NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for “Batman Beyond” #2
What do you do when your ex-girlfriend winds up kidnapped and held hostage by the head of a brightly-colored gang of heavy metal weirdos trying to reanimate Batman’s greatest nemesis? It may sound like a 1980s Tim Burton fever dream, but it’s also the first crisis faced by Terry McGinnis in DC’s “Batman Beyond: Rebirth.” The famous successor to Bruce Wayne has returned to the Beyond after some time away, and writer Dan Jurgens is making with the shocking twists immediately.
First came the harsh realization that a gang of jacked-up thugs idolizing the Joker may actually be too big for Terry to handle with a bullseye on his chest. Now, he’s delivering on his twisted plan of embracing the look of the Joker to slip into the enemies’ ranks. But to convince them he’s anyone but Neo-Gotham’ most famous hero, he’ll have to start with a bang – kill The Batman.
A Job Even Batman Can’t Tackle
In case readers missed out on the recent adventures of Terry McGinnis (which actually saw a time-displaced Tim Drake take up the mantle of Batman Beyond), “Batman Beyond: Rebirth” is as good a time as any to jump back into the action. Better for readers than for Terry, it turns out, since his first leap back into superheroics went… worse than expected. You see, to rescue his girlfriend Dana (Terry doesn’t even know about the plot to bring Joker back from the dead) Terry will have to take on the full strength of The Jokerz, Neo-Gotham’s strangest, and strongest street gang.
Forget a lair: these guys have an entire section of the city to themselves, meaning Terry can’t even get close to Dana’s location without drawing attention – the kind of attention only possible when you’ve got the Batman symbol painted in bright red across your chest. After one failed assault leaved him as close to beaten as he’s ever been (a few months out of the game will do that to you), Terry reveals his new plan: if you can’t beat the Joker, be the Joker.
With a little help from his brother Matt, and friend Max, of course.
First Job: Kill The Batman?
Entrusting the Batmobile to Matt and Max, Terry slips into Jokerz Town undetected… since he’s got a heck of an entrance planned. As Matt and Ma– sorry, The Batman begins his startling airstrike on the Jokerz’ headquarter, the heaviest hitters and deadliest firepower they can muster opens up. It looks like the Bat is going to remain alive until a mystery player enters the fray with some more fitting ordnance – a rocket launcher with the Batmobile’s name on it (literally, most likely).
A carefully orchestrated plan ensues, with Matt and Max coordinating to make it seem as if they’re actually taken down, not fired at by a dud followed by a burst of flame and scrap metal. While Terry’s muscle memory may have been dulled by recent events, those of his allies hasn’t, meaning the plan is carried off beautifully, leaving the Jokerz to wonder how killing Batman could ever have been so easy. Even Dana takes a moment to consider the idea that Terry has been killed… until the man responsible for the hit starts talking.
The Jokerz are obviously a bit suspicious of this new member of their criminal enterprise, especially having just succeeded where every other Gotham villain has failed. But Terry has a cover story sure to delight longtime Batman fans, claiming himself to be the son of “Matches” Malone, the Gotham arsonist and gangster. For fans of the Dark Knight, they’ll instantly recognize the name as the disguise often adopted by Bruce Wayne, putting on the appearance, costume, mustache, and yes, New Jersey accent of a deceased criminal to infiltrate Gotham’s seedier spots unnoticed.
It’s an especially poetic move by Jurgens to shift that identity to Terry in his very own “Rebirth,” donning the disguise of Neo-Gotham’s criminal underworld – with an ID showing his shift to the Jokerz is a relatively new one. With introductions taken care of, Terry now has a few challenges on his hands. For starters, there’s managing to free Dana from captivity, while also keeping the Jokerz from looking too closely at Batman’s apparent death (and his role in it).
And oh, yeah, there’s the corpse of Joker that the gang’s leader is bringing back to life one day at a time in an attempt to gain his wealth – and a more terrifying leader than the Jokerz ever believed they’d see firsthand. Not an easy road ahead of him, granted, but one we can only see Terry walking (and the ghost of Bruce Wayne equally proud and perturbed).
Batman Beyond #2 is available now.