Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Rick Leonardi and Ande Parks
This is the 4th part of the “Divide, Conquer and Kill” storyline. With the last issue ending on that cliffhanger, it’s time to see what happens next. You’re immediately hit with the idea that something is off, even if you haven’t read the previous issues in the story. I think that’s a brilliant way to not alienate new readers. Batman seems to be out of character, and it adds to the tense nature of the issue.
Us readers coming from the last few issues in this story are privy to an important piece of information that the other characters don’t have. Jurgens uses dramatic irony to perfection here. It frustrates us knowing what’s going on, but seeing the other characters stumble to reach that conclusion. It’s elating to see them finally reach the level of knowledge we have. Once they do, they’re hit with the full gravity of the situation, making it even tenser for the reader.
Jurgens does a great job with the dual narrative of the story in what’s going on with Batman and Terry. When one scene ends with Batman, the next scene with Terry picks up. Towards the middle of the issue, there’s a page of Terry out of costume perfectly balancing Batman’s scenes surrounding it. Leonardi’s art here really stands out, with some of the most detailed close-up shots of an old Bruce Wayne’s scowl that we’ve seen in this run. In one scene where Terry and Bruce get into an argument, the art is what sells the scene for me. Terry’s facial expressions switch from offended to annoyed, whereas Bruce keeps the same scowl. Leonardi draws his scowls from different angles, and they make the scene even more dynamic.
Duality is a really important theme in this story line, as one of the main villains of the story is a speedster that can split into two, appropriately named The Splitt. The speedster is collecting parts and robbing places, but the two halves of him have slightly different ideals. One side doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but the other side is fine with injuring or killing anyone who interrupts. Once again Jurgens and Leonardi work together to paint a picture of duality. Majority of the panels this issue only focus on 2 characters, with a few exceptions. Panels with Batman and The Splitt are drawn in a way where Batman is standing nearly in the center of the panel with both Splitts on either side of him. It creates this image of Batman being the barrier that divides the two Splitts and it looks phenomenal.
The issue ends with a two for one gut-punch ending that has me intrigued about where the book is going to go next. Jurgens is setting up this amazing future of the DCU and without other books taking place at the same time, there’s no trying to wonder where this takes place in continuity as is the problem with some of the other Batman titles. The advantage of this title is the fact that it’s a self-contained book and it makes it new reader-friendly.
Batman Beyond #34
Batman Beyond #34 is another strong issue in a solid run.