Batman Beyond #26 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Brett Booth, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Andrew Dalhouse, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: A Decent Joker Story. If You’re In the Mood For a Joker Story
Ray: It’s rare that a shift in art completely destroys an issue, but that’s what happens with Brett Booth’s arrival on Batman Beyond. He’s all wrong for the title in every way, as his glossy 90’s-inspired style makes everything feel flashy and modern. It’s a decent fit on books like Flash and Titans if you can ignore the wonky anatomy at times, but in the gritty world of Gotham City of the future, it completely takes you out of the title. The problems start from the first page, where Barbara Gordon somehow seems to have been deaged twenty years from the last page of the previous issue. Who does she think she is, Aunt May? After a brief fight with the Joker, Barbara watches as the mad clown escapes. The odd thing is, sometimes a writer’s style changes with the artist, and it definitely feels like that – Jurgens’ Joker is much less menacing, much more clownish this issue, and it doesn’t work for me like it did the last issue.
These last few issues have been oddly specific with the fact that this is now the future of the DCU as we know it – Dick even references the time he got shot in the head! I’d like to think we won’t remember that a year from now, let alone forty into the future. The issue is at its best when it’s focusing on the partnership of Terry and Max. Their solo mission into Old Gotham to deal with the fallout of the building collapse is very strong, showing their growing teamwork and the brotherly bond they share. It’s at its weakest when focusing on the Joker, who is beginning a rampage of revenge by picking up the crowbar he used to kill Jason. Joker can work really well sometimes – Johns, Snyder, and King all have distinct takes that I enjoy on different levels, but this version feels like classic cartoon Joker with more sadism. Batman Beyond has been improving a lot as a title, but this issue was a huge step back.
Corrina: I think the panel above is meant to reference The Killing Joke, except this time, Barbara isn’t shot. That’s good but this is Barbara Gordon in the Batman Beyond Universe. Yet she looks like the current Babs in her own title. C’mon.
As Ray said, the difference in art was immediately apparent. More elongated bodies, odd facial expressions, and curiously de-aged characters save for older Bruce Wayne, who missed whatever youth serum Barbara was given. However, to give Booth his due, Terry and Max’s Batman/Robin team-up to rescue people from the rubble of a collapsed tower looks great, especially the new Robin costume. This, as Ray said, is the best sequence in the book, with extra tension provided by the worry that Joker might show up to spring a trap.
As for the overall story, the problem with using the Joker in this universe is that any Joker story will be compared to Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, and it’s likely to pale by comparison, especially since the plot will focus on Joker attempting to destroy yet another Robin. I’d hoped for more from this title.
(By the way, did we ever find out where old Tim went way back after this? Or is he forgotten? Or maybe old Tim is the new Joker?)
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.