With last month’s debut of Batman Beyond, DC’s latest attempt at retconning the fan-favorite series, I had high hopes for what seemed like a series with high potential.  The first issue received mixed but positive reviews, and even with Terry McGinnis’ departure from the Batman mantle, many Batman Beyond fans seemed ready to accept Tim Drake in what could be considered his first solo series since the start of the New 52.  Last month, Tim’s journey began with a trip to a prison colony known as The Lodge, where high-value human targets are kept for processing.

This issue, sadly, is mostly reiterating the events of the previous issue and the final arc of Future’s End, which laid the groundwork for this series.  Almost half of the book is dedicated to exposition about what’s been going on, rather than continuing the action.  With Barbara, Max, and Tim scrambling through the colony, Jurgens does give us a look at just what “processing” entails.  Anyone deemed to have pertinent knowledge that Brother Eye could not otherwise access through the Internet is systematically tortured and interrogated.  First stage processing leaves the victim with a smile that would rival Jokerization.  Second stage somehow makes them have mannequin faces that look like crash dummies on a good day.  Stage three is the cyborg implants which we have seen on the Justice League and other heroes.  It reminded me a lot of the anime Deadman Wonderland, especially with the robots that spray some kind of liquid on those who try to escape.

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For Batman Beyond fans, this issue is more important for introducing Inque to the current continuity.

Inque has always been one of those Batman villains who’s fluctuated from being very fresh and original to just another cardboard cutout stuck in a jail cell.  She’s up there with foes like Bane, Deathstroke, and Mr. Freeze in the “can be really awesome and complex or can be completely misused” category.  In the original Batman Beyond series, she was one of Terry’s most formidable opponents, and it was nice to see A.L.F.R.E.D. call her Terry’s greatest adversary.  Then, in the later Batman Beyond comics, she was reduced to little more than a henchman for other criminals that DC was trying to push.  Here, Inque is a strange choice of ally for Brother Eye.  She’s shown running The Lodge as a hired gun, which I thought cheapened her character.  There’s also little explanation for why she would go and become the death camp operator for a sentient robot trying to rule the world.  While I’m glad to see Inque as part of the “whatever we’re calling official now” continuity, I don’t think Jurgens brought her to life properly.

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Most of this issue’s strength lies in the artwork, done by Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo.  The refugee/post-apocalyptic feel of the book is highlighted by the darker, almost sickly color palette, drawn out with an array of browns and yellows.  This is countered by the vibrant blues and reds of the Brother Eye sequences, which give the mechanical overlord a strangeness and otherness that makes his presence in the world all the more uncomfortable.  On top of this distinct difference in color is the frequent use of panels only colored in red and white.  Maiolo brings out particularly intense action scenes with the red-and-white choice.  It would be distracting and obnoxious if not done well, but the decision to only give smaller panels the red-and-white treatment goes a long way in complimenting the artwork.

Spoiler

  • So there’s a new development with Brother Eye. At the end of the issue, after Tim has been caught, the focus switches to Eye’s space station.  There we see someone, though whether or not it’s Brother Eye in humanoid form is never explicitly shown, standing inside the station.
  • It seems that Max has been turned by Brother Eye, complete with that creepy smile.

Favorite Quote: “Terry McGinnis isn’t in it?  Oh, never mind then.” – My buddy Chris

Recommended If…

  • You’re a Tim Drake fan.
  • You want to see Inque’s first appearance.
  • You like unique and desolate artwork.

Not Recommended If…

  • You’re expecting classic Batman Beyond.
  • You’re not a fan of post-apocalyptic narratives.
  • You’re a fan of Inque.

Overall: While the writing and story need considerable work, an interesting premise and strong artwork are the driving force behind the newest run of Batman Beyond.  I expect a sharp drop-off in readers, though, if the creative team is going to continue introducing characters without staying true to their publication history.

SCORE: 5/10