Remember how Futures End ended? Tim Drake ended up traveling back into the distant future where he discovered that he did not actually stop Brother Eye from taking over… at all. This meant that nothing had changed at all from #0 to #48 and that almost a year’s worth of comics was to a certain degree pointless, outside of killing off Terry McGinnis (aka classic Batman Beyond). Why do I bring this up? Because Batman Beyond is the actual follow up to that comic and will be focusing on what happens next. Frustrations in how we got here aside, is it good?
Batman Beyond #1 (DC Comics)
It is 35 years into the future of an offshoot timeline. Tim Drake has been currently living in this time for a while as Batman Beyond, carrying on the legacy of Terry McGinnis and trying to figure out a way to stop Brother Eye. These are his adventures.
There’s not much to say for an opening story summary, because this first issue isn’t that heavy on story. I would describe this outing as an introductory/setup issue. It doesn’t really establish a main or ongoing story outside of the vague goal of someday stopping Brother Eye, but it’s more about laying the groundwork for this series. It follows up pretty quickly on what happened to Tim after Futures End, shows what new rules are for this world and what has changed, and it introduces some elements from the Batman Beyond TV show. Dan Jurgens hits all the points he technically should with the story and people who read Futures End can easily jump in. That’s all fine and good, but I can’t help but feel this new series is going to be hurting right out of the starting gate.
What I mean by that is all of the baggage this comic has is really going to limit it. Fans of the Batman Beyond TV show aren’t going to be pleased that the main character is dead and has been replaced with someone else, while also having a rather wild and different setup from the show. There’s not a whole lot of context for what is going in the book for outsiders, meaning you would have to both read all of Futures End and seen the TV show to understand a lot of points that are made or the aesthetics that are seen in it (like the Jokerz gang or robot Superman). The comic just kind of assumes you already know what is happening, since everything established builds off of those two other series. As such, this isn’t exactly the most new reader friendly book. Plus, due to a lot the twists and turns that Futures End pulled, like killing Terry or its awful ending, it’s going to sour a lot of people to this comic already.
But beyond that, there’s surprisingly not that much else to this comic. The story is on the weak side, due to it barely doing anything and not having much focus to it. There’s not a lot of characterization (any characterization seems to be repeating the same beats from the sneak peek), it feels like there are many plot holes in the comic that make it hard to fully believe Neo Gotham is still standing or that there are POW camps in a world run by Brother Eye, and the whole ending feels like the comic just sort of trailed off. There’s a potentially interesting hook to the end, but the whole final act just felt so weak and didn’t have much tension to it. I just was surprisingly unengaged and a bit bored by what was happening in this book, which is a real damn shame honestly.
The only area of the comic that wasn’t disappointing was the artwork. Bernard Chang from Green Lantern Corps is the artist, while Marcelo Maiolo (Lemire’s Green Arrow) serves as the colorist, both doing a great job. Chang really is able to draw some distinct and unique looking characters, especially with the Jokerz. Everyone is very expressive, really selling a lot of the drama in areas too. The layouts are very easy to follow, the brief action is nice looking, and the details and locations look great. Combined with Maiolo’s beautiful coloring, the artwork really helps set the mood and feel for this distant future setting, making for a really damn good looking book. I just wish the story and writing were on the same level to make the most of it.
Is It Good?
By no means an awful or terrible book, Batman Beyond #1 is just a disappointment at best and frustrating at worst. If you liked both Futures End and Batman Beyond animated series (to a degree that you don’t mind the main character from the show having been killed off and replaced), I could say maybe check this out. Otherwise, there are better Bat-books out there to read than this.