Two months ago, the “definitive continuity” of the DC Universe was shifted on its end with the disastrous results of Future’s End and Tim Drake’s transportation to a future ruled by the sentient robot Brother Eye. Dan Jurgens’ story has ranged from Neo-Gotham to the ruins of a prisoner camp known as The Lodge. Last issue, Max Gibson, Tim Drake, and Barbara Gordon had been captured by Brother Eye’s lieutenant, the shapeshifting foe of Terry McGinnis known as Inque.
This issue picks up where the previous left off, with Tim incapacitated and being drilled for information by Brother Eye. There’s a pretty impressive shot of Tim’s life as a crimefighter, as well as what Terry went through before passing on the mantle of Batman Beyond. Using his resourcefulness, Terry is able to escape, setting up an attempt at breaking out of the Lodge. Seeing as how most of this issue revolves around that, as well as the resulting battle with Inque, any pertinent information will be in the spoilers below. I will add that we finally get some shots of Brother Eye in his lunar fortress, where he’s been keeping Inque’s daughter hostage to keep the villain under his control. This leads to a whole slew of questions about her importance to Brother Eye’s plan. Surely Inque isn’t that important to his plan that he would keep her daughter on his heavily-defended moon base.
Batman Beyond has turned into some kind of 1984 meets Terminator crossed with some Batman thrown in for good measure. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it creates a story that is immersive and entertaining, because who doesn’t love a good dystopian, end-of-the-world tale? While the story itself has potential, there’s something that feels off with all of it that’s been bugging me for the last three issues. This isn’t a Batman comic. yet It really isn’t.
Great Batman comics – in my opinion, and through reading dozens of graphic novels and collected arcs throughout the last few years – have a certain criteria. There’s always the notion of crime, whether in Gotham’s streets or internationally. Some form of detective work is almost always prevalent; sometimes it’s as simple as an interrogation while other stories have full-blown investigations. This almost always leads to a confrontation with a very human and, most of the time, a very real villain. Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, and even some of the more outlandish rogues like Mr. Freeze, Man-Bat, and Killer Croc are all, at their core, human. They have natural character progressions that stem from some kind of trauma or event that shaped their lives. That’s why Batman has the most recognizable and (again, opinion) best villains. They’re real. None of that can be found in this iteration of Batman Beyond. And sure, throw the “but it’s Batman Beyond for a reason.” As early as the 1999 television series, the vast majority of Terry’s villains were normal people who just had one really, really, bad day which turned them against their society. Brother Eye does not strike me as a real or interesting villain yet. Tim does little in terms of detective work, and most of the action so far happens outside of Gotham. A writer could absolutely replace Tim with a Green Lantern, or Flash, or Superman, or Wonder Woman, or any number of heroes, and the story wouldn’t change much. That’s about all I’ve got to say on that note.
There was something about the artwork, again helmed by Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo, which made me spend extra time on each panel. Page after page are coated with action sequences that are both engaging and dramatic. From Terry’s interrogation and escape to his battle with Inque, each scene has its own cinematic quality to it. The occasional red-and-white panels still work well with the action, and the color palette in general does justice to the narrative. Out of all these exceptional panels, though, comes a very annoying problem for those of us who read these in paper format. The coolest shots are on pages so crammed with panels that it’s usually hard to really appreciate and analyze each image properly. On a website where you can zoom in each panel, the problem disappears; this does not mean that the panelling and editorial work gets a complete pass. Allowing the artwork to breathe a little bit makes for even more compelling imagery and would help the narrative more than a cluster of cool shots the size of my index finger.
- After Tim manages to escape from The Lodge, he returns to Neo-Gotham safely with Barbara and Max. Once there, Brother Eye takes over the Batsuit and disables A.L.F.R.E.D. Apparently the purpose of the capture of Batman was all an elaborate ruse to get Brother Eye into Neo-Gotham. The injections that Tim had were “into the suit” and not into Tim, which sounds as dumb reading it as it does typing it. Injecting the suit…I don’t even want to start thinking about the technical complications of that.
- Who shows up once Brother Eye starts to attack Neo-Gotham? Micron, who readers will recognize from Justice League Beyond and Justice League Beyond 2.0
Favorite Quote: “Not Drake. Batman.” – Tim Drake
- You’re a Tim Drake fan. His character history gets a bit of love.
- You like cinematic-style fight sequences.
- You’ve been waiting to see what Brother Eye’s new form is.
Not Recommended If…
- You don’t like the color red.
- You still haven’t accepted Tim Drake as Batman Beyond.
Overall: A beautiful issue centered around the horrors of internment camps and the struggle to survive in an otherwise hostile world, this latest installment in the most recent Batman Beyond series is both fun to read and wonderful to look at. The biggest problem would be that it leaves the reader wanting more, though not in the best way. Some of the coolest panels are but one amid the six or seven that populate the page, and are not given the chance to shine.