Batman Beyond #9 review

One of the most important aspects of Batman Beyond is that of legacy.  What is Bruce’s legacy?  Is it a failed mission as Batman?  After all, there is still just as much crime in Gotham as ever, and he’d been long-forgotten by the time we enter the story.

Or is Terry his legacy?  Does it matter who wears the mask as long as someone is there to protect Gotham?  Even if his own son or one of his wards doesn’t carry on as Batman, will any Batman do?

Along with those questions, Dan Jurgens proposes another: if Bruce’s son strays from his ways… is that his legacy?

It’s a hard question that likely won’t have an easy answer, and if it even has an answer it isn’t found here.  Instead, the “Rise of the Demon” arc continues as Terry struggles to maintain control of himself as he confronts Damian Wayne head-on.

A legacy requires some history, so this issue delves into that quite a bit.  In fact, that’s mostly what goes on here.  There’s little movement in the plot, as the bulk of the story revolves around two separate fights and a look at Bruce and Damian’s falling-out, but what’s here is told well enough.

The altercations themselves are illustrated well and fairly involving, particularly the fight between Bruce and a descendant of Ubu.  While not quite played for laughs, that fight is full of juxtaposition and irony: the frail old man taking on an aggressor many decades his junior, only to best him with some well-worn tricks.

I know they’re kind of divisive, but I like it when Chang uses those monochrome panels to accentuate and punctuate the action.  Granted, he’s gone overboard with it before, though he’s reeled it in lately and started using the technique more sparingly.  When he does it gives an extra bit of character and pizzazz to the scenes, making a hit like the one above feel more real and visceral.

Credit to Marcelo Maiolo for making this issue as colorful as it is.  Most of the environments are stark white snow-covered mountain tops or inner sanctuaries of temples that are cold and grey.  Maiolo takes advantage of this by making the characters stand out all the more, using reds and greens and even blacks to stand out against the stark backgrounds.  His flashbacks have a nice washed-out look as well, using the traditional “sepia tone” look without feeling derivative.  It’s a nice looking book, even if I’m still not totally sold on the new Batsuit.  But… maybe I’ll get there.

While Bruce’s scenes are slightly more exciting, Terry and Damian’s confrontation carries more weight, and with good reason: it’s Bruce’s successor going up against Bruce’s own son, after all, and tensions certainly abound.  It’s also proof that predictability isn’t always a bad thing.  We know Damian’s demeanor and, based on Bruce’s words of warning, what the prototype suit is capable of.  It’s not a stretch to figure out why Damian didn’t become the Batman in his father’s stead, but it’s a tale moving in its telling.  Bruce is wracked not just with years of physical pain from his crusade on crime, but also regrets.  It’s well-trodden material that’s nonetheless moving, even if it isn’t remarkably deep.

And that’s the main drawback of this issue: there isn’t much to it.  What’s here I liked just fine, and it builds on what Jurgens has been establishing in the arc up to this point.  Damian as the new Demon’s Head is an interesting idea, and it allows for some added depth to his history with Bruce.  It’s simply a stepping stone issue, though, moving the story along without resolving much of anything.  There are some interesting questions that go unanswered, some revelations that are less shocking than they are expected, and some fight scenes that are actually pretty involving, this is a perfectly average issue.  I wish I could say I loved it, but I didn’t hate it at all.  It’s fine, it’s good, it works.  Nothing more, yet nothing less either.

Recommended if:

  • You like Batman Beyond.
  • You want confirmation of some history you probably already guessed.

Overall: An acceptable entry to the series, theres nothing here I hated yet not enough to love.  Still, what’s here worked well enough for me.  I like Jurgens’ writing and Chang and Maiolo’s Art makes this look better than it should, especially given the lack of unique locations.  It does what it does and does it well enough, and that’s fine.  Not every comic needs to strive to be the Best Comic Book Ever™; some just need to tell their story.  Batman Beyond #9 tells its story, and that’s enough.

SCORE: 6/10