Warning: SPOILERS for Batman Beyond #35
When Bruce Wayne grows too old to suit up, he must recruit a successor--and Batman Beyond is born. But what happens when that Batman goes bad, and joins forces with a villainous speedster? Simple: Bruce calls in some help from the future version of The Flash. Or should we say... Flash Beyond?
The historians among the Batman Beyond fan base will be quick to point out that an inheritor of the Flash mantle has existed in Neo-Gotham's world before. But in the crisis unfolding in Batman Beyond #35, Bruce Wayne decides this is a job for a different speedster than Danica Williams. Perhaps the former Dark Knight is getting less and less tolerant of putting child heroes in danger in his old age. Or a bit more likely, the presence of a speedster villain gives Bruce the to accomplish two tasks at once: save the day with some Speed Force back-up, while also calling up an old friend to bury the hatchet. It's nice to know even in the future, Barry Allen doesn't hold a grudge.
For fans who may not be up to speed, the issue of Batman Beyond in question doesn't technically include its titular hero. With Terry McGinnis framed for murder and on the run, it's the villain False-Face who outsmart every resident of the Batcave, posing as Terry to get his hands on the Batsuit and its arsenal. Not to mention seek out and stop the speedster duo known as 'The Splitt'... only to recruit them to his fight against Bruce, instead of saving them from their terminal condition.
When Terry's ally Melanie (formerly known as 'Ten' of the Royal Flush Gang) tries to step in for Batman and keep the villains at bay, things go less than swimmingly. Some fans may have hoped that Melanie would be the mysterious new Batwoman Beyond taking over Terry's role, but her first foray doesn't exactly prove it's her kind of job. Fortunately, that's the exact moment Bruce's friend shows up to lend a hand.
Writer Dan Jurgens and artist Rick Leonardi make the most of this unexpected cameo, with the figure Bruce called for back-up appearing without warning and remaining cloaked in shadow. As fans hold their breath in anticipation of who this ally truly is, the men exchange their best versions of an apology, putting whatever drove them apart to bed (although the shadowy figure makes it clear that it was obviously Bruce's fault that the rift between then formed... which is completely likely). Still, more important threats need dealing with: save Melanie!
With even Batman's utility belt no use against the speedster villains, Melanie falls unconscious into the waiting, deadly arms of False-Face. It's at this point that the Splitt duo realize they're not dealing with the real formerly-caped-crusader, since the villain is requesting their help in killing Melanie. But just as they decide it's either their life or Melanie's, a streak of lightning swoops in to pull her free from danger. And leaving both False-Face and The Splitt frozen in place, wondering if their eyes are deceiving them... or if one of DC's greatest superheroes has just returned to Neo-Gotham.
It seems obvious in hindsight: while Bruce Wayne's injuries and age start Batman Beyond, the very nature of Barry Allen's powers means he wouldn't have to give up his own superhero career as quickly. And while this may be the first glimpse of 'Old Man Barry' in the pages of the Batman Beyond series, it isn't his debut in the canon of DC's future. That honor goes to The Flash's "Year One" origin story recently dropped into Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter's main Flash series. There, it was actually Barry Allen who encountered this future (Rebirth) version of himself during his first days with superspeed.
Williamson explained how the appearance of Old Man Barry allowed him to retell the two best Batman stories with Flash, merging the Dark Knight Returns version of Barry Allen with his Year One rookie. While the future Central City may be a warzone, Barry is as ready and positive as ever--apparently extending that to team-ups in other cities, as well. But in the process of having Barry appear in this form in Batman Beyond, it seems DC has also confirmed that the old Barry Allen in The Flash: Year One resides in the same future in which Neo-Gotham is set. Which means Flash might have reason to hold a grudge, if Bruce's distance meant Central City fell without any Super Friend assistance...
The issue ends with a cliffhanger, but there's more than one threat in play. Will Terry McGinnis regain his memories and prove his innocence in time to team up with Barry? Will fans find out what drove Bruce and Barry apart in the future of DC's Universe? And most importantly, is Danica going to show up to defend her title in this fight or what? At least Chris Samnee's cover art for Batman Beyond #36 guarantees some true Bat-Flash action!
Readers will have to wait for the next issue to have those questions answered, but can read the full credits and plot synopses for this "Lost Days" arc below:
- Batman Beyond #35
- Written by: Dan Jurgens
- Art by: Rick Leonardi
- "Lost Days” continues! Move over, Robin! Batman has a new partner, and it’s the Splitt?! Bruce Wayne and Barbara Gordon join forces to try and stop this madness, but the original Batman may have to call in an old friend to save the day—and his young protégé—this time around.
- Batman #36
- Release Date: September 25th, 2019
- Written by: Dan Jurgens
- Art by: Rick Leonardi
- “Lost Daze” finale! As everything around Neo-Gotham crumbles under Batman’s iron fist, the Fastest Man Alive might be the only one capable of saving Terry McGinnis and his city. But as powerful as he is, even the Flash might be no match for the Splitt and the mysterious False Face!
Batman Beyond #35 is available now at your local comic book shop, or direct from DC Comics.