Batman Beyond #19 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Phil Hester, Penciller; Ande Parks, Inker; Mike Spicer, Inker
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Liking the Robin Development
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The conclusion to the Payback arc in Batman Beyond #19 brings major plot developments for several characters, but one character unfortunately regresses and continues to be an ongoing problem for this series. When we last left off, the new Payback was revealed not as the original, but as his deranged father, taking his son’s suicide out on Batman rather than looking at his own actions that led to the tragedy. He’s captured Batman and Ten and is torturing Batman when Bruce makes the fateful decision to allow Matt into the field and deputize the first Robin in decades. Matt, while very much still a beta Robin, is excited to enter the field and adds a youthful energy to the issue that maybe feels a bit out of place given the stakes and the sense of danger. The issue does a really good job with Bruce as well, as he struggles with the fact that he’s no longer physically capable of entering the field to help his allies.
However, one character doesn’t really work in this issue, and she’s arguably never worked in any version of the property. That would be Dana Tan, Terry’s long-time girlfriend. Now that she’s involved in Terry’s double life, I was hoping she would become more compelling. Instead, as soon as she finds out that Matt’s in the field, she turns into an angry, overprotective stereotype as she harangues Bruce about what a monster he is for bringing kids into his war. She oddly doesn’t even seem particularly concerned about Terry, which is the only reason Bruce agreed to Matt’s involvement in the first place. Terry’s none too pleased with Matt’s involvement either, and that seems like it’s going to play out in future issues. I did like the ending of this issue, involving Terry arriving in Africa to make good on his promise to Stalker, a lot. This arc has been one of the series’ strongest, but the cast as a whole still has a few kinks to be worked out.
Corrina: I have no idea what Jurgens is doing with Dana. Her reactions don’t make sense, given she must know of Matt’s role in the whole dystopian war that this future was created from in Futures End. Keeping Matt out of danger is a ship that’s sailed, especially since Matt himself led the mission to find the Justice League Beyond. Is Matt supposed to stay in school or something? He’s arguably the best-trained person for it.
I guess Jurgens is using Dana as a mouthpiece for the point of view that allowing an underage Robin is child endangerment. Except, in this case, we’re not in a regular world, we’re in a world where Matt is a hardened child soldier, not a wide-eyed idealistic kid. This way, he gets to be the hero he always wanted. Bringing the issue up at all puzzles me.
Aside from that (and it really is a glaring problem that harshes the mellow of the rest of the issue), Bruce’s angst over sending Matt in as Robin is well-done and I love that this Bruce is allowed to feel his age and try to come to peace with it. The ending is nicely idealistic too, with Terry helping out an enemy who is now clearly a friend because it’s the right thing to do.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.