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Dan Jurgens returns to Batman Beyond, and doesn’t really do much in this issue… Well, that’s disappointing.

I’m going to be honest, the biggest disservice to this issue is the fact that two filler issues preceded it. Had this story followed “Rise of the Demon” then I would say this is a welcomed break from the standard action and adventure to allow for characterization and relationship building. But it didn’t immediately follow “Rise of the Demon,” so we’ve now gone three months feeling like there’s been little to no progression for the title. And unfortunately, Batman Beyond could use a bit of pizazz right about now.

This chapter isn’t bad, but it does nothing to make me excited for what’s to come. It is successful in reassuring certain plots that have been teased or touched on prior to Jurgen’s hiatus, but that’s about it. Terry’s mindset pertaining to being Batman is explored, and that’s a welcomed and needed plotline. There’s also heavy foreshadowing for Matt. Matt’s future has been teased quite a bit ever since he went in search of the Justice League back when Tim was operating as Batman.

The best moment in this issue is between Bruce and Barbara. The two reflect on the early years, and Barbara questions Bruce on how appropriate it is to bring people into this mission – his mission. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before so it won’t feel like an epic epiphany, but it is well written and deserves praise for that alone.

The Royal Flush Gang are introduced as the villains of this arc. And yes, they’re inclusion is about as exciting as you would imagine it to be. There is a new member to the card gang though, and that does make things interesting… For Batman. For those of you that look forward to a lot of action in your comics, I regret to inform you that this chapter is quite lacking in that department as well. A battle breaks out during the last three pages or so, but the book ends with a trope that is so tired at this point, that it does nothing to leave me waiting in suspense for the next issue.

My thoughts.

The Art: Phil Hester steps in on art duties this week. If you’ve read comics for a while, you should recognize his work. I tend to associate him with Nightwing, but he’s done quite a bit of work in general… but I’ve never been the biggest fan of his. I’ve never found his work to contain much detail in the way of features, and I like for facial features and reactions to assist in delivering the script. On the other hand, the more simplified approach to his art felt a bit more true to the animated series, so I enjoyed the nostalgia aspect of that. At the end of the day, Hester delivers, and there really isn’t much to nitpick or complain about other than the finer details of his pencils.

Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good:

Batman. Since Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1, Terry McGinnis has been the weak link in this book. As  a character, he’s just kind of been there, and has questioned whether he wants to be Batman. When your lead character isn’t sure he wants to be involved in the story, guess what? Readers aren’t sure they want to involve themselves with the story. So, I was happy to see him embrace Batman in this issue, and tell Dana this is who he is. Terry needs this drive for the sake of the book.

Robin. I think it’s clear that Matt is on the trajectory to become the new Robin… And I’m ok with that. I enjoyed the prospect more when he was being bold and acting out on his own to help people and find the League, than I do now, but regardless, having him step into the role should create some fun dynamic. For one, I think he’s proven his capable of taking on that responsibility, but it’s definitely going to mess with Terry a bit. I can’t see Terry accepting this, but I feel Bruce will ultimately push for it. Now I just hope that Matt doesn’t make his first appearance as Robin to save his brother in this arc…

The Man in the Hood. Someone is going after Batman, and whoever it is, is the person who hired the Royal Flush Gang. I want it to be Joker, but something tells me that it’s not him…

 

The Bad:

Moving In. Terry and Matt are moving in with Bruce…. Yay? This isn’t a bad moment, but I’m honestly not sure how I feel about it. Narratively, there are some benefits and considering it’s pretty clear that Matt’s about to become Robin, it makes sense. Terry and Matt also have no family, so their family is pretty much Bruce, Dana, and Max. All of these are positive outlooks, so why do I have this listed as “bad?” Because I can’t help but assume we’re going to get an overabundance of The Odd Couple-inspired moments, with Jurgen attempting to create humor between Bruce, Terry, and Matt living together… And I don’t care to read that.

Break the Bat. I’m so tired of seeing so many criminals “break the Bat.” When Bane did it in Knightfall, it was epic! The fifty-million times it’s been done in comics sense then… Those have all been the opposite of epic. Let’s embark on a new path now. It’s time. That, or if a villain is going to break Batman’s back, then I want Bane to promptly show up and break that villains back. Everything about this is forced, so I find it incredibly annoying. Even the assumed outcome feels forced. I predict that Terry’s back will be “broken,” Matt will decide he needs to step in, become Robin, get into the fray before realizing he’s in over his head, and suddenly (magically), Terry will be ok… So if that happens, know that I called it.

Recommended if:

  • You’re ready to return to Jurgens’ main plot.
  • You want to know Terry’s decision as to whether he should or shouldn’t be Batman.
  • Barbara Gordon.

Overall: Batman Beyond #14 serves more as a reminder and reintroduction than anything else. After two months of filler issues, Jurgens reminds readers of his trajectory. The issue is fine overall, but it can be a little boring at times. What Jurgens really needs to start doing, is weaving together these plotlines he’s creating. Each arc has introduced something incredible for the Batman Beyond universe, but none of these moments (Joker, Barbara/ Batgirl, Damian, Matt, and Max) beyond it’s reveal or foreshadowing. Because of this, the title feels a little incohesive, so I’d love to see textures of these elements continue throughout every arc.

SCORE: 6.0/10

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