Batman Beyond #33 // Review
Decades from now, Batman faces the twin threat of a pair of villains collectively known as Splitt. They are the least of his problems, though, as aging former Batman Bruce Wayne is behaving erratically, casting his allies out of the Batcave and generally causing a mess in an issue written by Dan Jurgens with art by Rick Leonardi and inker Ande Parks. Jurgens’ plot takes a traditional Batman story into somewhat clever new ground with dynamic art by an industry veteran. A series that had been faltering a bit in recent months finds some momentum as Batman Beyond reaches its 33rd issue.
The battle with Splitt isn’t going well. Batman Terry McGinnis is having difficulty keeping the dual-layered villain in check. He could really use help from veteran Batman Bruce Wayne...only trouble is that Wayne is out gambling and womanizing. He’s ordered his team to vacate the Batcave and Wayne Manor. McGinnis heads out to confront Wayne on the matter while other members of his side look into Arkham Asylum to find answers to Wayne’s enigmatic behavior. There’s a villain there who might have something to do with the matter.
Much of the issue finds Wayne’s associates gradually uncover a plot point that Jurgens telegraphed at the end of the previous chapter. It’s so utterly apparent to the reader what’s going on that Wayne’s crack team of sleuths come across as being a bit slow on the uptake. That aside, Jurgens is telling a fun story that’s solidly grounded in the milieu that Batman’s been skulking for decades. One scene leads to the next with a gifted rhythm that leads quite naturally to a potential conclusion next issue. Attentive readers will know exactly what’s going on this issue, but Jurgens manages smart, little sleight of hand with the story in a plot twist that cleverly reveals itself at issue’s end.
Leonardi frames nearly every panel with a brilliant angle. Panels shoot the perspective around the page without distracting from the central story. Leonardi handles action a bit better than more stationary dramatic moments. Wayne’s seedy gambling scene could have come across with considerable more impact if Leonardi had found some way to give the stage and setting a bit more menace. That scene aside, Leonardi’s handle of the action throughout the issue keeps one page fluidly leading to the next from beginning to end.
A story of mystery and suspense pulls Batman Beyond into the very entertaining territory. It’s nothing new to anyone who might have read Batman over the decades, but Jurgens and Leonardi navigate McGinnis and his colleagues through a really entertaining story with tension that holds together throughout the issue. With questions of identity, memory, and motivation sliding in around the edges of the story, Juergens could potentially lead this series in a captivating new direction that could possibly influence the story into some very fresh territory if everything lines up in the right way. Even if this new direction doesn’t live up to its potential, the series continues to be fun thanks to the efforts of a couple of very experienced storytellers.