I am not the biggest fan, not actively I just never really caught on, of the DC Animated Universe. However, there are two stand-out exceptions that really ignited my enduring love for the Batman mythos: the now classic Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and the criminally underrated Batman Beyond. So I was sold from the get go when this Batman Beyond miniseries was announced. Some voiced their concerns that Adam Beechen was writing the project but he delivers here. Honestly, I think the guy gets a bad rep. His Robin OYL was for the most part serviceable; he just had the unfortunate editorially mandated task of turning Cassandra Cain into a villain. Spoilers ahead…
Anyway, so far this book has been a lot of fun. Someone has been killing retired C-list Batman villains using the motifs of A-list villains, such as Two-Face and The Penguin in Neo-Gotham. This Villain appears to be Hush, however whether this is in fact Thomas Eliott (who Bruce Wayne witnessed being killed) or a copy-cat remains to be seen. The situation is further complicated by two things: 1) the appearance of an all-new Catwoman
and 2) Bruce is one cantankerous old geezer. Ever-suspicious that Terry is not fully committed to the “mission” (despite Terry literally getting no sleep and rarely being seen by his friends and family) Bruce begins to construct robotic Bat-drones to police Neo Gotham, as they do not suffer the same limitations as Terry. It actually reminds of an episode of Darkwing Duck named Time and Punishment. After Gosalyn accidentally time travels to the near future she discovers a dystopic St. Canard ruled, ironically, by Darkwing Duck.
What Gosalyn discovers is that without her presence to ground him D.D. became increasing darker and bent on absolute control of the St. Canard so as to ensure its safety. Darkwing Duck being a fantastic pastiche of Batman it is no coincidence that this same motif is often found in the Dark Knights mythos. Batman needs Robin, without him he starts carrying handguns and wears way too creepy cowls. This motif is now being played out in Batman Beyond but with quite a different dynamic. Instead of a side-kick to ground him, Bruce needs Terry to let go, or rather pass on, his war on crime before it dehumanize him.
While this book is a lot of fun, it isn’t perfect. Prior to this issue, the story had no references to Terry civilian life, other than quips about how being Batman makes it impossible for him to have one. This issue sees two pages devoted to Terry’s personal life; one page where his mother and brother tell him he’s never around and one page where his girlfriend, Dana, tells him he’s never around. In the original series although these type of scenes would often occur they were inserted to create tension between Terry’s heroic duties and his desire to indulge in the pleasures of being a regular young adult. However, I feel these scenes where merely inserted to explain away what Terry does when he’s not Batman. On the art side, while I have for the most part enjoyed, and found it appropriate for the futuristic setting, the art of team of Benjamin, Stanisci and Baron (penciller-inker-colorist) I find their portrayal of the city itself disappointing. Rather than a vibrant and detailed cosmopolitan-dystopia what we often get is vague silhouettes mono-chromatically saturated. I also have minor quips about the absence of Max Gibson as well as Mary McGinnis being portrayed with dark hair (which is a pretty big error as fans of the show should know).
Overall I would highly recommend this mini-series, especially to fans of the show. It is definitely set is the continuity of the show with appearances by Spellbinder (the villain batman is fighting at the start of the first issue), Micron (who makes a brief cameo in the first issue to invite Terry to the JLA), Amanda Waller (who not so surprisingly seems to be, for yet to be disclosed reasons, at the root of Hush’s presence) and Tim Drake (who is recovering from the aftermath of the events of the Return of the Joker) as well as references to Barbara Gordon being Commissioner. The issue also ends with the promise of disclosing what happened to Dick Grayson in this continuity. As a fan of the show I enjoyed Beechen’s knowledge of the subject. However, I can’t say I am not a little disappointed. I was hoping this series would bring Terry into some quasi main DCU continuity but this is a minor disappointment.
Final Verdict: B+