Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The Joker has Robin held captive and he’s holding a crowbar. Batman is miles away and must race to save the Boy Wonder. No, you don’t have to call a 900 number to decide Robin’s fate. The Joker is looking to repeat history, this time in Neo-Gotham and a new Batman and Robin. Some moves just don’t go out of style.
Jason Todd’s death at the hands of the Joker is a defining moment in Bruce Wayne’s life. All these years later, it still affects him. The Clown Prince of Crime is broadcasting this display of violence for all of the city to see and it’s hitting Bruce right in the heart. Artist Brett Booth perfectly captures the look of abject fear and terror on the man’s face. At one point he’s pleading with the Joker (who can’t hear him) in an act of desperation.
This contrasts with the tension of Terry and Dick as they race to find Robin. Booth uses a varied layout with some dynamic panels. This adds to the action, particularly with Terry as his brother’s life is on the line. I like how his anger shows through the cowl. Inker Norm Rapmund accentuates the emotion here with some fine line work.
Batman Beyond #29 builds to an impressive climax. It has to with a villain like the Joker involved. It’s interesting to see how his schemes play out. He is a maniac in the truest sense of the word. He maintains a monstrous presence. This is what true evil looks like. The Joker emerges out of the shadows like a boogie man. Colorist Andrew Dalhouse highlights his pale skin, giving him a spectral-like appearance.
Adding to the terror is letterer Travis Lanham, who uses these strange-shaped word balloons for the Joker’s speech. It creates a lilting pattern, like he’s constantly teasing you with his voice.
When dealing with a character as big as the Joker, you have to pull out all the stops. Writer Dan Jurgens definitely does that. I wasn’t sure how he would wrap up this arc as it’s not like you can just throw a guy like this in Arkham in this future version of Gotham, but it needs to pack a punch. The ending is rather fitting for the character, although I’m sure it will annoy some long time fans.
After bringing in the Joker, where can you possibly go next? Matt is still a rookie in the vigilante lifestyle, but he’s faced some of the toughest obstacles ever. If he can live through those, he can probably do anything. I have to wonder if this latest encounter with the Joker will force Bruce to rethink his strategy of throwing children into his war on crime.