After a year in publication, the book’s first major story arc, “10000 Clowns”, comes to its conclusion. Such is, among other stories, the contents of BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #13. Will Batman and his allies be able to take down the cornered Joker King? And is victory even possible, given all that was already lost? What of Superman and his capture by an alien world? And what sort of villain faces now the future Justice League that can delve into the secret depths of the Batcave?
While it isn’t presented first, I’ll open with the “10,000 Clowns” storyline, which comes to a conclusion, though not by my reckoning a complete one. Batman and company have their last round with the Joker King, which concludes. But there is still the results of the entire attack on Gotham to be accounted for. Thousands dead, at least, and massive damage was sustained in the mass suicide bombings of the drug-addled Jokerz.
I’d like to reiterate that such a scale of devastation has never been seen from the DC animated universe before. You’d never have seen this back in the original TV show; death, and in mass quantities, is a great change.
In addition to the destruction, there are two primary lingering plot threads. The first is Bruce Wayne, still dying of liver failure, and now beaten savagely in his attempt to stop the Joker King killing his family (who just happen to be the family of Dana, Terry’s frequent girlfriend). The second is Max, currently in the base of a hacker organization. It’s enigmatic leader brought her into the inner sanctum for one purpose: to help him in his plans to topple the urban power structure of the future, the one that keeps lower class citizens down and upper class ones up.
In the literal sense as well as figurative. Maybe. We get like one page devoted to the subplot in this issue.
Moving on, this issue begins a new future Justice League storyline. A storyline that begins with a turn to the past. Way back in Batman Beyond’s history, DC released a movie called Return of the Joker. It’s pretty good, and serves to reveal the ultimate end (or as it seemed) of the Batman/Joker conflict in the DC animated universe.
BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #13 starts off with a prologue scene expanding on those events. With the Joker dead (not really a spoiler at this point), Batman – the original Batman – and his allies Batgirl and Commissioner Gordon needed to dispose of the Joker’s body. This served as the last straw that broke the camel’s back, as far as both Gordon and Batgirl were concerned. The last act of Barbara Gordon and Bruce Wayne working together was in the formation of an underground morgue for interring the remains of dead supervillains, in order to prevent the sites of their burial from being made into places of honor amongst the criminal and deranged element. That morgue lay in the deepest pit of the Batcave.
Too bad someone broke into it. Looks like its time for the Justice League to investigate.
In a move that tickles my geeky fancy, we’re exploring more than just future Gotham and future Metropolis. We get to see future Central City, home city of The Flash. And where better to look for a new villain apparently obsessed with heroes and villains of old, than the newly reopened Flash Museum? Of all the superheroes in comics, The Flash is one of my personal favorites, so this is a good day for me.
And finally, there’s the continued adventures of Superman, currently captured by aliens thanks to the efforts of a team of their scientists and a helping hand from…ugh…Lobo. Thankfully Lobo is absent from this issue.
Like I’ve explained before, I don’t care for Lobo.
The aliens have brought Superman to their home planet, a world he visited as a younger superhero and acted to free an enslaved lesser race. Unfortunately, this led to that race, the Mangals, to strike back at their oppressors with ferocity and savage brutality. It’s no wonder the people of Trillia revile Superman. This story raises the question of how much a superhero can and should do, a question often raised when it comes to the man of steel. In his youth, Superman would do his best to help all those he sees in need. But not every problem has a simple solution, especially ones on a societal level. Freed slaves do not quickly forget their treatment, and one man’s savior can be another man’s devil. How will Superman be able to solve a problem he caused, when neither side can be seen as right?
I guess we’ll find out next issue. Damn.