Review – Batman Beyond #29: Joker’s Last Laugh?

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Batman Beyond #29 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman Beyond #29 – Dan Jurgens, Writer; Brett Booth, Penciller; Norm Rapmund, Inker; Andrew Dalhouse, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 7.5/10

Corrina: Shades of DKR?

Ray: One of the interesting subplots of this Batman Beyond arc is that Dan Jurgens has since been tapped to take over Nightwing in coming months. That makes his portrayal of an aged Dick Grayson in this arc – one implied to be from the current continuity, complete with a reference to getting shot in the head – a brief insight into his take on the character. Based on what we’ve seen here, I think he has a good handle on Dick and will be slowly pulling “Ric” back to who he’s supposed to be.

As for the main plot in Batman Beyond #29, a little more mixed. On a meta level, this arc is about an elderly Joker recreating his greatest hits, including planning to kill Robin with a crowbar. He’s kidnapped Matt on his first major mission as Terry’s Robin and is attempting to force Batman’s secret identity out of the boy. Streaming this potential execution live, he sets off a high-stakes chase across the city as Terry tries to save his brother’s life.

While Joker here is a pathetic old man recreating past glory, that impacts the feel of the issue overall. There’s a lot of “been there, done that” to the plot. I’m also not sure about the characterization of his henchmen – Jurgens seems to give them some moments of self-awareness and self-preservation, but they always go back to obeying Joker’s orders. But the issue really comes alive in the last few pages, as Joker makes a surprise appearance with Matt as his hostage. In the Batcave, Bruce and Joker face off one last time with a brilliantly karmic – if a bit convenient – ending. The plot as a whole has been one of the series’ weakest, as I don’t think it’s really told us anything about Joker we didn’t already know, but it had a strong ending that sets up a lot of doubts about Matt’s future as Robin. I’m just hoping this series continues the strong characterization but makes better use of the Batman Beyond rogues gallery like the previous arc did.

Batman Beyond #29
This seems familiar. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: The ending, though, is at least inspired by Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, as the Joker dies in order to make Batman look like a killer. (Incidentally, this incident in DKR caused the government to go after Batman as a killer. How comic book morals have changed because, now, people might just shrug and figure the Joker deserved it. Comics have gotten darker since DKR.)

I was far more interested in the older Dick Grayson and his daughter in this arc though they didn’t have much of a spotlight. Have we seen her mother? If not, that’s another hint of what Jurgens might be doing in Nightwing.

I do like Matt as Robin. He seems unafraid of the dangers he’s facing but that’s probably because he’s the survivor of a war, not because he doesn’t know any better.

As for a Joker story, any story that ends with him dead can’t be all bad.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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