This new series of Batman Beyond (entitled Batman Beyond Universe) collects the first two digital releases of both Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond into one book. This series is a grand departure for the past run with an all new creative team and a desire to tie into the animated series rather than a separate entity. This offers a fresh starting point for newbies to the comic’s Universe with this run being set one year after the end of the previous run, entitled Batman Beyond Unlimited.
This is first thing that strikes me about this comic is how extremely welcoming is it toward new fans, or those that have never read a Beyond book before. I have a familiarity with the Batman Beyond universe via the awesome TV series from the 90 s but zero experience with the past runs of the book. Before I get into this review I have to say that if you’re a fan of that TV show then this is for you!
Writer Kyle Higgins has expressed that he is a huge fan of the TV show on Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast and in numerous interviews. It is clear that he loves this world, and that he is a fan and that shows. Higgins knows this world, understands his characters and more importantly he understands how to use them and what motivates them. This sense of understanding eases you into this world and that is even before all the fan service that is within the first issue. Higgins uses characters from both the show and the Return of the Joker movie. Everything about this spot on, it is the Batman Beyond for fans by fans. Neo-Gotham feels alive!
The plot begins with an attack on the elite of Gotham while on a tour of the new Arkham Institute. This issue then nicely introduces all the major characters of the world and highlights the changes in Terry’s life both in his personal life, breaking up with his girlfriend Dana, and as Batman. I love the interplay with Dick Grayson (Nightwing) with him being a father figure to Terry, almost in the same way that Bruce was to Dick in the past (see their interaction in the Knightfall saga for more).
Higgins’ choice to set his story one year after the conclusion of Adam Beechen’s Joker Night arc allows you the option to almost completely overlook the past comics run and gives you a blank slate to work from. The sense of the unknown throughout this first issue is really cool, as it allows the mind to wander. And you just know that something big is coming. In the TV show, this was underscored by the impact of the film that divulged what happened over the years to Tim Drake, Harley, The Joker and Barbara Gordon. It worked because of the longstanding set up that the TV show allowed. It appears that Higgins is aiming for the same thing.
While artist Thony Silas has captured the look and feel of the show, but with a sense that things have moved on from the show. In other words, all the characters are older, wise and the futuristic world of Neo-Gotham has marvellously evolved.
The action scenes could translate nicely to the screen with a fast and explosive pace. Everything has a great sense of detail even down to the backgrounds and it feels alive. I hate to repeat myself but there is no other word, this comic is a refreshing take on the animated source material. And it is something that could have gone so badly wrong. It reads like a love letter to Dini’s and Timm’s work rather than a rip-off or worse a parody of the 90 s.
The backup featuring the Justice League Beyond is a nice start to establishing the new take on this group. However, there is really not much to say here as it is way too early to make an informed opinion. Maybe in a few weeks I can discuss it in detail. It is a nice backup that seems set to further set up this world of the JLA Beyond, yes. It feels rather samey but I am hopeful that it will engage me over the next few weeks.
Overall, Batman Beyond Universe is an exciting start to this similar but unique take on the beloved series. While Justice League Beyond is good but underwhelming at this point. Higgins and his team have made a definite statement with this book. From the stellar cover by Sean Murphy and Jordie Bellaire that brings back all the most iconic images from Batman: The Animated Series and set the tone for this run. Heck…you should buy this book for the cover alone!
Fans of Higgins’ Nightwing will also love this book, as it feels very much like this is what he wanted write all along. People have criticized Higgins’ Nightwing as a “wannabe Batman Beyond” and I can understand that. However, I never saw the issue with that take on the character. He made Nightwing feel like the heir to the BatThrone, something that Terry is. In this series, he is The Batman. I am a huge fan of Higgins’ Nightwing, and if you are too then you must pick up the first issue of Batman Beyond Universe. This is a buy!
Batman Beyond Universe #1 by Kyle Higgins and Thony Silas is out now.
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