Batman is in a rough spot. He’s trapped within the clutches of Payback, a villain out for revenge against the Dark Knight for what he thinks led to his son’s death. Melanie Walker, the former Ten from the Royal Flush Gang, came in to help, but has been stopped in her tracks. If only there was another hero to provide assistance, maybe someone in a supporting role…like a sidekick…like a Robin.
This isn’t much of a spoiler because we saw him debut in the Robin outfit last issue, and he’s on the cover, but Terry’s brother, Matt suits up and heads out on his first mission. He’s sporting a version of the Robin outfit that will definitely have to be refined if he continues in the role. This opens up a ton of cool possibilities with this story. Think about this for a second. In the present day, we have a father and son Batman and Robin with Bruce and Damian. Here we could have two brothers in that role with Terry and Matt. That makes for a very interesting dynamic.
Additionally, the fallout from this decision is going to leave a large wake. Bruce is blamed for this by Dana and Terry. They feel he pushed Matt into this, when in reality, the kid has been training in plain sight for the past few issues. It was going to happen sooner or later, but since Bruce basically gave the approval, he’s held responsible. Also, Matt is a kid and Bruce is the only adult in the room.
Matt’s Robin outfit is pretty lacking. He’s basically just wearing a utility belt over his street clothes along with a domino mask. He does get to ride into combat with the Robin-cycle and since this is Batman Beyond, it’s a futuristic hover bike. I’m not entirely sold on this design. It’s a little blocky for my tastes, so it kind of looks like Matt is riding on a stylized Tetris piece with a big R on the side.
While Matt assuming the mantle of Robin was an inevitability, it is Bruce’s reaction that stands out. He was once the Batman. Criminals feared him, other heroes respected him (and feared him a little), and upcoming heroes looked up to him. He was strong and independent. Now he’s confined to a wheelchair, incapable of doing anything to help his protege while he’s out in the field about to die. That has to be such a sickening feeling of powerlessness.
This plays out on Bruce’s face too. You can see this feeling of inadequacy and sadness as he tries to explain his actions to Dana. This is replaced with stark determination when he’s forced to deal with the situation at hand. He’s got two people in the field, one of which is barely trained, and he needs to ensure their safety. If anyone can bring young vigilantes home again, it’s Bruce Wayne. He’s been doing it for years.
I realize I got this far into the review and I’ve barely mentioned Terry. He’s obviously still a key part of this story. Artist Phil Hester makes him appear larger than life, like a hulking beast in a bat suit. He looks bigger and more powerful than he is in real life. This is also a great juxtaposition between Terry, the Batman of the future, and Bruce, the Batman of the past. One is full of strength while the other is wheelchair-bound. You can see Terry’s emotion through the mask, which is a nice touch. This comes through both in his moments of pain and those of blind rage after he sees his brother in danger.
Batman Beyond is heading into uncharted territory with a really cool take on the dynamic duo. Now that Matt has put on the mask, it’s going to be really hard to get him to go back to a normal civilian life, so I’m betting we’ll get some more adventures with him and Terry. This can lead to some fun stories as the two brothers head out to fight crime and protect Gotham City. Think how sibling rivalry would work with batarangs. I’m excited to see where writer Dan Jurgens takes this next.