Batman Beyond (2016-) #29
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse
Being an avid fan of the Batman Beyond cartoon, I follow the comic series to get my fix. Since Rebirth, Terry McGinnis is back in the role of Batman and falls back into it with ease. I’ve been having fun reading the stories Dan Jurgens comes up with and The Final Joke is no different. The Joker is alive once more, hunting “the pretender” Batman, and seeking to relive his highlight reel. This issue is outrageous, action-packed, and downright thrilling.
Having Matt in his clutches, the Joker seeks to lure Bruce out from his Batcave for one last throw-down. He taunts the new Robin with tales of his old grandeur, coming off as a football player peaking in high-school. Fans may feel the characterization’s a bit odd, but I love kooky old man Joker reliving the good-ole days. Jurgens makes sure that the story is more than just a senile Joker though, its one of Matt’s in-field tests against a major adversary. Does he have the intuition to be Robin or has he bit off more than he can chew?
While Matt may give away Bruce’s position, it’s overall the right choice cause it saves his life. Holding a trademark crowbar, the Joker enters the Batcave with a gun to Matt’s head and seeking that old thrill. Dick’s daughter Elainna goes for the Joker but takes a shot to the shoulder, increasing the tension and hammering parallels. This leads to that one-on-one the Joker craves against Bruce, crowbar versus cane, in an old-fashion slugfest. Bruce faces down his deadliest foe with a cane, a damn cane, and whoops him silly. He takes a blow, rolls off it, and stabs the Joker through, coming to the finale.
Standing with a cane stuck through his hand, facing the barrel of a gun, Joker implores Bruce to shoot. Joker is rattling off the reasons he knows Bruce wants to break his no-killing rule and pull the trigger. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter, he starts to clutch his chest and spit up. In his old age, he is defeated by his body giving up instead of the glorious slaying he calls for. For all the “final” Joker stories, this takes the cake for one of the most dynamic and interesting. Joker always seems to be this unhinged, beyond human monster. To see him succumb to old age for pushing himself too far, thus not breaking the no-killing rule? It felt different and plays out as exciting as any grudge-match I’ve read between the two arch-enemies.
This arc is an enjoyable addition to the Beyond mythos. Whether it’s Matt coming into the Robin role or seeing Dick disagree with Bruce, the character work is brilliantly retro. Then the issue’s art that Booth, Rapmund, and Dalhouse pull off together is utter insanity. This entire issue looks ridiculously fantastical because of them. Batman raging through a wall, with fists at the ready, to find his brother is god-like. The final showdown of the issue is a spectacle at close-quarters. Every panel feels right, with nothing looking off or out-of-place. The emotion strikes exactly when and where it needs to, showing that this art team is made of legends.
What more can I really say? The issue is a great conclusion to the arc. Between the incredible art, the fabulous retro feel, and the different approaches to Batman, how can you not enjoy it? I absolutely recommend checking out the series and The Final Joke. I can’t wait to read whatever is next in Batman Beyond.
A solid conclusion to The Final Joke arc with fantastic moments for the art team to shine.