Batman Beyond #27 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Brett Booth, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Andrew Dalhouse, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Joker Returns…Again
Ray: Definitely an improvement over last month’s issue, but Brett Booth’s stint on Batman Beyond is still not really capturing the vibe of the issues that were leading up to it. His art is too glitzy and 90s-influenced, meaning it’s not a great fit for Neo-Gotham’s high-tech noir influences. But the story is the bulk of the book, of course, and it’s definitely a step up from the last installment. Splitting the narrative between Terry and Joker as they struggle to keep a step ahead of each other, the issue takes some time out of the chaos to show Terry and Melanie getting some quiet time together. The decision to write Dana out and give Melanie a bigger role was probably for the best. Dana was always written as too much of a scold – more a problem for the writing than the character – and Melanie can take a more active role in the narrative. But it’s still not long before they’re interrupted by Matt, who flies in with intel on Joker.
Joker, meanwhile, is wasting no time causing chaos in Gotham. His first target is the Jokerz and anyone else who has been cheapening his name in Gotham. He engineers a suicide bombing of a novelty store by blackmailing a former Jokerz member, and then proceeds to assemble his own deadly gang of “Throwbacks” – former Jokerz who appreciate the more violent ways. I’m still a bit puzzled by who this Joker is supposed to be and why he’s so young – shouldn’t he be in his 80s like Bruce now? We’ve seen a lot of Joker stories, and this one is solidly in the middle of the pack. Jurgens’ Joker is more violent than the classic animated version, but lacks the deadly edge of the Snyder Joker. The end of the issue puts Matt in danger, setting up another threat to the life of a Robin at Joker’s hand – which I’d take more seriously if Joker wasn’t wearing a ridiculous robot suit. Overall, decent but not great.
Corrina: I think this Joker is supposed to be the original, somehow put on ice or kept by Brother Eye in suspended animation. He’s been teased since Bruce returned from the dead.
We all know how much I dislike Joker stories on general principle, so I’ll leave that part aside and say this feels like the Joker, especially the part with him annoyed at his imitators. However, I wanted more of the Bat-cast, particularly the older Dick Grayson and his daughter, who have been underused since being introduced a few issues ago. And the menace surrounding Matt due to the Joker makes me wince. (Okay, so I did mention the Joker plot a bit.)
The overall problem with this arc, I think, is that any big “original Joker” arc is going to be compared to Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, considered to be one of the best Batman animated movies. Is it as good? No, not as yet. And I have one further worry: we haven’t seen future Tim Drake in a long time in this series. I’m wondering if this Joker is him, again calling back to the animated movie.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.