I have to admit, I was dreading reviewing this episode. It was my favorite, it's the one that won an Emmy, as is voted best episode in fan polls. But it's entirely possible the Suck Fairy had visited in the last eighteen years. I'm happy to report that it just isn't so. Heart of Ice is great.
Plot: Batman investigates a series of "freezing" attacks on GothCorp, and discovers Mr. Freeze, who blames CEO Ferris Boyle for the death of his wife.
And so for the fourth time we get the revenge plot, where supervillain tries to get revenge on non-supervillain, and Batman gets in the way (we'll see it a lot). The difference this time is that, unlike the Scarecrow, who was totally in the wrong, and Two-Face, who was totally in the right, Mr. Freeze is kind of right and kind of wrong.
When he was Dr. Victor Fries, he was trying to do a good thing, save his wife and possibly countless lives, and Boyle's a dick, valuing Nora's life at less than three million dollars and directly causing the accident that kills Nora and traps Fries in his frozen condition. On the other hand, Fries was stealing from the company to pay for the experiment and as Mr. Freeze he would kill everyone in the building to get revenge on Boyle. So Batman is understandably torn.
And that's the contrast of the three main characters. Boyle, voiced by Mark "the Joker" Hamill by the way, makes a big show of compassion, literally adding "the People Company" to his company logo, but it doesn't take much to make his mask slip and reveal the heartless bastard at his core. Mr. Freeze is the opposite. He claims to be emotionless, that all feeling has been frozen dead inside him, specifically he claims he has no more tears to shed, and yet, there they are, at the end of the episode, as he thinks about how he failed his wife. Batman, if anything, is closer to Mr. Freeze, on the surface emotionless, but fueled by both anger and compassion to seek justice.
One thing I noticed this time is that even though this Mr. Freeze is the more serious, darker, more complex character, he is still constantly making cold puns. Right from the beginning, "Revenge is a dish best served cold," "That's Mr. Freeze to you," "warm regards," "the cold eyes of vengeance," "the icy touch of death," he's pretty unrelenting. Mostly, he gets away with it because Michael Ansara voices Freeze with an emotionless deadpan (aided by production work to give his words a metallic echo) which lends these incredibly cheesy lines with menace and weight. If anyone deserves credit for turning one of Batman's silliest villains into one of the most emotionally resonant, and making Heart of Ice one of the best episodes of Batman: the Animated Series, it's Ansara.