I’ve always been a sucker for a good Batman story, and that’s why I approached the idea of BATMAN BEYOND – some young lad with an eternally plucky attitude takes the mantle of the Bat after being groomed by an elderly Bruce Wayne himself – with a bit of trepidation. It wasn’t that I couldn’t accept the idea of someone else dressed up in the cape and cowl. No, that was perfectly acceptable. What I wasn’t all that thrilled with was actually seeing Bruce Wayne reduced to a side character – the inevitable back-up, maybe even a curmudgeon too conscripted to the ‘old ways’ of justice to be useful in some future age.
To my surprise, BATMAN BEYOND was an absolute delight.
In fairness, it’d be awfully easy to have some reservations about Terry McGinnis. While secreted away under the latest and greatest Batsuit, he is pretty quick with the quips, much in the same way Dick Grayson was, even Jason Todd was, and even Tim Drake. But, thankfully, that characteristic never dominated the portrayal. In fact, when McGinnis was out of the uniform, every incarnation of him – the TV show, the various comics series – mostly treat him as the ‘everyman,’ a composite teen whose easy-going manner never forced him to overplay his hand in the same way some of Batman’s other sidekicks did.
In fact, one could make the strong case that BATMAN BEYOND presents finally the best sidekick the Bats could hope for: a younger version of himself – still humbled by the youth of his few years but desperate to see justice served in the crazy jazzed out world-of-tomorrow Gotham survives to be. The elderly Wayne – much like Clint Eastwood in GRAN TORINO – comes to grips with the reality that, while he may personally be unable to continue cleaning up the streets, he’s still the best person mentally for the job. He’ll just have to accept McGinnis as a respectable substitute.
That said, this first installment of this six-part mini brings the world of BEYOND to life much in the same style, colors, hues, and themes of the exceptional television show. Bruce is still ‘mentoring’ Terry through his regular vigilante outings. The streets of Gotham have been keeping the lad busy for the last few nights in a row; but when an area hospital that took the last remaining patients from a defunct Arkham Asylum suddenly registers an emergency, Terry slips back into the batsuit and screeches off to the scene of the attack. He’s two steps behind the attacker, who manages to slip away in the nick of time. When McGinnis investigates the identity, it looks like it’s going to be another ‘ghost’ from Bruce Wayne’s past: Hush may’ve returned to the city!
The artwork is phenomenal, the pacing is crisp, and I’ve already purchased the next issue for my iPhone. Same BATMAN-BEYOND-time, same BATMAN-BEYOND-channel … it looks like the Bat is back in business.
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