Batman Beyond #35
As Bruce and Matt watch Batman make a deal with Splitt, they both realize that the man underneath the mask isn’t Terry McGinnis, but an impostor – the villain known as False Face. Across town, False Face gets into a fight with both halves of Splitt, neither of whom believe that he’s really got their best interests at heart. (And really, he’s Batman, so who can blame them?) Splitt finally agree – but only because the speed powers they share are killing them and they need all the help they can get if they want to live.
They key False Face into their past – how they were a difficult birth for their mother, who died in childbirth, and how they were raised by a single father who didn’t know at the time that the baby he had could split into two. Eventually, the kids were brought to Powers Technology, who decided to exploit the kids’ meta-abilities instead of helping them control them. They escaped once Powers vanished and tell False Face that when they’re separated, the speed chews them up so fast that they have to merge again. Being separated also ages them and it turns out that they’re technically only six years old.
Having heard all of this, Bruce surmises that False Face wants Bruce to help stop Splitt’s aging so that he can take their identities and powers. That’s when Melanie appears in her Ten costume, ready to join the fight against False Face and Splitt. Bruce disagrees at first, but Melanie points out that she’s the only one who really knows the suit’s capabilities and is able to go out into the field to fight all of the villains right then. Bruce hands Melanie the utility belt from Terry’s old costume and explains that she’s fought him enough that she’d know what’s in each compartment. Melanie accepts the belt and goes out into the night.
Across town, the real Terry McGinnis is lost and doesn’t remember his name. The police catch up to him and realize that he’s wanted for murder. Terry fights them off and escapes.
Melanie catches up with False Face and Splitt and a fight ensues, one in which Splitt knocks Melanie out. False Face offers her up to Splitt, telling them to shred her, which is when they realize that Batman would never say something like that. From the Batcave, Matt worries about Melanie, but Bruce assures him that he’s put in a call that will help Melanie.
That call? None other than the Flash himself.
This really is another solid outing by Dan Jurgens, and he ought to get a lot of credit for taking a book that’s really on the outskirts of continuity, and making it shine. Because the book is so far removed from events and other continuities, it’s allowed Jurgens to put his stamp on the book, and tell stories that he wants to tell, and it makes for a joyful read. The book is absolutely a classic action/adventure comic, and therein lies its charm. While the stakes for this story are maybe not as high as the stakes in the last arc, where Joker had returned, it’s still an eventful, fulfilling story. Melanie stepping up to be the hero that the team needs is wonderful – she’s been seeking redemption for so long, and Bruce handing her a utility belt is the ultimate in gaining the acceptance that she’s wanted and deserves. Melanie could easily be an invaluable member of the team – a seasoned, experienced costumed persona who can hold her own in the field in a way that someone with Matt’s inexperience couldn’t possibly – and it’s great to see Jurgens leaning in that direction with her.
Splitt fits well into the Batman Beyond world of supervillains – tragic story, connection to Powers – and it’s nice that they’re given some sympathetic light so they can act as foils to False Face, who is an out and out villain with no redeemable qualities. Though the backstory they’re given is a little basic and uninventive, it works for them – they’re clearly never meant to be the sort of iconic Batman Beyond villains that characters like Inque and Curaré are – but they work well for the story given, and they’re the perfect reason to bring in a character like the Flash, who we haven’t really seen in the Beyondverse yet. (Of course, now there’s also the worry that False Face will want to try and take over the Flash, but let’s hope the Flash is strong enough to stop him there.)
Though Rick Leonardi’s Terry McGinnis inexplicably looks like a doughy forty-something, his work on the rest of the book works well enough for the story being told. It has enough of an animated feel to it to make it feel like a cartoon, even if the character and costume designs don’t always match up with what’s been established before. Of note is the redesign for the Flash, with no cowl, no sleeves, and a uniform that seems more padded than previous ones he’s worn. It works well, and the fact that he seemingly no longer hides his identity is a smart in-joke, given that across various media, there are versions of the character who tends to pull his cowl off and reveal his identity and the slightest whim.
A solid installment with some great character growth for a supporting character and a surprise guest-star, you can't go wrong with this if you're looking for a classic, uncomplicated, event-free superhero story.
Batman Beyond #35: Lickety-Splitt
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 6/106/10
- Color - 7/107/10
- Cover Art - 9/109/10
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