Batman Beyond #28
In Gotham City, it’s a song as old as time as Batman and Robin face off against the Joker – or at least, one of the Joker’s henchmen trussed up as some sort of high-tech Joker Beyond, replete with grenade launchers and a screen on his chest through which the OG Joker is communicating with the Dynamic Duo Beyond. While John – the Joker’s henchman – asks to be helped, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Elainna Grayson monitor the fight from the confines of the Batcave. During the fight, Terry asks Bruce if he has any ideas – and uses Bruce’s name, which Joker catches onto. Somehow not putting Bruce and Bruce together, Joker wonders who Batman might be talking to. Meanwhile, he uses his henchman to blast Robin clear across town. Batman tries to save him, but Joker Beyond distracts him, freeing up the Joker himself to collect an unconscious Robin and drag him away.
When Matt goes offline, Bruce wants to believe that his suit’s responder has just been fried, but Dick Grayson suspects otherwise and decides he’s going to go out to help Batman and Robin. Bruce fills Terry in on the fact that he’s MIA, but before Terry can take any action, Joker Beyond is after him. Terry tries to fight him off, but it’s something of a losing battle, given how souped up the Joker Beyond is. The fight is interrupted by Dick, who arrives in the Batmobile, giving Batman a hand.
Joker, through the screen on his henchman’s chest, tells Batman that they’re not quite victorious, though. He has Robin, after all, and he’s brought him down to Old Gotham – the slums, the streets – where he’s going to beat him to death with a crowbar – the crowbar that killed Jason Todd, in fact. There’s a chance he can keep breathing, though...but only if he tells the Joker everything there is to know about a man named Bruce.
We were somehow lucky enough to get two issues of Batman Beyond in a month, both illustrated with the kinetic, vibrant art of Brett Booth, and I am not going to look that particular gift horse in the mouth. Booth’s art is fun and expressive and action-filled, and such a wonderful fit for these characters and this world. It doesn’t seem as though he’s a regular artist on this book – indeed, there doesn’t seem to be a regular artist as the artist has been changing every few issues – but one really wishes he was. This is modern comics storytelling told in a classic fashion, and it works so well with the tone that Dan Jurgens has been going with for this book.
Jurgens chooses to tell parts of this story through Elainna Grayson’s point of view, which is a nice touch, but we still don’t get to learn much about her, her relationship with her father, and her relationship with Gotham. The only thing we do learn is that Dick explicitly didn’t want Elainna to have a costumed life, which is certainly something that will be addressed later.
The danger of child sidekicks is something that’s been addressed off and on in Batman comics, both on panel and in the real world, and that discussion is something that the series has focused on as of late, with almost everyone with the exception of Matt McGinnis himself being upset that there’s a new teenage Robin fighting crime in Gotham. While Terry has legitimate reasons for not wanting his brother in costume, and Barbara’s concerns about a teenage sidekick are valid, it’s especially powerful coming from Dick Grayson, the original Robin, who wants to put a stop to the practice altogether. Whether he will be successful in putting a stop to that practice will depend on how well Matt deals with the Joker – if he’s able to escape relatively unscathed, or if he goes the way of Jason Todd.
If there’s one complaint, it’s the odd twist that Joker hasn’t put two and two together regarding Bruce being Batman, and not surmising that Terry is talking to Bruce Wayne. It just seems like after all this time, Joker would have somehow figured out Batman’s secret.
The joy of this book is that, being untethered to other books, and being only mildly connected to past continuity, Jurgens has a lot of freedom to take this story where he wants to take it, and can spin the universe out in the way he sees fit, and what he’s creating is a classic, action-packed, fun ride that could really go anywhere.
Another fantastic installment of a strong series, Jurgens manages to amp up the suspense as the series hurtles towards the end of this arc.
Batman Beyond #28: Bird Hunting Season
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 8/108/10
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