I bought Batman Beyond: 10,000 Clowns (Graphic Novel 188 pages) after I’d already read Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond, which kind of means that I’m reading them in a bit of a backwards order, I guess.
Knowing that I was going to read these in order at some point, I rewatched the entire Batman Beyond animated series, including the Return of the Joker (which was still just as depressing the second time around as it was the first time, just to be clear). I finished the animated series about a week ago and had a little bit of time today in between chores and decided to read Batman Beyond: 10,000 Clowns. But now I’m thinking that I must either be missing something or I’m still not reading them in the proper order. I know that Batgirl Beyond happens after 10,000 Clowns, but I really, really feel like I’m missing parts because of the interaction with Catwoman and Dick Grayson. To the best of my knowledge, Terry hasn’t met either of them yet, but here they show up and apparently know each other and have interacted before.
This is probably my biggest disgruntlement with the entire graphic novel industry. You can go to the bookstore and look at hundreds of graphic novels, usually only a few in the universes that appeal to you, and see several titles in each grouping, but none of them are ever properly labeled as to which ones come first. I had this same problem when I started reading through all the old Green Lantern titles with Kyle Rayner. DC specifically would make this entire series and then the story would stop right in the middle and reference a completely different comic book. So if you’re just reading that one series, you can miss about half to three quarters of the entire storyline just because you didn’t buy or read that one issue of the other title where the story continued. And DC seems to do this ALL THE TIME. It’s annoying. So I have no idea what order I’m supposed to be reading these graphic novels in and I’m positive that I’m missing chunks of the story and character development that are actually relevant. At the same time, this doesn’t mean nearly enough to me, I certainly don’t have the time to spare, and I don’t care nearly enough to do the potentially hours of online research it would take me to find what’s going on and read it.
I really liked some of the character development done for Mad Stan in the beginning. I can’t decide if I think it’s really sad that he’s so dependent on his overgrown rodent/dog, Boom Boom, or if I think it’s endearing that at least he has someone or something to love with all his heart. People with something important to lose will always fight for what they love which means that people with something to lose will always be susceptible to manipulation. That could be a good kind of manipulation where the “good guys” can find a way to get the “bad guys” to stop their dastardly plans or in a bad way where the “bad guys” lose what they love and then go absolutely crazy and kill everyone and everything.
I also liked Max’s subplot. I know it factors hugely into what happens in Batgirl Beyond, but I think she’s super cool because she’s unbelievably smart and she uses her brains to do amazing things with computers. I am often jealous of people who are remarkable with remarkable skills.
This graphic novel had a lot about what it means to be a superhero and I found myself deeply moved, especially near the end. “I think about my mom and brother, who’ve already lost my dad, and the hell it’d be for them if they lost me too … Not that I’m so great. Was I so busy getting my jolts playing superhero that I forgot I was also a real person outside the suit, with people I love and depend on, and who love and depend on me? Had I become that big a slag? Had I never stopped to consider what I wanted my life to be like ten, twenty, fifty years down the line? Did I want something close to a normal life, with a real job, a wife and kids? Not to mention my health? Or did I want to end up like Bruce, alone, bitter, in constant pain, and dying a piece at a time from a million punches, poison darts, explosions and crashes?”
Terry continues his internal discussion about what it means to be a hero right at the end, and mostly answers his own thoughts. “Maybe I don’t have Bruce’s all-consuming passion for wiping out crime. But he … and Dana … and Grayson, and so many other people, have taught me other things, since I first chose to put on this suit. They’ve taught me that, as long as there are people in need, and we have the capability to help them … then that’s what we do.”
And that pretty much sums up my thoughts on what it means to be a hero. It’s a topic that I discuss rather frequently, it seems.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed this continuation of the Batman Beyond storyline and I’m glad that I purchased this addition to the story. I would probably rate this graphic novel as a solid three on my rating scale.