When Batman Beyond last left off, Terminal discovered that Terry had infiltrated his circle of Jokerz, so he set out to make an example of both Terry and Dana. With those two indisposed, it’s now up to Max and Matt to help Terry and hopefully turn things around for the good guys… Considering this is Terry’s book, I’m sure you can guess how things will turn out.
I’ve found it a little hard to get motivated by Batman Beyond lately, and I’ve essentially landed with the outlook of “Let’s hurry up and return things to the status quo so we can move on.” To be clear, I don’t think that the current arc is bad, but I don’t think it’s good either. It’s just ok… Therefore, I feel indifferent. The entire story feels like a play-by-play of paint-by-numbers to create a prologue that gets readers from “Point A” to “Point B.” Everything is coming together as expected, but where most of the other titles launched us into the changes and new arcs with their Rebirth issue, Jurgens and Chang are utilizing a full arc just to get to a starting point.
Now, I will admit that going into Rebirth, Batman Beyond had a more convoluted story to work through before fully setting Terry McGinnis, as well as the title itself, up. Understanding that, I’m perfectly fine with the idea that the creative team wanted to take a little more time to properly tell their story, but I’m not certain they know what that story is anymore.
Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1 made a point to highlight Terry’s return to the mantle, and more importantly, set-up the revival of the Jokerz. That issue showcased the Jokerz terrorizing the city, inflicting anarchy, and establishing a large problem for Gotham. Now, however, in this issue, that wide-spread threat feels non-existent. The Jokerz don’t feel like a threat to Gotham as much as they come across as a bunch of young adults at Comic Con who have a love affair with Joker and Harley.
Instead, this story has transitioned to focus on Terminal, his coup – which doesn’t feel like a coup anymore since the Jokerz appear to be keeping to their own turf – and re-establishing Terry and Dana’s relationship. There’s also an element with Bruce Wayne that’s currently in development, but the only purpose it serves is just that: Bruce Wayne’s return. Everything that the creative team is trying to accomplish to get us back to the status quo (Terry as Batman, the rekindling of his relationship with Dana, Bruce Wayne’s return) could have easily taken place within an issue or two, three issues max, and served as the B-plot for the arc, while Terry worked with Barbara and the GCPD to stop the Jokerz. But rather than tell that story – the story this team initially introduced – they’re more concerned with having Terry fail, infiltrate the Jokers, and focus completely on the relationship between Terry, Dana, and Terminal.
We’re basically six issues in (if you count the set-up that occurred in Batman Beyond #16), and I still feel like nothing of substance has happened to warrant this issue count. The threat no longer feels like a threat. Terry is just now acclimating to the role of Batman again. Bruce still hasn’t returned (completely anyway)… We’re basically at the same place we were at the end of Batman Beyond #1 in the grand scheme of things… and this issue doesn’t move that mark… at all. I can’t help but view it as a waste of time and money.
The Art: Pete Woods delivers art for this issue. Why do we have a fill-in artist for an entire issue when we’re only four issues in? No clue. The one thing that is certain, is that I definitely miss Chang after this chapter. I’m not familiar with Woods’ work, but it looks as though he tried incredibly hard to match Chang’s style as best as possible. As a reader, I respect that. Drastic changes in art can be distracting, especially once the trades are published (although, I’m pretty sure DC doesn’t care too much about that considering the rate in which artists are cycling in and out of books at the moment).
The negative aspect of this attempt, is that the execution is sloppy and inconsistent. The quality of each panel varies greatly from panel to panel, and the overall result looks poor. I’m honestly not sure what I would prefer: a poor attempt at delivering art that’s similar to the rest of the arc, or a more refined presentation that looks different.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The best thing going for Batman Beyond at the moment, is that I’m still rooting for Terry and team. But that’s about the only “good” thing I can say.
Get on with it. There are too many plot threads that are ultimately leading nowhere, or nowhere worthwhile anyway. The conclusion of this issue is the exact same reveal of the previous issue: Bruce Wayne is alive. The only difference is that Terry is discovering it instead of us. But since we already know this information, I can’t help but feel as though we’ve been there and done that.
Even the action is this issue is repetitive. Terry fights “Venom-Roid Joker” yet again. He and Dana are trying to escape the Jokerz and Terminal yet again. Bruce is revealed to be alive yet again. Matt and Max bail Terry out yet again… See where I’m going here?
The new suit. Terry gets a new suit in this issue… I’m not a fan. It’s too busy. There are too many random red streaks, and no apparent reason for the streaks other than the idea that someone thought they looked cool.
- You want to get the feeling of déjà vu.
- You’re a fan of Batman Beyond.
- You like to dress up as a cheap Joker or Harley Quinn at Comic Con.
Overall: Batman Beyond #4 is the comic book equivalent of Lost: Season 3… It’s not needed. There’s so much repetition in this arc that I’m ready for Terminal to go away, Bruce to hurry up and get back in the picture, so Curare can show up and start slicing and dicing stuff.