We may have had 4 stories for the price of one last month, but this time around the book came to stores 1 week sooner and the number of Beyond-goodness was shortened to 3. Still, not a bad deal by a long shot. This time around there’s a lot of focus on character origins and Superman confronts the daughter of his arch enemy.
Batman Beyond: Legends of the Dark Knight
Part 1: Jake
Written by Adam Beechen
Art by Norm Breyfogle
Colors by Andrew Elder
Now that the sub-par Mad Stan story is behind us, we can move on to something new…well, sort of. Rather than bringing us a new Batman Beyond adventure this month, Beechen and Breyfogle are instead rewriting an old one: the very origin of Terry McGinnis as Batman. More specifically, the terrible loss that sent him on a path of vengeance. As you’ll recall from the animated series, Powers’ right-hand-man Mr. Fix killed Terry’s father, but here we find out that Fix actually delegated the task to someone else entirely. Is it an unnecessary change? Yes. Is it a bad one? Only time will tell. I suppose if you like the idea of Bruce’s past repeating itself through Terry then you’re going to love this twist, but I feel like there was nothing wrong with Terry’s origin and we could move past it. That certainly doesn’t mean this story was bad though. This is probably the best Batman Beyond story Beechen has ever written and it kept me captivated the entire time. The eponymous character Jake has more depth than any other character that Beechen has introduced so far and although his addition to the Beyond universe was unnecessary it could very well lead to some interesting stories in the future. Breyfogle delivers his best work so far on the series (still doesn’t quite measure up to the quality of JL Beyond or Superman Beyond’s artists, however) as well making this a thoroughly enjoying start to a whole new Beyond saga. What’s curious though is that the story’s final page doesn’t say that the next issue will be Part 2 of “Jake” but instead says “Next: 10,000 Clowns Part 1″ which is odd because “10,000 Clowns Part 1″ has already been published.
Beyond Origin: Warhawk
Written by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen
Art by Eric Nguyen
I really don’t think putting this Justice League origin right after Batman Beyond was the best idea. Batman’s story this month was an emotional story that took special care to allow the reader to empathize with the main character and then on the following page you are slapped in the face by this: a massive info dump that is incredibly hard to adjust to after the vastly different narrative style of the previous tale. Yikes. I had to re-read this page twice and then try and think back to last month and what all happened. Just…wow, it’s way too much to take in! Just because it’s a digital series with a short page count doesn’t mean you have to squeeze an entire war into a single panel. Just look at the Damon Lindelof and Jeff Lemire story from a couple of weeks ago. It was simple story about Batman on a nightly patrol and a wager he had with Alfred. That’s it. It was a brilliant self-contained story. This is the exact opposite of that. Fridolfs and Nguyen clearly have a lot of ambition and great big ideas for the Beyond universe, but they need to pace themselves. The story is good, but the delivery is horrible when you have a character talking at the audience about their entire history filled with alien civilizations, diplomacy, and war for the first four pages. It’ s a lot to take in and best handled gradually. It’s better to show than to tell. Let these events happen naturally and if a character has a story to tell, let it happen organically in conversation rather than, well, this. This throws the reader off into the deep end and me personally, I drowned. I shut-down after four pages or so. Thanagarian war with whatever the hell Rannians are and then there was an invasion by Gordanians and…why should I care? What did this have to do with again? Even reading through last month’s chapter again as a refresher, this thing is still paced horribly. I loved the last chapter but this thing was in a mad sprint to the end and a complete waste of an incredible opportunity to tell the origin of Warhawk. Warhawk himself doesn’t even show up until the last 2 pages and his whole story from birth until now is summed up as quickly as possible. It’s all very disappointing. Still, the art by Eric Nguyen is wonderful and I definitely want to see him do more with teh Beyond universe. It’s a gorgeous looking story, but an absolute chore to read.
Superman Beyond: False Messiah
Written by JT Krul
Pencils by Howard Porter
Inks by John Livesay
Colors by Randy Mayor
Superman’s story felt like it was going to be the most interesting one of the bunch but it was far, far too brief. I wish that the Warhawk origin tale could’ve been cut out entirely from this month’s issue so we could’ve had more of this. Superman is still trying to find a place in a world that no longer needs him (which is an interesting take on things since I always thought Supes would only get MORE powerful with age) and Lex Luthor’s daughter is making the transition to villainy, thus giving Supes a purpose. I have to say, the initial idea of Lex having a daughter that would become a villain was interesting to me, but she’s taking to it way too easily. It was as simple as saying “You’re a Luthor, now go do evil.” and she just ran out and starting wreaking havoc. But I can look past it for the time being and just enjoy the story. I’m not sure what she’s up to just yet, but the story is well written and well drawn enough in a mere 10 pages for me to hang on and find out month after month. Howard Porter, Randy Mayor, and John Livesay are definitely putting a lot of work into this book to make it look as good as any non-digital exclusive comic. It demands your attention. I know I want there to be more. Also, look out for yet another classic villain making a cameo in this issue!
What we have here are three stories of varying quality. I wish we could finally get a month where all of these Beyond stories are of the same caliber but it’s not June. Batman Beyond was an enjoyable read but an unnecessary change to Beyond history, Beyond Origins: Warhawk was beautifully drawn and colored but excruciating to read, and Superman Beyond was fun and it pulled me in but it was shorted on page count and left me feeling underwhelmed.
OVERALL SCORE: 6.5/10