“Batman Beyond” was one of those polarizing shows in the late late nineties. When brought up among people who grew up in that time (or enjoyed DCAU shows regardless of age), it provoked a love/ hate response. Now with two miniseries and this current ongoing, those who loved it have a lot to be happy about.
Written by JT Krul, Derek Fridolfs, Dustin Nguyen, and Adam Beechen
Illustrated by Howard Porter, Dustin Nguyen, and Norm Breyfogle
– The multi-part epic “10,000 CLOWNS” begins here!
– BATMAN scrambles to thwart simultaneous attacks by THE JOKERZ!
– Secrets are revealed on APOKOLIPS as the LEAGUE prepares for all-out war with KOBRA!
This was a difficult book to review: Four writers with three artists on three stories. Nevertheless, stay with me as I try to tackle each section of this issue individually.
There is something odd about the first tale, ‘Falling Star’ by Krul and Porter. The title of this book is ” Batman Beyond Unlimited,” and what we get from the first page turn is basically a Superman Beyond story. There is actually nothing wrong with this. Nothing at all. From a writing perspective, many people don’t have a lot of nice things to say about JT Krul. Here he delivers a solid mini-slugfest that feels a lot like a late nineties JLA story. The action flows well and the dialogue is decent. That JLA feel is aided by Krul’s partner, Howard Porter, who is probably best known for drawing the ninties relaunch of JLA. Porter adds his patented “widescreen” treatment and everyone and everything looks pretty damn good. There’s maybe one or two panels that feel a little “cool pose for sake of cool pose,” but hey, it has already been said this feels like a nineties comic, right?
The second chapter, ‘Konstruction,’ by Fridolfs and Nguyen leaves nostalgia behind and gives readers a glimpse of the future of the fan favorite New Gods. When it comes to comics, some long time readers complain when plot and continuity moves on, and some complain when the universe remains forever static (heres looking at you, Brand New Day). “Batman Beyond” is a fantastic vehicle to explore alternate possibilites in the DCU, because nothing in it is canon. This section of the issue is very cool for giving us a jump-ahead to what might happen with the New Gods. Theres also a great moment where Terry stumbles over his words in front of a pretty New Goddess like, well, a high school student.
In terms of quality though, this is the weak section of this issue. There’s pretty much no action, just a lot of standing around and giving the reader expostion, breaking the “show, don’t tell” rule of storytelling. While the story doesn’t seem to go anywhere, the art does the opposite. It feels rushed. Dustin Nguyen is a powerhouse storyteller, and while nothing looks bad, its definitly not up to the man’s standards. The close ups look pretty, but they get overused. There are also barely any backgrounds. It feels like looking at a bunch of character busts drawn by Nugyen. Grumble, grumble. Gnashing of teeth.
The best gets saved for last in the issue’s last story, ‘10,000 Clowns.’ If this is the first issue you picked up of this ongoing, then this is the story you were expecting to find. Adam Beechen gets “Batman Beyond”, and seems to know how to write for the strengths of future Batman Terry McGinnis. Reading this story basically felt like looking at a really good storyboard for an episode of the show, and has all of the elements that make “Batman Beyond”: Terry McGinnis, beating up Jokerz, cracking wise. Norm Breyfogle gets it too. He draws a mean Terry, and has the understanding that this new Batman is sleek, acrobatic, and just as intimidating as Bruce ever was. The only complaint is in some pages Breyfogle seems to suffer from the same Lackofbackgrounditis. It must be going around the DC bullpen.
To wrap things up, this was a great romp with very little to complain about. The second story is a little weak, but if it goes where it promises to, things are bound to be interesting. Each story left me wanting more, and thus did its job of making want to pick up the next issue. If you love “Batman Beyond” you’ll want this in your pull. If you’ve never encounted “Batman Beyond,” now might be a good time to start.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy it. Well worth the $3.99 cover price.