Cold Comfort

  Mr. Freeze vows to rob all in Gotham of what they hold dear.
  Original Airdate: October 11, 1997
  Episode # 3
  Rating: * * 1/2

Credits Cast

Written by Hilary J. Bader
Directed by Dan Riba
Music by Shirley Walker
Animation by Koko/Dong Yang

Kevin Conroy as Batman
Tara Charendoff as Batgirl
Mathew Valencia as Robin
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred
Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon
Lloyd Bochner as Mayor Hamilton Hill

Jeff Glen Bennett as Jack Ryder
Michael Ansara as Mr. Freeze
Tress MacNeille as Dr. Margaret Mardsen
Cree Summer as Ice Maid #2
Lauren Tom as Ice Maid #3
Ian Patrick Williams as Artist

Mr. Freeze was never a villain of the first rank. Thus, it was one of the series' more inspired strokes to discover that he was working to revive his cryogenically preserved wife. In this way he became the most sympathetic and haunting of Batman's antagonists: a good man, tragically ruined. But with the resolution of this plot in SubZero Freeze is now launched onto uncharted waters, and possibly onto a voyage to oblivion.

The implication of "Cold Comfort" is that, without an ennobling love for Nora, Freeze has nothing left but his own pain and suggests that he will have no purpose or goal but to visit this pain upon the world. This is a logical but thoroughly nihilistic development, graphically represented by a symbolic castration—he is now just a frozen head mounted on a robotic shell—that is the physical manifestation of his complete loss of humanity. (Against this background, the addition of the Eskimo nymphets looks less like a shocking violation of the Freeze ethos than a cruel mockery of his physical impotence.) Without emotion or love, and with barely any physical presence, he has practically ceased to exist; there remains only a desire to torture and humiliate. Where the old Freeze was a real person, bent on cold and implacable vengeance, the new Freeze is nothing but icy malice; the old was never cruel, the new is cruelty incarnate. I wonder if the series' creators have the nerve to explore the resulting Satanic void.

Courage (or perhaps mere ingenuity) seems to have failed before the end of this episode. Instead of exploring and developing this new take, it spends its time talking about it. And before it ends, Freeze is plotting to obliterate Gotham with a big bomb—a logical enough way to hurt Batman, but one which reduces the nihilism to dime-novel histrionics.

Production Notes
Bruce Timm: "Freeze's campy, Adam West-style henchgirls were originally supposed to be just one silent and sexy helper in furs—Vulnavia [from The Abominable Dr. Phibes] straight-up, in other words. But the writers didn't get it, and went for the obvious."

Related Episodes
   * Heart of Ice
   * Deep Freeze
   * Meltdown
   * The Lion and the Unicorn

What Others Are Saying ...
"A combination of the grande-scaleness that Schumacher is known for, and the mood of Burton."Two-Face's Tower of Tranquility and Terror

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