I know the solicitation teases the Joker’s return in this issue, but trust me, that’s not what you’ll be talking about when you finish this book!
Batman Beyond has been hit or miss with me so far, but overall I’ve enjoyed it. Most of my disappointment has come from the fact that the quality of what Jurgens has delivered so far, failed to meet my expectations. Basically, what initially felt like an epic story is just turning out to be “good.” When all is said and done, that’s not a bad thing, but it’s hard to make that point without sounding negative.
If there is one aspect that becomes clear after reading this issue, it’s that Jurgens and Chang are still in the process of “course-correcting” this book to where they want it. Where a number of titles hit you with the character’s Rebirth issue, then quickly started telling their story following that, Batman Beyond is still putting pieces into place. The creative team is still maneuvering plots and characters to move further away from the story that resulted from Futures End, to align more closely with Batman Beyond the animated series. Is that a good thing? Yes! Does that mean there will be some growing pains during the process? Yes…
I love that the Jokerz are front and center as the antagonists for this arc, but they are falling a little short of the bar that was set during Batman Beyond: Rebirth. They just haven’t been nearly as menacing since that issue. I’m enjoying Terminal – with great thanks to his set-up during Tim Drake’s stint as Batman – but the plot has unfortunately been failing him as well.
There’s one half of the plot that is working beautifully, and that is the concept. The idea that Terminal is attempting to bring the Joker back to life, and that he’s using this idea to rally the Jokerz to do his bidding is a great! Unfortunately, the execution isnt meeting the narrative’s potential. There are too many moments that are rushed over, resolve or unfold too easily, or essentially just serve as a means to an end. I’ve previously touched on these instances in prior reviews (for example, how easily the Jokerz believe and warm to Terry as a Joker), and that remains true here. There are also other minor elements that I could honestly do without (I’m looking at your Venom-Roid Joker).
But for every negative I find, there are easily two positives that redeem this book. Whenever it feels as though the plot is heading for a crash landing, Jurgens will throw in a twist to redeem the story. In addition to that, there is some great character work found here, especially between Max and Matt! These two alone are worth reading Batman Beyond, and their potential gives this book an incredible energy. Embracing Terry as Batman, and reintroducing Dana doesn’t hurt either.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that each issue of Batman Beyond feels a bit like a roller coaster. There are highs and lows throughout each issue, and just when I feel a certain way about each chapter, an element or twist is introduced that tips the scale (whether it be positive or negative). I have no doubt that this team will stick the landing, but it’s clear that we will need to be a little patient until that time comes. The final three pages should boost your excitement for future issues though, because it completely turns the story on its head!
The Art: I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is, but Chang’s art, while good, hasn’t excited me as much as it used to. I felt as though there were elements of his flare present in this issue, but overall I’m just not moved by it. Maybe it’s because I experienced a different artist and ultimately preferred that approach, or maybe it’s something else. I can’t complain about the art because it’s far from bad, but something is definitely missing from what I’ve come to expect.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Recognition. I was so happy that Dana recognized Terry. When you know someone well, you tend to recognize people no matter how much they try to disguise themselves. Whether it’s inflections in the way you speak, movements, or the look in your eyes… sometimes people know you better than you do.
Terminal. I was equally relieved when Terminal admitted to recognizing Terry because he had been way too trusting of someone that he had just met. Granted, while this calmed my irritation concerning aspects of previous events, it ultimately created a whole new list of logical issues.
Bruce. The bombshell for this issue… That’s not the Joker. That’s Bruce Wayne. Terminal is only using him for his money, and to create a symbol so he can build and influence an army to enact his will… I’m super excited to see how this revelation unfolds!
Matt and Max. How can you not like Matt and Max? These guys have been awesome from the word “go.” I look forward to their panels than anyone other character in this book.
You’re not so smart, dude. Terminal likes to brag about how smart he is, but when you break down his actions, you quickly realize that’a not quite the case. I mean, he shared a secret plan with a civilian that he’s holding hostage, then left said hostage alone with someone he knew was infiltrating his group and working with Batman. If you’re that stupid, you deserve to be put in jail.
- You want to learn more about the Joker.
- You’re curious to learn Terminal’s actual plan.
- You’re excited to see Terry operate as a Joker.
Overall: Batman Beyond is decent. I wouldn’t go so far to say that it is good or bad, just decent. What doesn’t work in this title’s favor, is that prior to Rebirth, it was really good. Compared to the momentum Jurgens and Chang had, it’s hard to look at the current arc as anything other than a work in progress.