Batman Beyond has essentially felt like it’s been in perpetual change ever since DC announced that Terry McGinnis would become part of continuity in Futures End. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, considering the book has gotten better and better over time. Futures End initially featured Terry traveling back in time to stop Brother Eye, only to be killed in the process. To save the world, Tim Drake took up the mantle of Batman (Beyond), and was transported to the future where Brother Eye was still at large – albeit, not to the extent that we’d previously witnessed. Together with Barbara Gordon, Tim worked to become familiar with this new world, and managed to stop Brother Eye with the help of Terry’s former nemesis, Inque.
It was at this point that Jurgens was able to start separating Batman Beyond from the less-than-stellar Futures End, and focus on telling Tim’s story. In my opinion, this is when the book started to grow and stand on its own two feet. The Justice League was reintroduced, and Tim grew a bond with Terry’s little brother, Matt. Issue by issue, the story grew stronger, established itself more, and started to shine brighter and brighter, until a mind-controlled Terry reappeared as Rewire, and the story took another step up from “good” to “outstanding.”
DC’s Rebirth Press Conference confirmed that Tim would be exiting the book, and Terry would reclaim the mantle of Batman once Rebirth. What was uncertain, was how. While Batman Beyond #16 answered questions concerning Tim (while also creating a world of new ones), I found myself wondering what this Terry McGinnis/ Neo Gotham would be like. Would the creative team remain true to the source material, or would they attempt to make it their own? For those of you wanting a more accurate lift from the animated series, you’re in luck!
I will openly admit that it’s been a good while since I’ve watched Batman Beyond, but as best as I can remember, this issue gives a near-identical retelling of how Terry became Batman. With moments of Terry’s past feathered in between the present day as he settles into being Batman again, we are allowed to get a grasp who Terry is. This issue also allows us to gain an idea of his background, and what he has or hasn’t experienced as Batman. While most of Rebirth has been about “course correcting,” Batman Beyond: Rebirth appears to be more about confirmation.
Terry isn’t the only focus here though. This is, after all, the same universe and timeline that Tim has been protecting, and issues or revelations that were brought up during Tim’s run still exist here. Barbara and Matt are both in the picture still, and Dana makes a rather enjoyable comeback for those of you who have been missing her. The most exciting think in this issue though, is the resurgence of Jokerz, who are more extreme than ever. This is a fun debut that is perfect for any fan of Batman! And if the story doesn’t hook you, the cliff hanger will!
The Art: Ryan Sook is on art duties for this issue before Bernard Chang steps back into the roll. While there are elements that I miss about Chang’s work – particularly the bold color choices he makes – I really enjoyed the stylization that Sook brought to the table. I’m familiar with Sook from Justice League Dark and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and was happy to see his name. He’s one of those artists that, in my opinion, deserves more consistent work than he gets. There’s something that he manages to bring to this issue that just jives with me. Surprisingly, I almost wish Sook would remain on the title. The change in the art helps make this story feel like it is a new phase. The tone and textures of his art, along with Jeremy Lawson’s colors (pages 1 – 15), help give Terry his own identity that separates this narrative from Tim’s, while also embracing it.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The exposition. This will shock many of you because I usually disapprove of exposition – I’m more of a “Show it, don’t say it” kind of guy. In this case, however, exposition was needed. With such a tumultuous foundation due to numerous direction changes, we needed the creative team to stop and say, “Here’s the backstory. This is where we are.” Part of what made the New 52, a mess, was that readers didn’t know what the characters’ backstories were. They couldn’t accurately determine the relationships between characters, or what moments held weight or didn’t. So in this instance, yes, I’m glad the foundation was provided before Batman Beyond dives into the deep end.
As you were. As I mentioned earlier, some elements remain from the previous arc. The relationships Tim had developed with Barbara and Matt transfer rather easily, but the biggest – and most exciting – return comes from Terminal.
Dana. As a fan of the animated series, I’d missed Dana during the previous run, so I was excited to see her show up here. More so, I was excited to see the type of woman she’s become. Having her as a social worker who’s willing to risk her safety establishes her as a hero in her own right. I’m looking forward to see what Jurgens has planned for her.
Ghosts. You know what they say in comics… “The dead never stay dead!” (Insert Joker laugh here).
Venomed-Out Joker. All I had to do was see this, and I immediately disliked it. All I kept thinking was that it reminded me of The Dark Knight when Two Face was roided out on venom and called himself “One Face.”
Changing Colors. I did reach a point in the book – which was ironically near the venom-pumped Joker, where I felt that the quality of the book fell a little. I couldn’t fully place it, and then I realized that the color artist changed. That should go to show you how such a small detail can impact a book.
- You’ve been waiting for Terry McGinnis to return as Batman.
- You were disappointed that Dana wasn’t in the previous run.
- You want to see the “return” of an old Batman villain.
Overall: Batman Beyond delivers in every way that it needs to for Rebirth. A foundation and backstory are established, while new threats and stakes are introduced to an already complicated world. I know I was sad to see the previous run come to an end, but this issue has made me equally excited as I was before. There’s a lot of good to be found in Batman Beyond, and it would be in your best interest to give it a shot!