|BATMAN BEYOND No. 1, August 2015|
Set thirty-five years from now “in the definitive future of the DCU”, this “mini-relaunch” by “DC Comics” of their “Batman Beyond” title has clearly given Dan Jurgens “a lot of room to develop a new path” much removed from anything which has previously happened in the DC Universe or even “what’s been established in the animated series”. However for those readers unfamiliar with the events depicted within this comic book's forerunner, the eleven-month long mini-series “Future’s End”, the Minnesota-born author still wisely begins his narrative by ‘reacquainting’ readers with a few (semi) familiar elements such as ‘Alfred, “Joker cosplayers” and of course, the red and black Batsuit.
Unfortunately such an intelligently written ‘acclimatization’ process to such a very different looking high-tech Neo-Gotham barely lasts half a dozen pages, as the Minneapolis College of Art and Design graduate quickly succumbs to the temptation of populating his “almost limitless canvas” for this ‘Batman of the Future’ reboot and disconcertingly starts to imbue his storyline will all the hallmarks of an “Elseworlds” comic book.
To begin with the titular character is no longer the Terry McGinnis of “Warner Brothers” fame but rather a time-travelling Timothy Drake who was “supposedly” given the suit by Paul Dini’s co-creation. Such an arguably controversial move is even voiced within “Brave New Worlds” itself as Matt McGinnis bitterly states that “if I had been there Terry would’ve given the [Bat]suit to me.” Infinitely more perturbing though is the appearance of a “turned” Superman; a laser-carrying cyborg with four metallic spider-legs, who seems far closer to a mixture between supervillain Hank Henshaw and Metallo than the popular Man of Steel. This abomination of Joe Shuster’s boy scout, coupled with the later appearance of a somewhat emaciated Barbara Gordon provides a disappointing glimpse as to the “exotic… wide-open adventure” Jurgens plans ‘to enjoy in having such latitude’ with this title.
Equally as uninspiring is the artwork by Bernard Chang. The Asian American designer draws an extremely impressive looking Batman and some mean-looking Jokerz. But as soon as the action cools and the Montreal-born illustrator starts to have to pencil less dynamic scenes, such as Drake having a hot beverage with Nora Boxer or being incarcerated within the Lodge, his quality sharply declines. Indeed by the end of the former Red Robin’s confrontation with Superman, Chang’s pictures bear little resemblance to the artist’s earlier work and seem almost to have been rushed in order to meet some imminent fast-approaching deadline.
|The variant cover art of "BATMAN BEYOND" No. 1 by Kalman Andrasofszky|