As the League of Assassins furiously scours Neo-Gotham for their former master, Batman Beyond has hidden Damien Wayne within the team’s new Bat-Suite. Having recovered from his wounds with the power of Bruce’s recovery tank, Damien quickly brings everyone up to speed on Mr. Zero’s master plan. Unfortunately, when this fanatical faction begins to raze the entire city, Terry and Damien will have to work together to stop this assault. Thankfully, Bruce has added a few new toys to their arsenal. But will it be enough when their enemy outnumbers them by at least one-hundred-to-one?
“Eliminating a threat like this requires more firepower.”
Bolstered by heartwarming character reunions and excellent artwork, Batman Beyond #45 is the strongest entry of “The Eradication Agenda” yet. A large part of this issue’s success is due to Jurgens’ exploration of the villain’s motivations, as well as grounding their conflict in a relatable, real-world problem. Additionally, he sells this story by giving each character a distinctive voice. Unfortunately, as strong as his work is with these elements, there are still a few hiccups with dialogue and plotting.
One of the things that I think is so interesting about this issue is Dan Jurgens’ choice to go back and show the reader the fallout between Damien and the League of Assassins. Through showing us what happened, Jurgens allows us to understand the villain’s motivations. As a result, Batman Beyond #45 enables us to become more invested in this conflict.
Jurgens helps sell these motivations by giving each character a distinct voice. During the opening sequence, Ra’s al Ghul’s motivations seem almost well-intentioned. He is disgusted by humanity’s marring of Earth. It’s hard not to sympathize with this feeling when you think about global warming and the climate crisis. As a reader, it’s easy to follow his thought process. I was right there with him. Then he denounced the beauty of all human-made structures and helped orchestrate a plan that would result in the death of billions. That’s where I draw the line. It’s a testament to Jurgens’ scripting that I was able to follow Ra’s argument until the villainous twist.
In fact, my favorite moment in the entire book is the result of Jurgens’ excellent work with characterization. With Batman Beyond #45, we witness a reunion between Damien and Dick Grayson. When Damien comments about his former mentor’s return, Grayson simply responds, “Always willing to help, kid.” Damien’s protests to being called a kid are met with a simple retort from Dick, “Whatever you say, Robin.” It’s such a short moment that wonderfully encapsulates their relationship. Additionally, Paul Pelletier provides the perfect punctuation to this moment by illustrating a playful smile on Grayon’s face.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Paul Pelletier’s artwork. Although I have previously mentioned Dick Grayson’s smile, it is necessary to emphasize that Pelletier’s facial expressions are exemplary throughout the issue, conveying the appropriate tone and emotion. Additionally, his panel layouts do an excellent job of telling the story. One of my favorite pages has Batman Beyond at its center, his figure overlapping each panel as he blasts off.
“You ensure Earth’s destruction. You betray your grandfather.”
One of my biggest complaints about the last issue was its lack of plot advancement. Dan Jurgens’ use of nonlinear storytelling with “The Eradication Agenda” has taken a relatively straightforward storyline and drug it out for the first three issues. I’m not saying that nonlinear storytelling doesn’t work, but I think it works better when it provides a meatier story for the reader to sink their teeth into. Although this storytelling method hurt the pacing of the first two issues, it allows Batman Beyond #45 to succeed. With this book, nonlinear storytelling gives the reader more plot to digest than previous installments. It isn’t much more than the others, but it is something.
As much as I loved Jurgens’ work with dialogue in this issue, there are a few problems that take me out of the moment. Damien’s speech always sounds appropriately aristocratic and conveys a sense of superiority over the others. As a result, there are instances where his dialogue is so proper that it reads awkwardly. Other than that, I think each of the characters speaks appropriately for their generation and upbringing.
The only other issue that I have with dialogue in Batman Beyond #45 is that there are a few lines that feel unnecessary. Some of these moments would have benefitted more from a “show, don’t tell” approach. Mainly, I am thinking about the sequence involving a crashing aircraft. I think Matt’s words are more effective in conveying the team’s overall beliefs during this moment and that the rest feels like unnecessary padding.
“Where there’s life, there’s hope.”
Ultimately, Batman Beyond #45 is the strongest entry of “The Eradication Agenda” so far. Although there are a few problems with the dialogue, Jurgens does a great job giving each character a distinct voice. As a result, Jurgens is able to sell the villain’s motivation. Additionally, the writer’s exploration of the events leading up to this storyline provides context and gives this story meat, and all of this is bolstered by Paul Pelletier’s artwork. Most importantly, the reunion of Damien and Dick Grayson left me smiling. I just hope that the pacing of each issue will pick up as the story continues.
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