update: Batman Beyond #1 is delayed to June 30th. Boo :(
But hold up a sec. Terry McGinnis? Neo-Gotham? A Batsuit with retractable wings, invisibility and other high-tech gadgets? Either you’ve never seen the show, or the details are probably pretty fuzzy; either way, I don’t blame you–the series aired ten years ago! Well, fear not, this BB fangirl’s got your one-stop schway shop to be initiated, or initiated again, into Batman Beyond fandom.
So hop to it, twip!
Step 1: Air Guitar to the Batman Beyond Theme Song
Dancing the Batusi is optional.
Step 2: Old Friends, Long Gone
Here’s the general story: Batman Beyond takes place far into the future, and Bruce Wayne’s age has finally caught up with him. Bruce is forced to retire, but he soon finds an unlikely apprentice in Terry McGinnis, and Batman is reborn in a new age. This new team must face old and new villains on the streets of Gotham, which has also changed with the times. While part of the DC animated universe, in the comics continuity, BB has been established as an alternate reality.
Terry McGinnis is our hero, the new Batman. In high school Terry wasn’t on the best life track, but his father’s murder and unintentionally discovering Bruce Wayne’s secret changed everything. Brash yet perseverant, Terry slowly eases into his responsibilities as Batman and dark knight of Gotham.
Bruce Wayne, the Batman we know and love, once kept Gotham safe for decades. But fifty years later, Bruce realizes he must pass on the cowl, albeit reluctantly at first. Bruce assists Terry via comlink from the Batcave, acting as mentor and father figure as well.
Ace is Bruce’s loyal and protective hound. Ace was originally trained to be in dogfights, but he ran away, and was a stray until Bruce found him. Ace helps Terry as Batdog on occasional missions, but usually remains with Bruce, giving him some much-needed company and also standing as his last defense.
Superman has changed along with the times, but only in appearance, now donning a black-and-white suit. In two-parter The Call, Superman invites Terry to join the Justice League, and also find a traitor in its ranks.
Max is Terry’s closest friend, whom I hope we see in the comics. Max is a brilliant student and the only person who knows Terry’s secret, aside from Bruce. Max provides cover stories for Terry’s frequent disappearances, and finds information related to his missions.
Step 3: Episodes You MUST Watch
The more Batman Beyond you watch, the better, especially since full episodes of Batman Beyond are streaming on DC Beyond at Kids WB! If you have limited time, here are the essentials to see for the first time, or watch again.
Rebirth, parts 1 and 2: You can’t do without the pilot! Terry’s origin story is here: his father’s murder, the first meeting between Bruce and Terry, and Terry “borrowing” the Batsuit. The first BB villain is born here too! This is a definite must-watch, as Terry’s origin may be glossed over in the comics, assuming that readers already know it. (update: I was right. Watch the pilot!)
The Call, parts 1 and 2: This is the one and only Batman Beyond episode in which we see future Superman, now donned in a black-and-white costume (is that supposed to infer something?). He heads the new Justice League, and invites Bats to join the team. This is one of the best BB episodes, and also served as an inspiration for the Justice League show. Additionally, future Superman will make an appearance in the S/B Annual, as evidenced by the cover.
Epilogue (Justice League): This JL episode is the concluding episode for Batman Beyond, set several years after Terry takes up the cowl. His physique on the comic covers matches his look in this episode, so it’s extremely likely that the comics take place during or after this time frame. Furthermore, there are super-mega-ultimate BB spoilers that you’ve gotta know. If you just want the footnotes you can leave a comment, but trust me, that’s not as much fun as Amanda Waller’s version. I won’t say any more.
Justice League two-parter “The Once and Future Thing” features Terry and Bruce as well.
Also, I highly recommend the BB direct-to-video movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. When the Joker (voiced by the superb Matt Hamill) mysteriously returns from the dead and wrecks havoc on Neo-Gotham, Terry must dig into Bruce’s past, discovering some alarming secrets. While the Joker most likely won’t be in the comics, the excellent animation and exciting storyline is definitely worth the watch. Plus, it’s streaming on Netflix!
You should also know: The DCAU (DC animated universe) stands apart from the regular DC continuity. That means that the Grant Morrison stuff unfolding right now has no bearing on Terry’s adventures–and this will become even more apparent when you see Epilogue. Also, Barbara Gordon is the current Gotham Police Commissioner, and SHE CAN WALK.
Another reason why I love this series.
Your last step is after the break!
Step 4: Slang from the Future
One of the great things about BB is that the creators made sure everything is futuristic: the gadgets, the Batsuit and Batmobile, and even slang. Here’s three of my favorite future-slang terms from Batman Beyond, and remember: the more you use it, the cooler you are.
shway [sh-WAY] , adjective;
1. Cool; awesome: “that new Batmobile is totally schway.”
2. Much better than saying “lol.”
note: For maximum effectiveness, also use its antonym, “schwarbage,” coined by Bruce while watching an opera about Batman (irony!) in Out of the Past.
slag it, interjection;
1. Dammit; usually within the connotation of being forced to do something yourself. Commonly used by Terry when he realizes he’s been mistaken or double-crossed.
2. ‘slag’ can also be used as an adjective, as used by Warren McGinnis in Rebirth.
twip [twip] , adjective;
1. A person who is annoying, cumbersome, in the way.
2. A younger sibling.
Congrats, you’re all caught up! For further obsession, keep on watching Batman Beyond, and be sure to catch the Superman/Batman Annual #4, featuring Terry and future Superman, hitting shelves next Wednesday!
Update: Sorry, everything was delayed due to Memorial Day–S/B #4, and all other new comics, come out Thursday, June 3.
BB images and screencaps (except for Rebirth) courtesy of World’s Finest.