The usual grumpy and stoic Bruce Wayne is now living it up at a casino, mouthing off to his friends and loved ones, and being an all around jerk. Those around him are finally realizing that something’s off with him, but it might be too late to stop whatever he has planned. Meanwhile, Terry is hot on the trail of Splitt, a new villainous speedster that’s been stealing technology from secret Wayne-Power facilities. Needless to say, the crew has their hands full.
The Bruce Wayne impostor angle takes up a large portion of Batman Beyond #33 and for good reason. We get some actual investigation as Melanie tracks down a lead at Arkham. Of course, she comes to a conclusion that we made two issues ago. This is the frustrating part of this storyline. It feels very drawn out, like it could have been condensed into a much shorter amount of space.
Terry and Matt know Bruce very well. They literally live with the guy and spend a good amount of their time with them. The fact that it’s taken this long for them to figure out that he’s not the same guy is pretty embarrassing. I guess it’s safe to say that Terry’s not going to be the next world’s greatest detective.
You can tell that something’s up with Bruce from the way he looks as well. Artist Rick Leonardi has replaced the usual grim, grumpy look of Master Wayne with a sly, almost slimy expression. Bruce was always confident, but not like this. He knows that he’s playing everyone in this room. Inker Ande Parks adds to this, highlighting each detail in the character’s face.
The reality of faux-Bruce is laid out in a pretty straightforward fashion. This makes me wonder if there’s a red herring in here because it shouldn’t be this easy. Writer Dan Jurgens knows how to tell a story so I have faith this will come together in the end.
Speaking of coming together, I’m still curious as to how Splitt fits into all of this. Is he involved with the fake Bruce somehow? Or is it an entirely separate villain? It seems out of place to have this other storyline going on if it’s unrelated.
The Alfred artificial intelligence plays a role in Batman Beyond #33. After all these years, he’s still a voice of reason within the Bat Family. It’s telling that even Alfred is unable to tell the difference between this fake Bruce and the real one. Letterer Travis Lanham uses rounded caption boxes for Alfred’s dialog, coupled with a proper-looking cursive font. This goes well with the appearance of the AI, shown as a floating bowler hat, mustache, and bow tie.
As Terry swoops into combat, we get a look inside the cowl. This is very similar to what we saw with Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It worked well there and just as well here. It makes sense that this Batman suit would have all these great bells and whistles. Colorist Chris Sotomayor lights Terry’s face with the robotic glow of the heads-up display, casting him in a red hue. This adds to the tension as he prepares for battle.
Batman Beyond has some cool elements in this arc, however they feel rather drawn out and aren’t really aligning. Hopefully now that the truth is revealed about fake Bruce things will come together. I guess it’s saying something about Bruce and how closed off he is that he can be completely replaced by another person and it would take awhile for anyone to figure it out.