Batman Beyond #48 is pure comic book fun. Dan Jurgens does lean away from the series’ strong ensemble cast for another “altered memories” plot line, but this time the story is set to dive deeper into Terry and Bruce’s relationship. Paul Pelletier is on art duties and turns in solid work that does more than enough to keep up with Jurgens’ fast paced script. Since this is Batman Beyond’s final arc, I do worry that we won’t get enough time with the supporting cast before saying goodbye, but what’s here is exciting enough to calm my fears for now.
Jurgens’ script wastes no time before the twist is revealed. Bruce Wayne, under a time delayed mind-control, sees Terry and Matt as assassins and attempts to kill both of them. Initially, I was a little disappointed for yet another arc where one of our lead characters has been compromised and turned against the others, but the sheer abruptness of this twist engaged me. However, it’s not the smoothest start of an arc despite the rush of excitement. Matt presumably dies off-panel after Booster Gold shows up to rescue Terry and then explains his entire character premise and basic time travel shenanigans. It’s a lot of back and forth between Booster and Terry before Terry even thinks about Matt being in trouble, which I found out of character. The pacing of this opening sequence is really wonky as Jurgens needs to dump a ton of exposition since there’s been zero set up for this mind-controlled Bruce.
Pelletier’s work is really great despite any problems with the script’s pacing in the opening. The layouts are simple with some nice three dimensional pop in the form of Bruce’s drones spilling into the panel’s gutters and across some panels themselves. His figure work is also expressive, particularly a panel where a terrified Matt hides behind cover from incoming blasts. His facial work is solid too, although Terry looks a little bit older here which I don’t mind, but his Bruce feels just an inch more meaty and tougher than previous renditions. This works since Bruce operates as an adversary this time around and a more physically imposing version of him adds to the threat. As for Booster Gold, I’m not that well versed in the character, but Pelletier captures his loud personality with a few subtle hints of vulnerability behind the facade. Terry and Booster Gold is a fun team up and thankfully it doesn’t take too long for them to land on the same page despite Terry blaming Booster for Matt’s death.
Jurgens’ script starts to work when Terry and Booster head back to the year 2020 to prevent Bruce from ever having his mind altered. The rules are pretty standard in that Booster needs to prevent Terry from meeting a young Bruce to keep the timeline from being ruined, but “man out of time” stories are nearly always fun. I do wish there was more to the action than having to save people from a burning house, but Blanque’s arrival does add some spice to the action. What really does dulls the excitement most though is Booster and Skeets having to constantly reiterate the stakes of time travel even in the middle of fisticuffs. It gives the book a throwback vibe, but the weakest pages are definitely the ones where exposition is given priority over fun action banter. The excessive dialogue on some pages also gives Pelletier less room to work with, which results in simplistic action beats. Most of the fight against Blanque is just him throwing stuff at Booster or throwing Booster himself around.
Chris Sotomayor’s colors are fantastic the entire issue and while there is a noticeable shift in the color pallet, I wish the transition from Neo-Gotham to current day was more stark. The actual city skyline looks similar in present day since the sky is a shade of purple and the only real difference is that there’s more greenery due to Booster bringing Terry to the outskirts of Gotham. Nevertheless, the colors are very attractive the entire issue, especially when Terry and Booster find themselves inside a burning house. Norm Rapmund’s inks also deliver in these more dramatic moments with every figure strikingly defined and robust among the varying sources of light.
The final moments of the issue do deliver a great, albeit predictable cliffhanger, and Terry rescuing a younger version of his dad is the type of Back to the Future plot point I’d want to see more of. It’s no coincidence that this engaging sequence is largely bereft of an over abundance of exposition.
- Dan Jurgens’ Batman Beyond has been on your pull until this point.
- Booster Gold is a favorite character of yours and you like time travel plot lines.
- You like the idea of Terry interacting with younger versions of those close to him.
Batman Beyond #48 is a fast paced, throwback feeling comic book that embraces the medium’s ability to go over the top. While it’s questionable for Jurgens to jettison most of the supporting cast in favor of a time travel story with Booster Gold, this set up is ripe for deep characterization for both Bruce and Terry. If this is to be the last arc of Jurgens’ run, it’s not a bad idea to go for a more sentimental storyline. On its own, Batman Beyond #48 is solid across the board though its true value is in potentially setting up more profound moments in the coming months.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.