Batman Beyond #31 Introduces A New Villain But A Rather Predictable Plot

by James Ferguson

In the wake of the Joker’s devastating attack on Neo-Gotham and the Bat Family, Terry McGinnis is just trying to get some semblance of normalcy back to his life. That peace is short-lived as a new villain is pulling off a series of high-tech heists of former Powers Tech facilities. Fortunately, Terry knows someone with inside knowledge of those buildings, but Bruce Wayne isn’t himself lately.

It’s pretty obvious early on that someone has switched places with Bruce. From the looks of things, this happened during a visit to Arkham Asylum. Bruce is acting arrogant and just plain angry with everyone around him, while indulging in a lot more alcohol than usual. It’s frustrating that no on around him notices in the slightest. I mean, they see this guy every single day and even live in his house. You’d think they’d see that he’s acting super weird.

How this happened is still a mystery, however Bruce has some experience with a villain stealing his identity. Has Hush returned? We’ll see how this story arc plays out. For now, we have someone with less morals in Bruce Wayne’s skin and reaping the benefits of his money, power, and knowledge, which can be a chilling thought.

Colorist Chris Sotomayor adds to the evil nature of this swap with some ominous lighting. Bruce is often shown in shadows, more so than usual. Granted, the guy used to be Batman, so shadows are par for the course, but in this case, they create this foreboding feeling, playing up the idea that he knows more than Terry does. He knows a secret.

In other news, the new villain, called Splitt, is an interesting foe for Terry. He appears out of the shadows to sucker punch Batman a few times. Letterer Travis Lanham uses this nice after-image effect for the character’s speech, giving the appearance that he’s popping in and out of the room.

The more we learn about Splitt, the more intriguing the character becomes. He’s definitely a bad guy, but there’s a reason for it. If things had gone a little differently, he could be on the side of the angels, but he’s been forced to take matters into his own hands to fix a problem, even if that means stealing all kinds of tech.

Artist Rick Leonardi does a great job with the fight scenes here, especially with his design for Batman. This version has the longer ears which creates a more gothic appearance. It’s like he’s more a demon from Hell than a caped crusader. This is highlighted by inker Ande Parks, accentuating the darkness in his suit and the muscles all over his body.

Where do you go after something as big as the Joker? Batman Beyond has a bit of a slow start with this new arc with a somewhat predictable idea, but there’s still enough here for me to grab onto. We’ll see where writer Dan Jurgens takes this next. Judging by the cliffhanger ending, things are going to get a lot darker.

Batman Beyond #31 from DC Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.

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