Batman Beyond #26
Though shocked to find the Joker – alive, well, and as psychotic as ever – waiting in her office, with a gun pointed directly at her, Commissioner Barbara Gordon is quick-witted enough to move out of the way when he tries to shoot her. The Joker taunts her, and Barbara realizes that he was behind the attack on the Wayne building, which Joker fully admits to. Barbara attacks him, literally kicking him out of her office and into the city outside, but Joker lands on a waiting taxi and speeds off.
Across town, Batman and Robin fly into action, saving some key people from certain death. Dick Grayson is angry with Bruce that he allowed Batman to take on a Robin, and Bruce defends the decision, saying that Robin’s current costume is far more protective than anything Dick, Jason, or Tim had worn as Robin. Before they can discuss their disagreement further, Jack Ryder appears on the scene looking for a quote, which Dick is only too happy to give him, warning him that the incident that occurred was done at the hand of some deranged criminal that Gotham should fear.
Across town, watching the news, Joker notices that Batman has a new Robin and this delights him, given his history with past Robins. Having found his new target – and a concrete goal to work for – Joker heads for the Dynamic Duo.
Said Dynamic Duo have made their way into Old Gotham, which Batman points out is a place where life is hard. Some of the denizens of Old Gotham see Batman and Robin and note – crudely – that the heroes are slumming it down there with them, and while Robin tries to stand up for them, Batman agrees with the opinion of the public, saying that he ought to be there more for them. They reach a naturally formed tunnel and venture inside, finding a group of people who need saving. They’ve just barely finished rescuing everyone when Barbara appears on the scene, telling them that they need to get to Bruce right away because they all need to talk.
When all of the group is assembled – Batman, Robin, Bruce, Dick, and Dick’s daughter Elainna – Barbara fills them in on what happened, starting with her finding the Joker – the REAL Joker – in her office. She says that he’s likely the one who has been killing the Jokerz, and that’s when Bruce chimes in and says that it means that the voice he’d heard all those months ago was definitely the Jokers.
As Bruce fills the group in on when he’d heard the Joker’s voice, the Crown Prince of Crime himself goes to find an old friend of his – the crowbar he killed Jason Todd with.
After what seems to have been a few story arcs that were allowing Dan Jurgens to set up the new status quo for the Batman Beyond universe, he’s finally hit his stride with the world, and it’s come together pretty well. Matt McGinnis as Robin is a breath of fresh air, and the dynamic that Jurgens has set up with Terry, Bruce, and Barbara works well. It’s great having Dick Grayson back, and the way he’s grown is interesting. Jurgens also clearly has big plans for Robin, given the direction that the Joker is headed in and how everyone from Dana Tan to Barbara Gordon to Dick Grayson thinks it’s an awful idea for Batman to have another Robin. While I hope that this doesn’t end in the death of Matt McGinnis, I hope the story ultimately proves that any Robin is stronger than the shadow of the Joker and that he’s able to survive this and grow into an awesome Robin.
There are some real high points in this script, aside from Matt’s obvious exuberance as Robin. The tidbit that Batman should be protecting Old Gotham, as well as Neo-Gotham, is an important point – Bruce wouldn’t have neglected the poorer parts of the city – and it’ll be interesting to see how that thread is picked up on in future issues. There are clearly some plans for Dick and Elainna, and fleshing out those plans will be interesting to see. I still believe that Elainna will also eventually end up in a costume – either that of Nightwing or perhaps Huntress. I can’t imagine that they would go to the trouble of introducing Dick Grayson’s daughter – whose mother’s identity we still don’t know – and not do much else with her, especially with the way that Jurgens is fleshing out Terry’s world.
Joker returning is one of those inevitable things – future generations of heroes always seem to end up facing off against him. The original Helena Wayne incarnation of Huntress did in her pre-Crisis backup stories, and a version of Terry himself did in the Return of the Joker movie, though it’s not clear how much of that particular story is and isn’t in continuity. Of course, this time, the Joker has his eyes set on another Robin, and while the stakes are high, one hopes that Jurgens has plotted this story in a way where it ends differently, and maybe moves the Joker off the board entirely once and for all. He’s a classic villain, yes, but Batman Beyond is at its best when its creating new heroes for Batman, Robin, and Batgirl to fight.
Brett Booth joins Jurgens for this issue, and he’s a very welcome artist to the book. Though, with each incoming artist, the look of Neo-Gotham slowly moves further and further away from the aesthetic set up by previous versions of the Batman Beyond series, the kinetic energy that Booth brings to Neo-Gotham and its characters is a welcome one. His Batman and Robin are, simply put, fantastic and heroic – dynamic, even, and he draws a wonderfully bad-ass Barbara Gordon. He’s most definitely an artist who would be welcome back on the book because of how lively his art is.
Batman Beyond continues to be one of DC's most entertaining books, with classic comic book action, character development, and beautifully kinetic art.
Batman Beyond #26: Time for the Sequel!
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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