Batman Beyond Universe #10 Review

The epic “Justice Lords Beyond” mega-crossover continues this month in what is a classic example of a middle chapter, but that doesn’t make it any less effective or exciting.

Justice Lords Beyond: The Ruins of Wayne and New Threads
Written by Kyle Higgins
Illustrated by Thony Silas
Colors by Emilio Lopez

These stories flow much better when read back to back, so I’ll lump the reviews in together.

After last issue’s shocking revelation about the fate of Lord Batman, Terry and T make their way to Wayne Manor to see if this timeline’s Bruce left anything behind that might bring Lord Superman down. These two issues are a quick, breezy read, but almost too much so: not an awful lot happens, and there are entire pages that are almost entirely dialogue-free.

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T and Terry, the same but so different.

That’s not to say they’re bad by any means. Kyle Higgins’ script is sharp, and there’s one exchange in particular in “New Threads” concerning Terry’s dad that is brutal. Higgins really has a good feel for Terry’s character, keeping consistency with the growth the character would have gone through since the end of the cartoon series, and he writes T as an interesting counterpart to him. Most other “mirror universe” stories have characters that are the exact opposite of those we’re more familiar with, but this version of Terry has some depth to him.

Thony Silas’ art, which is pretty exaggerated and cartoony, is as much to thank for that as Higgins’ writing. The differences in facial expression between the two Terrys alone would almost be enough to distinguish them even if they didn’t have different colored hair. Even though fight scenes take up the bulk of this tale, they’re illustrated well, very fluid and vibrant with some interesting elements coming into play as it goes on.

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We FINALLY learn the truth about their slang.

It’s not as plot heavy as one might like, especially with what’s going on with the rest of the League, but they’re definitely fun Batman stories and worth the $.99 digital price or the $3.99 physical price.

Further points in the spoilers:

Spoiler

  • At the beginning of the issue we find out that the Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon of this timeline are married. That’s somewhat exciting for long-time fans of the two characters like myself, but they aren’t the real Dick and Babs, which makes it much more melancholic, especially after the one-shot story of theirs from a few issues back.
  • It’s revealed that the only reason the Justice Lords let Wayne Manor remain standing is as a warning. That’s really sinister, and I liked it. Definitely shows that the Lords think just as much as they act.
  • One of the coolest shots is a panel of different costumes of Batman and his allies in the derelict Batcave ruins. The classic Red Robin costume from the pre-New 52 universe is there, but there’s also a female Nightwing costume. If we spend much more time in the Lords timeline in the future, it would be interesting to see the history of the Batfamily over there.
  • The new Batsuit Terry finds is kind of cool, if a little over-the-top. It definitely looks like something Lord Batman would design, and the piping and sectioning all along the torso especially make it look like a new-52 contrast to the sleek, streamlined classic Beyond Batsuit. The bat-like wings are a pretty fun touch.
  • Hands down the best scene is the dialogue when Terry asks T if their dad is still alive. After the argument they’d just had about the Jokerz and T’s lack of responsibility, he shoots Terry down with a single “no.” That one word is as effective as anything I’ve read in this series so far. It’s blunt, it’s simple, and it’s powerful.

Justice Lords Beyond: Dark Reflections and Strange Bedfellows
Written by Christos Gage
Illustrated and colored by Dexter Soy
Further colors by Veronica Gandini

As much as I like Kyle Higgins’ writing, Christos Gage is really bringing it in Justice League Beyond. The subject matter might be more compelling, or the multiple characters might be allowing him to have more to do with his issues, but this is where the story really moves.

“Dark Reflections” is a scene we’ve seen a million times: the heroes fight alternate reality versions of themselves. That’s what takes up the bulk of this issue, but there’s some great character work being done here. Gage wisely doesn’t make every member of the Justice Lords a caricature, instead allowing for the severity of the situation and Lord Superman’s tactics to etch doubt onto the countenance of a few of the members.
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Even the villains in this story have depth and development.

Soy’s art isn’t as fluid and fun as Thony Silas’, but his designs for all of the Lords are solid enough that it never gets confusing who is who during the fights, and it’s always fun seeing familiar powers being used in fresh ways.

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A stark, disturbing contrast.  Those two facial expressions say more than some comics do in entire issues.

“Strange Bedfellows” is where things really get moving, however, as we finally learn the true nature and identity of Diana. Whether she’s Lady Diana of the Justice Lords or simply “our” Diana, Gage and Soy both do a marvelous job of showing the pain and guilt she’s suffered. Imagining Susan Eisenberg reading these lines adds further dimension and heartache to the story. As I said before, these issues are definitely setting up for something bigger to come, and the exposition in this issue could have dragged everything down and brought it to a halt, but the storytelling here is top-notch.

More points are made in the spoiler tags:

Spoiler

  • Starro was kind of a fun cameo. That’s one of those villains I really don’t have any attachment to, but there’s such a deep connection to the earliest incarnations of the Justice League that it was a nice throwaway bit.
  • I’ve read ahead and know where it’s going, but the nature of Lord Superman and Diana’s relationship could possibly make some readers uncomfortable.
  • My absolute favorite scene may have been Lady Barda and Mister Miracle’s conversation. For a character that is driven by a warrior’s passion for battle, this Barda really showed some tenderness and humanity in her interaction with our Scott Free.
  • Green Lantern and Curare refer to each other as brother and sister, which is a nice callback to Kai-Ro’s origin in Justice League Beyond #21.

Recommended If…

  • You miss the DCAU and relish the thought of more stories set in the continuity.
  • You’ve been dying to know which version of Wonder Woman this is.
  • New costumes for Batman intrigue you.
  • You like the New Gods. You can’t go wrong with Mr. Miracle.
  • You really wanted to know what the deal was with “sway.”
  • You like getting more for your money. This is a lot of material for $3.99.

Overall

It’s a solid entry in this story, but definitely suffers from middle chapter syndrome. For all the great dialogue, narrative revelations, and solid art, none of these chapters stand on their own. That comes with the territory with crossovers and event stories, though, and for a “middle chapter” it’s compelling stuff.

SCORE: 7.5/10