With his master dethroned, and the League of Assassins hot on their heels, Goliath hauls a pulverized Damien Wayne to Gotham City. The only person who can help them now: Batman Beyond. Unfortunately, Zeh-Ro, the League’s new leader, will stop at nothing until Ra’s Al Ghul’s grandson is no more. Will Terry be able to save Damien and put a stop to Zeh-Ro’s plans, or will he experience first-hand what killed the dinosaurs?
“Still not one hundred percent sure how people won’t see us coming in.”
Exploring everything from Zeh-Ro’s master plan to the Bat-Suite’s bleeding-edge technology, Batman Beyond #44 oozes with exposition. Although small doses of exposition are necessary, the issue at times veers into the superfluous, nearly bringing the narrative to a screeching halt. Thankfully, Sean Chen’s excellent illustrated action sequences provide a much-needed break to the exposition.
I think a lot of my problems with this issue’s exposition stems from the fact that there is not a lot going on. The solicitations for Batman Beyond #44 perfectly summarize every plot point, leaving very little to the imagination. A solicitation that spoils nearly every element of the issue is the equivalent of a teaser trailer giving away the entire movie. This is not something that I usually harp on, but when you can encapsulate the whole story in two sentences, excessive exposition stands out.
Dan Jurgens has won me over by showing us how the team has changed following their battles with False-Face and Blight. These moments have been the highlight of the last two issues, as we have witnessed a Terry that is no longer playing around with lower-level threats as well as a Bruce Wayne willing to use guns with non-lethal rounds.
One of the more exciting elements is Bruce’s willingness to experiment with Lazarus Pit technology. Although Bruce has previously used the pit in the television series, his willingness to adopt this technology does open new storytelling possibilities. Using exposition to illustrate how these characters have changed is when it works best.
However, Jurgens’ use of exposition is more egregious when he re-explains elements from the previous issue in great detail. In Batman Beyond #43, we are introduced to the team’s new base of operations, or as Terry has named it, the Bat-Suite. (Bruce hates the name.) During the bases’ introduction, Jurgens goes into detail explaining how the team will be able to travel in and out of the building without being noticed. As Terry asks Bruce to explain the system to him again, his dialogue feels forced. Instead of adding to the plot, this feels shoe-horned into the story for anyone who may not have read Batman Beyond #43.
“A sworn lieutenant of Grandfather’s. Loyal to him and his ways. When I tried to establish my way… he overthrew me.”
However, despite all the exposition, one of the things that I love the most about Jurgens’ work on this series is his updated takes on older supervillains not frequently used in the comics. During the previous story-arc, Jurgens updated False-Face for his story. Here, we are given an updated take on Mr. Zero, or as his followers affectionately call him, Zeh-Ro. Traditionally, we have accepted that Mr. Freeze and Mr. Zero are aliases for the same person. Jurgens separates the two here by making Mr. Zero a sworn lieutenant of Ra’s al Ghul with a massive crush on the ice age.
I love Sean Chen’s pencils, Sean Parson’s inks, and Chris Sotomayor’s colors. The action sequences are dynamic, easy to follow, and help break up the issue’s dialogue. Although Chen’s Batman Beyond looks fantastic, I particularly love the way that the entire team has rendered Goliath. The character looks excellent in battle as he is defending his master. My favorite illustration throughout the whole book is the two-page spread at the beginning. The level of detail put into this image is fantastic.
Oozing with exposition, Batman Beyond #44 is elevated by excellent artwork. Although Jurgens’ exposition sometimes feels superfluous during this issue, some of my favorite moments are those illustrating how the characters have changed. Moreover, Sean Chen’s excellently rendered action sequences help break things up. Now that we are past the two introductory issues of this storyline, I am excited to see where everything is going.