Thursday, 9 July 2015

Batman Beyond #2 - DC Comics

BATMAN BEYOND No. 2, September 2015
Having introduced any prospective “readers… to who Batman Beyond is, what the world is, and who else might be there as quickly as we can” in this title’s opening edition, Dan Jurgens takes something of a step backwards from such global grandeur in this second instalment of “Brave New Worlds”, and instead simply concentrates upon the powerless superhero’s survival within a “processing” prison for Brother Eye. Such a simplification of his story’s earlier scope really lets the former “Superman” penciller pay a good deal of attention to the exploits of Tim Drake and as a result the story’s futuristic events are far easier to understand for any bibliophile who hasn’t read almost a year’s worth of “Future’s End” back-issues.

The Minnesota-born writer is also able to utilise a rather elderly-looking Barbara Gordon to inform both Batman and the reader as to just who the villains of this piece are and what they are doing. Admittedly it’s pretty clear from Bernard Chang’s artwork that the Lodge’s ‘terminator-like’ cyborgs are to be avoided whilst the simpleton-faced inmates to be pitied. But the former Batgirl provides plenty of backstory as to how this “world has become a rather awful place” due to the Eye spending “years infiltrating computer networks and data systems worldwide.”

Followers of the “Warner Brothers” 1999 animated series “Batman Of The Future” will find little to disappoint them with this integration of their beloved cowled crimefighter “into the DC Universe”  either. For having introduced a Victor Stone who has bizarrely somehow retained more of his physical body than his previous incarnation did as Cyborg, Jurgens has Drake additionally confront Inque; “Terry’s most dangerous foe” from the television programme.

Indeed the shape-shifting femme fatale’s introduction really imbues the American author’s narrative with some much needed pizzazz. Especially as it coincides with Tim’s ability to recharge and thus reactivate the Batsuit; albeit “the suit will be less than fully functional, sir.” Such a classic clash between this “new improved version” of the Dark Knight and McGinnis’ powerful adversary is an absolute delight despite its brevity, and even provides the opportunity for some nice interplay between Drake and his digitised butler Alfred.

Disappointingly Bernard Chang’s illustrations whilst competent do little to add to a rather exciting action-packed issue. In fact the Asian American artist arguably has some extremely ‘wobbly’ moments whilst trying to depict the numerous brainwashed inmates of the Lodge, with his rendition of a pink-haired ‘zombified’ Max towards the end of the comic proving especially disturbing and peculiar. It is also not clear why Marcelo Maiolo seems to think it’s a good idea to leave the odd panel predominantly white with garishly red inking instead of colouring them as normal. 

Admittedly such a monotone technique makes these small scenes ‘pop’ from the page. But there doesn’t seem to be any particular rhyme or reason as to why certain pictures are chosen for this effect. Something which quickly lessens their visual impact and essentially makes the blood rouge ‘mini-sodes’ an annoyance rather than an artistic enhancement.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN BEYOND" No. 2 by Andy Kubert and Brad Anderson

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