So I’m going to be That Guy and cop to it right from the start: I never watched Batman Beyond.
Like any geek of a certain age, I was absolutely rabid for the immortal Batman: The Animated Series. For me, and for many of you, I’m sure, a lifelong love for the DC Universe started there, cross-legged in front of the television every weekday afternoon. It always felt so sophisticated, miles ahead of every other cartoon, with its achingly gorgeous art-deco Gotham and surprisingly dark, twisty plots. And hey, the fact that Batman was voiced by a guy with my last name didn’t hurt. (For the record, there’s no relation, but you can probably get me to trot out my Batman voice anyway. It is not very good.) We all get older, though, and the series’ sequel, Batman Beyond, started airing in 1999, when I was in the home stretch of high school and I considered myself a little too old and a little too cool for cartoons. There were many things I was wrong about in high school, of course, and being “too cool” for anything would definitely qualify. Nonetheless, I never gave the show a second glance until Dan came to me with the Batman Beyond assignment. When he did, I grabbed all three seasons on DVD and set aside a weekend to do my homework.
And now I know exactly why all of you have been begging for this book for so long.
There’s that amazing character design, maybe the single sharpest iteration of the Batsuit ever. There’s the remarkable opening title sequence, instantly recognizable now as the work of the phenomenal Darwyn Cooke – WB Animation really is a murderer’s row of talent, isn’t it? There are those rogues – Inque, Blight, Mad Stan, Shriek; each one a totally new, but totally classic, creation.
And there’s Terry McGinnis and Bruce Wayne, two fantastic characters that totally invert the old “Batman and his sidekick” formulation, creating a new and surprisingly emotional relationship from which decades of story could spring. And now, at last, their whole story will be told. It’s no secret that comics fans have always had a special love for the stories set in the future, the classic “What Ifs?” like Kingdom Come, where the whole universe is our playground and the stakes are through the roof, because anything could happen. With Batman Beyond, you get to enjoy that feeling every month.
Every single member of this creative team is hungry to knock your socks off; they’re the Beyond fans who’ve been wanting this book to happen just as badly as you have. You can feel that excitement in Ryan’s insane action sequences, where fists and figures fly in every direction, and in the palpable feeling of grit and glamour that John Stanisci and colorist David Baron give to Neo-Gotham. Dustin Nguyen gives us the covers that let you know before you turn a page that this is like no other book on the stands. And Adam Beechen is determined to keep the twists coming. He’ll be checking in here on The Source sometime soon to tease what’s in store himself, but I will say our first arc forces Terry to contend with the most personal threat he’s seen yet, and will lead to him standing his ground against no less an unstoppable force than the Justice League. And Adam’s pitched me on an idea for a certain undersea kingdom – and its monarch -- that I simply cannot wait to see brought to life.
So mea culpa, everyone; mea culpa. Maybe once, I thought I was too cool for Batman Beyond; but now every time a new script or page of art comes in, I wonder if Batman Beyond is too cool for me. That ten-year-old kid in front of the TV would lose his mind if he only knew the sort of comics he’d get to ride shotgun on one day – after all, we never can predict what our futures will hold…