gifs: batman beyond




Black History Month / Women’s Empowerment Month / Woman Crush Wednesday: Maxine “Max” Gibson, “Batman Beyond”

Batman Beyond was one of those great shows that continued the Batman legacy without being dull or even unnecessary. One of Kids WB’s great creations that encouraged me to wake up early on Saturday mornings to watch, for it was a fave. One of those reasons resides in a supporting character: muhfuggin’ MAX GIBSON.

Best friend to Terry (the main character of the show as the new teenage Batman/Bruce Wayne’s protégée), Max was a badass chick for many reasons: she was smart as hell (computer genius, great user of common sense, smart mouth, curious beyond belief), beautiful, confident, a GREAT friend to Terry, was absolutely useful, hungry to help especially after finding out Terry’s identity, had short electric pink hair, didn’t overstep her platonic relationship with Terry and was actually friends with the girl Terry wanted, and to top it all off, she was Black AND voiced by the awesome Cree Summer (who has voiced a few of the girls on this list of mine and who deserves an honorable mention of her own!).

The awesomeness I felt seeing Max on this show, and desperately wanting to see her in every episode, was real as fuck. Whenever she appeared, I was excited, because she was the epitome of awesome. Everything she was, from her beauty to her smarts to her confidence was riveting, and I loved that she was an important part of the team, even though Bruce didn’t want her becoming “the next Robin,” to Terry’s Batman. Though that may be, I practically see her as “the next Oracle,” for her behind the scenes help via computers and hacking skills was on point.

I wish she were appreciated more, because a character like Max, you can’t just FORGET. Which is why she’ll always reside in me. Max is one of my cosplay dream creations, and rightfully so. She’s the bees knees, man.

Maxine Gibson from Batman Beyond
I read an article that said one of the reasons a Batman Beyond movie would be great was because you could leave out background characters “like Nelson or Max or whoever.” WHAT. Excuse you, did you really just compare the importance of Max’s character to Nelson’s?? Super irritating, so I had to draw some fan art of her.

In Defense of Max Gibson

Guys, I think I’ve missed something in the last few years.

Let me back up. I’m 25. I’ve been a fan of Batman Beyond quite literally since it premiered back in 1999. I remember being this skinny little ten year old sitting on the carpet with my mouth hanging open as the opening credits started because I’d been watching Batman: TAS and never dreamt that there would be another Batman I loved as much as Bruce Wayne. So I’ve been in this fandom since before there really was one. Don’t believe me? My first Batman Beyond fanfic dates back to 2004. That’s a long time to love one little show with only three seasons and 52 episodes. 

From then until a couple years ago when the new comic series started up, the fandom was pretty simple. The major ship was Terry/Max, followed by Terry/Melanie, a few straggling Terry/Dana shippers, and some other ships I won’t mention to avoid pissing off yaoi/incest fangirls. 

And yet in the last two years, I have seen SO many posts bashing Max on Tumblr (and even Tvtropes, which is supposed to be objective) and I don’t get where this is coming from. So I’m using Black History Month as an excuse to have a little chat about my darling pink-haired hacker and see if there’s anyone else out there who noticed this huge shift in preference. 

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m not biased. You see my icon? I’m black. Not just that, I’m a black female nerd and I have been since I could walk. I’m a big ole dork and I’m proud of it. So you should know that one of the reasons why I adored Max from her introduction onward is because she was one of the few representations of my people–black female nerds. There aren’t enough of us in mainstream fiction, and Max was a breath of fresh air for that exact reason. 

She was funny, quick-witted, brave, hard-headed, and surprisingly deep when we got a glimpse into her background (daughter of divorced parents, mom’s a largely absent, doesn’t talk about her older sister much). And don’t get me started on how smart she is. I mean, valedictorian? That just made me even happier. She doesn’t take any of Terry’s crap when he’s trying to dish it and push her away, but she also knows when to ease up and help him through some of his personal issues. Max had oodles and oodles of potential, and I will always regret the fact that the show ended before we could properly find out her fate. Would Bruce ever let her have a small part in the Bat-family? Would she ever get to put on a suit? Were there any romantic sparks between her and Terry, or was it just pure chemistry in their friendship? I’d have loved to find out. She clearly showed signs of being able to kick some ass (See “Hidden Agenda”, “Curse of the Kobra,” “Hooked Up”, “Terry’s Friend Dates a Robot”, and “Where’s Terry?”) even if she needed some training. 

Now, I understand the people who dislike Max tend to be in two groups (again, this is based on what I’ve read): (1) people who dislike her for interrupting Terry and Bruce’s storylines (2) Terry/Dana shippers. I disagree with both, but those reasons are relatively understandable. However, dislike and hatred are two different things. There’s a handful of fans who just plain hate her and I do not get why. She’s a three dimensional character and a unique one who didn’t slip into any of the normal pitfalls that you see in superhero stories. She didn’t become Terry’s girlfriend (though I personally saw sparks) and she wasn’t a super tomboy with no femininity. To me, she was balanced and interesting. She has a reason to be in this story. She’s not like Darcy in the Thor movies who is only there to crack jokes. 

If you need more proof, let’s just take a quick look at some of the great moments she’s had with Terry:

  • “Mind Games” - Terry asked her out to help him with a stakeout and then called for advice after he didn’t get any new links to finding Tamara. He was upset because the case was so personal to him as Tamara reminded him of his little brother and he’s always had a soft spot for kids. She kept him calm and reminded him to focus on the right things that might lead to a new clue.
  • “Big Time” - Terry was struggling with his feelings of loyalty for Charlie vs. his duty as Batman to bring him in. Max very gently reminded him that he’s grown up since then and he’s making up for his mistakes in the past by cleaning up Gotham of criminals. This notion hits even closer to home when you consider what Terry reveals in Return of The Joker, where he explains that being Batman allows him to atone for his past sins. If she hadn’t brought that up, who knows what Terry would have done that night?
  • “Once Burned” - It’s a brief scene, but when he asks her to look up some blueprints and he mentions a friend and Max senses that it might be a girl and tells him to figure out how he feels about her because “it ain’t fair to Dana.” She could have gone off and ranted at him, but she didn’t. She just told him the truth and she stood up for her friend, which is a fact I think Dana fans like glossing over because they think Terry/Max shippers are anti-Dana. 
  • “Eyewitness” - After Terry was accused of murdering Mad Stan, he went to Max’s place because he knew she’d never turn him in. He could have gone anywhere else to hide, but he did it for two reasons (imo): (1) because he knew she might be able to help (2) because he was upset and needed a friend to stand by him while Bruce dug into the case. 
  • “Zeta” - Terry was completely ready to destroy Zeta, but Max talked him out of it because she saw that Zeta wasn’t all that he appeared to be. He really did want a fresh start and without her, he wouldn’t have gotten a chance to experience the world. Granted, the Zeta Project is largely forgotten as it was relatively substandard, but it speaks volumes that Max convinced Terry to trust someone who was misunderstood. 
  • “Where’s Terry” - Max stepped up to the plate when her best friend went missing and accompanied Bruce to find him. Granted, Bruce still kept her on the sidelines, but she showed clear signs of competence and a willingness to go above and beyond to help her best friend. 

I just don’t see how people are so willing to sweep her under the rug after so many awesome plot and character relevant moments. Shipping does tend to cause people to take a bias to a certain angle, but I’m not here because I think Terry and Max would be a good couple. I’m just talking about Max as a character. I think she’s fantastic and should be remembered for being one of the best non-love interest characters in a superhero series. 

Maybe there’s just a vocal minority of Max haters, but I’d really like to see if anyone else out there is a fan of Miss Gibson. If I’m by myself…oh well. There’s always fanfiction.