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Pro VS Con: "The Wayne & Terry Show" Part 1
by THE OLD MAID

(Note : as of this writing, "Unmasked" has not been aired. Therefore no developments introduced by this episode have been included.)

"Batman Beyond" is at heart the Wayne-and-Terry show. Even after the series was compromised by network interference, it still garnered the highest ratings. This testifies to the quality of the premise and the two characters who try to fulfill it.

We have explored all other aspects of the series. Now we turn our attention to the leading men. What is the Wayne-and-Terry show? Has it earned the right to survive? What is its place in the Bat mythos?

INTRODUCTION

In the tenth anniversary reprint, Frank Miller described his experiences in creating "The Dark Knight Returns" :

"And there was Batman himself. He was the real boss. As he was quick to assert, Batman has a personality and a purpose all his own, a definable core. He's no whiner ; there's not a trace of self-pity in his soul. He's smart. He's noble. His passions are grand. Even his unhappiness is not depressing, but a brooding, Wagnerian torment. And his triumphs are Olympian.

"He insists.

"Then, paradoxically, all the goofy stuff, the on-the-face-of-it preposterous stuff, nudges its way back in ...."

Miller's interpretation of the Batman influenced the mainstream comics and also the Tim Burton films, which influenced B:TAS. None of these Batmen are 100 percent identical. Nevertheless there is one mantle and all of them fit. Put simply this is the job description. If Terry is to become Batman he needn't be Bruce Wayne's clone, but he must be qualified for the job.

All official Batman versions have seen their share of the goofy stuff. Poor Terry has gotten the worst of it. Because Terry's writers are also his creators, his character is more easily entangled in poor stories. No fan looks at "Batman and Robin" and says, "This is what Bruce Wayne is really like." But viewers can and do conclude that "Sentries" or "TFDAR" is what Terry McGinnis is really like. In effect this series had the power to lock in, to legitimize, an episode's weaknesses as TERRY's weaknesses.

As a result fans are confronted with two Terrys. Original Terry stole the suit and gave Bruce Wayne something worth living for. The bitter ex-con and the bitter ex-vigilante look to each other to fix what is broken in their lives. Together the two men are Batman. They fight mobsters, shapeshifters, assassins, and other criminals too deadly for anyone else.

Then there's New Terry. New Terry is a good-natured, carefree, slightly dumb guy with the world's coolest afterschool job. This bland wannabe lives in a teen-scene world that rarely needs Batman ; an anonymous tip to the police would have sufficed. New Terry is a product of intrusive marketing. A longtime fan summed it up brilliantly : why this trend to turn extraordinary people into ordinary people? If viewers wanted ordinary, they wouldn't be watching Batman. We never saw episodes with Bruce Wayne filling out his taxes or the Robins loitering at the mall or in school. Why? Because it's boring.

Forced to choose between the two Terrys, some viewers declined to choose. They rejected the whole series. So let us ask a new question : is it possible to reject New Terry and keep the Wayne-and- Terry show? Such a strategy would gut the series. Is that so terrible? Long stories are not necessarily better. Does Original Terry, in company with Old Man Wayne, deserve a place in the Bat mythos?

Let's find out. If Terry is to become Batman he must earn it. Fans must see it. Recently fellow poster Jay Allman took up the question of whether Terry qualifies :

"'Lost soul,' 'Babel' and ROTJ are clearly important turning points in Terry's life, designed to advance and develop his character. Even 'Hidden agenda' is notable for what it shows about Terry -- his panic and confusion and frustration when his secret identity is confused with another's. You could also add 'Sneak Peek' and 'Big Time' to the list, as Terry begins to recognize the personal cost that comes with being Batman. And though it will get me egged, I will say that 'Heroes' belongs up there too, since it is (as I interpret it) meant as a lesson in how NOT to become a superhero.

"So Terry has undergone some development, but I still think it insufficient.

"Becoming a superhero surely is not like becoming a waiter or an accountant, something you train or study for and then one day you just are. Nor is it simply a matter of getting bitten by a spider or having your parents gunned down : Joker and Two Face and Mr. Freeze also had initial tragedies or transformations. Nor is it simply a matter of discovering your life will have to be different : again, someone like Poison Ivy has had ample opportunity to realize how and why she has become different from everyone else and to adjust in the face of that realization.

"Bruce Wayne differs from the villains because he deliberately made choices that made him into a particular kind of figure : He works at night ; he does not kill ; he solves crimes in addition to apprehending baddies ; he works toward justice ; he complements his nocturnal efforts with Wayne money to help transform the city. None of these choices was made carelessly, I am sure, but only after deliberation, and probably only after some key event made him realize that he had to choose how to live and behave.

"Terry has not undergone the same process. He doesn't kill, but name the episode in which he decides not to. He now feels that Batman is part of himself, and not something to live up to ; name the episode in which he had the attitude change. Of course, he's going to act that way because he is imitating Bruce -- AND THAT IS THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM. Terry is only copying Bruce, instead of undergoing the tests and tribulations that would transform him into the same kind of person that Bruce is ...."

Let's pause there for now. If Miller has given us the job description, what Allman has given us is the job application. We need to understand why Wayne read Terry's application instead of sending it to the trashcan. Is Wayne a desperate man who will cling to any last chance, or does Terry truly have the right stuff?  

• The interview process.

Is Wayne obsessed enough to choose the wrong person? Possibly. Dick Grayson had never known tragedy before his parents were killed. He might have been happy with a second family. It was Batman who decided that Dick was just like him and dragged him across the Rubicon. As for Tim (the animated version), he had lost his childhood to crime long before he met the Batman. He welcomed Batman's authority and direction. Nevertheless Tim too might have adjusted to a new family. Wayne probably could have found one if he had tried harder.

Terry's situation is different. Terry has often reminded viewers of a big dog dragging small people on his leash. Warren and Dana were the two good influences in his life, yet their combined strength could not always keep Terry out of trouble. All Wayne has to do is step on the leash. He rarely does so. Wayne treats Terry like he does Ace ; he hopes to control him through loyalty. This relationship exposes both men's strengths and their weaknesses. Possibly Terry would be as menacing, as permanent as Wayne by now if the latter had exercised more control. Instead Wayne is showing the audience what he has learned from past failures. Terry will still get there. He just won't hate Wayne like the others do. Unfortunately this arrangement makes Terry vulnerable to network interference. The suits concluded they might as well take Terry's leash because they don't see anyone holding it.

"Terry has not undergone the same process." Terry's supporters and critics watched the same episodes and yet have come to different conclusions. Why? I propose it is because there are three distinct processes :

1. The process of acquiring skills, both physical and mental. 2. The process of assuming authority. 3. The process of psychological/emotional transformation.

Terry has made more progress in some areas than in others. It's logical to conclude that fans rank Terry's effectiveness based on which process speaks to them personally.

As we evaluate Terry's journey through the series, we should ask certain questions. Is Terry in fact imitating Wayne? Is there ever a time when that's a good thing? What must be done to convince viewers that Terry has met this requirement?

THE PROCESS OF ACQUIRING SKILLS

Terry is rarely seen acquiring new skills. In "Disappearing Inque" he says, "It's taken you six months just to show me around the cave." That's shocking, unthinkable.

This prompted viewers to ask a valid question : does Wayne just send Terry out at night and hope he won't get killed? Would Wayne dare do that to any other apprentice? What is the point of having all this experience if no one uses it? Some viewers propose that Wayne is just testing Terry. After all he got burned pretty badly putting his trust in Dick, Tim and Barbara. On the other hand, maybe it is Wayne who is being tested. Terry is downright spoiled compared to Wayne's other partner-sons ; but we've seen what happens when the Batman is too strict with them. It must be excruciating for such a control freak to let Terry fall in his face, even if that's the way Terry prefers to learn.

The series should never have been frozen in time. Terry should have graduated. What then? Would he go to college to acquire mental skills? Would he tour the world to acquire physical skills? How would such training influence Terry's attitudes? When the series started, Terry was too busy to contemplate his choices. He had to concentrate on staying alive. Remove him from the battlefield and he could calmly consider his intentions.

Terry learns on the job, but he still needs formal training. For starters, foes like Spellbinder, Shriek and Mad Stan build their own equipment. If Terry never studies engineering, electronics or chemistry, he will spend his entire life playing catch-up. This is as true of mental skills as it is of physical ones. Let's examine a few skills Terry must master.  

• Fighting skills.

Bruce Wayne studied martial arts, lifted weights, and so on. Aside from his tendency to get too busy for food or sleep, he tried to stay in peak physical condition. Does Terry do that? Hard to say. We only see Terry train in two episodes ("TFDAR," "COTK part I"). The scenes themselves were pleasing to the eye, but viewers considered them too little, too late.

Bruce Wayne also studied circus magic, especially Houdini-styled escape artistry. It's not a fighting skill, per se, but it's as useful as one. It makes Batman appear magical and invincible. Combine this with Wayne's samurai stealth skills, and Batman seemed supernatural. He used these skills to terrorize people into compliance, thus saving wear-and-tear on his body. It also saves his life ("Trial").

Compare this to Terry's erratic stealth skills. Terry must have been a talented shoplifter as he was never caught ("Big Time"). He even broke into Wayne Manor and stole the suit while Wayne was watching television ("Rebirth"). Not many people get by Samurai Bruce. However he seems to have got out of practice since then. He is always dropping things ("Shriek"), bumping into things ("Disappearing Inque"), tripping alarms ("Last resort") and stomping on rooftops ("Armory"). Wayne should have addressed this problem immediately.

Terry's cycle skills are a valuable tool in the family business. Batman ("Second chance") and Robin ("Sub-zero," "Robin's reckoning") can both do it, but that is because they trained to do it. Who taught Terry, and why? If he has a background in Moto X, this should have been developed. It's insufficient to say he learned it in his bad-boy past. Terry didn't have his own transportation before Wayne gave him a cycle. The Jokerz of "Rebirth" have considerable skill themselves. How could Terry surpass them without a cycle to practice on? Where and when did he learn?

Terry's fighting style is erratic. He used more martial arts in street clothes but more boxing while in costume. Terry also once trained as a school wrestler ("Rebirth"). He never uses this skill again. True, some villains cannot be dealt with this way -- but why didn't Terry use this skill when it would work?

A major weakness is that Terry was written too much like Superman. Thanks to the suit, Terry is almost impossible to kill. Thus, like Superman, he rarely avoids a beating. He has little incentive to do so. Perhaps all this "action" was to show the audience how tough Terry is, but most fans would rather have seen how smart he is. A smart man would have dodged more of those blows. It may shorten Terry's career. Wayne/Batman was able to keep working into his sixties, but Terry's body endures so much abuse that he may be unfit to work when he's thirty.

Several fans proposed that Terry should train in Japan. Agreed. There's no substitute for total immersion in a language or culture. Wayne should have taken Terry out of the country on business trips to get it. That way they needn't wait for Terry to graduate. It also solves the problem of putting in face time with his loved ones. Finally, it would protect him from inappropriate stories. If leaving the country was the only way Terry could get away from the scene- stealing kiddies, then that's what he should have done.

Let us say they did go. Would Gotham fall apart? That would be worth exploring. The villains certainly wouldn't be idle while Batman was gone. At minimum, such road trips would force Wayne and Terry to debate the best way to handle it : a break of several years or numerous smaller absences. It would give fans some insight into how Bruce did it, and what he would do differently today.  

• Detective skills.

Wayne/Batman studied to become one of the top scientists in the world. In public he adopted the facade of the airheaded playboy. But Batman examined and approved everything his company made. This didn't just keep his company honest. It helped him improve quality of life in his city. It helped him turn the family business into his own private pharmacy and arsenal. And as with many wars (a war on crime, in this case) the inventions of the Batman were modified into products useful to the civilians, especially medicines.

The Batman studied strategy, criminal psychology, electronics, engineering, chemistry, and so on. He designed his suit. Wayne designed and programmed the Batarangs ("Disappearing Inque"). He designed and programmed the Batcomputer. He studied forensics. Many of the crime-lab skills viewers see in the series "CSI," Batman learned to do. It will take years of formal study for Terry to master these skills. Since Terry had a scientist for a father, he may have an advantage over the average student. More on this later.

Season Two was dominated by high school stories. Fan reactions were mixed at best. Some disliked them on sight. Others enjoyed them at first but have since outgrown them. Still others admit that we can't undo what's been done, so we might as well try to find some good in these episodes. These fans say that at least Terry became a better detective. I must regretfully disagree. If Terry becomes intimately acquainted with every teen in school, and then one of them begins behaving strangely, that is not detective work. That is simply paying attention. The school gossip could have done the same.

Attention to detail is part of detective work, but it is a tool of the process, not the whole process. A true detective is often faced with questions he does not know the answer to. A true detective spends most of his time tracking strangers. Tracing a piece of equipment back to the stranger who built it, and connecting that hired killer to Derek Powers, is detective work ("Shriek"). Noticing that a Sentry-fanboy is rude today is not.

On the plus side, Terry learned to repair his suit ("Babel"). His computer skills progressed from where-do-I-begin ("Shriek") to great- minds-think-alike ("Disappearing Inque"). He is quite comfortable operating a stranger's computer ("Payback," "COTK part I"). In fact Original Terry became so proficient with the Batcomputer that he surprised friend and foe alike ("Out of the past"). Finally, the Family makes free use of Interpol ("Mind games") and the WayneTech Crays ("Knightfall," "NML"). That is why the scenes in which New Terry lacks computer skills and/or cannot learn are so brazenly parallel-universe. The two Terrys cannot be reconciled. Terry has the Batcomputer, the Crays, and the scientist who programmed them at his disposal -- and he DOES know how to use them.  

• Language skills.

Traditionally Batman has learned as many languages as possible. Greg Rucka ("No man's land" novelization) credits Batman with English, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Vietnamese, and ASL. Batman can also read lips ("NML," "Shadow of the bat"). Yet Wayne and Terry cannot communicate in "Babel" except by text. How could this happen? Any Batman MUST learn lipreading and sign language. In fact if Terry hadn't mastered both skills by the time Shreeve went deaf ("Shriek"), that was the episode they should've started.

Terry hasn't even learned enough of a second language to whisper sweet nothings to his girlfriend. That has to change.

Terry has to learn as many languages as possible. Presumably Latin would be one of them, since it is the root of several Romance languages and also the language of scientific classification. He should learn the languages of friendly nations and terrorist states. He must learn sign language. Scientists claim that prosthetics and genetic engineering will eventually cure the hearing-impaired. This claim is presumptuous. It won't cure them all, not as long as money is an issue. It is possible that Deaf culture will be gentrified out of the States only to re-emerge in poorer nations. Batman will always need to know sign language. He must always be a lipreader.

This introduces another issue. How many Gothamites can read lips? Even one is too many, if Terry says the wrong thing in public. In "Zeta" Terry loiters on school grounds saying, "Has being Batman given me a more suspicious nature?" That is stupid of him. The students, plus Agent Bennett and his men could have read Terry's lips, if anyone had looked in his direction. Terry also discusses Work in public in "Mind games," "Armory" and "Out of the past." He calls Bruce Wayne by name while in costume ("Spellbound," "Splicers" and so on).

Terry ought to keep his mouth shut in public. If this means a scene is cut, too bad. Find a Batman way to write this scene if it's really worth saving.

Wayne ought to know, and Terry ought to learn, an obscure language so that they have a secure way to communicate under any circumstances. Maybe it's Euskera, maybe Crioulo, maybe the Maasai tongue. Perhaps Wayne spent time with the Cherokee or Navajo code-talkers ; why not learn a musical language like El Silbo Gomero while he's at it?

All these things Terry must learn. More than that, the audience must see him learn. True, twenty minutes of Terry chanting in the Language Lab or brewing chemicals in the Batcave would be boring. But let's be frank : some of the teen scenes weren't much more engaging. And at least at the end of a study session Terry would have leearned something.

Let us propose a compromise. Terry should have spent any screentime in school acquiring useful skills. Maybe Terry changes his electives to those that are more useful to him. Maybe Dana has to drag Terry out of Chem Lab for their date. Maybe Terry fixes her car. Maybe he fixes Nelson's car, ostensibly to mess with Nelson's mind but really to get more experience as a Batmobile mechanic. Even Mr. Tan notices. It would have been worthwhile to see Terry invited to dinner at their house, only to get grilled all night about what he intends to do for a living. Bonus points if Terry leaves suddenly because Mad Stan is out again.

Such scenes would not have taken over entire episodes as the teen scenes did. "Sneak Peek" should have been the model : a serious Batman chasing adult villains. The training scene in "TFDAR" only took 60 seconds (eighty if we include the post-game analysis). A few Skills scenes every other episode ought to do it. The rest of the time, Batman would fight adult criminals such as the Rogues' Gallery.  

• Other aspects of communication.

Mark Halpern observed, " A well-timed silence is the most commanding statement." Emily Dickinson put it another way : "Silence is all we dread / There's Ransom in a voice / But Silence is Infinity."

Wayne/Batman used silence effectively. All he had to do was look at people and they'd crack. Rucka describes Batman as so intimidating that the character has to remind himself to tone it down. ("Batman looked at the boy, thinking, and then realized the look was easily mistaken for an imposing one, and so looked away down the street, instead" --NML.)

Terry/Batman uses silence quite well -- when he tries it. The best scene was in "Earth mover," when Batman drives Bill Wallace into a frenzy of confessions. Other effective scenes are in "Babel" and "Ascension," when Batman refuses the fireman's hand or Paxton's welcome. Batman terrorizes Winchell in "Inqueling" using only gestures and four lines. Terry can be just as threatening out of costume. The most notable scene was in "Golem" when Terry intimidated Nelson in the parking lot. However this is not Terry's usual modus operandi.

Terry's Batman talks too much. It undermines his image. For one thing, Terry uses the same slang in costume and out. That slang betrays how very young he is. This, combined with his smaller stature, makes the average villain treat him with disdain.

Secondly, Terry/Batman often alerts foes to his presence by insulting first and attacking afterwards. This only gives the villains time to prepare for the attack. They draw their weapons ; they assume a more defensible position ; they escape. Terry ends up working much harder than he needed to. In contrast Wayne/Batman preferred to pick off the villains in silence. By the time they realized he was there, most of the muscle would be incapacitated. It created confusion, then fear. Wayne/Batman exploited it to perfection. Terry must learn that his words won't generate fear ; fear must be present first. Then he can decide if the villain is worth talking to.

Third, Terry/Batman talks too much to people who have met Terry-the- civilian. The list includes Dana, Matt, Blight, Shriek, Spellbinder, the RFG Princess, and over a dozen high school students. (Did Bruce- the-civilian even know that many people?) Since Terry talks the same way most of the time, and his voice hasn't got the range of Wayne's, it's harder for him to disguise his voice. Really, the best way for him to disguise it would be not to use it.

Terry did use his voice and attitude to defeat the Joker. This is the one time that taunting a foe truly accomplished something. It was a valuable tool and Terry was clever to recognize it. But if it doesn't work any other time, why doesn't Terry recognize that?

Viewers want to make sense of why Terry prattles on all the time. Some see him as the last Robin and leave it at that. Other fans go deeper. They trace it to the suit. In their theory Original Terry was a man who hid everything inside himself, and that made him violent and out-of-control. The mask freed him to be more open. He expresses his negative emotions instead of suppressing them. His smart retorts are therefore not part of his job, the way a Robin's wise-mouth attitude is part of the job. They represent a part of himself that Terry has trouble controlling.

There is one more form of communication that is perfect for Terry : ventriloquism. Wayne learned it from Zatara ("Read my lips"). This technique saved the Batman's life when he turned Wesker and Scarface against each other. If Terry mastered this skill, it would rapidly become his favorite form of communication. He could taunt his foes ; others would get blamed for it ; and Batman would keep his reputation as a silent menace. It suits his personality. If anything, Wayne probably hasn't taught him yet because he'd never get the kid to stop. Maybe when he's a little older.

Wayne wants to teach Terry to harness that energy instead. Thus as Terry becomes more focused, his smart remarks might be replaced with action. Not sure what that means? Well, consider the time Batman used a coin to flip Two-Face ("Shadow of the bat"), or the endgame scene in "King's ransom." That's the way a mature Batman makes smart remarks : through action.  

• Cover skills.

One thing Terry must learn to protect his identity is to become his own field medic. (As he pointed out in "ROTJ," injuries attract attention.) Wayne can dress his wounds ("Payback," "COTK"), but only if they can locate each other. Batman has had to do it on-scene in "Robin's reckoning" and "Year One." Terry's never demonstrated such skills. In addition it wouldn't hurt to teach him acupuncture to control the pain. These scenes could have been quite funny, especially if Terry's a timid or slow learner.

As mentioned, fans think Terry should train in Japan as Bruce did. This introduces a new problem : what cover story should there be? If Terry had graduated on time this wouldn't be a problem. Most colleges grant credit for life experience. Pulling Terry out of high school, even for two weeks, demands an explanation. How about this one : that Wayne wants Terry to tour Wayne Enterprises facilities personally, instead of simply carrying Wayne's luggage around the globe.

Here is a surprise. A certain something is missing about Terry -- but the fact that it is missing is exactly what works. That something is Terry's civilian career. Terry has developed the same reputation as Bruce Wayne, more so than any other protege. Terry's counselor says he has no direction or purpose ("Sentries"). His enemies insult him with labels like Gofer ("Big Time") and Houseboy ("ROTJ"). Hmm. Isn't that how people regarded Bubblehead Bruce? A charmer with no real goals or skills? A corporate figurehead, a joke? People assume Wayne "needed" Lucius Fox. He did, but not for that reason. Batman had other priorities.

Dick Grayson had his own plans and pursued them. Tim Drake founded his own company. Aside from the time Terry tried to take the college placement exam (and missed it ; "Hidden agenda"), we've seen no indication Terry is planning for his future. Just like Wayne, Terry has expressed no interest in any civilian occupation. He has no known hobbies. (New Terry played vidgames, but Original Terry was too bad- tempered to lose the way this guy does. That's probably why he never played, neither at this nor anything else. He danced with Dana. That's it.) Aside from Dana, and possibly Jared, Terry had no friends before "Rebirth." Neither did he care. He lived in the eternal Now. The teen stories distorted this attitude. Serious episodes used it to their advantage.

The Terry of "Rebirth" was a nihilist. He started three fights in one day. He led a motorcycle chase that could have killed him -- should have -- yet his skill indicates he's gambled with his life before. He also expressed contempt for Warren McGinnis. His father's crimes? Taking a chance on marriage. Raising a family. Having a real job. These are all things that require structure, patience, planning -- things Terry once dismissed as a waste of time.

That Terry saw high school as a chore to finish, not a stepping-stone to anything more. Bigelow was right to say that Tiny Terry lacked vision. Now that Terry is becoming Batman, he's too exhausted to make plans. His civilian life just happens to him.

Now Bubblehead Bruce could get away with this because his company was his by birthright. Terry won't have that advantage. He's got to have a believable job. He might as well keep working for Wayne, even run his company, since there's nothing else he wants to do. This does not mean that Terry is entitled to the company. Wayne's enemies will fight it any way they can. They would try to discredit Terry as a companion preying on a lonely old man. Also, Terry is presently unqualified to lead Wayne Enterprises on his own, even with Wayne's blessing. Yes, Terry could hire a Lucius Fox Beyond, but he would have to gain control of the company to do it. Inheritance is the easiest way to do that.

The truth is Terry is the best choice to inherit the company. In the comics Wayne adopted Dick Grayson (GOTHAM KNIGHTS #17) and Jason Todd. In animated continuity Wayne never adopted anyone. There are multiple proofs of this. One, if Bruce Wayne adopted anyone, it would be the top story in the business world and the society pages. Terry said, "I read up on you, Mr. Wayne." Yet Terry didn't recognize a reference to Dick Grayson in "Spellbound."

Secondly, the Powers clan and Jordan Pryce never made an attempt on Dick's life or Tim's life. If Wayne had a son, that son would inherit Wayne's stake in the company. Killing Wayne alone wouldn't solve their problem. Killing his heir would be required too. Yet no WP villain is interested in harming the Robins.

Third, Derek Powers states plainly ("Shriek") that Wayne has "no wife, no children." No one to attend to his business affairs. No one to serve as his health-care advocate. Powers never thinks of the Robins as Wayne's family, because in the eyes of the law they aren't family.

There is another matter to consider. None of Wayne's other partners care about matters inside Wayne's company. Derek Powers didn't begin his life of crime in "Rebirth." He was at it long before Terry came along. Powers has conducted experiments on prisoners and on his employees (Victor Fries, Harry Tolley). He kills whistleblowers (Warren McGinnis). He uses hitmen and mercenaries (Fixx, Inque, Shriek) to reach his business goals. He manufactures and sells nerve gas ; therefore he must be involved in money laundering as well. Also, this sale may constitute treason. Powers cripples the competition with sabotage. He wants to purchase the Historic District and will kill to do so. He poisons the oceans ("Meltdown"). His son Paxton is also a polluter ("Ascension") and a would-be murderer ("Ascension," "King's ransom"). Jordan Pryce ("ROTJ") wastes no time taking the same road to prison. Now it's pretty suspicious that Wayne's partners could be unaware of so much evil in one place. Yet none of them do anything.

Nightwing's sense of ethics should have compelled him to act. Even if he hates Wayne, he would protect innocent people from WP predators. Barbara and her husband D.A. Young ought to be doing their jobs too. The taxpayers paid them to do this. Barbara pays more attention to Terry's high school ("Spellbound," "Revenant," "Zeta") than she does to Wayne's company. Barbara admits that Jordan Pryce ("ROTJ") is "a creep" with a motive for murder, but she doesn't investigate him. The only time in the series that Barbara raises a hand against a WP criminal is after the Batman capture Paxton in "King's ransom." What else has she done? Nothing.

NO ONE tried to stop these monsters. No one but Terry.

So if no one cared enough to fight corruption, treason and murder in the company before, why should Wayne give them a share in it now? Of course Wayne still loves his birds. He will probably leave them cash or gifts. But Terry is the only one who genuinely cared about cleaning up the company. He even insisted on doing it himself because he didn't trust Barbara's cops ("you know how cozy they are with Powers" --Rebirth). Who else would Wayne leave it to?

Miss Carr ("ROTJ") seems to have come to the same conclusion. She treats Terry as someone who has a right to be there, not as some lackey. Indeed, the owner of Wayne Enterprises has an easier time of it in some respects. Contacts want to come to him. Sometimes they will be honest men. They would know that Derek Powers and Jordan Pryce disliked Terry. It wouldn't take long for news to spread that all the right people hated him. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." Other times these contacts will be criminals trying to ingratiate themselves to a rich man ("Batman : war on crime") or the man who has his ear ("Big time"). For Batman it is quite a timesaver. He keeps abreast of current developments even during time "wasted" on his alternate identity. And of course he can chase a suspect all over the world and call it a business trip.

It's logical, perhaps inevitable, that Bruce Wayne will adopt Terry. It's legal in the States for one adult to adopt another. Adoption merely makes official a relationship that already exists. This doesn't mean that Wayne owes him. No parent owes a healthy adult child an inheritance. Rather, Wayne wouldn't want to leave the company to his enemies. (He said in "ROTJ" that he would not hand it over to them again. That means he must have some plan in place to stop them.) Plus being Batman is very expensive. Wayne's only other choice would be to liquidate the company while he's still in command - - and given the number of innocent employees, stockholders and pensioners who'd be ruined that's clearly not an option.

Wayne does joke in one episode that he's taking it with him. But he knows how the people of Gotham have suffered. They need Batman, but they need Wayne Enterprises too. If Batman was the father of the city (instilling discipline, defending his home), then Bruce was its mother : clothing the poor, housing them, supporting the arts, providing food for both body and mind. Gotham City needs Wayne Enterprises to survive.

Anyhow, what others see as a liability -- painting Terry into a career corner -- I see as something the series actually did right. Terry wants to follow in Wayne's footsteps. No other job, no other path, matters to him. That's the way it should be.

In the meantime, Terry should go anywhere, do anything that will make him more believable as Wayne's heir -- in both of the family businesses.  

• Section summary.

In a way, "Batman Beyond" wasn't just a Year One story for Terry. It was supposed to be Year One for Bruce too. We would learn how Bruce became Batman by watching him train another. This is what the fans thought the series would be about.

In this category, the acquisition of skills, Terry is NOT imitating Bruce most of the time. If he had, it might have been a better series. This is not to detract from Terry. Rather, it would have kept him away from high school and the teens in it. Batman would be so ridiculously overqualified to handle their problems that the idea would be rejected out of hand. As cartoonist Jim Davis once said, it would be like swatting a fly with a Buick.

It's easy to argue that training scenes were never shown because they were boring. I believe I have demonstrated a way in which they would not be boring. Therefore the fans have the right to say, "we should have seen them."

Terry is far ahead of Wayne in some respects and woefully deficient in others. We know Wayne had superior skill in languages, detective work and fighting styles -- because "Year One : Who I am" reveals that Wayne began touring the globe to train at age thirteen. Wayne had theory ; Terry has combat experience. In fact "Who I am" states that Wayne didn't hit the streets until he turned twenty-five.

So if Terry is less qualified for his age, but he is fighting more deadly villains, he deserves to get credit for that.

Read Part 2

 

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