaks through the plane door causing the cabin to depressurize. Kirk is sucked out of the cabin and Francine dives after him. Batman, aboard the Batwing, cannot yet interfere as a stewardess is also sucked from the plane and he has to save her. Once the stewardess is safe aboard the plane and it has been properly closed, Batman goes after Francine.

Langstroms reunited

"The nightmare's finally over".

Francine, who is carrying her unconscious husband, is unhappy to see Batman following her. She flies to the top of the Gotham Bridge Tower where Batman confronts her and shoots her with the antidote, but it doesn't work. Francine attacks him and in the fight, Batman is nearly forced off the tower but manages to climb back on and shoots Francine with another dosage of the serum. This second injection also seems to be ineffective, but at last, it takes effect and Francine returns to her normal self. Disoriented, she almost falls from the tower, but Kirk manages to save her, vowing not to let her go.

Continuity[]

Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

  • This episode's working title was "Bride of the Bat".[1]
  • Batman's pursuit of "She-Bat" was boarded by Phil Norwood, who is typically known for his work in live-action. "It's one of the most amazing set pieces in the entire series" said Bruce Timm. "[Phil's] really great, and he knows the limits of animation."[2]
  • The sequence towards the end of the episode, when She-Bat breaks out of a commercial airliner, was added because the episode came out short and director Boyd Kirkland had to add a scene where a stewardess is sucked out of the plane.[2]
  • Originally, the story for this episode was meant to be much darker. According to Bruce Timm, "Kirk and Francine were on the verge of divorce because of what he did as the Man-Bat. She couldn't live with him any more. In the end they are all in the Batcave, and she bites Kirk injecting him with the mutagen. He becomes the Man-Bat again. The two end up fighting each other and fall into the abyss, killing each other." Sidney Iwanter, the show's liaison with Fox, turned down that version of the script, stating it was "too dark and ugly for a cartoon."[2]

Production inconsistencies[]

  • How Francine is supposedly injected with the formula is extremely unlikely for several reasons:
    • Glass is normally used in chemical experiments because it isn't very porous so that resident chemicals don't remain within it; the amount of formula attached to the shard of glass that Francine pricks her finger on would be almost non-existent.
    • Blood flows outward from a cut, so the formula could not enter her bloodstream without some external force pushing in (such as a hypodermic needle); even if Francine ingested a small amount of the serum while sucking on her finger, the amount would, again, be minuscule.
  • The crates holding the fruit that the She-Bat went after were marked "goes" which indicates they were mangoes. Mangoes have a large seed within them. These fruits, however, splattered without a single seed to be found.
  • When Francine finds the torn carpet in the trash, it looks all clean, even though Kirk found it covered with half-eaten fruit the night before.

Trivia[]

  • This episode is based on Detective Comics #429, "Man-Bat Over Vegas", and the last line is a direct reference to one of the last lines in the story, "Now Francine's vampire nightmare is about over!".
  • In Bat-form, Francine demonstrates several new attributes that indicate the increased potency of March's new serum, including echolocation and, unlike Kirk, no memory of having transformed.
  • The She-bat's interest in the fruit indicates that the bat DNA used in Dr. March's serum is from a fruit bat, unlike the serum used by Dr. Cuvier on Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond's "Splicers", which was from a vampire bat.
  • In-universe, "Terror in the Sky" was also the title of an episode of The Gray Ghost.
  • In several scenes when the Man-Bat attacks the musical score borrows cues from Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain, best known for its association with Disney's Fantasia and the giant, bat-winged demon Chernabog.
  • Boyd Kirkland has listed this episode among his favorites to have worked on during Batman: The Animated Series, "for giving me the opportunity to do something in the horror genre, and for some great action/chase stuff storyboarded by Phill Norwood".[3]

Cast[]

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Batman
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred
Rene Auberjonois Dr. March
Dockworker (uncredited)
Meredith MacRae Francine Langstrom
Pat Musick Flight Attendant
Peter Renaday 2nd Longshoreman
Marc Singer Dr. Langstrom

Quotes[]

Batman: (Seeing a train heading for him) The end of a perfect day.

Kirk: Don't you get it yet, Batman? You failed!

March: Oh, oh, my lord! Francine! The mutagen, it's in her bloodstream now! Oh no!
Batman: Is that what it's going to take? Your daughter's life, before you end this insanity?

Kirk: The nightmare's finally over.

References[]

  1. "Animated Knights" by Bob Miller - Comics Scene Magazine #55 (February 1996)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Episode Guide" - Cinefantastique Vol. 24 #6/Vol. 25 #1 (February 1994)
  3. Boyd Kirkland Interview (Apr. 1, 1998)
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