With issue #5 beginning all-new story arcs for both Batman Beyond 2.0 and Justice League Beyond, it makes for a great jumping-on point for curious new readers. Here’s a brief look at what each of these opening chapters have to offer:

Batman Beyond 2.0

The Bat Men: Great Expectations

Batman Beyond has the honor of getting this month’s cover, which I love. It’s actually done by American Vampire’s Rafael Albuquerque whereas the interior artwork is still handled by by Thony Silas who continues to match the look of the animates series quite well. While the waves on the cover and the preview we posted here at Batman News a couple of weeks ago might have you thinking that this chapter will center around Shriek, your eyes should actually be focusing more on the bats. Writer Kyle Higgins digs deep in this issue, calling back not only to the very first issue of his run on this series but to the original Batman: The Animated Series, even getting so specific as to feature a flashback sequence from the episode “Fear of Victory.”

Spoiler
I was really caught off-guard when I saw Batman use the word “gimme” but I replayed that scene from the cartoon and cranked up the volume and, surprise, surprise, it actually does sound like Batman says “Gimme.”

Shriek does play a part, of course. The comic starts with Terry tracking one of my favorite Beyond villains down and they have a fight where the creators make clever use of blank speech bubbles and sound effects to illustrate Shriek’s power set. However, I was a little underwhelmed when the scene wrapped up so quickly and Shriek was swept aside for a villain who, frankly, has been overexposed in the New 52 lately.

Spoiler
Man-Bat, Kirk Langstrom, is here to get the Beyond treatment. Oddly enough, this incarnation appears to be far more evil than what we saw in the original animated series and rather than merely being a roaring monster he speaks quite clearly and threateningly. His all-new character design is quite good. I rather liked the beard! Still, Langstrom is a full-blown supervillain and I’m hoping it’s explained in future chapters how he turned out like this. I must say that the Beyond version has me the most curious of any portrayal I’ve seen lately, but I have seen this character WAY too much lately. Not only has he been featured in almost every issue of Detective Comics for the past year, but he played a part in Batman Incorporated, Arkham War, and he’ll be the headliner of Batman: The Dark Knight over the next few months. The Batman rogues gallery runs deep so I’m not sure why we’re using the same baddies again and again.
But while he’s been overexposed in the mainstream, he hasn’t been handled in a way that’s gotten me quite as excited as this so it’s all forgivable. I’m sure Shriek will show up again soon, however I was slightly dismayed that my favorite Beyond baddie’s origin got a bit of a tweak that made him seem less brilliant and the classic rogue more formidable.
Spoiler
Shriek’s designs are all based on Langstrom’s work.

I’m excited to see where this story goes and Thony Silas continues to do great work only now the colors are comig from Emilio Lopez, who appears to be a more versatile colorist. I remember many of the backgrounds having the same blueish hue through the previous arc. If I could make one complaint about the otherwise spot-on artwork, it’s that there is another Beyond character making their first 2.0 appearance in this issue and her facial features are nowhere near as soft as I’d like them to be. She was so mousy in the animated series but here she looks like Lucy Lawless.

Spoiler
I’ll also note that I’m anxious to see how Ten will fit into all of this. Either she’s going to serve as a nice little civilian subplot for Terry’s busy life or it’s going to feel like we’re cramming too much into one story what with Shriek, Man-Bat, and the Bruce/Terry drama.

Justice League Beyond 2.0

System Override: Color Wheel of Doom

 Justice League is starting off kind of weak again, but I’m not going to count it out just yet. Last time I was really displeased with the first chapter and from then on things got better and better so hopefully that happens here.

The problem with Christos Gage and Iban Coello’s “Color Wheel of Doom” is that it features too much action too quickly for me to care and the threat feels too similar to what we saw at the conclusion of the previous arc. Things start off fine for the first couple of pages as we see the younger members of the team showing Superboy, Jax-Ur’s son Zod, how to have fun in the snow. It’s a lighthearted scene with some good laughs and beautiful colors by Ulises Arreola. Things get more dramatic on the following page where we see the comic’s best scene, an argument between Superman and Bruce Wayne. Apparently, despite Jax-Ur’s character being modeled after Superman II’s Zod, this issue makes it clear tha tthere was once a notorious kryptonian traitor named Zod and that fact alone has Bruce worried about the Justice League adopting a child by the same name. At this point I’m very interested, but a single page turn later and we’re overwhelmed by balls to the wall action as the Watchtower’s technology turns against them much like how the Fortress of Solitude’s did in last month’s story. And frankly, A.M.A.Z.O. coming to life should be more than enough of a villain for a single Justice League arc but here he’s shown in the background of a single panel and that’s it. Pretty disappointing.

From then on there are a number of explosions, some bickering over who could be responsible

Spoiler
The “He’s right. What movie would he–” speech bubble should’ve been placed better. It’s tucked off to the side enough that I read Warhawk’s dialogue firs
and then the threat balloons page after page. Entire cities are leveled, numerous other DC characters make cameos, and the true villain is ultimately revealed. It’s all so big and so loud that you’d think it was the finale of an arc, not the beginning. Still, it looks great, probably the best looking issue so far and if you’re looking for over the top super heroics then this is something that should satisfy. For me, I want to be eased in a little bit more.

Recommended If…

  • The animated series still holds a place in your heart
  • You’re looking for a Justice League comic that actually features a Justice League (you won’t find it in the New 52 right now)
  • You can’t get enough of Batman’s version of The Lizard, and no I don’t mean Killer Croc
  • Dick Grayson is one of your favorite Batman characters, he has a great moment here
  • You want to see a bunch of other DC characters get the Beyond treatment

Overall

I liked one story more than the other, but overall this is a dense, action-packed read that introduces quite a few classic characters to the Beyond Universe. This is a great jumping on point that still feels the aftershock of what happened in the previous, epic storylines.

SCORE: 7/10