Batman Beyond (1999-2001)
The Zeta Project (2001-2002)
Type: Spin Off
Setting aside stuff like the Hannah Barbera "all our corporately owned characters co-exist" stuff I think Batman: The Animated series may have spawned one of the biggest group realities around. And that's counting live action and animated shared realities. And unlike most cartoon groups (like the Hannah Barbera situations) we are talking about a well tended, consistent reality and continuity. Plus you could see a concerted effort to give pretty much all the shows a distinctive artistic style and feel.
Now because I always bring this up, I do not usually include cartoons. This site is mainly about Prime Time shows. In this case though all these shows sneak in under that rule via Batman: The Animated series (the show that started it all) being on in Prime Time for 10 seconds. In addition though I'm including them due to how very unique they are.
Batman: The Animated Series spawned a Superman cartoon and then a futuristic spin off called Batman Beyond. Batman Beyond featured an elderly Bruce Wayne acting as a mentor to a new younger Batman named Terry McGinnis. Unlike the original Batman the new one came equipped with a battle suit capable of flight.
The Batman Beyond episode "Zeta" served as a pilot for the first Batman spin off that involved a fully original character rather than an already existing DC comics hero. The story begins with Terry thinking one of his teachers is acting kind of... different. What could be going on? Could it be his teacher has been replaced by a killer robot projecting a holographic image to make itself look her? Well of course. Why else would a teacher act odd?
The robot in question is a government created assassin robot that has gone rogue and who is being chased down by a host of government agents. It seems Zeta was designed to infiltrate criminal organizations. The standard plan of attack would be for Zeta capture a criminal and then use his holographic projectors to impersonate him and get inside his group. Then so that there would be no witness to his existence Zeta would kill the person he replaced.
Only during his last mission Zeta just took off. And oddly enough ever since then he has simply been tying up the people he is replacing to keep them out of the way while he "borrows" their identity but he hasn't been killing them. What's up with that?
Batman is determined to find out what's going on before he helps the government goons destroy Zeta. As it turns out Zeta has simply gained a conscious. The last person he had replaced had been involved with criminals but had not been a criminal himself. He was just a lowly accountant with a wife and kids. While replacing him Zeta got to live with his family and came to realize what a horrible thing he would be doing in killing this good man. So he didn't. That's when the government guys got a little snippy and Zeta had to go on the run to prevent being reprogrammed back into a killing machine.
Batman was still not sure leaving a killer robot on the run was a good thing. In trying to escape from Gotham city though, Batman saw Zeta put in a position where he could have saved himself a lot of trouble by simply killing one of his pursuers but instead spared the man's life. Seeing that Zeta was truly a pacifistic robot killing machine Batman aided Zeta in his escape. Batman set off an explosion making it appear to Zeta's pursuers that Zeta had self destructed thus giving Zeta time to get out of town. By this point Zeta had also learned he didn't have to kill and replace people to hide himself. He had stored images of everyone he had already replaced and could mix and match their features to form new and different disguise holograms.
The series The Zeta Project continued the story with Zeta on the run from the government and now aided by a female companion named Rosalie Rowan. It was the typical chase show format with Zeta in a new town each week helping people while trying to evade the agents chasing him. There were a few changes. They changed the design of Zeta's robot form for one thing. The biggest difference was that on Batman Beyond Zeta didn't have a normal head and face. His head was simply a featureless horseshoe shaped piece of metal without a face. That doesn't lend itself to giving Zeta much of a personality when in his robot form. Hard to love a horseshoe head. So for The Zeta Project Zeta gained a more humanlike robot noggin. In addition Zeta got a new voice. His new voice was supplied by The Drew Carey Show's Diedrich Bader. On Batman beyond Zeta seemed simply like an assassin who had a change of heart. Diedrich Bader turned Zeta into more of an innocent and questing soul. For the record, Diedrich Bader rocks. When I first realized he was the voice of Zeta it just made me happy. And just like all the other shows in this group The Zeta Project managed to find its own unique look and style.
Over the course of the runs of both Batman Beyond and The Zeta Project, Batman and Zeta each made additional crossover visits to each other's shows.Other Batman Beyond Crossover Links
Batman Beyond and Batman: The Animated Series
Batman Beyond and Static Shock
Batman Beyond and Teen Titans
Click here to return to main Crossover List
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