Batman Beyond #24 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Will Conrad, Artist; David Baron, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Ten Is A Hero
Ray: Now that the main narrative of the Futures End world is thankfully over with and Terry McGinnis is fully back in the lead in Batman Beyond, the title has been getting more into exploring Gotham’s past and bringing back classic Batman villains in new forms. That’s been the case with this arc, featuring a new take on the Scarecrow who was accidentally created by Bruce Wayne years ago – and has been turning all of Gotham against Batman by making them see him as a demon. As the issue starts, virtually all of Terry’s allies in the field have turned on him and are trying to shoot him out of the sky. Even Robin – Terry’s brother Matt – has fallen victim to the possession, and neither Bruce nor his old ally Jack Ryder has any idea of how to stop the plague from spreading. Terry’s only possible salvation comes in the form of a former villain – Melanie Walker, aka Ten, rolling up in her flying card to save the day. She was always one of the most interesting characters in the Batman Beyond cartoon series, and I’m glad to see her playing a bigger role.
While Melanie is trying to save the day, Jack Ryder has entered the field to try to stop his former news protege Adalyn from going too far in her quest for revenge against Batman – but what he finds isn’t a simple revenge plan, but someone so far gone that she barely even sees herself as Adalyn anymore. She’s completely subsumed by the persona of the Scarecrow, and although Jack wants to protect her, he soon finds himself torn between her and his old friend. The reveal of just how Scarecrow has managed to possess everyone in the city is pretty clever – while the old Scarecrow worked with psychoactive drugs, this new one has gone high-tech.
Ultimately, this issue has quite a few reveals, including Melanie being brought into Bruce’s network – against Bruce’s preferences. I think she’s going to be a major new factor that’ll spice up this title’s dynamic, which I’m all in favor of. Less excited about Joker returning – it’s hard to find an angle that would be better than the fantastic Return of the Joker movie the series did.
Corrina: It’s hard for me to find excitement for any Joker story but anyone who reads these reviews knows I loathe the character. (I do recognize Return of the Joker is good but I still hate what was done to Tim Drake.)
But this issue was happily free of the Joker and that’s a good thing because any story featuring the Scarecrow is going to feature people confronting their worst fears and that makes for great insight into them. It’s interesting that Batman seems to embody fear for so many people in Gotham but perhaps the psychosis was specifically targeted or perhaps people have a guilty conscience or perhaps Batman is just that scary.
The person who saves the day is Melanie, well on her way to redemption. As much as I’ve hated the way Dana has been written, that’s how much I love how Melanie has been written. If a Dana/Terry/Melanie triangle is being set up, it’s weighed heavily in Melanie’s direction, especially after this issue and the revelation of Batman’s secret identities.
I had hoped to see more from Jack Ryder in this story, especially since the Creeper tended to be a force of chaos. Instead, Jack’s role could probably have been played by an original character, as he seems to exist for pulling guilt down on Terry and Bruce. But having the villain “created” by the callousness of a hero is my least favorite villain origin and that could be influencing my dislike of the revelations about what motivated Adalyn.
Overall, this series has shifted from an awful setup with Futures End into a decent Batman Beyond comic. I just wish it could shift to an excellent one.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.