After a very long wait, the Superman/Batman Annual with Batman Beyond (aka Terry McGinnis) is finally here!
I have been an ardent Batman Beyond fan since it first aired, and Levitz and Guedes seem to understand why. While reading the opening pages I felt pulled into the neo-Gotham universe again. I loved the subtle references back to the show, like Bruce’s dog Ace, the short appearance by the Jokerz, and the new Batmobile. Guedes’ gritty artwork brings neo-Gotham and Metropolis to life, and I loved the shadow work on Terry’s costume. But probably the best moments were Terry and Bruce’s interactions; Bruce is still the detective of the two, and is both impressed and irritated by Terry’s youth and skill.
I find it interesting that keeping the elements of the original is more important to me than the plot itself. Probably the blessing and curse of being a fan, eh?
But I digress. I was also impressed that this isn’t just a replica of the show: we’re treated to several new surprises, with Superman’s growth as a character in particular. The comic takes place after the events of BB two-parter “The Call,” in which Superman is possessed by Starro, and after that experience Superman’s confidence pretty much takes a downspiral. I liked the darker turn, but he and Terry act as if they have never met before. Something about their interaction just felt forced. (spoilers!) And then after imprisoning Lex Luthor, the Man of Steel just decides to up and leave, and dumps all the responsibility on Terry’s shoulders to take care of Metropolis and Gotham? Seriously? It surprised me to see Superman so selfish, even though he’s obviously still grieving over Lois; it would have made more sense for Supes to at least bring in in the Justice League to help Terry out.
Another nitpick! While we see Terry without the cowl, there’s little to none of his personality outside his Batman alter-ego. I was really hoping that Terry could have chatted with Max via the cowl once to pull in his personal life. Additionally, the first half of the story is also pretty slow, as Terry figures out a pretty easy mystery and Superman helps lead him there behind the scenes. And then there’s the fight with Lex, but he’s so darned old that he pretty much sits back the whole time. Supes and Bats don’t meet until three-fourths of the way through, making the cover sort of misleading.
In the end, it’s a slow issue that isn’t perfect, but still marks a solid return to the Batman Beyond universe. Hopefully, the series won’t take place only in Metropolis, as the ending to the annual may suggest, but instead stays in Gotham where Batman belongs. Maybe we’ll also see more of Terry’s background, current Justice League members, and some future villains like Inque as well (because in the end, the Jokerz are pretty lame). I still highly recommend watching the show before reading; for your full homework assignment, see Batman Beyond 101.
But wait, there’s more!
I’m also reading:
Zatanna #1: Magician Zatanna is back in her all-new series! I’ve always loved the magical element of the DC universe, and Z shows it off with style. In this issue, she investigates a grotesque string of murders to the magical underworld. Though Zatanna’s confrontation with Brother Night was too easy (she happens to know exactly where he is? Come on!), her sophistication and pizazz makes up for it. I’m hoping for a Dr. Fate cameo! 4/5
X-Men Forever: Picking Up Where We Left Off: Claremont is an excellent classic X-Men writer, and here, classic is the operative term. He picks up from where he left off about a decade ago and it shows. The dialogue is cliché, the plot overreaching, and while Grummett did the best he could, the outfits are extremely silly. Even though Kitty’s alive and well, picking up where we left off was probably a bad idea–especially if it means killing off Wolverine. 2/5