- Cover by Sean Murphy
- Written by Kyle Higgins
- Art by Thony Silas
- Colours by Andrew Elder
BEWARE OF SPOILERS
‘Batman Beyond’ is a brilliant little franchise that keeps on ticking away in the background whilst the mainstream Batman comic series take all the glory.
Spinning out from the short lived TV series the ‘Beyond’ (or ‘of the Future’ for UK audiences) franchise has been through several comic iterations before finally finding its niche in digital first issues that find themselves lumped in with similar ‘Justice League Beyond’ and ‘Superman Beyond’ stories under the ‘Beyond Universe’ banner in print.
Having been a fan of this show I naturally picked up the comic series but seeing the stories shortened and mixed in with the other ‘Beyond Universe’ stories just ruined it for me. I find myself consistently wanting more from the stories which just isn’t doable in the anthology book.
Reading ‘Beyond’ as a digital first series works. Yes, the stories are still a little shorter but by nature it works in the digital first realm when you consistently receive a new chapter of the story each week or in this case twice monthly.
This issue picks up one year after the events of the ‘10,000 Clowns’ story. Terry is now in college, separated from Dana and working with Dick Grayson whilst an ever present Bruce watches over him indirectly from his cave.
Currently in charge of scripting this arc is Kyle Higgins, most recently famous for his work on the ‘Nightwing’ relaunch for The New 52. He’s taken a bold move in separating the core duo of Bruce and Terry which it adds a whole new layer of drama to the story. The two characters have so much history that they cannot ever truly be separated but the previous comic series and more so the TV series hinged on the relationship between the two.
This issue focusses on setting up the premise of the ‘Recharged’ story which will spin out over the next eight chapters. This chapter opens at a familiar location: Arkham; with the Mayor of Neo-Gotham giving a tour to the press when he’s struck down and killed by a heart attack.
Whilst Terry is busy dealing with a future Man-Bat and studying (or not) for exams Barbara handles the scene all the while keeping in contact with the off-panel Dick.
The main point of this issue is to catch up those who are familiar with the franchise but out of touch with the story. We learn about the fate of the relationship between Terry and long-term girlfriend Dana and spend some quality time with Commissioner Gordon (that’s Babara not James). The disconnected voice which would normally be Bruce does remain a mystery to those not in the know until the final panel of the book when its revealed to be Dick.
Higgins writes a good opening chapter to the story. It works the way any TV pilot would to introduce all the major players and setup the premise of the story. Higgins has an understanding of the characters but with the jump in time he has the freedom to play with them emotionally to represent where they now are in their lives.
The art by Thony Silas is a perfect match for previous comic iterations but also the comic series. There are echoes of the TV series but with a ramped up level of detail to bring it in line with contemporary comics. There teens from the series are now young adolescents and that’s well represented in the artwork, the characters are all recognisable to their TV counterparts.
There’s a great cartoon element to the artwork but its still completely credible as comic series in its own right which is a fine balance to maintain when adapting a successful TV franchise.