[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Doc Shaner
Colours: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Travis Lanham
Reviewed By: Derek McNeil
Robin no more?! It’s a turning point for the brothers McGinnis as Terry and Matt face a tough road ahead in the wake of The Joker’s attack. But the real question is: Does Batman really need a Robin, or is it time for Neo-Gotham’s Caped Crusader to fly solo once more?
The issue starts with Jurgens pranking the readers by showing the Joker had somehow survived his apparent death last issue, but then pulling the rug out from under us by revealing that it’s just a nightmare Matt McGinnis is having. It’s something of a mean trick on Jurgens’ part, but I have to admire the skillful fake out.
The focus of the story is on Matt and his future as Robin to Terry’s Batman. Although Bruce is in favour of it, Terry and Dick Grayson are both against it, and even Bruce acknowledges that it’s Terry’s call to make. And it seems they have good reason, as Matt is clearly still getting over the trauma of having been the Joker’s captive, as evidenced by his nightmare and also freezing when confronting one of the Jokerz.
I like that Matt’s experience is being treated somewhat more realistically than such occurrences would have in the past. Any of the previous Robins would likely have been shown back in action the next issue, seemingly unaffected by their experience. It will also be interesting to see how Matt continues to cope with the psychological trauma.
I also like that with this story not being part of the main DC continuity, there is a real uncertainty about Matt’s future. We can’t assume that he will ever return to the role of Robin. The existence of a Robin is something Jurgens added to the world of Batman Beyond, not an inherent part of the mythology, so Jurgens is free to keep or dispose of the concept as he chooses.
I also like the general response of the future Bat-Family to the Joker’s death. It is very understandable that they are being extremely thorough in confirming that the dead body does indeed belong to the Joker, considering the number of times he and most other DC characters have returned from apparently dying.
Also, I can very much understand that Bruce would act to eliminate any remaining influence of the Joker on Gotham. So, it make sense that Bruce would send Terry out to round up the remaining members of the Jokerz gang.
There is also an intriguing hint at a future threat as Bruce and Dick realize that the “clown’s first imitator” is at large: Harley Quinn. This is followed by an unknown woman stealing the Joker’s body from the morgue, telling the corpse “I’m takin’ you home…Puddin’.” Does this mean that Terry will have to face a vengeful Harley? Or even worse, will she attempt and possible succeed in bringing the Joker back from the dead?
I really loved the addition of Matt’s Robin to the Batman Beyond mythos, so I am sorry to see his tenure cut short after having barely started. I truly hope that Terry will come around and allow Matt to resume the role. But I love that the question has a real uncertainty and we can’t be sure that it will happen.
Although the idea of Harley returning is an intriguing possibility, I hope it doesn’t happen immediately. The current Joker storyline was focused around the history of Bruce’s Batman, bringing back old characters such as Dick and the Joker. Plus, several of the previous stories have featured updated versions of Bruce’s villains. I would like to see Terry face one of his own villains or an entirely original villain for a change, rather than a rehash of one of Bruce’s rogues gallery.
This issue was a somewhat sad, but realistic epilogue to “The Final Joke”. Although it seems that Matt’s tenure as Robin is over, Terry’s adventures as Batman will continue. And with the lingering threat of Harley Quinn looming, he might wish he still had a Robin to assist him. Jurgens continues to deliver a fascinating extension of the Batman Beyond saga.