Batman Beyond #32 is published by DC Comics, written by Dan Jurgens, penciled by Rick Leonardi, with inks by Ande Parks, with Chris Sotomayor as colorist and letters by Travis Lanham. This issue picks up immediately after Batman Beyond #31and continues the “Divide, Conquer, and Kill” arc with Batman in danger of being crushed by gravitational force being exerted on his body in a vault. Having been trapped there by The Splitt, a new villain, all seems lost.
While Terry attempts to overcome the odds, Bruce is calm while Matt panics. But this isn’t your normal cool in tough situations Bruce, something is wrong. Bruce is detached, apathetic, and accepting of the mounting danger of his pretty much son’s death by offering no support from the batcave. Luckily Matt saves Batman, but not before causing the reader to question Bruce, and this is in the first few pages of the issue.
Batman Beyond #32 further established The Splitt as an enigmatic villain and clearly two people fused into one. Terry even notes that besides knowing that Adam and Caden are brothers, there isn’t much more information. Of course, in true Batman fashion, that doesn’t stop Terry from going after them again, but this time with Ten on standby. While Terry gets in over his head again because of The Splitt’s surprising power set, Bruce is preoccupied in the most un-Bruce of places.
In fact, the way Jurgens writes Bruce’s dialogue and behavior it seems to be clear to everyone but the McGinnis boys that something is extremely wrong with Bruce, or he isn’t himself at all. It was clear in the dialogue of the last issue and in Batman Beyond #32 it’s doubly so, making the oblivious McGinnises frustrating.
With every speech bubble from Bruce’s mouth just in the preview pages, it’s extremely apparent that the foreshadowing last issue with a man trapped in a cell shouting that they don’t belong here is more than it seems and that Bruce might not be Bruce. While I know that the audience has a better vantage point, I find it hard to believe that especially Matt who has been restricted to the Batcave after the events of “The Final Joke” doesn’t question Bruce’s behavior and use of abbreviations and his nighttime activities. From a writing perspective, writing Matt McGinnis, a child whose hyper-vigilance was noted after his trauma with the Joker, to not question Bruce seems out of character.
On the brighter side of Batman Beyond #32 is The Splitt. Two people in one body, The Splitt is intriguing, stealing tech from non-listed sites for an unknown reason. Like most two-in-one characters, Adam and Caden have differing opinions, with one seeming more villainous than the other. While one is happy leaving the Bat for dead, the other believes it’s a step too far. This dynamic will work well when it comes to a larger confrontation later on and with the new power reveal the rest of this arc is set to have a great big bad.
While the writing frustrated me, Leonardi and Parks’ art was a standout of this week’s comic haul. In the opening of the issue, the pain on Batman’s face as he struggles to move under the literal increasing weight of the world crushing him, pulling him, tearing his suit and eventually him. The full body page that Batman Beyond #32 opens up with is one of my favorites that I’ve ever seen of Terry as Batman. As we see Terry trying to think his way out of the situation, hurting himself to free himself, the expression is deep and builds empathy from the reader.
Overall, Batman Beyond #32 isn’t great, but it isn’t bad. The art and villain alone make up for frustrating character moments and so long as this charade isn’t kept up much longer, the dynamic between Terry and The Splitt is sure to give a satisfying conclusion to the “Divide, Conquer, and Kill” arc.
Batman Beyond #32 is available wherever comics are sold.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.