The Weekly Pull (3/20/13) – BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #14

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The Joker King has been put in checkmate, but Gotham must recover from his rampage. Namely Dana and the rest of his family. BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #14 gives future Batman’s girlfriend the center stage. Meanwhile, in Central City, the future Justice League do battle with Mindslide, the ultimate supervillain fanboy. Can they best a crook with all the powers of wickedness at his command? Who is the new Flash? And finally, Superman meets the mangrals, the species he delivered from slavery so many years ago. We’ve seen them from the eyes of their former masters, but is their newfound cruelty justified after all?

I can confirm now that yes, Douglas Tan the Joker King is in fact dead. It’s a point that was hazy at the end of last issue. But indeed, he’s dead. Kind of a shame to lose such a villain, but it makes sense. The guy orchestrated the deaths of thousands, and unlike his idol, the Joker King doesn’t come equipped with any kind of Joker King immunity. And really, what could he have done in any later adventure that could top what he did here?

As stated, this is a Dana-focused installment. Dana is the long-suffering girlfriend to Terry, the future Batman. To no one’s surprise, she was a source of constant friction with our hero because of duty as Batman getting between the two. Here, we’re introduced to a side of Dana we never saw in the show: she doesn’t just use dancing as recreation, but as an escape from her troubles. And when her brother is a Joker-obsessed psychopath and her father is a man who thinks the best solution to said psychopath is beatings and medication, Dana has had troubles aplenty.

A new artist took over for this issue, though I don’t know if they’ll stick around for more. BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #14 uses a lot more subtle shadows than previous ones for this story. I liked it, and that’s the only thing to say on the matter.

This issue also marks a major turning point, not just in the ongoing series but in Batman Beyond as a whole. It was a long time coming, a development that honestly ought to have occurred before. How it will play out remains to be seen.

Shifting focus here, Superman’s capture by the alien Trillians is interrupted by the arrival of a squad of heavily armed Mangrals, sporting Superman symbols. They free Superman, who decides that, to avoid a terrible battle between the two parties, retreats with the Mangrals to their forest haven. We’ve been told by the Trillians themselves of all the atrocities the Mangrals perpetrate against their former masters, and now we see what it’s like on the other side. Since the book has yet to address how the Mangrals view their actions – save that they view rescuing Superman a risk worth dying for – so I think it’s safe to say while the Trillian’s reports may be exaggerated, they probably aren’t utter fabrications.

Not that Superman is really willing to address the topic, just sort of getting to know their situation before he starts admonishments. But soon enough I think, there’s going to be a confrontation, possibly with his giving a big speech to both sides. Then again, maybe I’m just using my genre savvy too hard.

Finally, the future Justice League confront Mindslide, a villain whose big gimmick is that he’s able to read people’s minds or something, and it allows him to replicate the powers and appearance of anyone. He uses this and his fanboyism of DC supervillains to blatantly rip off old villains and use their powers. When the Justice League confront him in the Flash museum, he’s ready for them with an arsenal of weapons, techniques, and powers stolen from various Batman and Flash villains.

BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED #14 is kind of a fan game, one called “guess who I got this power from”, and any fan worth his salt will be picking up on at least a few. In an admirable move, the book doesn’t just directly name drop villains. Mindslide refers in passing to several, but never fully cites them, like referring to “the captains” when he uses the weapons of Captain Cold and Captain Boomerang. He even refers to “Dagget Industries” when he pulls out the power of Clayface. Other books would just name drop like no tomorrow, but I prefer just a little subtlety.

Speaking of references, let’s talk about the new Flash. Because when else am I going to talk about this? The new Flash has apparently picked up a new trick that others don’t: she’s haunted by the voices of past speedsters. We hear from three here (and see them in abstract form): Wally West, Bart Allen as Impulse, and strangely enough Jay Garrick. I say strangely enough because it was my understanding that the Justice Society of America didn’t exist in the DC animated universe (which now makes it similar now to the regular DCU in that regard). In fact, Justice League the animated series had an entire episode devoted to an expy group of the JSA, who existed in another universe and was slightly different in many respects. Presumably that was to prevent confusion on the part of younger viewers who didn’t know about the JSA.

Which only makes the addition of Jay Garrick in this story all the more confusing. Are we to believe the JSA did exist in the DCAU? Or is it just the Golden Age Flash? I also know Wildcat, another classic JSA member, appeared in Justice League Unlimited, but as a contemporary hero. Except he also remained active into the modern day in the comics…

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My brain hurts. Let’s just be glad Jay is around (albeit as a speed force ghost) and move on.

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