SUPERMAN BEYOND Introduces Superman Into BATMAN BEYOND's Tomorrow
Oct 1, 2012
I’ve written before about my fondness for the world of BATMAN BEYOND, the hyper-kinetic world-of-tomorrow originally created as an animated program but subsequently realized in print form by DC Comics. In this version of the future, Bruce Wayne has grown old, too old to wear the familiar cape and cowl he used for so many years, and, instead, he’s passed the baton to Terry McGinnis, a young man equally concerned about seeing justice delivered to those found wanting. Wayne takes on the traditional role as mentor over the lad, and the villains and stories all tend to gravitate toward issues of technology gone a bit awry for the evildoers. McGinnis soars in, saves the day with Wayne’s guidance, and the streets are safe once more.
Now, DC Comics have taken another one of its tent-pole characters – Superman – and delivered him into the same world of the future in the pages of SUPERMAN BEYOND.
[NOTE: the following review will contain spoilers solely for the purposes of discussing the plot. If you like your review spoiler-free with simply an endorsement or not, then feel free to skip down to the last paragraph faster than a speeding bullet. Otherwise, read on …]
Feeling that perhaps the Earth no longer needs him, Superman has left the confines of our galaxy, and he’s tried to find himself again, now that he’s older and widowed. However, one good deed for an alien world reminds him of his past and his dealings with his adopted homeworld, so he decides maybe he’d best check back on things on the Big Blue Marble. Well, as luck would have it, the Justice League has recently struggled to put a major mutant back behind bars, and it looks like only the Man of Steel has the brains and the brawn to see the villain caught and put back into his cell.
While the best Batman stories always dealt with the world’s greatest detective finding some way to outsmart his dastardly adversaries, the best Superman stories always centered on fighting. After all, Kalel remains the original ‘Man of Steel,’ so it would only stand to reason that those he went up against possessed the strength and cunning to match Big Blue blow-for-blow. Sure, Superman would have to figure out how to best his opponents, but it usually centered in on how to do it in combat. Rarely did he have to put his super-powered brain to the same kinds of puzzles and curiosities that plagued the Dark Knight in Gotham City, but that was why the two of them worked so well when they teamed up: you had the best brain and the best brawn anywhere on the planet, and, somehow, these two begrudging comrades would put aside their subtle differences in the pursuit of saving the day. Thankfully, quite a bit of that chemistry survives in the pages of SUPERMAN BEYOND as Bruce Wayne – albeit much older – remains active and is clearly intent on remaining a thorn in Supes’s side. Indeed, the book closes with a great exchange between these wiser heroes, and it feels a natural progression of their earlier friendship.
Also, this #0 issue features some great guest spots by introducing a handful of regulars now serving time in this Justice League of tomorrow, a brief appearance by Batman Beyond, and there’s even a wonderful little cameo with a much older, much wiser, much wealthier Jimmy Olsen, who’s become a media magnate in Clark’s absence. Although Superman has been away, it’s clear that not a whole lot has changed – Earth still needs its greatest hero – and he’s only too happy to put on the suit once more. Hopefully as this new series develops, the creative crew will continue to look back fondly at the people, places, and events that made Kalel into the Superman he is today.
You can thank DC Comics for SUPERMAN BEYOND hitting shelves in reality and digitally (I’m reading mine on the iPhone 4). Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz provide plot, pencils, and script. Sal Buscema is responsible for the finished art. Dave Sharpe did lettering. Chris Beckett served as colorist. Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and this new crew does a largely impressive job adapting their character for the future. I can only guess they’d be pleased to see where the character has gone.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. As a #0 issue, SUPERMAN BEYOND does probably everything it needs to do by re-introducing readers to an older, matured Superman, one who still questions his rightful place in man’s world. As is the case with the best Supes’ stories, this one ends up being a slugfest between an aging Man of Steel and an escaped convict who owes his powers to some recently uncovered technology left behind by Lex Luthor. Still, the tale is book-ended nicely with Clark’s reflections about who he is and where he is in this new place and time, so, all-in-all, it’s a great set-up for some new tales that’ll hopefully soar up, up, and away!