This is the end.
Issue #4 of Batman Beyond Universe serves as the closing chapter in both Batman Beyond & Justice League Beyond’s debut storylines and while it’s rewarding read for the most part, there was one comic that left satisfied and another that left me wanting more.
Justice League Beyond
Power Struggle — Zone Defense
Written by Christos N. Gage
Art by Iban Coello
Colors by Tom Mason
In case you were wondering, this was the one that left me satisfied. You can click your way back to earlier reviews and see that I was totally unimpressed by the first chapter of this story but boy did it crescendo into something utterly spectacular! Not only did Gage’s writing soar higher and higher with every chapter, but Iban Coello’s pencils did as well and both parties definitely needed to bring their A-game to such an explosive finale. At the end of last month’s issue, Jax-Ur had ordered his tech-savvy son to self-destruct all the Superman robots– an act that would kill most if not all the Justice League– while Jax-Ur and Superman continued to duke it out in the Phantom Zone. After a couple of painless expositiony speech bubbles the goal for every character good or bad is made just as clear as the consequences if anyone should fail. So with all of that out of the way, readers are able to sit back and enjoy the slugfest that takes place throughout the remainder of the issue.
Rewired — Shock Therapy
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Thony Silas
Colors by Andrew Elder
It’s still fun and it still looks great, but I felt like we were very crunched for time with this finale. For one, I wasn’t even ready for there to be a finale! We only met Rewire, the latest Batman Beyond villain and the mastermind behind the epic events of this opening storyline, in the opening pages of the last issue and it wasn’t until the final page that we discovered who he was behind the mask. Gotham was at a very desperate point where the likes of Spellbinder, Ink, and Shriek were on the streets, Terry’s suit was destroyed and he was utterly beaten, and now Rewire was going to put his full plan into effect! I was very excited to see what that would be and I wanted to know more about his motivation and how he came about all of this electric-based equipment. Trust me, I was beyond stoked to finally get a worthy electric-villain for Batman. This was especially true after the missed opportunity that was The Electrocutioner in the Arkham Origins video game that came out a few weeks ago! So when I started to feel the thin number of pages in my right hand as I finished the Justice League story and then noticed the small and clustered panels of “Shock Therapy” I got worried.
What we have here is something that’s loaded with potential, but doesn’t quite feel like it had the room to breathe. My favorite sequence is actually a two-pager that absolutely could’ve worked as silent sequential storytelling. Every panel Silas drew is so carefully chosen and expresses everything we need to know about Terry’s mood, the current relationship between him and Bruce, and it advances the plot in a major way all in those two pages. It’s really great! It’s the moment when Terry awakens in the Batcave– which is actually explained in this issue. Last time I found it a little too convenient for Terry to wash up on Bruce’s doorstep but the answer makes sense here, however I don’t like the retroactive explanations for things. I’d much rather have a set-up and a payoff.
However, I really can’t stress enough how hurried everything that followed that scene felt. It’s so evident that there’s something really, really cool there but it goes by at such a blink-and-you’ll miss it rate that the story loses all its gravity. We basically had the Batman Beyond version of Knightfall on our hands and it felt like it slipped through our fingers here. I could easily go through the previous 3 installments beat-by-beat, but if you asked me to sum up everything that happened in these crowded pages (every layout is packed tight except for the 2-page Batcave sequence) I would definitely stumble.
While I’m still digging this creative team (the voice and look of these characters and their world is exactly what I want), their new direction for the series (this mystery involving Terry, Bruce, and Ghoul has me hooked and I’m loving the partnership between Terry & Dick), and their willingness to create new villains– I think we can get a better paced final act that this.
- You read issues 1-3, this comic wraps up storylines in both Batman and Justice League
- You love Batman Beyond and Superman the Animated Series
- More of Dick Grayson and Terry McGinnis working together sounds like fun
- You want action. Lots and lots of action
- The words “phantom zone” get you excited
This isn’t a new-reader friendly issue since both Justice League and Batman Beyond are wrapping up their opening storylines, but what frequent readers get is one very action packed issue that’s mostly satisfying. The Justice League Beyond comic is fantastic and ended its arc strong and with a great surprise that I didn’t see coming. Batman Beyond, while fun, felt rushed and I think that we could’ve gotten another issue out of that tale, easily.