CREDITS: Written by Paul Dini; art by Ty Templeton, Dev Madan, Terry Austin, Mike Parobeck, Rick Burchett, and Brandon Kruse.
REVIEW: Andrea Beaumont is back years after the events of Mask of the Phantasm, and it's to save Bruce Wayne. So she still cares. But she's the real target of these assassination attempts, because a villain from the movie is behind all this. Fake out! Not the Joker, but Arthur Reeves, the politician Joker-gassed in the film, who apparently got stuck in a smiley expression and a psychotic disposition. By the end, he's learned Andrea and Bruce's secret, so he has to die. And does. Beyond his reappearance - and hopefully you remember him from the movie - there's no real surprises in store.
The issue introduces Kitsune, a clawed Japanese assassin who wears a stone that allows her to look like anyone, something she'll explain to her prey before pouncing, apparently. She's an interesting creation, but never makes it to television. She'll show up again in the comics though. Outside the strict (and somewhat formulaic) plot mechanics, there are some good bits in here, like Alfred's tired cynicism regarding the Andrea-Bruce relationship, Kitsune celebrating too soon with champagne, and Bruce's badass jump through the window and into the bay... But most of the action bits left me a little cold, I must admit.
The issue also includes a tribute to Mike Parobeck who had died the week before publication from complications due to diabetes before he reached his 31st birthday. As you can imagine, the text page is heart-breaking, if a little too focused on telling the reader why Parobeck was great even though he wasn't a "hot" artist. Reads like an apology, at times. I think history's shown how much Parobeck was a beloved artist. Of particular interest is the revelation that writer Kelley Puckett (on The Batman Adventures) would snuff some of his own dialog after seeing the pencilled pages, leading to the beautiful silent sequences in that series. Parobeck's style was so clean and clear, that you didn't need words to explain what was going on, and I think we're the luckier for Puckett's humility. Parobeck draws a chapter in this Annual, one that's unfortunately a little wordy, but it's of course up to his usual standard, cluttered with word bubbles or not.
REREADABILITY: Medium - The Mask of the Phantasm sequel addresses the right points and does it well enough, without really breaking new ground.