The Joker Crashes The Party In Batman Beyond #25
by James Ferguson
What better way to celebrate a milestone 25th issue of Batman Beyond than by bringing back the biggest villain of them all? The Joker is in Neo-Gotham, apparently back from the dead and ready to terrorize this new generation of the Bat Family. This could not have happened at a worse time as Bruce Wayne is in the midst of dedicating a new building to his father and donating it to the city. Dick Grayson and his daughter, Elainna are in town for the ceremony too. This is going to get pretty violent pretty quickly.
This oversized issue also serves as a great introduction to the world of Batman Beyond. It’s a new story arc and writer Dan Jurgens does a great job of getting new readers up to speed on what’s been going on without turning it into a history lesson. It’s like a refreshing new start for the series, building on everything that’s come before.
This is done with a handful of flashbacks, expertly drawn by artists Cully Hamner and Marco Santucci. Some are shown as big splash pages filled with images from the past. Others are more personal stories recounting a specific encounter, like Dick talking about an early fight with the Joker. While the artwork is solid throughout Batman Beyond #25, flipping between the two artists creates a disjointed narrative. If one was handling the flashbacks and the other the present day story, it would have worked a little better, but there’s no consistency.
It’s no secret that the Joker is coming to the reader, however that’s not immediately apparent to Terry and Bruce. Instead, they get these ominous hints in the form of brutal murders of Jokerz gang members. We don’t see the full extent of the violence, but there’s enough there for our minds to fill in the gaps. To underscore the severe nature of these crimes, Terry won’t let his younger brother Matt into a scene and forces him to wait outside.
This dark and dreadful tone is shown in the deepest parts of Neo-Gotham, contrasting with the sci-fi nature of the towering skyscrapers. You’d think this was Metropolis based on how vibrant it looks. Colorist Val Staples makes this shine bright with a feeling of hope and optimism…that’s quickly destroyed by the Joker.
Although we know he’s coming, it doesn’t lessen the eventual appearance of the Clown Prince of Crime. Our first glimpses of the villain are in the shadows or with his face obscured by his signature purple hat out of A Killing Joke. Letterer Travis Lanham uses a haunting font in wavy word balloons, implying a lilting tone coming from the Joker as he mutters to himself in the crowd. It all works together to create a huge sense of foreboding that raises the tension considerably.
Batman Beyond #25 is sure to delight new and old fans alike. If you watched the cartoon years ago, you’re going to have a lot to enjoy here as we learn of additional details in this timeline, like what happened to Jason Todd. It’s a healthy mix of old school Batman and a brand new spin on the Dark Knight, creating something entirely unique and so very enjoyable.
Batman Beyond #25 from DC Comics is currently available at your local comic shop and digitally through ComiXology and Amazon Kindle.