Batman Beyond #50 is a decent conclusion for Dan Jurgens’ largely impressive run. Much of that credit goes to the regular art team of Sean Chen, Sean Parsons, Chris Sotomayor, and Travis Lanham who are tasked with equal parts action and lower key dramatic scenes. Additionally, Jurgens’ script mostly returns to the series’ initial roots even with yet another guest character driving the main plot. This issue is for readers who have stuck around to this point, and I can’t imagine any fan having major problems with what’s in store here, even if the book takes a safe path.
The opening moments are visually striking but the script veers into familiarity almost immediately. Once again, someone who looks exactly like Terry is off committing crimes only this time it’s up to Wonder Woman to figure out what’s going on. I love the contrast between the black and white security footage and the deep red of Diana’s cloak as she views the footage. The eye-catching credits splash page is the best example of this. However, I do wish the cover didn’t spoil Wonder Woman’s inclusion. Nonetheless, Chen’s compositions and layouts for these opening three pages are on point, especially when his panels become increasingly lopsided as this Batman impostor’s sinister motives become clearer.
The plotting from here gets a little muddled between the two competing plotlines at hand. Sure, finding who’s impersonating Terry is important, but once Terry learns Bruce is in the hospital due to a heart attack, it’s hard to care much about whoever the villain of the week is. The scenes in the hospital are what most people will latch onto given Bruce’s life or death situation has higher stakes than some random goon stealing Wayne tech. Additionally, Jurgens regroups some of the series’ supporting cast and gives readers a much needed reunion with Matt, Melanie, Barbara, and even Dana Tan. It’s somewhat frustrating Damian and Dick Grayson are nowhere to be found given a previous arc implied they’d join the team, but the wholesome family vibe is mostly recaptured. Chen’s work in the hospital scenes isn’t his best, but a key moment between a bedridden Bruce and a somber Terry is a highlight. Terry’s entrance is marred by dark shadows, even obscuring most of his face, which lends a little drama to the scene. Additionally, we get to see a highly detailed close up on Bruce’s pained facial expression as he attempts to relay a clue to who his attacker was. This page exhibits Chen’s storytelling skills in what could be an otherwise flat scene. Unfortunately, other pages don’t lend themselves to this type of dynamic art, and Chen’s faces come across stiff, especially with Barbara and Dana. Chen has to juggle a large cast in these scenes, but everyone except Terry comes off nonplussed by the entire situation.
The other side of the plot deals with Terry and Wonder Woman tracking down whoever is behind Bruce’s heart attack and stealing Wayne Enterprises technology. While this team up contains a certain novelty value, the actual mechanics of the plot leave much to be desired. Terry and Diana don’t necessarily use their wits to find the culprit, but merely run into them when scouting a potential target area. It’s no surprise the villain is a shapeshifter and those familiar with the Beyond universe could probably guess Inque is behind it all. The fight between Inque, Terry, and Diana is solid and I especially like how Chen draws Inque. Sotomayor’s colors really enhance this sequence, with Inque’s liquid form colored an intriguing dark shade of purple and black. Every panel with Inque has a bevy of tiny particles splashing around, which gives a level of detail and movement to what amounts to some standard fisticuffs. The fight scene is more than serviceable, but once it starts cutting back to Bruce at the hospital as his condition worsens, Inque’s presence comes off more as filler than a truly essential piece of the story. There’s potential of an interesting parallel between Inque’s attempt to save her own life by any means necessary and Bruce’s own near death experience, but the script never really delves into it. As it stands, this sequence gives a few moments of excitement, but I wish the script found a better way to thematically tie the two main storylines.
I won’t spoil whether or not Bruce dies, but the final moments of the book appear to focus more on Terry’s future rather than his already established family in Neo-Gotham. While there’s a heavy dose of sentimentality in the final few pages, Jurgens seems to have a new angle for what’s next for Terry. Whether or not we’ll get to see that story unfold remains to be seen, but I do wish we got to see the ensemble, Damian and Dick included, truly work as a cohesive unit one more time before saying goodbye to the series. The last arc concerned itself more with the importance of Batman as a symbol and this final issue also puts Batman’s legacy ahead of the series’ own characters. Regardless, the final hospital scene ticks enough boxes and wraps a few bows on the current status quo to round it off as a proper finale.
- It’s the final chapter of a fifty issue run – you know if you’re on board for this one.
- You want another look at one of Beyond’s most famous villains.
- Wonder Woman teaming up with Terry piques your interest.
Batman Beyond #50 should satisfy most readers who have made it to this point. I would’ve liked to see the series’ ensemble cast get more attention, but this month’s guest star doesn’t take the focus too much away from the true heart of the book. While the villain of the week approach doesn’t fully justify its presence, putting Bruce in the hospital garners enough drama to keep loyal readers on their toes. If you’ve stuck with the series until now, this is an easy purchase, but newcomers are better served by either waiting for the inevitable “reboot” or by starting at the beginning of Jurgens’ solid run.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.