[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Phil Hester, Ande Parks
“The Long Payback” part three! Stalker has arrived in Neo-Gotham with one mission: bring down Batman! Terry will be pushed to his limits against an opponent with superior skills and training, and even Bruce Wayne may not be enough to help him. This is the knock-down, drag-out fight you won’t want to miss! Plus, learn who’s been hiring Gotham City’s underworld elite to bring down the Bat.
This is an action-packed issue focusing on the fight between Batman and Stalker. Terry had come to terms with Stalker, but he tells Terry that he will get food for his starving village in exchange for defeating and capturing Batman. This raises the question of who Stalker is working for, which is left a mystery for now.
There is also a well-written moment between Bruce and Terry’s brother Matt, when it looks like Terry is about to be killed. Bruce tells Matt to remember that Terry is Batman and then proceeds to describe what he would do in the same perilous situation, which is precisely what Terry does do, demonstrating that he is as capable at being the Batman as Bruce was in his day.
Although Terry no longer has the fancy new prototype suit, we see that Bruce hasn’t been lax in keeping Terry’s classic Batsuit up to date. At one point during the fight, Terry muses, “If I were in the old suit, I’d be dead by now.” Plus, there is the debut of the suit’s new cloaking tech, adding invisibility to Terry’s arsenal of abilities.
There also seems to be a mysterious female vigilante fighting crime in Gotham, much to the consternation of Commissioner Barbara Gordon. Barbara tells us that this person is not associated with the Bat-Family, but when she finally comes face to face with Terry, will it be as an ally or an enemy?
The solicitation text mentions that we will “learn who’s been hiring Gotham City’s underworld elite to bring down the Bat.” I presume that’s the same unknown person that’s behind Stalker’s attack on Terry. However, the promised revelation doesn’t actually occur in this issue. So, we will have to remain in the dark for now. I’m sure we will find out soon, so I am content to be held in suspense a little longer.
Batman beyond has done a stellar job of both returning the book to a state approximating the original cartoon, while also adding to the mythos. The best thing about this series is that it feels like a continuation of the Batman Beyond cartoon, rather than an alternative take on it. The cartoon didn’t really end, it lives on in comic book form.