Oct 02

Batman Beyond Rebirth #1 Review

Scovero there is a new wave of DC #1s coming out to try and tantalize new readers in after about 5 years of steadily
declining sales.

Most of these are just rebrandings of your regularly expected DC comcis, This one them going back to the well of the DCAU and trying to reinvigorate a book about a future teenager being yelled at by 90 year old batman.

At least i think it’s meant to be that?

Batman Beyond Rebirth is tricky to pin down. Given it’s branding with both the Batman Beyond Name and a Rebirth stamp you would think it should be a good entry point for both fans of the old cartoon and new readers alike. But it’s also the continuation of a fairly long series of BB comics that seem to have done everything they can to distance themselves from that show many non-readers would associate with what the Batman Beyond logo entails. I’m not sure how well it does at the latter, but it pretty firmly fails in the former, and with it’s tertiary purpose of making you want to read the new series starting next month? it’s batting a pretty sore 1/3.

TL:DR: Ryan Sook is a great artist and turns in good work. Dan Jurgens is not a very good writer and turns in work you would expect. The former’s absence in future issues (at least on interiors) will almost certainly mean mine too from reading it.

The Long Version:

First a little perspective; I am one of the people that grew up with Batman Beyond, as I’m sure a few of you may be too.

Batman TAS was always on when i was young but it did absolutely nothing for me as a wean and it wasn’t until the cool, sleak, cyberpunk future and a relatable, young , quipy protagonist came along that really hooked me. I have a big place in my heart for that original TVseries, It’s often the unsung stepchild of the DCAU between Batman/Superman TAS and the Justice league series. When they decided to finally bring Terry and the Beyond timeline into proper DC comics around 2010 I was happy and very much enjoyed that first mini series.

Then the New52 happened and I, along with a number of others, Decided to stop reading DC comics entirely.

Long story short there is that they basically took everything i particularly loved in the DCU and threw most of it away and the rest in a meat grinder to remove most of
what i liked about it. Wally West was no longer The Flash, replaced by the most boring superhero newly re-alive in barry allen. Ted Kord was scrubbed from history along with my favourite Justice League incarnation. Fun and light were largely frowned upon, because why would you want to laugh reading a comic when you can see people be dicks to each-other and cut each-other’s arms off?backstory

I digress, but I’m hoping you at least get my point here and understand that even amongst everything else Beyond and it’s little pocket timeline were largely untouched. I wasn’t reading those books at the time, partially out of protest to everything else that DC were doing and partially as I just couldn’t afford that many books and those were easier to not buy because of the aforementioned protest. But i always kept an eye on Terry’s adventures with mind that i’ll pick up trades in a less recession-y economy. Then they did what DC do and borked it all up in a crossover (the blight of many a smaller, unique book, crushed beneath the boot of the editorial departments need for bigger sales).

Future’s End was the first DC book i had read since the New 52 happened and it immediately did almost everything in it’s power to affirm all my assumptions about DC books and why i wanted no part of them in my life (i mean come on, the FCBD issue has batman getting BOTH his arms cut off.) and with Future’s End came the end of whatever Batman Beyond was doing and now it was Tim Drake as batman and Dick Grayson as the voice in his ear. I did not read that book. Friends steered me away, reviews did nothing to lessen their points. I can’t speak to the actual quality of that book, merely 2nd hand opinions and general distaste for what was ultimately a triage of what remained of my DCU to better fit their DCU, it was the end of Batman Beyond as far as i was concerned, another casualty of the New 52.

Skip ahead 16 Issues, DC decide to try and start patching up the DCU for people like me and Here we are at Batman Beyond Rebirth. And as you may have gathered from the introduction, It isn’t exactly a thing to be celebrated…

As previously stated, I have not read a Batman Beyond issue in about 6 years. As such i have next to no idea what is going on in this book, the status quo is different from what i know. The characters are older, relationships totally different and everything about it feels like it expects you to know what’s happened before. there’s brief mention that apparently people thought Terry was Dead, but this is barely mentioned. Bruce wayne is nowhere to be seen and may be dead? it’s all pretty unclear on the hows and whys everything is the way it is. This is not normally a huge complaint for me, I’m usually fine getting stuck into something at a new #1 and just rolling with it but the entire book reads like a#2. Like there’s something missing, some story that happened before this which you should know and good luck if you don’t. All this could be mitigated by a recap page, but as a Rebirth #1 it lacks that.clowns

So given where i stand as a fan, a lapsed reader with fond memories of the material this is spawned of, you’d think i would be the prime person to pick up this Rebirth relaunch, only problem is I have next to no idea what’s going on. That wouldn’t nesiscarily be an issue If the issue itself had a strong enough story and hook to it that it becomes a glarring issue. The book seems to spend it’s time with one foot in the origins of the character and an over explanatory present, with seemingly no more than a toe touching the ambigious recent past. The script isn’t awful, but it’s hardly riveting, ladened with your typical unrealistic reassurances about people’s status quo and names, which ccould be forgiven to some degree if not for the amount of text it takes up. there’s so many text boxes of inner monologue and conversation in here that just are not needed or could be handled better through contextual clues or simple name boxes to explain who people are. It’s just a very sloppy and workman like approach, there’s no flair, no style and it all reads rather blandly as such. While the story of the issue itself is so boilerplate it’s easy and honestly sort of recomended that you can skip through most of it’s text just following the pretty pictures.

Which is where the Art comes in, and as stated above, is very nice. Ryan Sook is one of those lovely artists who cannot keep to a monthly schedule and usually ends up only on special occassion books (like this one) or covers (as he will be for the future issues in this series), the sci-fi skylines are nicely rendered, Batman’s costume looks slick and the work on the musculature gives a great depth on what is essentially a glossy black suit without overdoing it (as can be seen on the alternate cover) and facial expressions are top tier. There are some fantastic pages in this book compesitionally, with the history of terry and bruce’s first meeting being a real standout in terms of visual storytelling, if only the script would get out of the way and let the art tell us what it clearly already is.eww

And to be honest, that’s about all i can really say without getting into spoilers. the plot to the issue is about 30% origin retelling, 60% status quo telling with 10% of setup for future issues which. a setup that utterly fails to interest me. A lack of explanation as to what is going on fails to interest me in past mysteries, the end of issue hook fails to set up future mysteries and only mysteries i currently want solved are in the present in regards to what the hell is going on with Batman Beyond and why is it not like what i remember (or is even presented as the former status quo in this very book) or even a comparable quality?

I won’t be reading the future issues of this book, I may flick through them in the shop if the art is nice, but I have no interest in the story this is setting up or seemingly continuing. If you were already reading Batman Beyond i have no idea if this is as good, better or not, but you probably at least know what’s going on which probably makes the constant explanation even more irritating.

but hey, you may have loved it. I didn’t. And at the end of the day a review is just an opinion so don’t get too worked up if you don’t share my viewpoint.