Was it ever a good idea to give a child a costume and send them out into the streets to fight criminals, super villains, and assorted monsters? It worked for a few years, if you discount the years of psychological trauma, broken bones, emotional distress, and that one time where one of the Robins was beaten to death with a crowbar. Now Terry McGinnis faces a tough call. He’s not only Gotham’s guardian as Batman, but he’s his brother Matt’s guardian. Matt wants to follow in his brother’s footsteps, picking up the mantle of Robin, but after a close call with the Joker, Terry doesn’t want him anywhere near the vigilante life.
Batman Beyond #30 serves as an epilogue to “The Final Joke” storyline, where the Joker was brought to Neo-Gotham. Writer Dan Jurgens shows how the clown prince of crime has been Batman’s arch-enemy for so long. He’s capable of dealing damage long after his initial attack. In this case, he’s gotten into the heads of Matt, Terry, and everyone they care about. The Joker’s actions have caused them to second guess everything, which is pretty dangerous considering the line of work they’re in.
This forces Terry to put down the Jokerz gang once and for all. After seeing what the Joker was capable of first hand, he can’t let a group of thugs continue to spread chaos and fear in that monster’s name. Artist Doc Shaner shows a different side of Terry here. He’s not cracking jokes or smiling, like Dick Grayson might. He’s cold and methodical. This got personal and he’s not going to tolerate it. He attacks with brutal efficiency.
Although they have taken inspiration from the Joker, this gang has usually been shown as a joke. Shaner plays that up a little here, but adds a sinister quality to them. They can be silly at times, but under that clown facade lurks the hearts of killers, ready to slice your face off if you look at them the wrong way. This is best shown when Matt suits up and enters the fight, freezing up as he stares at the make up and carnage.
Shaner’s characters are very expressive, creating an extra layer of story within each one of his images. You get a peek into the inner workings of each character based on the facial expressions they make. This is particularly useful with Matt, who is definitely suffering the most trauma of the bunch as he came the closest to death. While we don’t hear his thoughts, we get a good idea as to what’s going through his head.
Speaking of Matt’s thoughts, the opening pages of Batman Beyond #30 are part of a dream sequence with the boy being terrorized by the Joker. I absolutely love how letterer Travis Lanham handles the Joker’s speech. It’s shaping in this jagged font in oddly shaped word balloons. It makes me think of a lilting voice, capable saying the sweetest or the most diabolical things. In other words, the sound of Mark Hamill from Batman: The Animated Series.
Colorist Jordie Bellaire controls the tone of Batman Beyond #30, moving from a dark, subdued feeling to a bright, explosive one. This hinges on the battle with the Jokerz, with Terry shifting from the shadows to the light. The gang members are colorful and vibrant, with shades of darkness around them, giving them an evil manner.
The one element of this issue I didn’t care for was the very end. The last page serves as a closer for the Joker, but in a way that just doesn’t work for me with the evolution of certain characters. It goes against years of work for what amounts to a glib joke to close out the issue.