St. Louis still exists in the Beyond universe– we made it! Ya know, that’s two St. Louis references in Batman comics in this month alone. It’s almost like they’re pandering to me…
Issue #12 is actually surprisingly accessible to new readers so if you’ve been curious about this series at any point, come aboard! The main feature this time around is Superman Beyond. It’s the second chapter of a new story but it does such a great job recapping what happened in the previous issue that new readers won’t feel like they missed a thing. All you need to know is that some aliens showed up on Earth ready to beat up Superman (Clark Kent is now a firefighter, by the way) for destroying their home planet. It didn’t go too well because Superman is, well, Superman. So the aliens decided to hire Lobo to come in and capture Superman for them and that’s where things get a little crazy. What you get from this issue is some quality Clark Kent time, a cameo by yet another classic DC hero that was a wonderful surprise, and a fun little fight scene between Lobo and Supes (as little as a Superman fight can be I suppose. I suppose typical would be a better word since it’s a by-the-numbers throw into building, throw car at other guy, brawl in which neither guy appears to get very hurt) before being teased by what’s to come in next month’s installment. I can’t for the life of me imagine why any Superman fan would skip this book. It’s terrific. Not only is it well written and does a fine job of incorporating the rest of the DC universe seamlessly, but it’s beautifully illustrated by Howard Porter, Livesay, and Carrie Strachan. Many of these digital first series can look sloppy or rushed because of the pressing due dates but Superman Beyond always looks as good or better than any other ongoing print title.
As usual a few more stories are squeezed into this comic to make the $3.99 price worth it for the consumer. The first of these is another one-and-done Justice League origin story like the Aquagirl and Barda stories that came before it only we’re focused on Micron. As soon as I turned the page to this one-shot I was immediately struck by how it looked an awful lot like the Image comic Saga and then I remembered “Oh yeah! In the solicits last month they said Fiona Staples would be doing a Beyond comic but it wasn’t included– this is that story!” Needless to say it looks great and as always I have to urge you to go pick up Saga. She does great work and since that series is now my personal favorite it was a real treat to see her draw Gotham– yes, Batman and Gotham play a huge role in the origin of Micron. And speaking of origins, Micron isn’t the only person whose back story is getting fleshed out here. If you remember the first couple episodes of Batman Beyond fondly you’ll definitely want to check this out.
Rounding out this issue is Batman Beyond which is quickly approaching the conclusion of the epic story “10,000 Clowns” which has been absolutely top notch lately. When we last saw Terry it looked like he was done for and it would take some outside help or some very clever thinking on his part to escape from this situation. Sadly, that’s not the case and he just cuts the rope around his neck with just a couple swipes and gets away from The Joker King. It was pretty disappointing to see the situation diffused so easily but as soon as Terry gets away he’s back to being weak again and the tension starts to build all over again so all is forgiven until the action is disrupted by a very unnecessary cut away to Maxine and the Undercloud subplot. It really had no place in this story and upset the flow of things quite a bit. I sincerely hope that Adam Beechen and Norm Breyfogle have something special planned for Maxine and Undercloud in the future because this subplot has been alluded to since 2011 and the original run of Batman Beyond pre-New 52! Batman Beyond is the briefest of the stories collected here when really it deserves to be one of the longest. As good as this conclusion is proving to be so far, it is beginning to drag as a result of being cut up and distributed across so many, many months.
It’s another great issue in which all three stories deliver and two of those are quite accessible to new readers. The fights between Superman vs. Lobo and Batman vs. Joker King advertised on the cover are nowhere near as compelling as they are advertised, but there is plenty of other entertaining stuff going on to make Batman Beyond Unlimited #12 totally worth picking up.