Batman Beyond Universe #12 review

The “Justice Lords Beyond” crossover comes to an end in this issue, leaving uncertain futures for all those involved.

Another World: “For the Fate of the World(s)” and “Aftermath”
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Thony Silas
Colors by Guy Major

The Return of Wonder Woman: “Homecomings” and “Regime Change”
Written by Christos Gage
Art and Colors by Dexter Soy
Colors by Veronica Gandini

This whole thing runs one right into the next, so I’m just going to discuss the issue as one whole rather than breaking it up into parts.

For better or worse, this crossover has accomplished something that rarely happens: it makes a parallel universe compelling on its own. It might just be me, but once you get beyond the initial shock of seeing familiar characters behaving in unfamiliar ways, I never feel that different universes and dimensions are anything but a catalyst to move the plot along. The best comparison I can come up with for what Higgins, Gage, Silas, Soy, and everyone else involved has done is Fringe, and I do mean that as a compliment.

Like that series, the alternate universe characters have some depth and are more than just “bad version of whomever;” they have feelings, motivations, histories, and personalities. A few of the Lords in particular are fairly one-note, but even with little dialogue they still react in understandable ways. Terry’s counterpart T embodies this better than anyone, and could easily carry his own series. The fact that we likely won’t see more of this world anytime in the near future is unfortunate, but “creating characters that have realized arcs and development that people want to read more about” is a good problem to have, and full credit should go to the creative teams on each side of this story.

Higgins, as I’ve said before, writes some great scripts, and these installments are no different. There are a few familiar tropes used here and there, and while they aren’t utilized in particularly innovative ways they don’t threaten to bring the story down with the familiarity.

As strong as the Batman side of things has been, this issue has… I won’t say missteps, but after so much build-up there’s almost an anti-climax. I’ll detail in the spoilers.

First and foremost, Lord Superman goes down almost too easily. There’s some great build-up toward the final showdown, but thanks to some art that looks rushed it’s not an incredibly exciting fight. Plus, Batman stands right next to Superman in several panels and doesn’t effect him at all with the synthetic Kryptonite-powered suit. It could be inferred that he isn’t actually releasing any of the energy at those moments and that’s why it isn’t harming Kal, but one little throwaway line could have cleared this up and been immensely helpful.

From what I can tell, this is the last Justice League Beyond issue for some time at least; it ends with the words “The End!,” things come to natural conclusions, and Batman Beyond 2.0 is weekly now. Plus, there isn’t a “the Justice League will return in______” blurb like previous series have had, so it looks like this is the end of the individual Justice League stories for the time being. As such, there’s some definite closure and it ends fairly well: there’s a great scene between Terry and the Lord Timeline Warren McGinnis which was really nice, Diana makes her decision on where she’ll go from here, and the Justice Lords return to their world with some really nice dialogue. The main sticking point is Lord Superman’s fate, which is pretty predictable and ultimately disappointing, but well within character for everyone involved. I’ve enjoyed this run, no doubt, but I hope it’s a well they don’t return to for a long, long time.

As much as I give credit to Kyle Higgins for his scripts, and make no mistake that he deserves it, Christos Gage really lets loose in this story with some phenomenal interactions and great dialogue. Some of the aforementioned spoilery scenes are incredibly moving and some of my favorite scenes in these books to date, if not in the whole loosely connected DCAU (I don’t know if it’s been officially acknowledged by DC that this is connected to the animated shows, but other than a few continuity hiccups it flows very well. Until proven otherwise, I’m saying it’s canon).

As for the art, well, it’s kind of a mixed bag. Sometimes it’s fantastic, like the closing panel to “For the Fate of the Worlds” which is beautiful and utterly simple, while at other times it feels rushed, particularly in the climactic showdown. There isn’t anything that makes the book completely incomprehensible or unreadable, but it could have used a little more time to really show what Dexter Soy in particular can do.

As anti-climactic as the story is, at least it doesn’t end that way. The main conflict is resolved about halfway through the issue, and from there it focuses on what makes these books work: the characters. Terry, T, Dick, Diana, Zod, Bruce, even the Justice Lords get some really great moments that showcase why this series works so well, as well as great comics in general: characters that you get to know over time, involved in larger-than-life adventures, with choices and consequences that will resonate over time.

Recommended if:

  • You love the DCAU and want to spend some more time in that universe.
  • You like good, solid storytelling.
  • Great characterization, even for villains, draws you in (and really, why shouldn’t it?)

Overall: A good. not great, ending to this epic crossover that becomes great after the dust finally settles.

SCORE: 8.5/10