I was really impressed with Batman Beyond last month but Justice League Beyond’s unwillingness to take risks and focus on Superman made dragged down the overall quality of the comic. This month, however, both books pull their weight and deliver a very entertaining read from start to finish.

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Power Struggle: Ghosts of the Past

We ended the last episode with a now powerless Clark caught in a blaze alongside one his potential love-interest and fellow firefighter, Rita. Seeing as how we’re picking up exactly where we left off, it’s safe to say that issue #1 is required reading so don’t take a chance and try to jump into the Beyond Universe on part 2 because it’s just not going to go over well.

The drama of a mortal Superman caught in a burning building vanishes within 2 pages as we are reminded– oh yeah, this is the future and there’s going to be a gadget that makes this whole situation not-a-big-deal. But that’s okay with me because I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat to begin with. I think we’re all just waiting for Superman to inevitably get his powers back, right? Thankfully, rather than pursue the predictable powerless route we set out on in issue #1, Christos Gage throws us a curve ball by making this a much more romantic and comedic issue. It’s not about Superman proving he can be a hero without his powers, it’s about an old man trying to get back into the dating game. The fact that that man is Superman makes it pretty entertaining and the fact that he has to go to the younger Justice Leaguers for advice makes it hysterical. I was honestly a little bummed near the end of the issue when it was time for action yet again. The personal tale that Gage was telling was far more engaging for me, personally. That said, once we’re past the by-the-numbers giant robot fight the story dives deep into Superman lore and we get something far darker and more intricate than I had expected. By giving readers something so lighthearted and fun for the majority of the issue, Gage was able to catch us (me at least) off our guard when the a terrible threat behind Superman’s recent power-loss is finally revealed. NOTE: Ignore the preview images that are online for this comic. That preview is made up of the final pages of the comic.

The artwork by Iban  Coello is really great. He does a fine job of recapturing the animated feel of the show, but also adds quite a bit of detail to make characters look more lifelike (although I’ve found Terry’s suit to actually look better when it has less detail). The action scenes haven’t quite pulled me in yet, but I think that has more to do with there being a lack of emotional weight behind them rather than that being the fault of the art. It’s the quiet moments that hold the most power thanks to Coello’s expressive faces and knack for comedic timing in sequential storytelling.

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Rewired: Mass Exodus

Last month was one hell of an issue that even came with the shocking twist that Bruce has been cut out of Terry’s life and now it’s Dick Grayson offering guidance to the new Batman. Then the whole thing left us with the cliffhanger that there was a mass breakout at Arkham Institute. Does issue #2 have what it takes to follow that act? Yes.

First of all, artist Thony Silas is proving to be a really great fit for this book. His dynamic artwork has really captured the look and feel of the animated series. He’s doing a great job with action, personal moments that require expressive faces, creating backgrounds that match the Gotham we saw in the cartoon, and he’s even adding little details like a photo on Barbara’s desk of her husband, Sam Young.

And as for Kyle Higgins? His love for the original cartoon radiates off every page. He’s definitely got something big planned here and I can’t wait to see what it is because after that final page– October can’t get here fast enough! The first half of this story really feels like a Beyond version of Knightfall only we don’t know who the Beyond equivalent of Bane is yet, he hasn’t revealed himself. But someone is definitely disrupting Gotham’s foundation, setting its inmates free, and wearing Terry down to the bone in the process. While Arkham breakouts are old hat in the traditional Bruce Wayne adventures, Terry hasn’t had to deal with something like this before and it’s fascinating seeing how he and mentor Dick Grayson respond. However, after seeing how hands-on Dick Grayson was during Joker Night you have to wonder why he isn’t suiting-up and stepping in to help Terry round up all of these escaped crooks. With Bruce as the mentor it made sense because Wayne is far too old, but Grayson was very capable when fighting against the Jokerz during Beechen’s run and an Arkham escape sounds just as grave as any other attack on the city.

My only real complaint about the issue is that the passage of time is off. The scenes cut from day to night quite quickly in the opening pages and then the villain comes on television and announces how much time has passed and the math just doesn’t add up.

Spoiler
It’s night when Terry is fighting to reclaim Arkham, then we cut to Barbara talking to the mayor during the day, then it’s night again and Terry is finally turning in, but it appears to be early/mid-day when his mother calls. The unknown foe claims that he killed the mayor “yesterday” but the mayor died in the day when Terry was going to college, then it was night when Terry visited Barbara, day when Dick/Terry were training, and night when Terry entered the Arkham Institute. It’s been at least 2 days since the mayor died.

But other than that easy-to-overlook mistake we have a very thrilling chapter that makes great use of Barbara Gordon and Terry and then ends on a ridiculously high note. Definitely one of the best cliffhangers I’ve seen in a while.

Recommended If…

  • You bought and loved Superman Beyond, Vol. 1
  • You read Batman Beyond Universe #1 — It’s required
  • You’re a big fan of Batman Beyond– this issue hits all the right notes
  • You love a good cliffhanger and I mean a REALLY good cliffhanger

Overall

With Justice League Beyond stepping it up a notch and Batman Beyond 2.0 delivering even more surprises, this issue is a must-buy for fans of this universe.

SCORE: 8.5/10