Episode title: Bloodsport
Original air date: October 23, 1999
Throughout the history of DC and Marvel comics there have been a number of times were characters have appeared in either comic which have shall we say bore a resemblance to a character in the rival publication I.e. Deadpool >Deathstroke, Green Arrow>Hawkeye, Darkseid>Thanos, Superman>Captain America and the list goes on. True this could be seen as one party trying to cash in on the success of another, or if anyone who’s ever taken a writing class will tell you, the first lesson you learn is that there are no original ideas only variants.
This week sees another of those examples as Stalker, a big game hunter arrives in neo-Gotham determined to hunt what he considers to be the ultimate prey….Batman.
Now for some you might find yourself with an overwhelming sense of familiarity, more so when he is essentially a more modern reworking of the Spiderman villain “Kraven The Hunter” even if he does still have quite a stereotypical look as Kraven’s was a big game hunter, here Stalker takes on the look of a Zulu warrior only with a few hi-tech gadgets including a telescopic pole which he uses to get around the city. Stalker also comes with a simple but great backstory as revealed in this episode as it is revealed that he was once a normal poacher until he was attacked by a panther which left him with a broken spine which required him to undertake a painful surgery which fixed his spine while having the added bonus of heightening his reflexes and strength. Stalker would later proceed to hunt down the panther and kill it with his bare hands, only to soon find himself lacking in suitable prey, so having learned of Batman’s return he finally feels that he has found the prey he’s been looking for.
While on first appearances Stalker might seem alittle too much of a cartoonish villain he actually proves himself over the course of the episode to actually be one of the more challenging villains that Terry has had to face, while also being the latest addition to the exclusive club of knowing that Terry is Batman thanks to his tracking skills. Knowing this Stalker kidnaps Terry’s younger brother Matt who he uses as bait to lure him into a final showdown in his hotel suite where he has set up various traps to help him best Batman, while luckily it would seem that the hotel he’s staying at has a jungle themed penthouse.
As a result of Terry being hunted for most of the episode by Stalker it does lack in anything much in terms of character development which isn’t too much of an issue, thanks to the fast pacing and interesting backstory segments for Stalker, which are shot in reds and blacks making for a nice break from the traditional style used for the rest of the episode. Needless to say Stalker manages to hold the attention better than a lot of the rogue’s gallery thanks to his presence let alone his unique approach to taking on Batman…well unique if your not drawing comparisons to the aforementioned Kraven at least.
Seemingly set up as a one shot villain, more so when by the finale when it appears that he is killed only for him to somehow return for a second appearance which was certainly welcome, even with the comparisons Kraven, who in my opinion he actually improves upon but then we’ve yet to see the episode were Stalker kills Batman, before taking taking his costume and turning himself into Batman, like Kraven did with Spiderman. Perhaps something to add to the wish list of things to see if we ever got a forth season.
Next Episode: Once Burned