A New Love Interest & A New Villain Hit Neo-Gotham In Batman Beyond #24

by James Ferguson

Bruce Wayne finally figures out what is driving the citizens of Neo-Gotham to hate the Batman and has to work fast before they tear Terry apart. The Scarecrow has gone digital. While there are a number of threats at work, Batman Beyond #24 cuts right to the heart of the Batman mythos, questioning if the Dark Knight has really been doing any good all these years.

This is the aspect of the book that is most interesting. The idea that Batman somehow creates or pulls out the insanity in his rogues gallery has been tossed around before. If Batman didn’t exist, would we have a Joker, Mr. Freeze, or Two-Face? In this case, we have a pretty definitive cause and effect. The new Scarecrow was created as a direct consequence to one of Batman’s efforts to fight crime.
I love this idea, but unfortunately, it only represents a small portion of Batman Beyond #24. I would love to see this explored further. The bulk of the book deals with the continued frenzy of the Neo-Gothamites as they riot against Batman. This has been happening for a few issues now, so it’s a little less exciting. Where things get more interesting is how Ten, a reformed member of the Royal Flush Gang and current suitor of Terry’s, gets involved to help out. This finalizes her flip over to hero status and comes with much more.

Writer Dan Jurgens has been shaking up Terry’s love life for a bit. Introducing Ten as a serious love interest plays up the drama a lot. This adds a human element that is usually lacking in Batman comics. I’m more invested in Terry’s life – both in and out of the mask – than I ever was in Bruce’s. There is a great moment towards the end of this issue where Bruce criticizes letting Ten in on Terry’s secret identity. Hello Pot? It’s me, Kettle.
The new Scarecrow is presented as more of a tragic villain than a crazed doctor. She’s created as a result of trauma as split personality of sorts. Obviously, this makes her a perfect candidate for Arkham Asylum, however this is a villain that I hope gets some more time in the spotlight. There’s a lot that can be explored with her.

The design is spot-on and just as creepy as ever. Letterer Travis Lanham uses these ghost-like word balloons for her speech, like she’s right out of a horror movie. While the Scarecrow is spooky, she pales in comparison to the monstrous visions seen by those under her spell. Artist Will Conrad creates these deformed bat creatures that would make Man-Bat blush. They’re real stand out images for the entire book.
While these shots are great, there are a number of awkward stances for characters throughout Batman Beyond #24. It’s like the characters were placed in unnatural positions or they don’t know what to do with their arms. I’ve seen this in older computer generated animation, like the people are different elements than their surroundings.

The severity of the situation is underscored by David Baron’s colors. There’s a darkness around everything, but it’s pushed away by the bright lights of Neo-Gotham. This pushes Batman out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Terry doesn’t have a cape to hide behind. Instead, he dives right into the action among the bright oranges and yellows of the flames billowing around him.
Batman Beyond has moved past the mythos established almost twenty years ago in the TV show. While this arc introduced the futuristic version of a classic Batman villain, it did so through the guise of mental illness which brings up some very unique and intriguing questions. Plus, the book propels the character development further with everyone involved. The series is just a bit decompressed. I hope that the story arcs get a little tighter as we head into the next few issues.
Batman Beyond #24 from DC Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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