Grim_Noir goes beyond the Batman Beyond Trade Paperbacks

Hush Beyond coverIndustrial Revolution cover

Titles: Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond and Batman Beyond: Industrial Revolution

Writer: Adam Beechen

Covers: Dustin Nguyen & Darwyn Cooke

Pencillers: Ryan Benjamin, Eduardo Pansica, Chris Batista

Inkers: John Stanisci, Eber Ferreira, Rich Perrotta

Colorist: David Baron

Letterer: Travis Lanham

Published by DC COMICS

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

…So, I’m in “the shop” squee-ing like a schoolgirl on Prom Night to our peerless Webitor-in-Chief, Johnny Destructo, about the Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond trade paperback collection and how much I’m looking forward to the Batman Beyond: Industrial Revolution collection from last year’s ongoing series…

J.D. points to the Industrial Revolution trade paperback on the “New Release” wall and simply says, “Then, why don’t you write about it?”

Why not, indeed…?

I assumed that any good Dini-Timm-verse fan would automatically hear the Batman Beyond theme in their heads and be hypnotically drawn to purchase (or at least check out) the miniseries and the series, or the two trades.

In thinking it over, I can understand how one would hesitate in today’s economy . Without someone writing reliable reviews of trade paperback collections, how can anyone separate the hep from the hype?

Allow me to help…

DC Comics Powers-That-Be entrusted former Cartoon Network scriptwriter Adam Beechen to usher The Dark Knight of the Future from the WB cartoon into the “official” DC Universe canon (sorta like the Mad Love one-shot did for Harley Quinn). The results are varied, depending on how much affection you hold for the old TV series.

And you will need to have familiarity with the millennial cartoon: Beechen expects readers to have done their homework. You are expected to have seen at least the Batman Beyond pilot episode “Rebirth” and the movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, plus have read the original Loeb & Lee Batman: Hush sequence. (Seeing the Justice League Unlimited episode “Epilogue” is also helpful, but not mandatory). There is no back-story given for anybody, so n00bs will be hanging in for dear life as these stories zip along.

Hush lives?

While this approach can be punishing on the neophyte, it is immensely rewarding for anyone steeped in the lore, especially in Hush Beyond (the better of the two collections): The bullet-ridden Nightwing suit in the Neo-Gotham Batcave is finally explained, as tensions between the new Batman (Terry McGinnis) and his “handler,” Bruce Wayne, echo the Wolfman/Perez era relationship problems between Bruce and Dick Grayson and reverberate toward the path leading Bruce to become the “troubled loner” of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. The Batman Incorporated organization and the Batpod from The Dark Knight even make cameo appearances in later stories. Beechen works these disparate elements together as expertly as a chef folding together a souffle.

In Hush Beyond, a serial killer is wiping out the original Batman’s Rogues Gallery, using other villains’ weapons to confuse things. A nurse, surviving an attack, hears the killer say only one thing, “Hush.” Meanwhile, Terry is dealing with a new Catwoman on the loose in Neo-Gotham. (Hint: She’s not related to Selina Kyle, but she is family to another Bats bad guy.) To top it off, Amanda Waller is in the middle of everything and knows wa-a-a-ay more than she’s letting on. Even with a dour Dick Grayson portrayal, I highly recommend this one.

Batman Beyond soars

Industrial Revolution is much more of a mixed bag: Beechen was only eight issues into world-building when Flashpoint burned that world to the ground. Max gets involved with the criminal hacker organization “Undercloud,” Dana’s brother gets out of prison, and a frenemy of Bruce’s causes trouble for Wayne-Powers. But Beechen really hits his stride with a story told from Inque’s POV. It feels very much in the legacy of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, AND makes me hopeful for the new Batman Beyond series coming to the DCnU. Even if you don’t pick-up the Industrial Revolution trade for budgetary reasons, AT LEAST pick-up the back issue of Batman Beyond #8 instead. It is well worth the three bucks.

The visual style of the Batman Beyond animated series was always distinctive and former Dark Horse Ghost artist Ryan Benjamin works hard to capture that Steranko-meets-Kirby-ish flair. While Benjamin nails the …er… industrial designs, he is still working on faces under this convention, particularly Bruce’s and Amanda Waller’s. By the same token, inker John Stanisci seems to be struggling to prevent neo-Batman from becoming a lanky ink smudge with pointy ears. There are artistic growing pains all around, but nothing deal-breaking.

At the end of the day, “The WB” is gone and there will never be another season of Batman Beyond the animated series. For those of us who enjoyed the series, this isn’t a bad substitute. Just understand going in that these tales are set in the more prickly and gritty world of the DC Comics universe.

grim_noir* GRIM_NOIR is: A) Mad, B) Bad, C) Dangerous to Know, D) Now with 50% More Follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter

 

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