NSA Special Agent James Bennet, Sr. headed the team searching for the rogue infiltration unit, Zeta and, by extension, Rosalie Rowan. Never more than a step behind, his name soon became synonymous with danger for the two fugitives. Despite his obsession, he doesn't believe Zeta is at fault and that he's simply been reprogrammed: he's twice told Zeta that he's trying to help him by reprogramming him.
Bennet was a dedicated and relentless agent that would put himself in dangerous situations to bring in his target. While he pursues cases to the expense of his family life, the reason he works so hard is to ensure his beloved son James has a safe world to grow up in. He expected discipline and dedication from his staff, believing that without a functioning team a mission would fall apart; in exchange, the one time he disobeyed orders, he reassured everyone that he'd shoulder all the blame. Aware of the NSA's Infiltration Unit synthoids - which impersonate, interrogate, and kill their targets - he believed they were distasteful but necessary.
Bennet was in pursuit of a rogue infiltration unit named Zeta, who had abandoned his mission while investigating terrorist organization Brother's Day. NSA believes that Zeta was reprogrammed by Brother's Day for an unknown purpose and they must recapture him before it could be carried out. Bennet lead a squad of agents to find Zeta in Gotham City, tracking him through his homing beacon, which he was trying to disable. After a small firefight outside Hamilton Hill High School, Bennet briefed Commissioner Gordon on Zeta. They later tried to capture Zeta at the main train station, with Bennett offering to bring him in alive rather than terminate him. Cornered, the synthoid held him at gunpoint but refused to fire; Bennett responded by having his team gun Zeta down. However, Zeta faked being destroyed and escaped. Bennet and his agents left after that.
Bennet continued to pursue Zeta but later returned to Gotham on a different matter: to stop another terrorist organization called Kobra from unleashing a deadly virus upon Gotham to threaten a ransom of 10 billion credits from the government. Already Kobra had tested the virus on a small tropical island—with devastating results. The NSA turned to Stalker to find Kobra's contact, Falseface, and the virus canister. Coincidentally, Batman showed up, so the two foes had to team up to save the city.
Zeta called Bennett in an attempt to convince him that he was peaceful but the agent continued to pursue him: he chose to believe that Zeta had merely been reprogrammed rather than believe he had gained a conscience. He led a dedicated team across the country for months, tracking both Zeta and his new companion Ro. When Zeta began looking for his creator, Dr Eli Selig, Bennett assumed that was part of his 'terrorist mission'.
During his search, Bennett had to manage Agent West: an individual that frustrated and annoyed him.
The search for Zeta saw him go back to Gotham for a third meeting with Batman. This time, Mad Stan planted a bomb on the synthoid; when Batman sought Bennett's aid to find Zeta before it went off, Bennett rebuffed him and said his job would be easier if it happened. He then quietly tracked Batman in the hope he'd lead him to the synthoid.
Eventually, Bennet's obsession with capturing Zeta grew so great that he disobeyed orders from Colonel Lemak not to investigate Research and Development, for it was above his clearance; believing "every minute it's out there lives are at stake" and that this trumped clearance levels, he told his staff to pretend they hadn't heard Lemak and that he'd take all of the blame when they were caught. When Agent Lee questioned this, he confronted her about her sympathies with Zee and that she might need to "rethink" her assignment. He learned that Zeta was searching for his creator, Dr. Selig, whom he believes that Brother's Day wants to capture to build infiltration units of their own. However, the synthoid escapes his grasp yet again and Colonel Lemak prevents him from even talking to Selig, having been informed by Lee, who then quits his team.
Zeta was briefly captured and interrogated by Bennett, but he didn't believe the synthoid's answers. He was sympathetic to Zeta, believing him to be unable to tell he was being used and that was confusing him.[nb 2] This was not enough to stop him from having Zeta's mind erased, despite the robot's pleas. Unfortunately for the NSA, that reset him to a state without conscious, as he tore his way through them to freedom before his memories reset.
The search continued, meaning Bennett had less and less time to spend with his son. Guilty about missing a sailing trip with James, he took him on a research trip to Burnette Marine Research Center - which turned out to be where Zeta and Ro were! When an accident stranded James and Ro at the bottom of the sea, Bennett reluctantly agreed to cooperate with a captured Zeta to rescue them. Not only did he let him free to help, he (for once) allowed Zeta and Ro to flee out of gratitude.
He was willing to drop all charges against Ro and let her brother Casey take her home if he helped bring in Zeta. Casey intentionally botched the capture but Bennett, while angry, let him go. In contrast, Bennett assumed that the young hacker Bucky Buenaventura, one of Zeta's allies, must be working for a terrorist organization; he arrested and tried interrogating him. When a fleeing Ro and Bucky seemed to be dead at his hands, Bennett was distraught and wishing there was something they could do. (Luckily, Zeta saved the pair - at which point the agent immediately snapped back to the chase)
Bennet would finally have Zeta's innocence confirmed over a year after his run-in with Lemak. During his search he arrived at the Gnosis, the government's highest synthoid production lab, which Brother's Day attacked. He managed to pin down Titus Sweete but learned that Brother's Day didn't know, let alone use Zeta. Bennet then ran off to find out why. He overheard Dr. Selig telling Zeta and Ro about the purpose of the mysterious module in his head, which acted as a conscience, so that he could rethink his programming. Suddenly, Sweete managed to detonate the bombs placed around the Gnosis and then shot down Selig's escape pod. Bennet tried to stop him but failed, though he apprehended the dangerous terrorist and took him into custody before the base is destroyed.
Because Selig is presumed dead, no one but Bennet could clear Zeta's name.
- "The Accomplice"
- "His Maker's Name"
- "Change of Heart"
- "West Bound"
- "Shadows" (Mentioned Only)
- "Crime Waves" (Mentioned Only)
- "Taffy Time" (Mentioned Only)
- "Ro's Reunion"
- "Absolute Zero"
- "Wired, Part I"
- "Wired, Part II"
- "Quality Time"
- "On the Wire"
- "Cabin Pressure"
- "The River Rising"
- "The Hologram Man"
- His name is alternately spelt "Bennet" (in the early Batman Beyond credits and the original WB Zeta website) or "Bennett" (the Zeta Project and "Countdown" credits). Robert Goodman has written it as "Bennet".
- As well as changing from Bennet to Bennett, he had a redesign and a new voice actor for the spinoff series. When he returned to "Batman Beyond" looking and sounding completely different, Batman made no comment!
- In "Zeta", Bennett and his team are willing to destroy the synthoid (and are tricked into believing they have) and to open fire even in public areas because of the perceived danger. In "The Zeta Project" itself, Bennett is attempting to bring Zeta in 'alive' and undamaged so he can be reprogrammed, only willing to destroy Zeta if necessary for national security, and his team limit their actions in public areas; Agent West is firmly rebuked after opening fire in a public area in "The Accomplice". This is due to the show have a lighter tone than "Batman Beyond", by network request. (Once he returns to "Batman Beyond" for "Countdown", he's having rocket-propelled devices fired even when Ro could be hit and ignores a serious bomb threat!)
- The flashback in "Plague" implies that Bennett is present on the island and saw firsthand what the super-virus did to its victims.
- Lemak calls him "Jim" in their first episode together, both times when patronizing or berating him.
- The Season One DVD says that as Bennett gets more and more obsessive, raising questions about who is the real menace. The show itself never let Bennett get that dark.
- Asking Zeta in "Wired", retracing his steps in "Quality Time", and monitoring for any movement he made in "The Hologram Man"
- "Wired": "It must be very confusing to be you, Zeta. Am I weapon, am I not a weapon? Am I in control or am I controlling myself? ... Be happy, Zeta. We're going to take all that confusion away now. We're going to give you a fresh start on life.")
- On Batman Beyond
- On The Zeta Project
- Goodman, Robert (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (April 8, 2000). "Zeta". Batman Beyond. Season 2. Episode 20 (airdate). Episode 28 (production). Kids WB!.
- Hopps, Kevin, Soll, Ralph (writers) & Maltby, Tim (director) (July 13, 2002). "Quality Time". The Zeta Project. Season 2. Episode 8 (airdate). Episode 18 (production). Kids WB!.
- Goodman, Robert, Hopps, Kevin (writers) & Geda, Curt (director) (March 23, 2002). "Absolute Zero". The Zeta Project. Season 1. Episode 13 (airdate). Episode 13 (production). Kids WB!.
- Fogel, Rich (writer) & Lukic, Butch (director) (April 15, 2000). "Plague". Batman Beyond. Season 2. Episode 21 (airdate). Episode 33 (production). Kids WB!.
- Goodman, Robert (writer) & Geda, Curt (director) (January 27, 2001). "The Accomplice". The Zeta Project. Season 1. Episode 1 (airdate). Episode 1 (production). Kids WB!.
- Goodman, Robert, Kuhr, Joseph (writers) & Davies, Rob (director) (August 10, 2002). "The Hologram Man". The Zeta Project. Season 2. Episode 12 (airdate). Episode 26 (production). Kids WB!.
- Kuhr, Joseph (writer) & Geda, Curt (director) (July 20, 2002). "On the Wire". The Zeta Project. Season 2. Episode 9 (airdate). Episode 21 (production). Kids WB!.
- Weldon, Lyle (writer) & Davies, Rob, Miller, Olaf (directors) (July 27, 2002). "Cabin Pressure". The Zeta Project. Season 2. Episode 10 (airdate). Episode 22 (production). Kids WB!.
- Transcript of a website bio at World's Finest Online: "get assigned to Agent Bennet's personal detail"
- Interviews - The World's Finest talks to Series Creator, Robert Goodman