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Batman Beyond #4 | Comic Reviews | Nerdy Nothings

Batman Beyond #4

Batman Beyond #4


Ever since college, my comic-reading habits have been such that I don’t really follow characters, just authors. Give Keith Giffen Doom Patrol – yeah, I’m down for the ride. But if someone somewhere ever thought it was a good idea to, say, hand a Swamp Thing book to J.T. Krul… well, I would probably cry myself to sleep while clutching the trades of Alan Moore’s run, but I would not subject myself to such torture. Yet here I am reading DC Comics’ new miniseries Batman Beyond. Based on the writing credit, I had no reason to think this would be any good. It’s brought to us by Adam Beechen, part of the team responsible for Countdown, which is one of the worst comic series I’ve ever laid eyes on. There’s something about the Batman Beyond character, though, that was calling out to me from the pages of Previews. “Forget about Countdown! Read me! You know you want to!”

I gave some thought to why this is, and here’s the answer I came up with: I don’t think Batman Beyond (aka Terry McGinnis) is a character I’ve had enough time to get to know. He starred in three all-too-brief seasons of an excellent animated series and… that’s about it. Now, here’s something about me: I’m obsessed with the Bruce Timm animated universe. You can’t put something as awesome as Batman Beyond in that world and not expect me to want more. So, just this once, DC Comics got me to break my rule about writers and pick up this book.

I’m glad I did. Overall, I have been thoroughly enjoying Batman Beyond. Beechen mostly seems to have a feel for how these characters talk and relate to each other, which makes sense – apparently he’s most notable for writing cartoons and is in fact Emmy Award-nominated for doing so, so this is the kind of comics project on which the dude can shine. It’s good to be able to spend time with these characters again, and even better that they’re in the hands of someone who recreates the feel of the animated series pretty darn well.

I’m not as crazy about the art. Ryan Benjamin is an artist I’m not too familiar with, and from a few different Google/Wiki searches it seems the internet is not too familiar with him either. I don’t think he has a lot of big titles under his belt, and I can see why. Benjamin is one of those artists who, it seems to me, makes things look sketchy, messy, or even ugly in an attempt to imbue them with a mix of grit and energy. It may work for some people, but not for me. Add this to a cover by Dustin Nguyen, another great example of the “ugly art” school, and this is not a pretty book to look at.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the story is perfect, either, although in my opinion it is very good. The one thing the book does that I don’t like – and maybe this is just me – is that it kind of ruins the futures of some characters in the DCAU. That’s going to be one of the difficulties of doing a book like this – how much does the creative team want to affect continuity to tell a story that matters? In particular, this issue makes some pretty bold statements about what happens to Dick Grayson after the events of Batman: The Animated Series that don’t really sit well with me. That’s probably just because I’m so attached to the animated shows that I don’t like knowing my favorite characters basically ruined their lives after I stopped watching them; it also feels kind of wrong that a comic book, not a Timm cartoon, gets to make that call, but again, that’s probably just me and my wacky devotion to those shows.

Story-wise, though, that’s really my only caveat with this series. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with Terry and the gang again, and I’m really happy with the recent news that I’ll get to do it every month shortly after this mini wraps. I’d be perfectly happy if DC kept Beechen on board, though if anyone with any power is reading this – can we get an artist change, please?

(Side note: Some DC books this week have a preview of the upcoming Paul Cornell/Jimmy Broxton Knight & Squire mini. I cannot wait for this book. I literally laughed out loud at the line about “Jarvis Poker, the British Joker.” Please come out soon, Knight & Squire!)

tags: adam beechen, batman, batman beyond, ryan benjamin

  • http://andrewstamm.com Spaceman Spiff

    How’d you feel about the Batman Beyond glimpse that Grant Morrison offered us in Batman #700? I thought it was kinda cool how Damian Wayne was the one mentoring Terry McGinnis rather than Bruce Waye.

  • http://nerdynothings.com Rebel Rikki

    Yeah, I agree. I definitely found the inclusion of Terry McGinnis in (presumably) standard DC continuity really interesting. In fact DC is kind of making a Batman Beyond push lately, aren’t they? Between Batman #700, Superman/Batman Annual #4, and now this new ongoing series… there’s a lot of Terry to go around.

    Exactly what continuity this new series is in is up for grabs, I think. One would assume it belongs in the DCAU but Dick Grayson has an interesting line in this issue: “After what happened to Silver, Bruce never took another partner.” That’s a pretty clear reference to Kevin Smith’s last Batman story, isn’t it? Then again who knows what continuity THAT story is in? (man, it really takes a special kind of nerd to care about this, doesn’t it?)

  • Kyle Gnepper

    I haven’t been following this really. So its set with the Bruce Timm-iverse instead of normal DC continuity? That might be a little better for me since so much that is already going on in the Batman stories has contradicted the possibility of this happening like in the show.

    The Morrison referrence with Damian mentoring was pretty awesome. I always like it when Morrison drops in stuff like that.

  • http://nerdynothings.com Rebel Rikki

    Kyle, it’s tough to say where this series is set. I could honestly write a whole post on it. I think the best answer I’ve got right now is it’s some kind of hybird of the Timmverse and the regular DC Universe. Nothing in there directly contracts the Timmverse as far as I can tell, but elements like Silver St. Cloud and Hush haven’t been shown to exist in the animated universe, so we’re meant to draw on what we know from the regular universe for that stuff.

    It pleases me that it was Grant Morrison who brought in Batman Beyond to the regular DCU. I have an image of him sitting at home watching Batman cartoons that makes me happy.

  • http://www.myspace.com/newtestleopard Matt Heckler

    I only stuck with Countdown for about six issues before I gave up on it, so I understand the nervousness about Batman Beyond. I would have picked it up if money weren’t an object. Also, the J.T. Krul mention definitely rings true for me, because I am a Green Arrow fan, and the new Green Arrow ongoing pretty much sucks. Finally, it has a great artist. Unfortunately, the plot is terrible. I’m never going to drop the book, but it makes me sad.

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