We’re about halfway done with the first arc of Batman Beyond, which promises to end the story which started last year in Future’s End #0, and I’ve been decidedly split on how I feel about the direction of this series. Dan Jurgen’s story has culminated in the siege of Neo-Gotham by the cyborg forces of Brother Eye, and the only defenders the city has left are Tim, Micron, and the remnants of the GCPD. Most of this issue takes the form of the battle for the city, with Tim growing increasingly more desperate as the robot soldiers press into Gotham.
If you haven’t read Future’s End but still want to read this version of Batman Beyond because the futuristic, post-apocalyptic version of the DC Universe appeals to you, this issue will make little sense outside of the massive battle for Gotham. There’s a lot going on here that hasn’t been explored at all in this particular line that has been mentioned and examined in Future’s End. The most prominent of these is the importance of Inque’s daughter, Deanna, and why Brother Eye has her on his lunar base. There’s also the seemingly random Jokerz who welcome Brother Eye’s forces with open arms and fanatically ask to be converted. While these things by themselves didn’t really annoy me, what did get me was the conversion rate of Brother Eye’s machines. It apparently takes only seconds to turn a full human into a cyborg construct, and there were plenty of times during this issue where Tim was a guaranteed goner. But it seems that even Brother Eye falls victim to the whole “the villain has to make the hero’s death way more dramatic and drawn out than necessary, which allows the hero to magically regain his strength to fight” thing.
While I could overlook all these things in light of a genuinely exciting and action-packed issue, there was one moment at the end that I could not get over. There are kinda-big spoilers following so if you don’t want the reveal at the end of the issue to be spoiled, just scroll on down.
SPOILERS START FOR THE BIG REVEAL OF THE ISSUE
Is everyone who doesn’t want to hear about this gone? Ok, cool. While digging through the remains of the Batcave, Tim and Barbara search for some kind of weapon to use against Brother Eye and his cyborg army. Tim quips that he needs a version 2.0 suit, to which Barbara replies that he’s wearing version 5.0. That in itself is pretty cool, that there are some kind of prototype Batman Beyond suits somewhere in the cave, and I was looking forward to seeing just what Barbara had in store. I was thinking it might be the suit that Bruce wore in the Batman Beyond series opener or something that would harken back to the original source material, but I was mistaken. No, instead of that, Jurgens (or the editorial control team) went with the absolute worst possible choice.
How awful is that? RoBat, and the majority of what’s revolved around it the last few months, has not appealed to me at all. Most of the books I review are considered separate from the main DC Universe, or are at least so far removed from the present DC continuity that there is no need to feel tied to what’s going on in other series. Instead of using, you know, creativity, to come up with a cool sequence, Jurgens just throws in RoBat as the “secret weapon.” As if I wasn’t inundated enough with its stupid design and – in my opinion – pointless existence. RoBat’s entire existence lacks the complexity of Batman, even with its human pilot, and all things considered, it’s an uninteresting character. It’s Robocop but worse.
I volunteered to review certain books – Justice League 3000, Earth 2, and Batman Beyond – in an attempt to unify the books that, I believed, offered the most creative freedom. Whether Jurgens himself or some other higher-up made the call to add RoBat, I think it’s a cheap attempt at throwing in the “hot trend” right now into as many books as possible.
SPOILERS END FOR THE BIG REVEAL OF THE ISSUE
While the story rockets toward the inevitable clash between Tim and Brother Eye, the artwork continues to be the strongest aspect of this book. I’ve spoken about Marcelo Maiolo and Bernard Chang to great length in these reviews, and they’re kinetic style is always a highlight to my week. This issue felt lacking in some areas, primarily the facial expressions of Barbara and Deanna, but the fluid, eye-catching action shots were just too good to really put a dent in the experience.
Favorite Quote: “There comes a point in every fight…when you know it’s over.” – Tim Drake
- You like long-form action sequences.
- You’re a fan of Maiolo and Chang.
Not Recommended If…
- You want the story to progress.
- You’re sick of recent trends.
Overall: A fast-paced and high-energy book with a focus on urban warfare, this issue of Batman Beyond shows just how much Tim learned in his time under Bruce, and how important the city of Gotham is to him. I’ve been against most of the creative choices when it comes to the story, but I still have hope that the battle between Tim and Brother Eye will be worth the wait.