Batman fights hard to save Ten from the clutches of Payback, who is willing to do whatever it takes to get revenge on Batman. Will help from an unexpected source be enough to save the day?
Batman Beyond #19
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Phil Hester
Inker: Ande Parks
Colorist: Michael Spicer
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover: Bernard Chang & Marcelo Maiolo
Variant Cover: Dave Johnson
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Editor: Rob Levin
What You Need To Know:
Melanie Walker – aka Ten of the Royal Flush Gang – has been captured by Dr. Stanton, father of the original Payback, now using the moniker himself to take revenge against Terry McGinnis, the current Batman. In an effort to help them both out, Bruce Wayne has deployed a last-ditch effort – Matt McGinnis, Terry’s younger brother – who has taken up some of Robin’s arsenal to help save Batman.
What You Will Find Out:
Aware that Terry needs help, Dana Tan arrives at Wayne Manor, looking for Bruce, who sits in a wheelchair, haunted by memories of the man he used to be and no longer is. He wants more than anything to help Terry, but he physically can’t, and while Dana thinks it’s a good idea to call the police or the Justice League, Bruce admits that he’s sent someone else to Terry’s aid instead – Matt, Terry’s little brother. Dana is horrified by this discovery, and as Bruce gives Matt some solid instructions on what to do, Dana aggressively questions Bruce’s choice in allowing Matt to help Terry. Bruce actually agrees with Dana’s protest in sending Matt out, but also tells her that he didn’t have a choice in the matter – Batman needs help as soon as possible, and Matt was the closest person around to help.
Following Bruce’s instructions, Matt does what he can to help from outside, without engaging anyone directly. Meanwhile, Ten is able to free Batman from Payback’s bindings, and though a fight ensues, Batman is never quite able to get the upper hand. Matt, seeing this from the outside, crashes into the building, taking payback out with his flying bike.
Terry, immediately realizing that it’s his brother wearing the domino mask, asks Bruce how he could allow Matt to help Terry like this. Dana adds fuel to the fire by telling him that Bruce encouraged Matt in this endeavor, and Payback – seeing a Robin – goes after him, because who is more important to Batman than Robin? Matt takes a batarang out of his belt to fight Payback, but given his lack of training, he’s easily subdued, and Batman comes to his brother’s rescue, all while admonishing Bruce for not having asked Terry about Matt putting on a mask.
Batman manages to take Payback out after a speech about how it was all Dr. Stanton’s fault that his son Kenny took his own life and ho he was going live with that for the rest of his life and then takes Matt out of there in a huff. Ten, having observed the whole thing, and possibly having recognized Matt, wonders about what exactly she had witnessed.
As Dana leaves the Batcave – telling Bruce that someone should have called child protective services on him years ago – Bruce continues to stew in his own guilt about having allowed Matt out to save Terry. Terry and Matt arrive, and while Terry is still angry at Bruce, Bruce explains that they can’t change what happened, and the important thing is where they go from there. In Matt’s case, it’s that he clearly wants to become Robin, but Terry tells him that there’s no way that will happen. Before anything else though, Terry has something important he wants to do.
Turns out, that’s paying Stalker a visit after Stalker had hurt himself while helping Terry fight Payback a couple of issues ago. He’s brought enough food for Stalker’s village to last a while, and he promises that the food will keep on coming as long as they need it. Terry explains that he’s not doing any of this because Stalker saved him, but because it’s the right thing to do – and the right thing to do includes finding a way to give Stalker his legs back.
What Just Happened?:
Matt McGinnis is finally on the road to becoming Robin, and that’s kind of great. We’ve already had a fleshing out of Terry’s world quite a bit with Ten (comfortable in her role as his Catwoman archetype), the Justice League, even a Batgirl – though Terry has yet to truly cross paths with her. The only thing missing was a Robin, and it really was only a matter of time before Matt would slip on that particular domino mask and join his brother out in the field. It’s clearly going to be an uphill battle for Matt, since Terry doesn’t want him risking his life, and even Bruce feels regret over having Matt go out into the field, but it promises to be an entertaining journey. After all, when has a Robin – be it Dick, Jason, Tim, Stephanie, Damian, or even Earth-2’s Helena Wayne – ever taken ‘no’ for an answer? There’s also the fact that while we’ve had fraternal dynamics amongst Batman and the Robins – Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne especially – we’ve never had actual brothers functioning together, and dynamic between the duo promises to be fraught with tension, but also clearly love.
Having Terry come to Stalker’s aid at the end of the issue was a nice parallel to the A-story that went on for most of this arc, featuring a positive sort of payback – even though Terry insisted that this wasn’t a payback, but rather doing what was right. Stalker has always been the Batman Beyond universe’s version of Spider-Man’s Kraven the Hunter, and it’ll be interesting to see how this new relationship between Batman and Stalker plays out. What does a villain do once their prey becomes their friend and comes to their aid? Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ll be seeing of Stalker.
While it makes sense that Bruce may have been unable to get ahold of the Justice League to aid Terry against Payback – they may have been too far away, after all – one wonders why he wasn’t at least able to call on Nissa, the latest Batgirl. She would have been able to supply some aid to Terry without forcing Matt to go out into the field, and that could have cut a lot of tension. Granted, the out of story reason is that this is Matt’s awakening as Robin, but one does wonder what Bruce’s in-story reasons would be for not reaching out to a vigilante who already has a good working relationship with one of his own allies – Barbara Gordon.
Final Thoughts: Another solid issue by Dan Jurgens, with some very setting-appropriate art by Phil Hester, this was another good installment in expanding the Batman Beyond universe. Though there were maybe a couple of in-story plot-hole hiccups, it’s thrilling to see the potential of a new Robin being born. Definitely well worth a read if you’re a fan of Batman Beyond and if you’re a fan of the ever-growing roster of Robins.
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