The world’s gone crazy against Batman when even his nearest friends and allies start to believe that he’s a fearsome monster that needs to be destroyed! Meanwhile, Matt McGinnis makes his case to continue being Robin, but will Bruce relent?
Batman Beyond #21 – Target: Batman Part Two
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Will Conrad
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colorist: David Baron
Cover: Viktor Kalvachev
Variant Cover: Dave Johnson
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Editor: Rob Levin
What You Need to Know:
Matt McGinnis donned the mantle of Robin for a short adventure before his older brother Terry forbade him from ever being Robin again. Melanie Walker has come back into Terry’s life to try and make good with him and prove that she’s changed her ways, though it couldn’t have happened at a worse time because Dana Tan – who is distinctly against Terry’s life as Batman – caught them kissing. Meanwhile, Neo-Gotham descends into an anti-Batman frenzy as a fearsome visage of Batman visits some citizens, promising a trip to hell or worse!
What You’ll Find Out:
Craving something normal and easy to understand, Terry patrols Neo-Gotham while mulling over his fight with Scab in the last issue, wherein Scab called Batman a devil and a monster. Luckily for him, his wishes are answered when he comes across the Jokerz in the middle of a street heist. During their fight, he asks them about Scab, but they don’t have any information for him. What they do have are grenades and other weapons that they don’t usually employ, causing Batman to realize that they’ve upped their game against him.
While Terry fights the Jokerz, Matt tells Bruce that even though it’s Terry who has forbidden him from being Robin again, it’s Batman that is the true problem at hand, and that someone needs to do something about Batman. Bruce tries to get Matt to calm down and reminds Matt that he didn’t follow Batman’s orders the night before, Matt argues Bruce’s point. Who is Batman to boss Matt around anyway, even with all the experience he’s gained underneath his batbelt?
Across town, Melanie Walker meets Jack Ryder, who it turns out is her sponsor. She explains that she’s doing everything in her power to put her criminal life behind her, and that he’s been a big part of helping her do that. During their discussion, Adalyn Stern, Ryder’s co-anchor who had been paid a visit by the demonic Batman figure the night before, appears and insists that she needs to speak with Ryder alone. Before she can explain much more, she notices Batman flying overhead and freaks, calling him a monster.
Batman, having finished taking care of the Jokerz, was flying by so he could go pay a visit to Dana, who also freaks out when he appears in her apartment. He apologizes for coming in through the window but insists that they need to talk. That’s when Dana realizes that it’s actually Terry who has come to visit her. She’s still shaken when Terry tries to talk to her about her break-up message, and that’s when she tells him that she saw him kissing “that blonde.” Dana calls him awful and then calls him a monster, which is precisely what she sees him as – a spooky demonic ghost thing. Dana asks her AI – named Mulan – to call the police. Terry, unaware of what Dana is seeing, explains that he would never try to hurt her, but the fact that she sees him as a monster – a recurring theme for him the last couple of nights – makes him suspect that something is connecting all of these various incidents together.
He takes off from Dana’s apartment before the cops can come and finds many of Neo-Gotham’s citizens setting a statue of Batman – this one based on Bruce Wayne’s version of the caped crusader – on fire. The crowd keeps on chanting the word “kill” over again as some of them state that the statue represents something heinous – a demon which must be burned. Terry tries to step in, not to save the statue but to stop the citizens from hurting each other, when they turn against Terry. He’s wrongly accused of trying to kidnap someone’s child when he was really just pulling him out of the way of any danger. The crowd turns against Batman, and it’s too much for him to fight off on his own, though help seems to be coming when he hears the familiar sirens of the GCPD.
Unfortunately for Batman, the GCPD isn’t there to save him, as he discovers when Commissioner Barbara Gordon commands the citizens to stand down because they’re in the line of fire. With the citizens out of the way, Barbara and the GCPD start shooting at Batman.
What Just Happened?:
Batman – whether it be Bruce Wayne or Terry McGinnis under the cowl – has always shared a kind of love/hate relationship with the citizens of Gotham City. They either love him for keeping the city safe, or they loathe him and blame him for attracting all of the crazy lunatic villains to Gotham City. A fickle public, their opinions are usually easily swayed, though this time there is something more nefarious at work as some outside force seems to be playing on their fears. The jury is still out on who the villain behind the scenes might be in this story, but bets are still either on Scarecrow (or someone somehow related to Scarecrow) or Spellbinder. Given that everyone is turning on Terry – including possibly Bruce and Matt – it is going to be interesting to see how he fights his way out of this battle.
It’s great seeing Jack Ryder as Melanie’s sponsor, and he makes a good amount of sense there, given that he was once the Creeper. Granted, someone like Selina Kyle or Andrea Beaumont may have made a bit more sense, given their connections to Bruce and how Melanie is a next-generational counterpart to those two women, but Jack is a public figure and one who is probably willing to help villains reform, just as he seems to have reformed himself.
This issue flows as easily as the last issue does, and the story is getting a lot more interesting and complicated. Jurgens writes a good Terry and an entertaining Matt, though one wishes that the love triangle forming between Matt, Dana, and Melanie would be a little more complex and interesting than what is currently presented here. While it’s understandable that Dana would be upset about the kiss, there is something that is awfully high schoolish about the development, and given that they’re adults now, it’s maybe time to move towards more complex complications. There are some great shoutouts in this issue though, things like Bruce’s AI being called Alfred – and having some of Alfred’s personality – as well as Dana naming her AI after, presumably, her favorite Disney princess.
Will Conrad’s art is slick, clean, and easy to follow. His Neo-Gotham is great, and he draws a really fantastic Batman and an appropriately creepy Bat-demon. His Terry is wonderfully expressive, and nowhere is this clearer than his conversation with Dana at her apartment. Conrad’s work falls very much into the classic current DC Comics house style, standing alongside the work being done by artists like Jason Fabok and Ivan Reis. If there’s a complaint about the art, it’s that there’s not much consistency between this issue and the last, and some of the characters are off-model. The most egregious of these is Melanie Walker who, drawn without her distinctive hairstyle from the animated series and other comic adaptations of Batman Beyond, could easily be anyone from Stephanie Brown to Julie Madison. David Baron’s colors are fantastic and a perfect complement to Conrad’s pencils, with a special mention going to the perfectly garish palette that the Jokerz are given here. It is confusing how Dana’s eyes are suddenly a lighter color than usual, though, since she’s traditionally had black irises and here they’re some shade of green.
Final Thoughts: A solid story with some plot twists that complicated things for our hero, this is a good, classic action story that has a deepening mystery at its center and some interpersonal drama that promises to make things very difficult for Batman going forward.
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