Batman: The Animated Series 25th Anniversary #37: The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne

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The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne was first broadcasted on October 29, 1992 and later premiered in primetime on February 28, 1993 with a script by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens and a story by David Wise and directed by Frank Paur.

After a prominent judge is injured during a struggle with some thugs demanding money from her in exchange for a strange tape, Bruce Wayne decides to take a trip to Yucca Springs, a resort where the judge had vacationed, and consult Dr. Hugo Strange, a psychiatrist. Bruce soon learns that Strange has invented a machine that extracts people’s darkest secrets from their minds and transfers them to videotape — and now Strange has proof of Bruce’s secret identity as Batman, and plans to auction it to three of Gotham’s prominent crime bosses.

At this point in the series, Bruce has done a good job of keeping his secret life a….well, secret. But this is the very first episode where his secret identity is revealed and there’s a legitimate sense of danger to the situation at hand and that’s part of the reason why I love this episode so much.

I mean, you talk about having the most important secret of your life being exposed, you actually feel like Bruce is very much in danger over the course of the episode especially when Strange, voiced by Ray Buktenica, invites The Joker, Two-Face, and The Penguin to the resort and that leads to another aspect that makes the episode great.

Okay, before we talk about the villains, did anybody else notice that when Hugo is starting the bidding and he lifts the tape up in the air, it literally says Bruce Wayne on the tape and he’s showing it to all three of them right off the bat. Somebody on Youtube perfectly summed up the obvious response to that: “I have proof of Batman’s identity! How much are you bidding?” “None. You held it facing outwards. We all saw ‘Bruce Wayne’ written on it.” “Damn!” I mean, I know the animation can flub up sometimes but still, you can’t expect me to not cover that.

This is the first time we see multiples of Batman’s Rogue Gallery villains in the same episode and working off each other, in this case, it’s Joker, Penguin and Two-Face and the witty and hilarious banter they have with each other, it just gives you a little preview of the next time these three would come together, about 9 episodes down the line.

But yeah, this episode does such a good job of blending in the intense action with this nicely woven in comedy between the villains, there’s even a great moment where Hugo Strange straight out tells them that Bruce Wayne is Batman and Two-Face is like “that’s absurd, I know Bruce Wayne, if he’s Batman, then I’m the queen of England” and even Joker is laughing at the thought that Bruce Wayne could be Batman…of course, later on, Joker figured that out on his own.

If there is a little bit of a nitpick that I have about this episode, it’s with kind of the way Batman gets out of the situation. At the end of the episode, Batman is confronted by Hugo Strange and Strange is telling him that he knows that he’s really Bruce Wayne and that he’ll reveal his secrets and then Bruce Wayne comes out of nowhere to destroy Hugo’s theory right in front of Commissioner Gordon. At first you think, “okay, maybe Bruce changed back into his regular clothes and that’s probably Dick in the batsuit” but no, it’s Dick pretending to be Bruce while Bruce is still in the batsuit. I mean, really? He went to all that trouble to make Dick look like Bruce when he could’ve easily just had a point in between catching the bad guys and catching up with Gordon to swap suits with Dick. Hell, give him those same leg extensions that he used to play Bruce as Batman. If Superman can pass by as Batman for one episode, why not Dick? Again, it’s just a nitpick with the episode.

The Strange Secret Of Bruce Wayne is definitely a really strong episode combining great tension, great action, great comedy, and great animation by bringing all these great elements together into one jam packed and exciting episode.

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