[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund
Colours: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Travis Lanham
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
The Joker prepares to deliver his fatal punchline: everything and the kitchen sink hits the fan for Batman and Robin, and even with Dick Grayson’s help, the Dynamic Duo of tomorrow and Bruce Wayne may not stand a chance. Will Joker turn Terry’s brother into the new Jason Todd? Is now a good time for Terry and Bruce to clash? And why are Neo-Gothamites cheering on the Clown Prince? Will anyone survive “The Final Joke”?
This issue, we witness a rather unique situation as the original Batman and Robin are stuck in the Batcave watching the action while their successors battle the Joker. It’s clear that Dick hates sitting around helpless just as much as Bruce, leading him to commandeer the Batmobile and rush to their assistance.
Although the fight with the Joker dominates the story, another important conflict is evident between Bruce and Dick. Dick believes that Matt being the new Robin is just another case of Bruce recklessly endangering a child, but Bruce believes that Batman needs a Robin and has faith in Matt’s ability to live up to the role.
It seems rather strange that the original Robin would feel this way, but past history seems to have affected Dick adversely. It also seems that he is merely assuming that Matt isn’t up to the task. Perhaps if he got to know Matt better, he might become more open to Matt in the role of Robin.
It is rather amusing that Joker’s reaction to a new Batman and Robin using futuristic tech is to turn his henchman into a technological monstrosity and dub him “Joker Beyond”. The Joker also seems to be leaning up against the fourth wall in his choice of name, as Terry is never actually referred to as “Batman Beyond”, but merely “Batman”. The word “Beyond” only ever appears in the comic or cartoon title.
And the next issue tag on the last page strikes a chilling note for those familiar with their Batman history: “Next: Death In The Family?”. The infamous storyline “A Death In The Family” being the storyline in which the Joker murdered Jason Todd, the second holder of the Robin role.
I have no problems with the issue itself, but I fear that the storyline may be heading to either Matt’s death or the end of his being Robin. I think either would be a big mistake, as having a Robin in the mix really works well within the Batman Beyond mythos. However, of these options, I would prefer that Matt merely leaves the role, as that would leave open the possibility of his returning to it down the line.
Many titles have their ups and downs, but Dan Jurgens has managed to keep the quality of Batman Beyond consistently good. There have been many incarnations of the comic so far, but I believe that in the future, DC readers will consider Jurgens run as the hallmark era of Batman Beyond.