Published by DC Comics and written by Dan Jurgens with Rick Leonardi as penciler, Ande Parks on inks, Chris Sotomayor as colorist, with letters by Travis Lanham, Batman Beyond #34 continues the “Divide, Conquer, and Kill” arc that has been ongoing since issue number 31. In issue number 33, the McGinnis boys have found out that Bruce Wayne is an imposter and the audience has learned that the villain False Face is really the apathetic party boy with Bruce’s face.
The best part of issue 33 was that Jurgens established the rules by which False Face, the changeling villain who switches bodies with Bruce, leaving the geriatric caped crusader in a cell at Arkham. The kicker? When False Face assumes an identity, the person it belongs to forgets who they are, and on the last page, it looks like Terry is his newest victim.
Now, Batman Beyond #34 picks up with Batman blasting through the city sky and almost killing a criminal. Of course, as we know, this Batman isn’t the real Terry under the cowl. As False Face Batman glides into Wayne manor, we know this isn’t Terry. His method of entry, his language, everything is not Terry, similar to how False Face Bruce was most definitely not Bruce. But once again, though the Terry in front of them doesn’t know how to work his batsuit, no one is the wiser.
While the rest of the issue progresses with some stellar art in the suit and against The Splitt from Parks, Batman Beyond #34 is as frustrating as the rest of the arc has been. Bruce, the best detective even in his old age, can not even deduce that this is False Face. This, even after he delivers an exposition filled explanation of how the villain operates. While this exposition is bad for me, someone who has been reading the arc continuously, this Batman Beyond #34 is one of the rare mid-arc issues that any reader can walk into and understand what is happening.
The only reason this detracts from the story is because the exposition illustrates that the characters know all that they should in order to be able to know that Terry is a fake. Yet, they don’t spot him; not until he basically shouts his true identity. The more troubling development, and one I didn’t realize until this issue, is that False Face knows Batman’s identity, where Batman lives, and who helps him. With memory loss coming into play, that may be the plot armor for this issue, but while False Face is Terry, the overpowered villain knows everything. What is stopping False Face from going into Gotham PD and unmasking Terry, or putting it on a jumbotron, or doing something so heinous that the cowl’s reputation is ruined? It just doesn’t make sense.
Overall, I’ve grown tired of this arc and I was hoping that after the reveal of False Faces power-set, we’d see smart characters acting like themselves. Like I’ve explained, in Batman Beyond #34 this isn’t the case. The more frustrating piece to all of this is that The Splitt is one of my favorite villains from DC Comics so far this year. They’re interesting; Adam and Cade are a different kind of speedster, and their dueling personalities make their interactions with Terry great to see. False Face is also an intriguing villain. It’s the failed potential of “Divide, Conquer, and Kill” that makes Batman Beyond #34 hurt the most as a fan of the series.
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.