Batman Beyond #1

by Aaron Reese on October 03, 2016

Batman Beyond #1

Batman Beyond might be my favorite new comic. It’s probably not the best. It has some occasionally clunky dialogue and uninspired occurrences, but it tickles the nostalgia sensors for fans of the cartoon series.


Issue #1 captures the feeling of the animated series without talking down to older readers. This version of Gotham’s future has a darker tone. Batman Beyond has earned its evolution from children’s cartoon to a fully developed world with its own players, politics and problems. Even with the new direction, it respects its inspiration, just like the original series respected its roots.


Few will probably remembers this, but no one wanted a Batman Beyond animated series. A young, futuristic Batman was a sad gimmick concocted by Warner Bros executives to attract the youngest demographic. Even Batman: The Animated Series creator Bruce Timm first resisted the idea. To make the series more palatable to creators and fans of the original series, they re-hired Kevin Conroy to voice an older, grizzled, and dispassionate Bruce Wayne. The decision to include Bruce Wayne in this future foreshadowed depth for the new series.


Batman Beyond #1 briefly recounts the events that led Terry McGinniss to be the Batman. When a gang called the Jokers, taking their name from the deceased “Clown Prince of Crime,” chases Terry down a dilapidated road, they confront a feeble Bruce Wayne. Though issue #1 glosses over the details of this meeting, because it must get on with its own story, writer Dan Jurgens made a wise decision to include it. It ties this series to the original animated series because it was the scene that signaled the show’s greatness.


The animated scene trusts the viewer to know things about Batman and lets us in on a joke that only we and Bruce Wayne get. It gives us nostalgic euphoria and a sense of power that TV shows rarely provide. When Old Man Wayne appears unimpressed by the goofy painted clown gang, they defensively crow, “Do you know who we are old man? We’re the Jokerz!” Bruce narrows his eyes and, recalling the haunting memories of the most dangerous criminal in history, he growls, “Sure you are.”


In this new series, we are finally reading about a world without Bruce Wayne. He passed away. Whereas nearly 20 years ago, we couldn’t imagine some young punk masquerading as Batman without the reassuring presence of Bruce Wayne, we now realize that Terry earned his independence long ago.


This story-arc starts out traditionally, Terry battling the Jokerz and getting updates from the people in his life--Dana, his brother, Commissioner Barbara Gordon--but we also get a glimpse at what the future holds. Without getting into much detail, I’m slightly unimpressed with the direction. Neo Gotham is rich with ideas, villains, heroes, cyberpunk and Bladerunner influences. It cast off the training wheels by allowing Terry to develop on his own. It would benefit by throwing away its crutches and doing something completely original.


Bernard Chang’s artwork is coherent and makes Neo Gotham an interesting place to scope out between dialogue. The art is especially detailed in flashbacks. Chang even had the presence of mind to draw Ace, Bruce’s great dane, a fan favorite from the animated series.


Dan Jurgen’s wrote a fun and well-paced comic book, stuffed with nostalgia and action. Even though it’s not perfect, it’s probably unfair to demand more.

Our Score:


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