“Escaping the Grave” begins with a captive Dana Tan being told by Carter who prefers to be called Terminal that the most influential citizen of Gotham was the Joker. He is telling her because he has the dead body of the Joker and he plans on resurrecting him. We get a recap voice over of Terry McGinnis telling us that since he was presumed dead the Jokerz gang took over a neighborhood in Gotham and are now calling it Jokerz Town. In Jokerz Town, the gang runs amok terrorizing the citizens. Terminal tells Dana that Joker inspired a legion of followers while Batman has not. The best joke on Gotham would be the revival of the Joker.
Matt meanwhile takes a blindfolded Maxine Gibson into the Batcave. He takes off her blindfold and reveals that she is now in the Batcave. Matt keys up the computer and finds that the signal to his brother is weak meaning that something is wrong.
We find that something is indeed wrong, Batman is under a few tons of rubble. He cannot move and he can barely breath. We get another recap that his fight with a hulking Jokerz member led to this current predicament. Matt tries to raise Terry on the radio. Terry can hear Matt but Matt cannot hear Terry’s reply. Batman has one chance, he drops an explosive charge down a pipe in the hopes that it will fall far enough before detonation to free himself without actually killing himself. Terry’s plan works, he is now free and Matt is able to get a strong signal.
Batman engages the Jokerz but realizes that he is not tough enough. His punches have no effect and he gets thrown into a truck for his trouble. The Jokerz continues to pummel a helpless Batman. Max says that the backpack the Jokerz is wearing is powering him up and Batman is not sharp and he is out of shape due to his time with Spellbinder. Batman is caught in a massive bear hug by the hulking Jokerz and he starts to squeeze. Batman draws his batarangs. He sees his only chance is destroying the backpack which he does. This causes the Jokerz to drop but the fight is not over. Soon Batman finds himself overrun with legions of Jokerz all bent on killing him. After a fierce struggle which severely damages Terry’s suit, Batman is able to rocket away escaping a jubilant band of Jokerz, since they sent the bat running.
Back at the cave, Matt struggles to get the signal back wandering how Terry could have been beaten like he was. Max says that the odds were overwhelming but Terry himself arrives to say that he was not ready. He went in too cocky and he did not have a real plan like Bruce Wayne had taught him. Terry reveals that the original Batman was Bruce Wayne saying that they can trust Max. Terry says that this may be one time the Batman cannot do the job and he hopes that his failure has not put Dana in more danger. Matt thinks that Terry is giving up but instead it is revealed that Terry McGinnis is going back to Jokerz Town, not as Batman but as a Jokerz himself. Next issue, Undercover.
This was a very good issue. I particularly liked that Batman was beaten. It shows that the Jokerz are not to be played with and the stakes in this story is very high. There was a good callback to Bane’s venom which is what the hulking Jokerz was using to give him is huge size and strength. Terry’s fight with the brute had a visible impact on Batman and he was easily overpowered by the other Jokerz.
The cliffhanger at the end definitely makes me want to read the next issue. How can Batman win this fight and it is good to see that Terry may be learning from his mistakes.
So far, this is proving to be a good opening arc and it is good to see some callbacks to the pre-Rebirth Batman Beyond.