Sunday, August 22, 2010
Batman Beyond #3 - Expanding Awesome
For the first two issues, the Batman Beyond mini-series has done a lot to remind fans of why the show was so freaking awesome back in the day and why the whole concept of it was abandoned way too quickly. That's not to say it didn't have it's faults. I'm sure there are so many reasons why telling stories about a future Batman trying to pick up the mantle from Bruce Wayne would have to be thrown out (if there was a way to highlight text as sarcasm, I would be using it excessively right now). But for what it's done so far, the Batman Beyond mini-series has been able to capture much of what the old cartoon established, only this time they don't have to worry about bullshit censors from WB that don't allow characters to even say the world "heck" without their assholes clenching.
So far the mini has centered around bringing an old Batman foe into the future and having Terry McGinnis (a guy whose used to taking on futuristic assholes like Inque, Shriek, and Blight) take them on without coming off as a douche-bag for beating down on elders. The big villain that was revealed in the last issue is a villain that would have made the FCC shit themselves if he had made it onto the show. Hush, a guy whose face consists mostly of bandages, is a violent killer from Bruce Wayne's past that was part of one of the best Batman stories in the past decade. Now he wants to fuck with the new Batman. How he's managed to stay in such good shape over 40 years later is a mystery nobody has even touched on yet. Either he's working out with Selvester Stallone or taking a shit ton of HGH (which would also put him in league with Stallone).
At the end of the previous issue, Hush confronts the new Batman while he's looking to off another one of Batman's old villains. Calendar, another of the more notable Batman villains from the past ten years, simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was nothing more than that funky stink bait for big fish and Terry, having fully entrenched himself in some of Bruce's old (flawed) habits, walked right into it. Batman Beyond #3 begins with old school and new school going at it and right off the bat, old school kicks more ass.
Needless to say, Hush is not impressed. He knows that this Batman isn't the same Batman he fought years ago. He openly taunts Terry while kicking his ass, talking down to him in the same way seniors talk down to freshman on the first day of high school although to be fair Hush is a little less abrasive (what's that say about high school in this day and age?). Terry tries to fight back, but doesn't even get in a lucky blow. He's essentially bitch slapped by Hush, a guy who could probably qualify for social security if it probably wasn't bankrupt by this point. And he's the one with the agility-enhancing suit.
As if that weren't bad enough, Hush finishes what he came to do in the first place. He kills Calendar. But he doesn't do it in a simple, merciful way. That would be too easy. He actually takes one of Calendar's own explosive letters and shoves it into his mouth. Then while Terry is still trying to pull what little is left of his pride together, the tiny bomb blows up and cooks Calendar like a deep fried turkey. Not only that, he gives Batman the slip. If this were a battle of youth versus experience, then experience would be on trial for war crimes for cruel and excessive violence.
Needless to say, Bruce is not happy. He spends two full pages chewing Terry out for his failure. Not only did he let Hush get away, he let him murder his victim. For someone who made Batman such a legendary figure, you can't fault Bruce for being a little pissed. That's like someone pissing on the legacy that he spent decades building. Terry isn't hearing it though. He's already been wounded enough and essentially cuts Bruce off while he's still yelling at him. He then does probably the least heroic thing any Batman could do. He goes home and sleeps. By the time he wakes up, his mother and little brother are looking at him like he's a non-gay unicorn. It shows how rarely he's even home, which is another element from the show.
Although at this point, I think it's worth pointing out that the artist who drew Terry's mother may not have bothered to watch the show. She looks nothing like the show portrayed her. For one, she was not a brunette and she didn't look fucking Asian. Since this may very well be the only time they appear in this series, I'm willing to overlook it. But it's still in inconsistency in a book that to this point has been pretty damn good at avoiding them.
As if his family wasn't giving him much respect, his girlfriend Dana is just as frustrated. For pretty much the entire cartoon, Terry dated the same girl. However, Dana was about as developed as a third-world country in Africa throughout the show. She never so much as tried to investigate what Terry was doing in this job and never questioned it no matter how vague he was. Either she's the most trusting girlfriend in the world or the most gullible. Even if she is hot, she's not all that nice about it either. For just the few panels she's on, she tells Terry she hates his job. She comes off as a total bitch, but again that's about as much depth as she gets in this series.
So let's review. Terry's family think he's a mess, his girlfriend is busting his balls in a vice, and he let Hush get away after killing another victim. I think it's safe to say his life sucks right now and couldn't get much lower. But wouldn't you know it? Bruce finds a way to further dent his ego. When he returns to the Batcave, he finds that Bruce has been preparing some 'backup' for him and by 'backup' I don't mean a new sexy Batgirl. He actually has a semi-giant bat-robot in the waiting to help succeed where he's failed. Needless to say, Terry doesn't like this. He tears into Bruce the way Christian Bale turns into low-ranking stage hands. Bruce tears right back into him, showing once again what a miserable old fuck he is. Terry's response is something that might as well have been copied and pasted from the show. He says as soon as he takes Hush in, he's quitting. Yeah, they're using that plot again. As if more than a few episodes wasn't enough.
While Bruce simmers in his old age, Terry goes out and starts doing some real detective work. He pays Tim Drake a visit, who if Beyond fans would recall had the unfortunate task of being the Joker's meat puppet in the "Return of the Joker" movie. He says he's better now, but Terry still wants clues. The best Tim can do is point him in the direction of someone else. It's not clear who it is, but while he's on his way to see this contact he encounters someone else who showed up in the previous issue. That someone is the future version of Catwoman, who sadly still hasn't adopted her predecessor's preference for revealing costumes.
This time Batman does hold his own and manages to prevent Catwoman from further emasculating him. He also takes the time to set this battle between them apart, having not flirting and no sexual innuendo. Now for Batman and Catwoman, that seems a little fucked up. Since so much else from Batman Beyond has echoed from Batman's past, it seems like a missed opportunity to not be a little coy with this plot. I guess the best you could say is that this series is setting Terry apart from Bruce in that he's not letting the wrong head do the thinking when it comes to this woman. Unfortunately, this doesn't get him any answers and Catwoman eventually escapes as always. This time Terry isn't totally broken up about it and moves onto the contact Tim gave him.
Batman fans and Batman Beyond fans will surely get a little giddy when they see who this contact is. He was mentioned a number of times back in the show, but never put into a scene. In terms of clues regarding Batman's past fights, he's probably best equipped to help Terry. Who might he be? Well since Batman's list of friends is long enough to be scribbled on a sheet of toilet paper with enough room for instructions on making a turkey dinner, there aren't many characters to cite. So if Dick Grayson wasn't the first name to pop into your mind, then you need to get a new brand of toilet paper.
It's an awesome moment, connecting the future and the past. Unfortunately, whatever clues Dick has to offer will have to wait until the next issue because while he's catching up with a guy who has been MIA from Batman the whole time, the future Catwoman does some social networking of her own. That little encounter from earlier was shown not to be much of an encounter. She slipped a tracer on Terry while she had him in her grasp (in a totally non-sexual manner unfortunately). Why did she do that? Why else would a sexy thief do anything? For money, damn it!
Unfortunately for her, the man paying is Hush. If this woman were the old Catwoman, she would be a lot smarter than to trust a guy with bandages for a face. That's another thing. In this scene her face is revealed, but there's no clue or even a mention of who she could be or who she's related to. Is she linked to Selena Kyle? Is she related to another Batman villain? That isn't even touched on. All that really happens is that Hush goes back on the little deal they made and prepares to kill her. Seeing as how she hasn't been all that cute or sexy with Batman, it probably wouldn't be too upsetting if he snapped her neck. It's a nice way to end the book, but again it's a missed opportunity for another revelation.
That seems to be the primary theme of this issue. There were a lot of opportunities to make it more awesome, but they were never utilized. There was no further development with Terry's family. Dana is as flat as ever. And they show Catwoman's face without so much as hinting at who she could be. I know in every comic the writers are obligated to leave some loose ends to keep the reader interested, but there comes a point when they're so loose that if it were a woman it would be more overworked than Courtney Love. It brings down some of the momentum the first two issues established while also taking a few too many plot points from the show and not doing anything different with it. Because seriously, how many times can Terry threaten to quit before it becomes an empty threat?
Despite these missed chances, the action is still solid and there were some nice moments of drama between Terry and Bruce. Plus, this issue further connected this mini with the show by citing "Return of the Joker" and giving Terry's family a brief mention. The end revelation of Dick Grayson helped things even more. It sets a lot of potential up for the next issue and hopefully it will make better use of the opportunities presented. With so much to look forward to despite so much that was missed, Batman Beyond #3 gets a 4 out of 5. It's still an awesome series and has plenty of potential. It just needs to make good use of these chances or let them go to waste. And there's nothing more tragic than wasted awesome.