*This review contains some spoilers for Batman Beyond #33*
Beaten to a pulp by a flurry of flying fists, Batman lies in a crumpled heap on the floor. Having abandoned the team mid-mission to indulge in a few vices, Bruce has also left the team without their greatest weapon: his wealth of knowledge. Without Bruce’s keen insight, however questionable, Terry has found himself in over his head in battle with The Splitt. Unfortunately, the former Batman’s dubious behavior following his recent visit to Arkham hasn’t instilled much faith in the team.
“Something very unschway must’ve happened at Arkham.”
Picking up immediately from the events of the previous issue, Batman Beyond #33 finds Terry narrowly escaping his most recent encounter with The Splitt. Armed with the knowledge that Bruce still hasn’t returned to the Batcave, and that the team has been evicted by the old man, Terry attempts to intercept his mentor before he reaches the manor. Once he engages with Bruce on a rooftop, he is shot by the old man and tackled to the street below.
Although we are not given the full story as to what happens to the two during their tumble to the ground, this sequence is particularly powerful. Throughout each of the previous two issues, Jurgens has done a great job of making the reader question whether this is truly Bruce. However, it is Bruce’s use of a gun to assault Terry that eliminates any remaining doubt. It is not only completely out of character for Bruce to attack his protegé, but to also use a gun during the attack.
Although Bruce Wayne’s use of a gun confirms much of what the reader already suspected, Melanie Walker’s subsequent investigation into what happened at Arkham provides additional insight. With the last issue, we are told that the masked man was given the identity False-Face. Although the previous iteration of the villain assumed the identities of rich citizens, this version of the character is given additional abilities. I love that this iteration of the character leaves the victim without their “sense of self.” This allows the character to assume his victims’ lives without a fear of being exposed through redundancy. In the end, we discover that False-Face switched places with Bruce during Batman Beyond #31. Since Bruce has been left without his “sense of self” he has been unable to let any of the guards know that he is not the true patient.
Given the reveal (that won’t be spoiled here) at the end of the issue, Batman Beyond #33 largely feels like set up for the rest of the story. This is due in large part from the foreshadowing that Jurgens had done in the previous issue. Although it does provide the reader with new insight into the villain, this issue mainly serves to confirm our suspicions and put the pieces in place for the next twist. Hopefully, the upcoming issues allow Jurgens to play with the team’s minds as well as explore the theme of identity.
“I hate to pry but… your behavior… you’re not yourself.”
Artistically, there are a few panels in which some of Leonardi’s faces still feel off. It seems to only happen to Matt, as he is the character relegated to doing only talking. Leonardi’s work in this regard in much better than last issue and as a result, it is only mildly distracting. I think it’s due to the angle at which the faces are drawn. Otherwise, Leonardi’s artwork does an excellent job rendering the characters during the fight sequences. Additionally, I thought it was a neat idea for Batman’s cowl to be like Tony Stark’s from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This always gives you a neat perspective as to what the characters are experiencing and feeling. Moreover, Chris Sotomayor’s background coloring and shadowing gives the issue a vintage feel while the characters feel very modern. It’s a neat aesthetic that suits the book. Essentially paying homage to the golden age books while also conveying the tone of the original series.
Overall, Batman Beyond #33 does a good job propelling the mystery forward while also providing a new twist that will take the title in an interesting direction. Unfortunately, some of the foreshadowing from the previous issue may have caused one of the reveals to fall flat. Otherwise, the reveal of False-Face’s true abilities promises exciting new twists for the rest of the story.
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