NOTE: This article contains spoilers for Batman Beyond #4
When it comes to the task of making a comic book a hit overnight, there's one rule to follow: give the people what they want, and give it to them now. It's the guiding principle that Batman Beyond has taken since its "Rebirth" under writer Dan Jurgens, wasting no time in returning Terry McGinnis to the cowl of future Neo-Gotham, and sending him up against his trusty enemies known as The Jokerz. But this time around, the stakes have been raised significantly: not only do the gangsters have his girlfriend held hostage, but are currently working to bring the original Joker back to life (as far as they know).
Realizing that there are certain fights best won by avoiding confrontation, Terry takes it upon himself to dress up as a member of the Jokerz to slip in unnoticed. Smart plan, but one blown apart almost immediately. So with his return to crimefighting frighteningly short-lived, Issue #4 finds Terry captured, confined, and without Bruce Wayne to ask for assistance.
Luckily, his mentor isn't out of the picture entirely. With some help from Terry's friends, Bruce is able to deliver one last gift: a brand new Batsuit... and a significant upgrade, if we're being honest.
Out With The Old
Terry didn't come to see stealth as the better option the easy way, of course, but was almost defeated when taking on the full force of the Jokerz. He managed to escape back to the Batcave, but the damage to the Batsuit - the final one Bruce Wayne ever made - was too extensive to repair in time. Terry hatched the plan for his Joker disguise, and left his younger brother Max and his brilliant, problem-solving ally Max behind. After the duo piloted the Batwing to fake a crash, allowing Terry to enter Jokerz Town clear of suspicion, they returned to the issue of the Batsuit.
Max doesn't mince words, stating unequivocally that the damage is too severe to patch up. And since the technology was cutting-edge even decades before Terry wore it, there's no way to create a new one (not unless Bruce Wayne were still alive to do it himself). The Dark Knight still has some secrets up his sleeves, however, and a look into the Batcave's files by someone who knows what they're looking for delivers a bombshell. A brand new, more advanced, more refined version of the Batsuit that Bruce Wayne had created, but not yet revealed to Neo-Gotham.
Matt bundles up the suit and rushes it to Terry on foot, arriving just in the nick of time (doesn't that always seem to happen?). Revealing his secret identity to Dana, Terry takes Matt's word, and slips into his new suit.
A Brand New Batman
The kinetic, punchy style of artist of Pete Woods is perfectly suited to the suit, looking similar to the previous Beyond Batsuit, with some significant cosmetic changes. The belt is, once again, a visibly separate component of the suit. The chest insignia is larger, and thicker. And most importantly, the suit now bears a stronger resemblance to the current-era Hellbat Suit - adopting a more TRON-like styling of glowing red seams and accents. If the idea is to make the new Batman feel even more a product of his future setting, then this new design meets that goal. And if residents of Neo-Gotham were already wishing never to meet the vigilante in a dark alley, the demonic eyes and accented ears will have them avoiding brightly-lit ones, too. But the visuals are just the beginning of the upgrades.
Terry puts the bulletproof wings of the suit to use protecting Dana and Matt, before noting that the lighter composition means he can hack and slash enemies with even more precision - rendering the deployable wings both offensive and defensive tools. Grenades condensed into pill-sized capsules and Batarang launchers in the backs of the fist will still be familiar to fans of the animated series, but it's the suit's gift of a sixth sense that marks the biggest addition.
The old suit allowed Terry to hear through walls, but he's now able to see through them, with his headset focusing in on enemies through walls without him even triggering the ability (referred to as a dizzy-inducing "sense" at first).
Jurgens and Woods make the debut of the new Batsuit all that it should be, with Terry's commentary showing he's enjoying his first fight as much as Woods enjoys drawing it. There will certainly be fans who prefer the simpler, sleeker black bodysuit, but this new Batsuit/TRON/Venom nightmare is guaranteed to make an impact. After all, in the fiction of the DC Universe, it was Bruce Wayne's vision for the next stage of Batman... and he's kind of an expert on the subject.
...And The Old One, Too
The previous issue delivered the shocking revelation that the 'Joker' being resurrected by the leader of the Jokerz, Terminal, was actually Bruce Wayne in disguise (his massive fortune, not world domination being the overall goal). The unconscious Bruce was hurried out of the Jokerz base and off to his own corporate headquarters before Terry could rescue him, but Issue #4 ends with Terry learning his mentor still lives.
Terry had assumed that Bruce was killed - and stayed dead - prior to the "Futures End" even that sent him backward through time to the modern era of the DC Universe. Bruce Wayne did appear in the story as a villain merged with Joker, but... well, the less said about that, the better.
So, even those who preferred Batman Beyond as a team adventure, with Terry doing the fighting and Bruce directing him along the way have reason to hope. Terry's heading off to find Bruce as quickly as his new wings will carry him, but it's worth noting that the gang member who escorts Terminal and Bruce to their final destination never shows their face. Could another member of the Batman family be poised to reveal themselves? We'll know in less than a month.
Batman Beyond #4 is available now.