By Cat Wyatt
The last few issues of Batman Beyond have been pretty anxiety-inducing. Batman and Ten are in Payback’s clutches, Bruce can’t do anything to help (even if he wanted to – his back is too injured to allow him even to stand, let alone fight), and Matt is on the way as a backup. Needless to say, the situation is not good.
This issue starts off with Bruce lamenting his age and inability to help Terry or Matt. He feels that he should be the one rushing in to save Terry (and maybe that’s true). I’m sure he feels awful about not being able to help Terry personally…but I’m not sure that sending Terry’s little brother, Matt out, was the best course of action either.
For once Dana and I agree on something since she pretty much tears into Bruce about this. And she’s got a point – what about all of the other superheroes that could be helping out right now? Granted, I don’t know what the situation is for the rest of the Justice League, but surely they’re still around, in one form or another, and would be more than willing to step in and save the newer younger Batman?
I know I keep harping on that fact, and I’m sorry for that. But there’s no way that the only feasible option a genius like Bruce Wayne could find is to send an underage kid to rush in to save his brother. Even if we take into account Bruce’s intent on not letting Matt directly engage…Payback is still a huge danger, and we don’t know what he’d be willing to do to hurt Batman…but I think it’s safe to say he’d happily kill Robin to make him hurt.
All that being said…I’ll grudgingly admit that Bruce’s plan wasn’t a bad one. Having Matt blowout the power and generations is a pretty good distraction, and theoretically if they can distract Payback long enough for Batman to get free he’ll have a fighting chance once again (and remember, Ten is there too, so she can help him get free and hopefully help in the fight too).
Thankfully that part actually goes according to plan. With the power going out the laser hurting Batman is out, and Payback is distracted. Giving Ten plenty of time to break the cuffs holding Batman in place. And yes, if you were wondering, Terry knows full well who was sent as backup, and I have no doubt he’s furious about it.
The fight between Batman and Payback seems to be pretty evenly matched, once the element of surprise has been taken away from Payback. I’m not sure how the fight would have gone in the long run, had Matt not intervened, but we’ll never know.
What we do know is that Matt rushed in to save his brother (I sincerely don’t blame him here, he’s just a kid and he’s already nearly lost his brother once). Matt targets the jet he’s riding to directly hit Payback (and I’ll admit his timing is good – he may full well have saved Ten in the process) but obviously Payback recognizes Matt for what he is – the new Robin. Many of Batman’s villains would happily take the chance to kill an untrained Robin as a way of hurting Batman. Payback is more motivated than most villains – he blames Batman for his son’s death (even though he really should be blaming himself, if he chooses to blame anyone for it) and wants him to suffer the way he has.
The good news/bad news about this situation? Good news is Matt’s capture was all the motivation Terry needed to kick Payback’s ass. The bad news is that Terry is (rightfully) furious with Bruce. He is painfully aware of the situation at hand, both the danger that Matt rushed into, and the fact that Bruce potentially (probably) set it up to happen that way.
With the fight over, there are still a lot of loose ends left to deal with. Dana, having been tearing into Bruce Wayne for basically all of the fight (it was actually kind of nice to see an outsider calling Bruce out for the way he treats children), rushes off swearing that she won’t let him keep doing this (not entirely sure what that means, but I hope she isn’t planning on using her job to publically out Bruce – that would hurt Terry too, something I hope she considers). But that’s not their only problem…
As a polite reminder, Ten never figured out that Terry and Batman were one and the same. However, she’s seen both Terry and Matt in person (obviously) and Matt was barely disguised during the fight. There’s a good chance and a small hint that Ten recognized Matt. While she may not have put it all together yet, I think it’s only a matter of time. I wonder how she’ll take that news?
Then there’s the conflict between Terry and Bruce. What Bruce did is horrible, but it may be irreversible too. Matt is clearly intent on continuing on his path to becoming Robin, and at this point it may be too late for anyone to talk him out of it (in my experience, once they start out on that path they rarely seem to back off of it). I’m not sure what this will do to the relationship between Terry and Bruce…but it won’t be good. All the trust they’ve been working towards building the last few months is likely gone.
Thankfully this issue did end at a sweet note and one I’m sure most of the fans could have guessed at (here’s a hint: it involves the Stalker and his village). Considering everything that has gone on this issue, I was certainly happy to have a lighter ending like this.
This was a great plot arc; we have old villains (Payback, Stalker) and allies (Ten) being brought to the forefront as well as the start of a new Robin – something I think we’ve all known was coming even back when this series was a TV show. I’m really hoping they continue building in this vein, and am anxious to see what happens next.
Batman Beyond #19