See No Evil
Directed by: Dan Riba
Written by: Martin Pasko
Original Air Date: February 24th 1993
Synopsis [From IMDB: Here]: A small-time crook has stolen an invisibility suit, which he has been using to steal jewels, and now plans to steal his young daughter from his ex-wife.
Ever since the series’s debut, Batman: The Animated Series has always offered something of a tribute to the horror and science fiction movies of years-gone-past. From the classic ‘Wolf-Man’ metamorphosis in On Leather Wings, to the mutant, Little Shop of Horrors inspired plants of Pretty Poison, the series has a history of drawing from cinema’s vast catalogue of horrors. Yet while previous episodes in the series may have only been partially inspired by previous cinematic monsters, See No Evil, essentially functions as an Batman-inspired re-telling of a classic monster story. In this case, H.G Wells’s 1897 classic novel The Invisible Man and its the 1933 film adaption by James Whale.
Following in Wells’s original tale of ‘science gone wrong,’ See no Evil takes the plot of The Invisible Man and resets it within a largely suburban setting, only increasing the canvas with the intrusion of Batman into the plot. Starting with a shot of an old drive-in cinema (perhaps referencing the films of yesteryear), the story follows the character of Lloyd Ventrix voiced by Michael Gross, an ex-con who comes into possession of a experimental plastic that turns invisible when an electric current passes through it.
Ventrix uses the plastic to create an invisibility suit, which allows him to not only commit robberies but also get closer to his estranged daughter. What Ventrix doesn’t know is that the plastic is highly toxic and able to cause both physical and mental damage to any who are exposed to for long periods of time. With this final point, the episode largely follows the Claude Rains character in Whale’s movie, in that the very means for creating invisibility are a cause for creating madness in the user.
Despite this, at its core, See No Evil is a character focused story, one centered on the desperate and obsessive attempts of father to see his child. Posing as his daughter’s imaginary friend Mojo, Ventrix is a disturbingly dominating male character whose motivations are made very clear to the audience. Desperate to reconcile with his daughter, Ventrix is an unsettling invisible stalker, one who is willing to commit crimes to gain the money needed to take his daughter away from his wife.
While there is a clear focus on Ventrix’s family as the victims we must sympathise with, there is nevertheless a logical reason as to why Ventrix is committing his crimes, something that paints Ventrix as more than just a 2-dimensional, Invisible Man stand-in. The result is a surprisingly adult storyline, one that not only allows the audience to sympathise with Ventrix’s wife and daughter, but also allows them to understand Ventrix’s motivations.
Not only this, during his many run-ins with Kevin Conroy’s Batman, Ventrix actually gives him a run for his money. In a series of stand-offs, Batman faces off against Ventrix and is surprisingly pushed to the limit in both fights. It is only by using his wits that Batman is able to defeat Ventrix. While several set pieces don’t necessarily make sense and are even a little corny (i.e. Ventrix’s invisible car), each fight is relatively well animated, even if the colouring leaves something to be desired at times.
While See No Evil may not have any of the big-name villains from Batman’s infamous rogues gallery, it certainly stands as a strong episode that adequately homages old science fiction movies, while at the same time telling a story that is both understandable and human. While certain sequences don’t quite work and the colouring is weak in places, the overall episode is something of a success. For an episode that is essentially Batman Vs. The Invisible Man, See No Evil offers more than just the sum of its parts and is a surprisingly adult entry to the series.