WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Batman Beyond #24 by Dan Jurgens, Will Conrad, Travis Lanham and David Baron.
When we were introduced to Terry McGinnis as Bruce Wayne’s successor in the 1999 animated series Batman Beyond, many wondered if the hotheaded teenager could ever fill his mentor’s shoes. But while creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini did map his career out as something completely different from the original Dark Knight’s, Terry nonetheless proved worthy of the cowl.
When the character was subsequently brought into comics, he crossed over into the main DC Universe, culminating in Futures End, a crisis which tweaked Terry’s reality just a bit. In the aftermath, the Bat-family has been slowly rebuilding and expanding, and now, Batman Beyond has revealed his identity to one more person: hisown Catwoman-esque femme fatale, Melanie Walker.
Mel debuted in the show’s eighth episode, “Dead Man’s Hand,” as someone who started a relationship with Terry after he broke up with Dana. But things spiraled into a Romeo and Juliet-esque relationship as we discovered she was Ten, the youngest daughter of the Royal Flush Gang. They were robbers for hire, selling their skills to the highest bidders. The young lovers never knew each other’s secret identity, but when Batman stopped the gang, Mel was unmasked, breaking Terry’s heart. To his credit, Bruce didn’t rub salt into his wounds, even after warning him not to get distracted. That episode ended with the former Batman comparing Mel to Selina Kyle and bonding with Terry on how the Batsuit seems to curse the concept of love.
Over the course of the series and the comics, whenever Terry battled the gang, Mel would try to prove she was reformed and wasn’t like her family, even entering therapy. Terry, though, did move on, even becoming engaged to Dana at one point, but crimefighting simply got in the way, repeatedly. Well, Mel has finally made her return after Future’s End, being sponsored by an old Jack Ryder, or as DC fans would know him, the Creeper. However, she seems a bit unstable still, actually stalking Terry, and breaking into the Wayne mansion to steal a picture of him as she felt they never got a fair shot at love.
Things have now taken a drastic turn for everyone in the conclusion to the current arc, “Target: Batman,” as Mel decides to impress Terry with her skills as a vigilante. Bruce and the new Robin, Terry’s younger brother Matt, have figured out she’s interjecting into Batman’s fights to show she can fight crime too, hoping Terry’s watching on television and won over by her antics. It actually started in Issue #17 when she helped Batman battle Payback and Stalker, and eight issues later she’s trying to stop Neo-Gotham’s citizens from killing the Bat. This is all due to a new Scarecrow inflicting fear into them via technology.
In the melee, an infected Robin attacks the duo and with Ten slightly jolted, dipping in and out consciousness, Batman unmasks to show his brother that he’s not a monster. Ten sees and realizes all this time, she’s been in love with the man who put her family away. Matt stops his assault and they eventually block the tech the Scarecrow’s using, find the lair and take her down. Sadly, she’s another of Jack’s friends, Adalyn, someone scarred for life after seeing Bruce beating down her criminal dad years ago.
When the dust settles, Jack vouches for Mel, but Bruce knows what loving a criminal does to a hero. He reluctantly accepts her into their inner-circle, as Terry’s convinced she’s changed too. He believes Terry’s judgement is clouded but only time will tell.
Her obsessive behavior could spell danger, especially in the field, but there’s also the chance Bruce and Jack could properly train and truly redeem her. That said, there’s even more trouble brewing in Terry’s personal life as Dana did spot him and Mel kissing earlier in this arc, which means our protagonist just might have mixed business with pleasure one time too many.
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