By Cat Wyatt
With Payback taken care of, once again, Batman Beyond is free to start something new. While Batman Beyond #20 does start off a new plot, called the Jokers Are Out for Blood, it doesn’t ignore the multiple plots that are already in the air. This issue will either make fans very happy or very angry, depending on their ship of choice.
For the first time in a while, the drama isn’t starting directly around Batman. Well, actually in a sense it is since these crazed Jokers seem to think that Batman is out to kill them, even though this Batman still has a pretty strict ‘no killing’ policy.
The police precinct is under attack, and Barbara Gordon is being forced to take up her gun and help resolve the situation. Obviously, she’s pretty badass, even at her age, but those are still not great odds, especially when there are hostages and other civilians at risk.
Meanwhile, Terry is blissfully unaware of the situation building across town. Well, blissful probably isn’t the best choice of words in this case. Terry is furious with Bruce. If you read the last issue then it’s pretty obvious why Terry would be so upset; Bruce is letting, no encouraging Matt to take up the Robin mantle. It’s almost like Bruce hasn’t learned his lesson or caused enough pain to dozens of kids trying to follow in his footsteps. Oh, wait.
There are two sides to this situation. Obviously, Bruce should never have encouraged Matt to do this, and let’s not pretend that Bruce did anything but that. He knew that Matt was training in the batcaves and did nothing to discourage it. Likewise, Bruce is sort of right, at this point, Matt is too deep to want to back out, and if Terry isn’t there to back him up and help out, then Matt will probably do something stupid.
Now, there likely was another solution to this problem, and it’s even probably that Bruce is aware of that, but we all know he wouldn’t tell Terry that. So now Terry is stuck in a bind; help Matt learn how to do this, to ensure he’s doing it as safely as possible, or let him run off and do it by himself. Neither sounds terribly pleasant.
While the situation is pretty frustrating, it is really, and oddly, nice to see that Bruce hasn’t changed. Bruce may no longer be capable of wearing that bat suit, but he is still Batman through and through. He won’t kill anyone, but he has no problem with ruining people’s lives. That will likely never change.
Thankfully for Bruce, a new arrival distracts Terry from the fight. There are only so many people that can distract Terry from something like that, and most of them are pretty good at bringing their own form of mayhem with them.
In this case it’s Melanie here to see Terry. Go ahead, those out there that ship Melanie and Terry, take a moment to squeal about the idea of them having their first real conversation in a decade. I’ll wait.
Better? Now, despite how little time these two have actually spent together, they have quite the history. Most recently there’s the concern that Melanie broke into Wayne Manor and stole a photo of Terry, not that anyone can blame her for that. Likewise Terry really needs to explain how he wound up living with the obscenely rich Bruce Wayne.
These subjects are rough and not very fun to talk about…and yet you can still very clearly see the chemistry between these two. While Terry may have spent the better part of his life chasing Dana, there’s no denying that there’s something electric between him and Melanie. As evidenced by the fact that Terry has finally gotten what he wanted, a relationship with Dana, only here he is, out with Melanie.
Naturally nothing is ever so smooth or easy for Terry, especially where Dana is concerned. You can likely guess what happened and who witnessed what. The Dana and Terry shippers will likely weep, while the Terry and Melanie shippers will cheer.
As upset as some fans may be about this, it actually could end up being pretty interesting. Dana knows Terry’s secret. She also knows Bruce’s secret, and Matt’s as well. She could do a lot of damage to them all, and she’s got very good reason to be upset with both Terry and Bruce. Add in the fact that she’s a reported and we’ve got a potential fiasco on our hands.
Right, there’s an actual and dangerous situation happening back at police headquarters, and Terry, er, Batman better get on that. It’s time for Matt, aka the newest Robin, to get his first official outing in his new suit. It’s interesting, this isn’t the first time that Batman and Robin have been related, but it is the first time they’ve been brothers. Funny how times have changed.
This was a well written issue, especially when we consider how much was established here. In one issue the creators have successfully established multiple points of interest and tension. There’s the Jokers plot, which will be both dangerous and fascinating on its own, and that’s before considering what these boys have been hallucinating. There’s the Melanie plot, which could prove to be a distraction for Terry, not to mention she’s so close to figuring out the truth of Terry and Matt. There’s Dana, who knows all of their secrets and has the resources to do something about it. And then there’s Matt, who desperately wants to be like his brother and be a hero. In short Terry has an awful lot, too much really, to deal with and who knows how much time to get it resolved.
The artwork was pretty decent for this issue. They hinted at redesigning Matt’s suit, saying this one is just a prototype, which is good because it looks a bit corny right now. Barbara looks a little different from the TV show version of herself, she looks younger and in slightly better shape here, but that can easily be accounted to a stylistic choice by the artist. That or the creative team wants to be giving her more actions scenes in the future, so they had to change her accordingly. It should be interesting to see how involved she gets in this upcoming Joker plot.
Batman Beyond #20