WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Batman Beyond #14
Just when Batman Beyond was back on track, DC Comics is dropping hints that Terry McGinnis is going to get his own Robin sidekick. It's the kind of twist that the more cynical comic fans point to as a marketing stunt, intended to excite readers based not on the storytellers' ideas or ambitions, but by the shock value of hearing that a 'Robin Beyond' is finally joining the DC Comics Universe. But this time around, the sidekick being hinted at in the pages of Batman Beyond is something truly new. And yet, distinctly a Batfamily notion.
And so far, "new" has been the marketing angle for Batman Beyond's part in DC's Rebirth. Terry's gotten a new Batsuit, seen the iconic villain Joker return from the dead, and helped restore Bruce Wayne to the pair's mentor-protege dynamic after years presumed dead. And after doubting his own future under the cowl in recent issues, Terry's decided to embrace who he truly is... and he's not the only character ready to devote their life to masked crimefighting. In fact... he's not the only McGinnis.
The McGinnises Move Into Wayne Manor
For those who may have missed out on Beyond since Rebirth, or know the story only through its animated TV show, the past year has seen Bruce Wayne go through a trying time (even for a much younger man). Readers learned the reason Bruce Wayne actually retired as Batman, and even before he was back in good health after years spent comatose, his son Damian returned to wreak havoc on his well-being. As Terry points out in Issue #14, the physical wear and tear to Bruce's elderly body would be debilitating for someone who hadn't had their back broken by Bane. Which means Bruce is in need of loved ones to look after him... and Terry volunteers to move in - along with his younger brother, Matt.
Where Rebirth saw Terry return, granting Bruce his successor back, Dana her long lost boyfriend, and Neo-Gotham its hero, it also meant Matt McGinnis saw his older brother return to the role of superhero... and the years out of practice showed. Matt and Terry's friend <ax took it upon themselves to watch Terry's back, proving more effective than most would being thrown into Bruce Wayne's seat and tasked with saving Terry's hide more than once.
Having seen how crimefighting is done through Bruce's surveillance, it's no surprise that Matt should take interest in the costumes of Bruce's former sidekicks displayed in the Batcave. And we'll admit, we're just as confused why any Robin would ever give up so schway an occupation. But it's the moment that Matt asks if being Robin - risking their lives to fight at Batman's side - was "good for them." Bruce doesn't seem to hear the real meaning in Matt's question, but the readers certainly do.
Matt McGinnis Sets His Sights on Robin
Matt's line of questioning about the rewards of being Batman's Robin is interrupted by Barbara Gordon, Police Commissioner of Neo-Gotham. As the daughter of Jim Gordon voices her relief that Terry has stopped the "stream of recruits" to the Batcave, referring to Bruce's knack for taking troubled young souls under his wing... then unleashing them on Gotham's criminal element. Barbara's not wrong, but Matt isn't listening: he's taking a hurried tour of the Batcave, seeking out Robin's motorcycle, and logging into the Batcave's own surveillance archives to see how Damian trained to become as disciplined as a Robin must be.
It's a nice touch for fans of both Terry and Matt McGinnis, and the choice to frame Matt's interest in playing sidekick as an eagerness and curiosity about father figures, and not 'being a superhero' speaks volumes. For those who may not know, Terry and Matt's childhood was cut short by a divorce, with Terry choosing to live with his father, and Matt staying with his mother. As a bit of obvious coincidence, the boys' father wound up killed as a result of Gotham crime, driving Terry to the same career and mission as Bruce. But readers may have wondered why Matt wasn't entitled to the same treatment. Now, it seems writer Dan Jurgens is addressing that point directly.
Matt McGinnis gazing intently at footage of Bruce training his biological son, Damian, in self-defense sends a clear message. What isn't so easy to read is how Bruce and Terry will interpret Matt's enthusiasm and interest in following the same path as his older brother. A path he's just as entitled to, if he possesses the willpower and focus (both of which have been proven in Rebirth thus far). Deciding it's his goal to become Robin and actually claiming the title are different issues, to be sure.
But if Bruce and Terry can be convinced that Matt's owed the same chance to devote his life to justice, the Batman Beyond universe may see the first set of brothers take up the mantles of Batman and Robin. The story potential seems too good to even speculate on at this point, but we'll say this: if Matt is waiting for Terry to be sidelined giving him a chance to prove he's ready... this issue definitely delivers.
Batman Beyond #14 is available now.