Batman Beyond #25
Decades from now...
A train surges forth from Bludhaven towards Neo-Gotham, carrying within it Bludhaven’s mayor, Dick Grayson, and his daughter Elainna. Dick is lost in thought, barely paying attention to what Elainna his telling him about, and when she calls him out on it, he explains that he’s lost in thought – not just because of his childhood in Gotham (growing up there has had quite an effect on his adulthood) but something about the train as well.
A flashback takes us back to Gotham City of the past, when Dick Grayson was still a plucky sidekick named Robin, working on his early cases with Batman. They’re on a train, with tankers filled with Joker’s laughing gas, fighting the Joker himself. As always, Batman and Robin save the day, but not before the Joker tries to kill Robin. In something of an ironic shout-out, Batman bashes Joker’s head with a collapsible baton to get him away from Robin.
Dick explains to his daughter that part of the reason he never wanted her to suit up was because of that night, and what eventually happened to Jason Todd. Elainna finds it a little unfair that the daughter of an extraordinary man has to live such an ordinary life, but Dick reminds her that it’s a safe life. He brings up her mother, who is never named, but Elainna moves the conversation away from that to talk about why they’re headed to Gotham in the first place.
Up above them, at the same time, Batman and Robin are soaring over the skies of Neo-Gotham, on their way to meet Commissioner Barbara Gordon at a particularly gnarly crime scene. The victims were a group of Jokerz - a total of twenty-four have been murdered now – and while they have no suspect, Barbara thinks it’s the same murderer.
Later, everyone gathers at the Wayne Family Center of Tomorrow, a new complex built by Bruce Wayne, who is deeding it over to the city in honor of Thomas Wayne, whose birthday it is that day. It's a big event for everyone involved, though Matt thinks they ought to be focusing their time looking for the Jokerz killer. Dick and Elainna arrive, and the meeting between them and Bruce is very cordial, though Dick questions the need for another Robin. Dick asks about Damian, who is still in the Himalayas – remotely watching the events of the day.
Luke Fox – now Mayor of Neo-Gotham – introduces Bruce to the gathered crowd, while in the crowd, an eerily familiar figure dressed in purple and green watches on, thinking that what’s happening isn’t so great. Elainna asks her father why Gotham doesn’t seem like the dark, dank place he’s made it out to be, and Dick explains – through a series of flashbacks that show Jason Todd and, later, Bruce in the Batman Beyond suit - that after the Joker was taken out, it was easier for Batman to clean up the rest of the rogues gallery by not only taking them off the streets but keeping them off the streets. Years later, the Jokerz debuted and Bruce was shocked and offended, but he had to retire, having become too old to continue being Batman. Lucky for him, Terry came into his life and picked up the mantle, and together they were able to continue letting Gotham become a better city.
Across town, Barbara Gordon finds herself at Ace Chemicals, where more murdered Jokerz have been discovered. There, a piece of evidence left behind is handed to her – a Joker card, with the words “No one uses my name, no one!” Three guesses who left that card behind, and the first two don’t count.
Back at the Wayne Family Center of Tomorrow, they move to make Bruce deeding the center over to the city official, but instead of pulling out the property paperwork, there’s a handwritten note saying “The Joke’s on you, Brucie!” along with the sound of a speeding train coming towards the center. As Dick, Elainna, Luke, and Bruce seek cover, Terry and Matt change into their costumes try to stop the train, but can’t. It destroys a huge chunk of the center, but at least Batman and Robin are able to get the people to safety.
At the GCPD precinct, Barbara rushes to call the White House, after having heard of the incident at the Wayne Family Center, but as she gets into her office, she’s met with a very familiar figure sitting in her chair. The Joker, pointing a gun at Barbara, suggesting that Bruce knew that he was alive all this time.
You know, it’s really nice to have one book where Dick Grayson is still Dick Grayson, even though it’s not a book that takes place in present continuity. Having said that, the fact that both Dick Grayson and Luke Fox are Mayors of their respective cities, while Barbara is Commissioner of the GCPD, makes a lot of sense. Of course, the heroes and vigilantes of Gotham City would grow up to work in politics and civil service, to help protect their city through more legal, powerful means. It’s also nice that Bruce and Dick have improved their relationship. There’s definitely the question of who Elainna Grayson’s mother might be. It’s likely not Barbara (though wouldn’t that be a twist?) but Helena Bertinelli seems as though she could be a good bet. Elainna, after all, is a variant of the name Elaine, which is an old Scottish form of Helen. Granted, Elainna also means “bright, shining light” so maybe she’s the daughter of Dick and Starfire. It remains to be seen what her parentage will be, but with the way Jurgens has been fleshing out the Batman Beyond universe, it’s a fair bet that sooner or later, Elainna is going to suit up as a vigilante. A new Nightwing? Huntress? Can’t wait to see where this new character goes.
Joker coming back to reclaim his name by killing all the Jokerz is a very him thing to do – it was only going to be so long before he decided that they weren’t really honoring him the way he wants to be honored and wants to make his big return. The big question is, how much did Bruce know if anything? And if Bruce knew, why did he never say anything to the others? The fallout from this promises to be big, and interesting for everyone involved. Everyone is finally on good terms with each other again, and his reappearance could either strengthen bonds and weaken them. My one hope is that Dick Grayson doesn’t die at the Joker’s hands here.
Cully Hamner and Marco Santucci share art duties here, and it’s a good-looking book. The flashback Joker here is an interesting mix of Dick Sprang’s Joker mixed with the more modern one we’ve been seeing lately, and it really works. Older, grown-up Dick Grayson looks quite debonair, and there’s a few interesting panels where Bruce closely resembles Michael Keaton, which is great. There’s an interesting detail on the page where a line-up of Bruce’s allies and enemies is shown – a bloody red bat across Catwoman’s cowl. Not sure what that means yet, but it can’t just be a random detail thrown in. Given Jurgen’s adept handling of the past and future timelines, I’m sure an explanation will be forthcoming.
An action-packed issue with plenty of flashbacks to show how we got to where we are, with the return of characters new and old, and the appearance of an old, classic threat, this issue is the perfect jump-on point for new readers.
Batman Beyond #25: No Joke
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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