Review: Batman Beyond #2

bmb_2_3< One of the things that makes Batman Beyond interesting on a meta-level is that it started outside of the comic book universe. It was a sequel to the popular (and incredibly well done) tv show Batman: the Animated Series. As a sequel, it had to build itself off of the animated series. It had to appeal to a wide audience. That meant that it couldn’t get too deep into the weirder parts of Batman’s history. There would never be an episode of Batman Beyond where Terry met the Batman Beyond of Zur-en-rah, Bat-Mite Beyond, Knight and Squire Beyond, etc ( you get the point). But, with a comic book, Batman Beyond can get into the weirder parts of the Batman Universe. Batman Beyond can finally introduce the world to Matches Malone Beyond!

For those that don’t know, Matches Malone is Bruce Wayne’s under cover alter-ego. He is a mustacheod, fast-talking, con-man persona that Bruce uses to infiltrate gangs and super-villain territories. (While the identity of Matches Malone has appeared in Batman: the Animated Series on a couple of occasions, I don’t believe he could be considered a part of the common Batman mythos.) In this comic, Terry plays Trey Malone, the fictional Matches’ son. Terry uses the persona of Trey to dress like a clown and infiltrate the Joker Gang.

There is something funny about the fact that Terry’s alter-ego, Trey, has to dress up like an evil clown and I love it. It’s a totally absurd narrative move that works perfectly in this setting, but is crazy if you take a few steps back. There is literally no other story in the world that would still work if the main character had to dress up like an evil clown for a few issues. I also love the contrast this identity has to the Matches Malone identity. Matches was always portrayed as a super-cool guy. He is the leading man in a silent film. But, the passage of time has changed the face of crime and Terry has to essentially become a Faygo chugging Juggalo.

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This brings me to what I believe is the strength of this comic and this series as a whole: Batman Beyond the comic’s ability to integrate classic Batman characters and themes effectively. That brings me to what is most likely the selling point of this issue: we get to see the final battle between Batman and the Joker in the New 52 continuity. That’s right, the final in continuity fight. That is huge.

However, the biggest selling point is also the weakest feature of the story. The final fight between Batman and the Joker is not given the press it deserves. This could have been a huge event book, but the fight disappoints. It’s not that the fight is bad, in fact, some of the panels during Batman and Joker’s final fight are genuinely incredible.The problem is that the fight ends with the Joker seemingly dying on accident. There is no metaphor behind it and nothing surprising about it. It’s just the way you always thought it would happen.

This is still a great comic book and a great read, but part of me thinks it could have been more. I think it is still a sign of great things to come for this series and I am very excited to read more.

Rating: 7 out of 10