Batman Beyond #49 doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to time travel plotlines and while my hopes for a more in depth examination into Terry’s relationship with his father and Bruce weren’t fully realized, this month’s issue still delivers a mostly satisfying ending for this two-part story. There’s an endearing throwback vibe for this entire issue, with classic hero poses and compositions courtesy of Paul Pelletier’s art, but overall I can’t help but feel a lack of attention paid to the true strength of the series even in its penultimate issue.
This month’s chapter opens right where we left off. Moments after Terry saves a young version of his father, Warren, he’s confronted by Bruce Wayne in his prime as Batman. Last month’s cliffhanger was great, full of drama and intrigue, as Terry finds himself caught between his two father figures. However, it wouldn’t be a Dan Jurgens script if it didn’t start with a few pages of plot recap. The opening splash page is wonderfully drawn with Bruce’s “present day” Batman barely visible through the smoke and fire that Terry and Warren take cover behind. Unfortunately, it’s littered with narration boxes that explain the current time travel predicament and the following two-page spread is a handsomely drawn exposition dump of Terry’s entire backstory. I understand the philosophy of “every book could be someone’s first” but issue forty-nine in a fifty issue run is probably not the time to explain the core dynamics of the lead character. The three pages of standstill action completely saps the tension of last month’s very effective cliffhanger.
Nonetheless, once Booster Gold enters the scene and works with Bruce the fun factor ramps up exponentially. I love Pelletier’s sense of action and his compositions are refreshingly to the point. His layouts are rigid, same as his character poses, but this all adds up to strong action beats that carry the appropriate weight due to his meaty characters being able to dominate each composition. When the action pulls away from the characters, Chris Sotomayor’s bold colors work hand in hand with Pelletier’s dynamic character poses to maintain a sense of drama and depth to each panel. The color palette is rich in blues, purples and reds throughout, which creates an almost otherworldly feel, however impractical that may be. Sotomayor’s work gives a sense of the world being out of balance, which fits the time travel plotline and also makes the entire book enjoyable to look at.
Artistic merits aside, some of the script’s logic doesn’t entirely add up. I’m not here to litigate the mechanics of time travel, but a few plot points are a little suspect. Terry buys into not messing with the timeline by avoiding Bruce, but completely disregards that same logic when he continuously talks to a young version of Warren. Blanque is also intrigued by Terry’s memories given that he’s from the future, but gives no such indication when he reads Booster’s mind. The whole crux of the plot is a paradox, but more on that later. Removing any eye brow raising plot points, the fact is that Terry’s interactions with Warren never fully tap into the potential drama of the situation given Terry has to keep his emotions in check. Their scenes together end up landing on the corny side, without much added to Terry’s character development or any insight into his relationship with Warren – or even Bruce. In the moment, the action works and Blanque positions himself as an interesting threat to take down, until he’s defeated by a simple punch. The script remains surface level throughout with more focus given on how Terry inadvertently plants the seed for “Schway” to become a popular saying. These problems only become more apparent in the final pages where the twist is revealed.
[/spoiler] The big twist is that both Booster Gold and Bruce, in the future, planned this entire scenario and that Bruce only pretended to turn on Terry and Matt. Not only is Matt not dead, but he was in on the plan and the real goal was for Terry to meet Warren as a child and inspire him to try and turn Derek Powers into the authorities later in his life. Unbeknownst to Terry, he is essentially responsible for his father’s death which leads to him becoming Batman. Jurgens’ script tries to gloss over how manipulative this plan is, but my bigger problem is that it makes Terry into a pawn in his own series. Bruce and the legacy of Batman takes precedent over Terry here, which is troubling to do in the penultimate issue of his own series. For Bruce and Booster it’s more important that “Batman lives on” and they are happy to accept that some tragedies must occur. While this is a core concept of Batman, it is a little odd to see Bruce make that choice for Terry even if the integrity of the entire universe’s fabric is a good excuse to do so. There’s a weird aftertaste to this story, which could’ve been removed if Jurgens figured out a way for Terry himself to make that decision. [/spoiler]
- Booster Gold is a favorite character of yours.
- You can never get enough of Back to the Future style plot points.
- This is the penultimate issue of the series and you’re here til the end.
Batman Beyond #49 delivers a fun plotline greatly enhanced by Paul Pelletier’s meaty pencils and Chris Sotomayor’s bold colors. While I felt this arc put too much emphasis on Bruce and the importance of Batman’s legacy, there’s enough fun to be had with a surprisingly engrossing team up between Booster and Bruce Wayne’s Batman. If this were earlier in the run, I’d be more positive, but with its placement right at the end of the series, I question the decision to remove the majority of the supporting cast and make Terry a pawn to a larger plot. Hopefully next month’s series finale delivers a more well rounded goodbye to Terry along with the wonderful ensemble Jurgens crafted over the past four years.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.