You know how I’ve been complaining about how Jurgens and team haven’t been executing issues to my expectation? You know how I’ve been commenting on some lack of logic and wasted opportunities? Yeah, well throw all of that out the window, because $#!% gets real in this issue!
Going into Batman Beyond’s finale of “Escaping the Grave,” I expected this to be a continued confrontation between Terry and Terminal, while Bruce is moved to safety. In some ways, it is. In other ways, it’s completely different. So far, I’ve felt as though Jurgens has either missed some opportunities with his narrative, or simply taken the plot down an obvious route. For example, Terry going undercover with the Jokerz? Great idea! Doing absolutely nothing interesting with Terry as a Joker. Fail. That same idea comes into play with Bruce Wayne. Revealing to readers that Bruce is still alive? Awesome! Utilizing the entirety of the next issue to reveal to Terry that Bruce is alive? Not so awesome. You get an idea of the trend. Naturally, you can understand why I assumed this story was going to fizzle out, and just return the book – as a whole – to the status quo (Bruce mentors Terry as he operates to save Gotham City). Thankfully, this issue is so much more.
Concerning Terminal, you’re going to get what you expect. I’ve had issues with his “plan” because it doesn’t stand up to logic… especially after the Bruce reveal. Part of me wants to say, “Don’t fret, you get real answers in this issue” but those answers aren’t very logical either. I’ll discuss this further in my breakdowns. I also have an issue with the sudden lack of any Jokerz. They still believe that Bruce is really the Joker, so where in the hell are they? Why aren’t they trying to rescue their savior? What happens with the Jokers after this arc? These are all plots that should be answered in the future, but I doubt they will. This is also a prime example of what I mean when I discuss Rob Williams’ ability to tackle consequences.
What does make this issue work, is Bruce, plus one other reveal. Having Bruce back does wonders for the narrative. His inclusion is not only welcomed, but helps make Batman Beyond feel right. The really bang here is the other reveal though. This reveal is what everyone will be talking about! It’s clear that Jurgens and Chang have a winner on their hands with this as well, because they don’t skimp on savoring the moment! So who is the mystery person that’s returned? Is it Tim? Talia/Ra’s? Another Terry? Another Bruce? Dick? You’ll have to read to find out.
The Art: This is the first time since the relaunch that Chang’s art has impacted me in the ways that it did prior to Rebirth. I’m not the best when discussing the technicalities of art – I promise I’m making a point to learn and pay more attention though – but Chang and Jurgens appeared to finally click again. I’ve always been a fan of Chang’s work, the past four issues just didn’t look as appealing as before. Here, the moments add up and play out beautifully!
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Joker! This is big. Big! I didn’t see this coming, so the moment it was hinted at during the issue, I freaked out! What truly sold this reveal though, was that Jurgens and Chang savored it. Joker’s reveal wasn’t just a splash-page teaser to end the book. No, there were pages of build up. From the crowbar, to the use of the Joker’s name, to the laugh, and to beating Terminal with said crowbar… Kudos team! You definitely made me excited to read future chapters!
Bruce. Bruce is officially back (and coherent)! I can’t tell you how excited this makes me! I do have one lingering question though… When he was coming to, and he saw the Joker, why did he say, “Al… Al…”? Was this supposed to be read in a way to signify that Alfred might have become the Joker (dear baby Jesus, please no!), or was Bruce just groggy? Let’s all hope for the latter.
Terminal. For someone who is a genius, this guy comes up with some stupid plans! We all had those friends in school that were book smart, but completely lacked common sense! That’s how I view Terminal. Spending an entire arc trying to figure out what someone’s motive is because it doesn’t add up, isn’t a winning formula. If you want to make readers question their motive out of suspense and mystery, that’s fine, but don’t make them question it because it’s stupid.
Terminal essentially kidnaps Bruce so he can embezzle Bruce’s money. Cool. Got it. He makes it appear as though he’s bringing the Joker back so he can gain the trust and loyalty of the Jokerz. Cool, I’m still following. He does this for months, because what he really wants is Keystone. Ok… So, if that’s what Terminal really wanted, why didn’t he just do that at the very beginning?
- You’re a fan of Batman Beyond the animated series.
- You’re happy Bruce is back.
- You want a reveal that is bigger than Bruce.
Overall: As an overall story, “Escaping the Grave” is average at best. The plot of this issue doesn’t really change much either. However, one reveal at the end of the issue completely turns this series on it’s head, and boosts the score for me! I hope Jurgens and Chang run with this plot, because this reveal alone could drive many, many arcs!