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Batman Beyond: The Arch-Nemesis That Didn't Quite Work Out (And How They Died)

Batman Beyond #18 (April 2001) comes from Bader, penciler Craig Rousseau, and inker Rob Leigh. And, hey, let's not forget that awesome Brian Stelfreeze cover. The creative team presents what very well could've been the resolution to the Blight storyline...assuming Bader was assigned that episode.

So, the epic final showdown between Batman and his father's killer opens with an appearance by the villain Stalker. He possibly owes the most to Spider-Man's rogues gallery, a well the animators returned to often. This time, the influence of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko led the producers to create an African big game hunter, as opposed to a Russian big game hunter with an African influence.

Well, it's an intriguing way to open the story. Surely, the action will move on soon, unveiling Blight as the true threat.

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Or, just keep on going for numerous pages. Either way. Actually, as a Batman/Stalker fight, this is perfectly okay. There just isn't that much to it, even if Bader seems to think forcing Batman to question if he's "hunter" or "prey" is some deep philosophical question. (The story is in fact titled "Prey or Hunter, Hunter or Prey.") Halfway through the issue, we begin to discover just what Stalker wants.

His target is Blight, and Stalker's decided Batman is the perfect lure to draw him out in Gotham. There is a logic to it, as Stalker is obsessed with his honor as a hunter, and Blight is unusual prey. Yet, there's no real connection here. The villains don't know each other, have no reason to have strong feelings either way about the other. Blight could've been any other unusually powered villain from the DC Animated Universe.

Regardless, Stalker's plan works. Batman is forced into a confrontation with Blight, the man who ordered the hit on his father. And the climactic battle lasts...approximately six pages. Nearly half the length of the initial fight with Stalker. It does have some cool moments...

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...but ultimately, it's rushed and unsatisfying. In the end, Stalker aids Batman in dousing Blight in a shower of hot lead. Batman declares he's neither hunter nor prey...he's Batman!...a second before Stalker knocks him out and disappears with Blight's body. Batman wonders just what he wants with the body, a question answered in the closing splash page.

And, with that, Blight's story in the initial run of the DCAU is over.

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