Talk about not being new reader friendly! Issue #17 of Batman Beyond Unlimited features the final chapter in Superman Beyond and Justice League Beyond, period. And as for Batman Beyond itself, that’s a penultimate chapter so basically if you haven’t read a single issue of Batman Beyond Unlimited before you shouldn’t buy this. If you have been reading then you’ll probably want to pick it up because everything, and I mean everything, is getting wrapped up.
The finale to Superman Beyond’s big war story before we the title of this series changes from Batman Beyond Unlimited to Batman Beyond Universe is a bit of a disappointment. It’s still good! It’s just that it sort of went out with a whimper like author JT Krul didn’t have enough time or freedom to really expand on the bigger issues at hand. Up until now this tale of two warring tribes on an alien planet had a great deal of depth. It was a complicated situation without an answer. How the heck is Superman going to fix a problem that stretches back centuries. Heat vision and super strength cannot mend a cultural divide, right? At least that was the impression all previous chapters gave me but once the Justice League showed up this story became rather simplistic and ended predictably. It’s still better than most of what you’ll find in post-Morrison Action Comics or New 52 Superman, however. Artwork by Howard Porter still looks good and his design of Starfire is leagues ahead of what you’ll find in the New 52 interpretation.
The penultimate Batman Beyond section of our comic book continues to disappoint. 10,000 Clowns was fantastic and with this whole Undercloud plotline being hyped up for a few years now I was expecting something even bigger and better…turns out I was wrong to do so. Max’s subplot that featured an underground organization of hackers turned out to be one single person with motivations similar to the rogue Anarchy only with the added desire to build a giant robot that’ll smash buildings. All that build-up for a story about a giant robot? Even that is just an excuse to introduce the Metal Men to the Beyond Universe and while I’m sure the dozens of folks who remember who the Metal Men were might be excited by this revelation, I greeted it with a resounding “meh.” On the plus side we’re getting to see Max be very proactive for a change (she’s been doing almost nothing for a very long time now in the comics), Dick Grayson is cropping up more and more, and the artwork by Adam Archer is a big improvement over the last issue. Sure, there still aren’t any richly detailed backgrounds but with most of the issue being an air battle there doesn’t have to be! Archer was able to devote more attention to rendering the characters beautifully. All of the Metal Men are very expressive—all of the facial expressions on every character looked great—and there are some fun action sequences as well. If you can just look at this as a small little action adventure before Beechen leaves the book then you should have some fun, but if you’ve been waiting for “Undercloud” to happen since the beginning of his run you’ll likely be underwhelmed.
With Justice League Beyond it would appear that the publisher neglected to include any credits for who actually worked on this chapter. A shame for the artist, whose cartoony style looks fantastic even though I don’t think it fits the nature of the story or many of the characters within it. A Plastic Man book by this penciller would be out of this world! The coloring is also top-notch! No, my problem with the finale of this story is that the whole story in general was a bit of a cluster ****. The pace has been too quick, it’s featured too many characters, and the plot is really convoluted and confusing. Not as fine-tuned as the sweeping epic we saw in the very first arc. This one feels like there was a hell of a lot of ambition behind it and a lot of love for the characters it wanted to introduce (Shazam’s crew) but it was all poorly executed. Perhaps if this could’ve been slowed down and focused on being a Green Lantern-only adventure that built up to Shazaam, it would’ve been terrific. The folks behind this one simply tried to accomplish too much in too little time.
It has its moments but this issue made up of climaxes failed to satisfy me in a number of ways. If you’ve been reading these stories from the start then by all means look at how those tales wrapped but if you’ve only been occasionally following along here or there or you’re totally new to the book you’re probably better off staying away until Batman Beyond Universe #1 is released at the end of summer.