Writer – Dan Jurgens; Penciler – Sean Chen; Inker – Sean Parsons; Colorist – Chris Sotomayor; Letterer – Travis Lanham; Editor – Dave Wielgosz; Group Editor – Ben Abernathy
Terry’s mind is still lost, but the identity of the Batwoman of Neo-Gotham (Batwoman Beyond, if you will), has been revealed! Can she save Terry from Blight’s machinations? Tune in this week to Batman Beyond #41! Same bat-time, same bat-channel!
The issue starts with Terry and Constance at Derek Powers’ (aka Blight’s) compound where Terry is supposedly starting a new job. Constance, an ally he met while homeless, is actually a loyal servant of Blight and she recruited Terry as an unwitting ‘sacrifice’. For those that don’t remember the TV show, Terry’s dad was a scientist that worked for Powers and became a whistle blower against his chemical weapons experiments, the same experiments that made him Blight. Now Powers, rapidly dying from his radioactive body, wants to transfer his consciousness and live on inside of Terry. This plan fits perfectly, both because of its practicality, Terry is young and extremely fit, and because this will be the ultimate revenge against Terry’s dad. As one can imagine, however, this works poorly, as to erase Terry’s mind in preparation for Blight’s takeover, Constance removes False Face’s mental block, restoring Terry’s identity as Batman.
This is the point where Batwoman comes in to save the day. In the last issue, though more fully in this issue, Batwoman’s identity is revealed to be Elainna Greyson, Dick Greyson’s daughter, and she is going after Blight. That is what makes up the B story of this issue, her reveal and the other characters’ (Bruce, Tim, Dick, Barbara, and Melanie) reactions to it.
Constance is a fantastic character, because she is, simply put, the worst. Her loyalty to Blight is bad to begin with, because he’s a crooked murderer among other things, but her casual cruelty to Terry takes her into memorable villain territory. She’s no supervillain, she is just a person like you or me, but that’s what makes her all the worse. The kind of casual evil she dishes out is the kind you see in real life, making her all the more odious. She is loyal to a monster, a simpering follower of power, completely selfish in motivation, and betrays good people to improve her position. I doubt we’ll ever see her again after this arc, but it is a great omen for future arcs that this creative team understands what traits make for a fantastic secondary villain. Also, if Derek finally does die for real, she would make an excellent new Blight. (Just putting that out there)
Also, while on the note of great characters, Batwoman really works in this book. We haven’t really gotten to hear her motivations from her point of view, though Dick and Barbara discuss a theory about her idolizing the Batman family and wanting the excitement of a superhero life, which is really interesting. It is simple, but it’s true. Who wouldn’t want to be a superhero in a world where that was possible? It’s a basic motivation, but it adds a lot of realism to this character who should definitely become a recurring ally.
Chen, Parsons, Sotomayor, and Lanham’s visual work bring together the rest of the story well. Blight’s speech bubbles have very cool letters. Lanham and Sotomayor use green text boxes with yellow trim for the frames, and have white spots popping around the letters like they’re undergoing nuclear decay.
The light effects really pop as well. For instance, the A story takes place almost exclusively in Blight’s lab which is full of futuristic, scientific machines. Many of them are drawn with grooves that permit light to flow through them, and this team actually makes the light seem to glow. This is amplified with their great use of shadow, perspective, and color to make a very sharp, detailed effect.
Blight is always a fun character for artists as well, with his glowing green aura and stylized black skull. The team makes good use of the same skill here, with green nuclear light/energy seeping out of the green lines on his costume, giving off that same glowing effect.
Some other small details that deserve a mention are when Terry is locked in a tube for his personality transfer, he tries to get out and pushes against the glass, causing the skin on his palms to compress and change colors. In this same scene, there are reflected lines from the overhead lights on the tube, which are also a nice detail to add to the immersion. Much like the palms, the ears and eyes are nicely detailed in the close up frames, with detailed, well colored irises and with an equally well colored and visible tear duct. You can also see Terry’s neck muscles bulge and strain as he struggles to escape.
Batman Beyond #41 resolves a lot of threads and gives a good set up for an arc finale almost 20 years in the making, all the while introducing great new characters.