In the future, Gotham’s protector has a new name … Terry McGinnis. After thugs from Metropolis start appearing on Gotham streets, Batman decides that maybe it’s time to pay a little visit to Superman’s city where an old foe is hatching a plan to eliminate the Man of Steel.
Previously in Superman/Batman Annual: In this fourth installment of the Superman/Batman Annual, we visit the world of the popular cartoon show Batman Beyond. If you’re a fan of the show then I’m sure you already know of its history. For those that aren’t … in the future Bruce Wayne finds that he’s getting too old to continue fighting crime after suffering a heart attack during a rescue mission. Bruce gave up on Batman until a local gang chased one Terry McGinnis to his front door step and the two of them fight the gang off. Exhausted from the battle, Terry helped Bruce to the house and accidentally stumbles across the Batcave. Terry is thrown out but later returns to Wayne for help after his father is murdered. After stealing the Batman suit and defeating the man responsible for his father’s murder, Bruce decides that Gotham still needs a protector and that Terry, under Bruce’s mentorship, should be the new Batman. This comic takes place after the events of Season 3 but before the events of Justice League Unlimited’s “Epilogue” story.
AND SO THE STORY GOES…
The story opens with Batman busting some thugs from Metropolis and questioning why they’re in Gotham. One of them says that there’s a ghost nabbing criminals off the streets and are never seen from again. Following a lead, Terry stakes out the city trying to find a drug dealer from Metropolis. Discovering that Metallo is behind the drug trafficking, Terry manages to drop him in a river while recovering a bag of his product to take back for testing. Upon inspection Terry and Bruce find that they all have a small degree of kryptonite in them. Time for Terry to pay a visit to Superman’s town. Terry hits the streets for clues and is unaware of people disappearing around him. Unsuccessful, Bruce tells Terry to check a private address for an old friend but instead finds the place unlived in and a list of automatic payments set up to keep people from snooping. One of these payments is for flowers to be delivered to the grave of Lois Lane once a week for the last ten years. Terry goes to the grave to investigate further and is completely unaware that Superman is watching him from above. Unable to walk among the public now that everyone has trace amounts of kryptonite in them, Superman’s inner monologue tells us that Lex Luthor is behind this.
Terry goes undercover as a gang member stealing drugs to trace them back to their boss. The robbery goes bad and the ghost takes everyone but Terry. Winning favor with the local boss, Terry is sent with a new gang to steal a Solar Power Concentrator from the Fortress of Solitude. All but Terry and one other are captured by the ghost as they claim their prize. Returning to the mastermind’s shielded lair, Terry finds Lex waiting and fully aware of Terry’s dual identity. Lex attacks Terry just as Superman appears to save the day. Lex powers up the Solar Concentrator making a battle suit manned by one of his men that’s just as strong as Superman. Weakened by the kryptonite in Luthor’s hover chair, Superman takes a beating as Terry finds a way to get rid of the chair. As Superman’s strength is restored, he beats the armored thug and Luthor states when he dies all of Metropolis is rigged to die with him. Superman takes a miniature Phantom Zone projector out of his pocket and imprisons Luthor for eternity, preventing the city from being destroyed. Terry determines that Superman is the ghost and has been trapping people in the Phantom Zone all this time. Superman announces that he’s leaving Earth to see the universe and hands the Phantom Zone Projector to Terry to be the new jailor. Superman flies off after giving Terry a watch and telling him to call if he ever needs help.
THANK YOU DC
Finally. That’s the only word I can say after listening to years of promises from Dan Didio about creating a Batman Beyond comic. They’ve teased him in Countdown to Final Crisis and Superman/Batman: Vengeance and would make toys of him like the KB Toys exclusive “Unmasked” Batman Beyond figure. (I bought 2.) Now they’re finally getting around to giving him a shot in the comics. Even though this is a one shot story, this isn’t the end of Terry’s comic book days. Later on this month, Batman Beyond #1 comes out with art by Dustin Nyugen. I’ve been hyped for this since the millisecond I heard it was happening.
WHAT ARE YOU BASING THIS ON?
I’m a die hard fan of Bruce Timm’s cartoons. That being said, I’ve notice a few things in this issue that make me think that it’s an amalgam of continuities. While Terry references saving Superman from Starro and Darkseid having a “Vanishing” effect instead of a “Killing” effect, they also show Metallo out and about. In Justice League Unlimited, Metallo was supposedly killed or at the least left brain dead after Gorilla Grodd hotwired his brain. Sure, it could have been possible that Martian Manhunter was able to piece his mind back together given time but the real nail in the coffin that says this is a mixed world is when Terry mentions not wanting to be “an exhibit in the Batcave display of dead Robins”. None of the Robins ever died in the cartoon show but we’ve had at least one die in the comics. (Does anyone else wish that Stephanie would have made two instead of pulling a switcheroo on us?) Don’t even get me started on having everyone with kryptonite in their blood and no cancerous effects. (What reality is that supposed to be from?) Speaking of “what reality is that”, I’m not sure where they’re drawing Zod, Non, Ursa, and Mon El’s appearance in the Phantom Zone as well as Superman’s Regeneration, Electric Blue, and Kingdom Come suits from. They were a nice touch but what are they using for source material for this comic? I hope they’re not already digging themselves into a hole they can’t climb out of.
VERY NOT SCHWAY
The comic makes me very nostalgic to watch the show all over again. The man that Terry saves from the muggers in the first two pages sports a similar look to the character Willy Watts in one of the panels. Seeing the display cases of old costumes in the cave brought out a geeky smirk on my face and Ace looks just as formidable here as he did on the show. Despite all of this, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of one of Batman Beyond’s defining characteristics. The language. There was no use of the words “dreg”, “schway”, or even “twip”. What gives Mr. Levitz? The evolution of the times has always been a central role in the Batman Beyond world as Terry attempts to relate to Bruce and language is one of the most identifiable ways. You do the book a disservice by not including it.
SETTING UP FOR THE MINI SERIES?
I think this book was designed to remove Superman as a cure-all for the Batman Beyond mini series later this month. I wonder why they would go through all the trouble of setting Terry up with the Phantom Zone Projector and removing one of the most powerful players in the game unless it’s going to mean something down the line. For a “final issue” of sorts for Superman, I think they covered their bases rather nicely. It was very reminiscent of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe to have Superman send flowers to Lois’ grave every week for the last ten years. And it was kind of like passing the torch when he gave Terry Jimmy’s old watch to get in touch with him if he ever needs him. It also serves as a nice loop hole to bring Superman back for whatever reason later on in the series if they need to.
THE FUTURE LOOKS GRIM
The art for this issue had a tendency to make everyone look kind of ugly. I don’t care at all for how they draw Batman. Joker was right when he said “the ears are too long and I miss the cape”. In some of the panels Batman’s ears appear to be almost the same size as his head and in other panels Batman’s body looks strange without a cape. Metallo, on the other hand, looked really friggin’ awesome in the few panels where we got close ups of him. Perhaps one of the reasons why so many of the pages have less attractive faces is due to the fact that Bruce, Superman, and Lex are all nearing their nineties at this point and take up a great many panels. All the extra lines they carry don’t help to paint a pretty picture. I will say that it is more than worth it to buy this issue just for the beautiful cover by Art Germ. I remember when I first saw this cover posted on his deviantart.com account. It was my wallpaper for about the next 2 months.
SCHWAY OR SCHWARBAGE?
Finally I have a Batman Beyond comic in my collection. That alone fills me with so much joy that I have to send a massive THANK YOU to DC. Art Germ’s cover is simply beautiful but there are still a few continuity questions that need cleaning up. The art wasn’t the best but it wasn’t so bad that it took away from the story telling. I give this issue three and a half stars out of five because while it may not be perfect, it’s so much better than what we had before. Very schway!