Batman Beyond #20 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Marco Castiello, Penciller; Mark Morales, Inker; Wil Quintana, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Love Triangle..Ugh.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: A new artist and a new partner await Terry at the beginning of this latest arc in Batman Beyond #20, which brings the threat back to the Jokerz that kicked off the series. When the issue kicks off, the GCPD and Barbara Gordon are being held hostage by the crazed Scab, a low-level Joker acolyte who has seemingly become more dangerous. He’s claiming that Batman’s become a monster and is attempting to draw him out. Castiello’s art is strong, but he seems to draw Gordon significantly younger than she should be. At Wayne Manor, Matt is beginning his Robin training, while Terry is still skeptical about Bruce’s decision to bring his little brother in. Their debate is interrupted by the arrival of Melanie, aka the reformed Ten, who is looking to convince Terry she’s reformed. This encounter leads to a kiss, and that leads to Dana seeing – which might finally remove her from the book, since no one has been able to do anything interesting with her.
The real meat of the issue comes in when Terry and Matt are deputized to head to Gotham and take on Scab. Matt is clearly having a lot of fun in his new high-tech Robin suit, but Terry is highly protective and wants him to stick back and protect civilians. This is very much in line with how Bruce treated Dick going back to their earliest days, so it’s a nice callback. However, it also leads to the issue’s most problematic scene, when Matt delays for a second carrying out Terry’s orders – and Terry almost immediately blows up on him, seemingly firing him as Robin. It actually took me a minute to re-read and see what Matt actually did wrong, it was so minor. It reminded me a bit of Bruce’s abrupt firing of Stephanie Brown. However, the threat isn’t gone, as it seems like Scab’s hallucinations of a monster Batman aren’t his alone – and a new Scarecrow may be on the horizon. This series has improved, but it still has some characterization kinks to work out.
Corrina: I do love the design of the new Robin costume and its flight ability. I can only imagine what Dick Grayson, the first Robin, would have made of a suit like that.
But the rest–there’s nothing wrong with a love triangle, and nothing wrong with Terry worrying about Matt, but both plot points are handled in predictable ways. The Dana/Terry/Melanie triangle has promise because Terry is caught between a woman who’s known him for years, knows he’s Batman, but doesn’t fully understand it, and a woman who’s also known him for years but doesn’t know his secret but, if she did, would understand why Terry is Batman. I like the contrast of the two sides of Terry but having Dana stumble on Terry kissing Melanie and then walking away just as she says she loves him….that’s out of a bad soap opera playbook.
Similarly, Terry has great reason to be concerned about Matt but he doesn’t even try to see Matt’s side. On the flip side, not once does Bruce bring up the fact that Matt has already been involved in a war that almost destroyed all humanity. It’s not like you can put that genie back in the bottle. But that argument is never pointed out, instead, it’s simply Bruce saying Matt would do it on his own, and comparing Terry to his brother. Like the love triangle, this conflict has promise but only if it plays out less predictably.
As for the Bat Monster? My guess is someone got hold of some Scarecrow gas.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.