This is 500 words about a Batman episode. This is the BATMAN 500.
In the “Two-Face Part 1” review, I mentioned how nice it was to have Rupert Thorne around to fill in for any non-supervillain plots that Batman wanted to showcase. With Thorne, we could have a recognizable asshole committing these crimes instead of a forgettable “crime boss of the week” or a supervillain stooping below their pay grade to do something that doesn’t fit their character. But who fulfilled the role of drug lord/henchman manipulator/assassinator hirer/head of sub machine gun public relations before Thorne? Arnold Stromwell, and he is pissed about it.
The show opens with Commissioner Gordon being interviewed about the war between Thorne and Stromwell (whose younger self would later appear in “Robin’s Reckoning Part 1”), and Gordon basically says “I think Thorne is going to win.” Gordon should know by now that it takes a really fragile, explosive ego to become successful in Gotham’s underworld. Joker heard the Mayor Hill dissing him in “Be A Clown” and tried to murder Hill’s family. Stromwell is enraged as well. Logically, Stromwell shouldn’t care about Gordon’s attempts to provide the over-under on Thorne’s chances of beating him. But he does, and it ends with Thorne blowing Stromwell up with an exploding Italian eatery. From the way I typed it, it sounds like Thorne had a giant piece of dynamite shaped like a bowl of spaghetti, but trust me. It’s a little smarter than that.
Luckily, Batman is there to save Stromwell and tour him around Gotham, showing him the negative impact that he’s had on the city (I mean, just look at the fucking place), his son (who is in a drug ward, going through massive withdrawals), and his wife (who obviously doesn’t really talk to him anymore.) Still, old mob boss habits die hard, and he tries to trick Batman with the old “Make Batman Turn Around And Pull A Gun On Him So That, When Batman Turns Back Around, He’s All Like ‘Damn, Bro’” technique. Rupert Thorne interrupts them before Stromwell can fulfill his plan of making it Stromwell: The Animated Series, and the only thing that ends up persuading him to stop all this nonsense is his brother, Michael, who is now a priest. Michael lost his leg saving Arnold from an oncoming train when they were children, and he’s here to save Arnold again because…he’s not a big piece of shit, I guess.
Thorne confronts the two, only to be met by Batman leaping down on him and landing on him, feet to chest. I thought it looked like a rough landing, since Thorne folds like a Vito Corleone-shaped accordion, and apparently, the people behind the show did too, because Michael and Arnold actually react in shock at how hard Batman Mario Stomped this guy. There’s a look of horror in their faces that says “Yeah, getting out of crime is probably a really good idea.” And that’s the moral of “It’s Never Too Late.” Be nice to others, kids, or Batman will shatter your rib cage.