There’s a lot of value here. For $3.99 you aren’t getting the typical 40 page book that’s 32 pages of central story and then an 8-page backup. With “Batman Beyond Unlimited” this month you are buying three even stories that take place in the Beyond universe. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, especially if you’re a Superman fan! See, unlike the last two issues, #3 has “Batman Beyond”, “Justice League Beyond”, and an entirely new feature: Superman Beyond.
Written by JT Krul
Pencils by Howard Porter
Inks by John Livesay
Colors by Randy Mayor
I’ve never been much of a Superman fan. I haven’t read many of his comics and my favorite Superman stories that I actually have been exposed to would have to be the 2nd film and the two-part animated series episode titled “Legacy”. But even though I’ve never been a follower of the big blue boyscout, I thoroughly enjoyed this glimpse into the sad future of Kal-El. I even liked it better than the one-shot issue “Superman Beyond #0” that came out last year! Krul really tried to expand Superman Beyond’s mythology here and I’m sure there are plenty of little details and Easter eggs that I was oblivious to, so if you love the Man of Steel then this issue is a can’t miss.
The art looks greally great, even though I’ve never been sold on the black and white Beyond suit. I guess he wears those colors because he’s mourning the loss of all his friends and loved ones. There’s definitely a lot of sorrow in these pages as Superman walks through the Fortress of Solitude which now stands as more of a museum than anything. The only thing that came off as rushed or careless were the Daily Planet Newspaper which clearly read “hcjjxbj” over and over again in five rows. Just put a few scribbled lines in there to give the illusion of text. Or maybe, since the paper was all about the end of print media, Louis just typed a bunch of gibberish because “why the hell not?”
I suppose the biggest hook to convince you to check out this story is that you do get a few hints about what became of Lex Luthor, and who hasn’t been curious about that?
The Trigger Man, Part 3 of 4: Stan, Mad
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Norm Breyfogle
Color by Andrew Elder
It’s not as pretty or profound as Superman Beyond. It also isn’t as funny as it was last month, either, which is a real shame because Mad Stan is almost always funny (and impossible to not read in Henry Rollins’ voice). I’m also tired of these tazers popping out of Batman’s fingers. It doesn’t look cool at all and also, what’s supposed to be fun about a super hero who just tazes his enemies? We don’t need a story taking place 50 years in the future (or however far ahead it is) to have a protagonist who uses a tazer.
The whole opening fight between Batman and Mad Stan is really awkward. Not because the art is particularly bad (it definitely isn’t great), it’s that the fight just isn’t necessarily interesting. Nothing feels like it’s at stake, we’re just having a fight scene for the sake of it. Also, Terry mentions how the tazers he uses brought down Killer Croc…is Croc still active? Or is he saying that Bruce used this suit back in the day to bring down Killer Croc? If that’s the case then Mad Stan should definitely be on the ground unless he’s been altered to be a meta-human or something. Croc’s skin is like an inch or two thick! Even worse is when, in the next panel, Batman tells Stan that he’s changed his mind and that they should work together. That may sound nice, but it doesn’t look right at all when he says this while he kicks Stan in the back and then tackles him to the floor. It’s not very interesting and it feels very rushed.
The worst thing about “Batman Beyond” is how cluttered the narrative is. There are three big plots going on right now and it feels like Beechen can’t decide which story he wants to do first. There’s a page about Max and the evil hacker network bringing down Gotham’s infrastructure, a page or two about Mad Stan planning to kill millions, and a few pages about Dana’s brother and the thousands of Jokerz taking over Gotham. None of those feel like sub-plots, they are all equally great threats that aren’t getting the proper attention and that lack of narrative focus makes each problem feel less important and that makes me care less.
Justice League Beyond
Konstriction Chapter 5: The Serpent’s Head
Written by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen
Pencils by Dustin Nguyen
Inks by Derek Fridolfs
Colors by Randy Mayor
The third and final story features Batman, Superman, and the rest of the Justice League gang chatting with the recently rescued Amanda Waller. What it turns out to be is an exceptionally well drawn and colored chapter of pure exposition. It’s a lot of incredibly necessary information handled in a very boring way. There’s plenty of cool imagery of the attack around the world as Waller explains things, but it’s no substitute for allowing these events to arise organically in the story. Having a character hold the reader’s hand and explain every little detail isn’t good storytelling. It amounted to a very dull experience and when it was over I found myself excited for next month when maybe the real story would begin. This felt like the recap at the beginning of a television episode, a potentially very cool one. I mean, we see the armies of Atlantis, a giant snake (what’s the deal with so many things bringing up Uroboros over the past 5 years? Grant Morrison’s Batman run did it and also the video game Resident Evil 5 to name a few), and a fan-favorite “Batman Beyond” villain even makes a cameo! Issue #4 and onward might be a great feast, but the only thing issue #3 gives us is a gander at the ingredients.
Overall: I don’t feel like I wasted my money on this book. There was plenty of content and I enjoyed reading most of it, but it’s clear that “Batman Beyond” is weighing the quality of this comic down. “Superman Beyond” has a lot of potential and up until this point, “Justice League Beyond” has been very fun and exciting, it’s just that this is a breather/filler issue for an otherwise thrilling series. I sincerely hope that the other members of the Justice League get their own story like Superman did, too. This is easily one of the most fun DC titles out there right now, but “Batman Beyond” desperately needs to up its game.
OVERALL SCORE: 6/10