In this issue of Batman Beyond, Bruce babysits, Curare slices and dices, and Terry has an identity crisis.
We’ve spent more than enough time returning Batman Beyond to the status quo (aka: Terry McGinnis is Batman, and Bruce Wayne is his mentor). While I won’t highly recommend the first arc, I do think that the contents of that story were needed, and respectfully handled previous storylines. What I’m not excited about, is the fact that after spending an arc for Terry to reclaim his mantle, he’s now flip-flopping on the idea of Batman.
Yes, practically everything about this issue is great… accept for Terry. He’s a bit of a drag, and acts like a petulant child in a few respects. I get what Jurgens and Chang are attempting to do (create some emotional drama), but it’s a bit too soon, if not completely unnecessary. Thankfully, Terry’s story is the only thing that I’m unsatisfied with in this chapter, and even that is a minor note.
What does work here is Curare! I’ll openly admit that Curare is one of my favorite villains from the Batman Beyond universe, so I could be a little biased here. There’s just something about a female that can easily kick your ass that I find appealing. And I’m not talking about a Barbara Gordon level badass, I’m talking about a Lady Shiva/ Cassandra Cain level badass. That’s what we get with Curare, and it is awesome!
Something has happened between her and the League of Assassins (for the moment, I’m going to assume it ties into her story from the animated series), and he journey has brought her back to Gotham… Her reason for coming may not be what you expect though. What you can expect, are multiple, kick-ass action sequences! Curare’s narrative is woven in and out of Terry’s, and while the technique was executed masterfully, Terry’s plot sucks… In fact, by the end of the issue, there’s a good chance you’ll be thinking, “Enough of this crap, just give me more Curare!”
Curare isn’t the only character that makes a rather triumphant return either! Bruce and Barbara Gordon both make a big splash – albeit both in very different ways. After a short absence, Babs reminds us that she can still hold her own. If there’s one thing her inclusion solidifies, it’s that she should continue to carry a solid weight in this title, because her inclusion makes the book more interesting.
Bruce’s role – unlike Terry’s, Curare’s, and Barbara’s – is a bit of a humorous one. His interactions with Matt are endearing, and I’m overjoyed that Jurgens decided to use this approach for these two characters. Bruce clearly isn’t happy that so many people know about Terry or the cave, but there’s also not much he can do about it, so he just has to surrender.
When all said and done, this is a promising and satisfying issue! If you’ve been a fan of Jurgen’s and Chang’s work, you’ll definitely enjoy this chapter. If you’ve found Batman Beyond to be a mediocre title since the New 52, then this is a great point to jump on. Not only does it feel more like the animated series, but it also recaps the previous arc quite well!
The Art: This is the best art Chang has provided since Rebirth! There’s been something about his previous issues that he didn’t appear to connect with, but he manages to accomplish a lot here, when there really isn’t much plot to delve into. From his layouts, to his panels, to his colors – everything feels planned, precise, and calculated.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The family dynamic. I can’t help but love the dynamic of Matt’s eagerness with Bruce’s brooding nature. Matt has definitely been the understated VIP for some time now, but I really feel that we’ll get some great moments between these two in the future. I can’t help but think it’ll be similar to Damian and Steph’s relationship prior to the New 52.
Curare. She doesn’t need to say anything, she just needs to do what she does best. There’s something to be said about her saving Barbara though! I didn’t expect that, and I hope this is just the beginning of an anti-hero arc with Curare.
The Joker. Bruce gets to inform Matt about the Joker to a small degree, and the execution of it makes it clear that Jurgens plans on presenting a slow burn before dealing with that threat! Hopefully it will build nicely, and carry in and out of many arcs. I also like the set-up with Babs suspecting something wrong concerning Terminal’s death. The future of this book looks promising.
Terry. Could we not save this for an arc? I have a love/hate relationship with Terry and Dana at the moment. Part of their conversation is gripping, and realistic, and perfect for the book, as well as the characters… Then Terry has to go on a tangent about putting Terry ahead of Batman, and neglect his duties… As in, across town the League of Assassins are trying to kill Curare and Barbara, and Terry chooses to ignore the bat signal so he can snog Dana.
Ummm… No. No, I don’t buy this. I can buy Terry making his life a priority more frequently, but not completely neglecting it like he does. He’s been Batman long enough that he understands what is required for this lifestyle. That’s not to say that he wouldn’t put himself first, it’s just that I can’t see him doing it at the expense of other people’s lives. Had he pulled a “I’m not sure this is for me anymore” moment, then I’d be less irritated. But considering he just re-embraced the title of Batman, seeing the bat signal and essentially saying, “Nah, they’ll be fine” doesn’t feel natural.
- You’ve been waiting for Bruce to reclaim his rightful place as mentor.
- You’re a fan of Curare.
- You’re down to see the League of Assassins… especially in the future.
Overall: This is a much better direction for Batman Beyond, and even though it took some time and growing pains to reach this point, I’m happy we’re here. Overall, it’s a strong issue, but sadly, the weakest aspect is (yet again) our title hero. No matter how good your book is, if you’re lead character is the weakest link, that’s going to create some problems. Are we sure we can’t have Tim Drake back?