[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Will Conrad
Colors: David Baron
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Batman’s got a bullseye on his back in part four of “Target: Batman.” Thanks to the machinations of the Scarecrow, the entire city of Neo-Gotham is looking to take aim at Batman—including his own partner, Robin! Will hero turn against hero when fear is in the air? Elsewhere, former Royal Flush Gang member Melanie Walker looks to upgrade her image and take on a new heroic mantle, so she seeks advice from newsman Jack Ryder—unaware that he’s a total costumed Creeper!
All of Neo-Gotham is terrified of Batman, who they see as a monster or demon, including Commissioner Gordon. This issue, we find out who is causing the citizens to react to Batman this way: the new Scarecrow.
Terry often fights villains that are rooted in Bruce’s past as the original Batman. Sometimes the original villain returns, older but still holding a grudge. Other times, it’s a new character taking on the legacy of one of the original Batman’s rogues. This Scarecrow appears to be one of the latter.
When Batman Beyond brings a classic villain into its future world, I think this is the best approach. Bringing back too many villains relatively unchanged would be unoriginal, but only having original foes for Terry might lose the connection to Batman’s history. But having legacy villains gives the best of both worlds – a new foe with a connection to the past.
And it seems that the new Scarecrow has another connections with the past. Her younger self had a frightening encounter with Bruce’s Batman in childhood. Fittingly, as Scarecrow, she is making all of the city feel the same terror of Batman that she did as a little girl.
Her other connection with the past is that her civilian identity works with Jack Ryder, also know as the Creeper. Jack confronts Bruce, and their conversation hints at a past falling out between Batman and the Creeper. It is also interesting how the flashback image of the Creeper appears to be his original pre-Flashpoint appearance, not his somewhat different New 52 appearance. Could this be a hint that his history has been (or will be) reset to its original version in the present day DCU? It’s hard to say, since the title being set in the future gives it a somewhat looser connection to DCU continuity.
Plus Bruce gives Matt a new Robin costume with equivalent capabilities of Terry’s Batsuit. Then he once again sends Matt to help Terry. Although Bruce cautions Matt to obey Terry’s orders this time, Bruce himself is defying Terry’s declaration that Matt not be Robin. How will Terry react to Bruce doing so? Terry is happy to see Matt come to his aid and says so, but does that mean that he will forgive Bruce for sending him?
I must say that I love the design of the new Robin suit. It complements the design of Terry’s costume, but makes Matt easily identifiable as Robin. Hopefully, this suit and his Robin career will last a for a while.
Speaking of Matt’s career as Robin, Terry shows a glimmer of finally accepting Matt as in the role. Hopefully this what finally changes Terry’s mind. It’s understandable for Terry to be hesitant, as it puts Matt in danger, but at some point he has to get past this so that the story can progress. I hope we are now at that point, but we will have to wait until they deal with Scarecrow to see if this is so.
When Batman Beyond originally appeared as a cartoon, I wasn’t terribly enthused with the idea. Someone other than Bruce Wayne as Batman? So, I was only an occasional viewer. But the reading the comics, especially since the return of Terry has brought me around to being a Batman Beyond fan. It may or may not show the ‘true’ future of the Batman family, but it makes for a damn exciting premise for a different look at the Batman mythos. And this issue clearly exemplifies that.