A new take on an old villain has the entire city out screaming for Batman’s blood. Can his new partner prove his own worth and help save him in time?
Batman Beyond #22 – Target: Batman Part Three
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Will Conrad
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover: Viktor Kalvachev
Variant Cover: Dave Johnson
Group Editor: Marie Javins
Editor: Rob Levin
What You Need to Know:
Gotham City has been taken over by a fear of Batman, and it’s spread far enough that even Batman’s allies – including Commissioner Barbara Gordon – have turned against him and want to bring him down. Meanwhile, Matt McGinnis, Terry’s younger brother, is continuing his efforts to become his brother’s partner, Robin.
What You’ll Find Out:
Jack Ryder, formerly the costumed adventurer known as the Creeper, is looking for his co-anchor, Adalyn Stern, who is missing. His producers need him behind the desk because Gotham City is descending into chaos and riots and they need someone to cover the news, but Jack knows that Adalyn needs help, so the news will simply have to wait.
Across town, Batman is surrounded by an angry mob of Gothamites, including everyone from run of the mill citizens to the GCPD to the Jokerz, all of whom want Batman – or the Bat-Demon, as they view him to be – dead. Batman realizes that someone is in the head of the citizens controlling them and that he can’t really fight back because no one he’s fighting is actually a supervillain, and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone.
Bruce Wayne and Matt McGinnis survey the chaos from inside the Batcave. Realizing that Terry is going to need help – his ability to fight is compromised because he’s fighting civilians, and he’s vastly outnumbered – Bruce shows Matt a brand-new Robin costume, one which is sleeker and better than the one that Matt had worn previously, with defensive and offensive capabilities that equal the ones of Terry’s Batman suit. Matt loves the suit, and Bruce tells him to go help Terry while he tries to figure out why this is all happening. Lucky for Matt, he not only gets a new suit, he also gets to take the Batmobile out for a spin.
At Adalyn Stern’s apartment, Jack Ryder uses a voice scrambler to make his way inside and find out what happened. He discovers that Adalyn was home all evening, but upon further investigation stumbles into a room that’s got a scattering of papers all over, with “The Bat” scrawled across all of them. Ryder realizes there’s only one person who could explain any of this, and heads to see Bruce Wayne.
Terry, realizing that he can’t use weapons against the mob, instead decides to fly away, but one of the citizens grabs onto his leg just as Terry lifts off. Unfortunately, he’s unable to hold on, and so he falls. Terry, unwilling to let anyone get hurt, swoops down to save him and finds himself once more beset upon by the mob.
Off to the side, a little girl in pigtail braids watches the mob of citizens pile onto Batman. From the shadows behind her, an eerie voice urges her to attack her tormentor, and to kill him. The girl is afraid, but the voice talks her into using a gun that’s laying by her feet. She shoots at the crowd, but luckily no one is injured. Lucky for her – and Terry – Robin arrives on the scene just then and disarms the girl. Bruce reminds Robin that he’s only there to follow orders, and Batman tells him that he’s glad to see Robin there. As reminds Robin to use defensive postures only because the people there are being mind-controlled, the eerie-voice figure starts to walk out of the shadows, revealing himself, saying that the crowd isn’t being mind-controlled, just fed fear.
In the Batcave, Bruce tells Terry to get out before someone dies. He hears something from behind him and attacks with a batarang, which is avoided by Jack Ryder. Ryder tells Bruce that he needs his help on something. While the name Adalyn Stern isn’t familiar to Bruce beyond her being a news anchor, but he looks into his database files to see what he can find. They uncover a case from twenty years ago when Bruce went up against some gunrunners and remembers that their leader’s name was Stern. Bruce had savagely taken Stern down – guns make Bruce crazy, after all – and then had left him there for the GCPD to find. While viewing the video of the incident, Bruce and Ryder discover that someone else had been there in the room with them that night – Adalyn Stern, as a child.
Back at the mob scene, the little girl is back to the doorway, watching the action as Batman and Robin try to fight their way free. The eerie voice tells the girl that there are real monsters in the world and that Batman and Robin are theirs. The Dynamic Duo must be torn apart, they must die for the civilians to be free of their fear – that’s what the Scarecrow decrees.
What Just Happened?:
The Scarecrow finally reveals himself – or possibly herself – as the villain behind the scenes, and while it’s not that big of a surprise, it’s still a satisfying reveal, especially since there was a chance that the villain could have been someone else, like Spellbinder. This marks the first time that Scarecrow is being seen in the Batman Beyond universe as a real threat, and it will be interesting to find out if the person behind the mask is Jonathan Crane or someone entirely new.
The predicament Terry is in is a precarious one – one in which he actually needs a partner to help him out of the situation, and it’s a good way to bring Matt into the story and have him prove himself without relying on the sort of overused plot where he goes out on his own to save the day and falls into dire trouble. Jurgens writes a good Matt and wisely keeps away from throwing him into the sort of territory where he’s too bratty or whiny, which is what many writers tend to do with teenage sidekicks. The fact that he’s listening to Bruce and Terry this time around shows that he’s taking the job of Robin more seriously, while still obviously having fun with it.
Finally bringing Jack Ryder deeper into the story is a wonderful thing, after having had a couple of one-off appearances. The relationship between Batman and the Creeper has always been an interesting, precarious one, especially since the Creeper has sometimes occupied a place where he’s a little Jokeresque. The animated version specifically had his origins tied to Joker in some way, after all. The fact that Bruce and Ryder have an uneasy friendship will be something to mine further if Jurgens decides to go in that direction with the characters.
If there’s one thing that feels a little overdone in the story, it’s the little girl with the cutesy speech pattern and the gun. She seems almost incongruent to the story, a piece that doesn’t fit, despite the fact that it’s clear what Jurgens is trying to show with the story – the corruption of innocence due to fear and mob mentality. If the character had been a little more realistically written, a little more realistically portrayed, instead of an obvious innocent little girl dressed in pale colors in a sea of darkness, it may have seemed subtler and less like a hammer over the head.
Will Conrad returns for art duties, and while his style deviates from previous artists, who kept the book looking more in line with the animated universe, Conrad has a sleek, easy to follow style that fits in perfectly with DC Comics’ house style, and that makes sense, given that this version of Batman Beyond is a possible future of the current DC Universe, not the DCAU. Of note is the new look given Robin – it’s a sleeker version of the look they had Matt in a couple of issues ago, but more in-line with Terry’s Batman Beyond costume, all black with minimal splashes of color. It’s a good-looking costume, clearly Robin, while also being Matt’s own look, and it really works. David Baron’s colors are great, appropriately dark, with that gash of neon garishness that the Batman Beyond universe is so well-known for. Overall, it’s a very good-looking book.
Final Thoughts: Some good revelations and guest-stars, mixed in with the pay-off of Matt McGinnis finally becoming Robin, earns this book a recommendation for fans of Batman Beyond.
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