Interview on Beware the Batman Comic and DC Digital

Hank Kanalz (editor of Legends of the Dark Knight) gave a great interview to ComicBookResources. Part of the interview focused on what we can expect from Beware the Batman comic, but even more interesting was what he had to say about DC Digital.  

Regarding Beware the Batman, Kanalz only spoke briefly. He says we can expect the same sort of feel as the TV show with a focus on Batman villains that rarely see the light of day. He also said there would be the occasional spotlight on Katana and Alfred which, if it end up being true, would be a nice way to further their backgrounds.

The really cool stuff was about DC Digital as Kanalz and the interviewer explored options I had not even considered. Kanalz says that with the tie in propertied such as Injustice, Arrow and Beware the Batman, DC is playing with different launch windows to see what time frame works best to get new readers on board a comic. With Injustice, they wanted to give some background for the universe, so they started the comic first. With Arrow, they launched the comic simultaneously. With Beware the Batman, they wanted to see if giving the TV series time to collect a fanbase would boost sales.

The interviewer asked Kanalz if they had taken note of how long people looked at certain panels and adjusted their stories to work around that feedback. I had not previously considered the possibility that information might be logged on how long anybody stares at a particular panel, and as I recall, Kanalz kind of sidestepped the question without strictly confirming or denying the possibility, but he did say that they tracked people as they bounced from one series to another and had noticed a much greater trend of people trying out new series in the digital format. He concluded, reasonably, that people were a lot more likely to try out a comic to see if they liked it when it only cost a single dollar.

Then came the really huge revelation. The interviewer asked if digital sales every outpaced hard copy sales, and again, Kanalz sidestepped it saying it was not a fair comparison, but he did say that many of their digital comics finished in the top twenty in sales and Injustice was frequently #1! Wait, what? Are you telling me that Injustice regularly outsells Batman? That's astounding!  

I think the key here is that he says in "monthly sales." He must mean that one Batman comic comes out each month, and compared to the four Injustice comics people buy each month, Injustice sales more. Still, it's not uncommon for Batman to sell 150,000. Are we saying 35,000 are buying Injustice? That's still amazing and makes the digital first segment of DC Comics to be much more important to DC than I ever suspected.  

Finally, Kanalz implies that DC Digital properties might be coming to your TV, so perhaps he's thinking Roku, Hulu, or gaming consoles. He also says that TTG!'s comic will probably incorporate DC2 technology and include sound effects which were promised but not delivered in other DC2 properties.

Click any image for the full interview.  

BatWatch Review: Batman Beyond 2.0 #7

The thing that sucks about covering comic book news but missing the actual comics is that all the big reveals are...revealed before you have a chance to read them for yourself. As such, I already know the basic of what's happening in this scene, yet I don't have enough context to really add any intelligent commentary. All I can think are stupid statements like, "Well, that sucks," or, "I wonder what's going on with this character that I probably would know if I read the last issue."  

Anyway, this does still look pretty good despite my lack of knowledge. I will say as a slight criticism that the idea of teasing Terry as possibly dead is pretty much a waste since we know that's not going to happen.  

Click the image for the preview.  

BatWatch Review: Batman Beyond 2.0 - Nothing Lasts Forever

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Nothing Lasts Forever

I've heard this series was coming for so long that it's hard to believe it's finally here. I'm not sure how many months ago Higgins' (former writer of Gates of Gotham and current writer of Nightwing and Batman Beyond 2.0) run on Batman Beyond was announced, but it seems like ages since then as we've heard plot details dribble out little by little. This series will be a year in the future, Terry will not be dating Dana, there will be a new Batgirl in the mix, Terry will be in college, the mayor will be killed, and everything will have changed. It's a fairly big status change for a fairly major comic.

The new creative team consists of Kyle Higgins on writing, Thony Silas (former penciler of The Amazing Spider-Man and current artist for Batman Beyond 2.0) on art, and Andrew Elder (former colorist of Batman Beyond and Arkham Unhinged and current colorist of Batman Beyond 2.0 and Boom!'s Suicide Risk) on colors. Higgins is the only one whose work I really know, and I have to say I was not impressed by him for a long time. His work on Nightwing was pretty meh until Dick moved to Chicago. Since then, I've been quite thrilled with his writing. Now, it's a whole new character and a whole new project, and it's time to see if he can step up.  

Will Higgins manage to make Batman Beyond one of my favorite comic series or will he manage to take an already strong series and make it mediocre?  

In this issue, the mayor dies, Commissioner Gordon expects investigates foul play and Terry hits the books and the baddies.  

Never Go to Arkham! Ever!!!!

There is just no reason that anybody should ever go to Arkham. They should put the bodies in stasis tubes and blow the rooms if there are any problems. Just...no. No prisoner guards. No visitors. No psychiatric treatments. We just put you there and throw away the key forever because otherwise you just keep coming back.

With that rant out of the way, there is a lot of great stuff worth discussing in these issues though I'm not sure there is much I can say without spoilers. Still, I'll try to say a bit.  

The most important thing to note is that this is indeed a great story. It would have been easy for Higgins to scrap everything from the old series and go his own way, (how many times have we seen that after creative shifts?)  but Higgins seems determined to stay true to the series history. Most of the important characters of the series are still in play, and they are well represented. 

On that note, there is a real feeling of anxiety for the characters. Things have jumped ahead, and something bad has clearly happened, but the specifics remain a mystery. There is a very real possibility that someone could have died, so each character viewed earns a little mental sigh of relief as we move them to the "safe" category.

The art is also very nice. Batman Beyond has always had an odd look reminiscent of the cartoon, but it seems to be shifting to a more typical comic book look as it continues in comics. The cartoon roots of the series are still evident in the art, but it does feel as if the level of detail has been cranked up a notch or two.  

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The death of the mayor is also a pretty cool setup. The mayor is killed in the middle of the Arkham Institute (or Asylum as we past dwellers call it) with a couple dozen villains watching. None of them have made any apparent move to kill the mayor, but with people this powerful, it's difficult to know if that even means anything. It's like the classic locked room mystery scenario only the victim is locked in a room with a host of killers, and we have to pick the one culprit out of the mass on loonies.

I suppose if you could summarize the basic feel of this issue in one word, it would be the word mystery which is exactly the shawl Higgins wanted to drape over the shoulders of Batman Beyond in order to restore that feeling of the unknown the original series carried. Well done, Kyle.

The Spoilerific Spoilers

(Spoilers for Section. Duh!) 

When it was revealed that Dick Grayson was the one coordinating Terry's actions, I felt like a complete fool not because I didn't see it coming but because I did see it coming and then forgot about it. When I first read the preview for the first issue of the series, I noticed that Bruce was not shown when talking to Terry, and I thought, "That might not be Bruce Wayne on the other end," (My Comments on the Preview Here) but when I read the story, I got caught up in the flow of the tale and completely forgot to wear my cynical hat, so the revelation that Grayson is running tactical was still a surprise.

Apparently, there was some sort of falling out between Terry and Bruce. We do get bits and pieces of events. It seems Ghoul had some part in poisoning someone with Joker toxin. Terry implied that he had been infected, but one brush with death does not seem like enough to cause these major fissures between Terry and Bruce and Terry and Dana,  (assuming the two fractured relationships are even related) and I keep wondering if someone is dead. Terry's brother has not been shown nor has Tim Drake. These seem like the only two major characters left to have bit a bullet.

Conclusion 9/10

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It's not the best thing since sliced bread, but it is a darn good Batman Beyond comic. The plot has me intrigued both with the current conflict and the past mystery, the art looks solid and delivers nice action, and the dialogue is right on the nose. If you have any interest in this issue, I suggest picking it up.

Recent Reviews:

Batman Beyond 2.0 - Nothing Lasts Forever 

Li'l Gotham #16 - Tropical Getaway!

Batman #23 - Secret City

Nightwing #23 - World Turned Upside Down

Batgirl #23 - Manhunt

Worlds' Finest #15 - Down the Rabbit Hole

BatWatch Review: Batman Beyond #27 - #29 - Batgirl Beyond

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Batgirl Beyond

I'm a little confused on this one. I've had the impression that Batgirl Beyond is going to be its own series, yet here it is under the Batman Beyond banner. Will it split out after Batman Beyond 2.0 or will it remain under the Batman Beyond label?  Either way, Batgirl Beyond is being treated as if she is a new regular member of the Batman Beyond Universe lineup right beside Superman Beyond and Justice League Beyond. I've heard she is supposed to be a woman of color, (Max, is that you?) and I've heard that her identity is not actually revealed in this arc. I've also heard that she embraces the class warfare attitude spouted by so many useful idiots these days. I'm hoping I've heard wrong on that front. Writer Scott Peterson  (former editor of Detective Comics, Batman and Nightwing and writer for Gotham Adventures and current writer for Batman Beyond) and artist Danni Wu  (current artist of Batman Beyond) are bringing us this tale, and I've heard that both are pretty good. However, the time for hearing is over. It's time for seeing with one's own eyes.

Does Batgirl Beyond add a new, compelling character to the Beyond Universe or is this character just another unnecessary bump in the Beyond Universe's already unsteady release schedule? 

Where To Begin?

There is a lot to analyze here, so let's get started.  

First up, Danni Wu's art is excellent. She's a newbie artist at least in the comic field, but she has some insanely good skills in comparison to all the other Beyond titles, and I'm not downing the art in the other Beyond titles by any means, but Wu's art looks a lot like the art we see in Batman Beyond only with all the details cranked up a notch or two. Wu has an especial talent for facial expressions, and she does a whole lot to sell Batgirl's personality very quickly just with her angsty and dismissive expressions. Long story short, I'm hoping to see a lot more of Wu's work.

As for the story itself, it's...well, it's...interesting.  

The story is really not going to win any prizes in terms of plot, but I'll get to that later. It did do a great job of introducing a new character, Batgirl, and it also did a good job of presenting the elder Barbara Gordon. Barbara had good characterization by herself, and when put up with Batgirl, the chemistry between the two was really exciting as Babs saw a younger yet altered version of herself in action. It's good that they have this chemistry because it appears Babs will be a recurring character in Batgirl Beyond.

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My problem with the story is largely political, but even ignoring the political angel, it was still a little rough around the edges. Barbara, a woman I'm guessing is in her mid to late fifties, is beating up thugs and falling from ridiculous heights like she is not that far removed from her prime. Bruce Wayne, who I am guessing is only about ten to fifteen years older than Babs, could barely hold his own against a light weight like Joker King when JK was unarmed, yet Babs can still take blows across the face like it was nothing? Ever hear of osteoporosis? Those bones would be popping like the thugs were hitting drywall! At another point, a bunch of corporate thugs attack Babs, and for some inexplicable reason, they are all have nearly the exact same build and clothing right down to their shaved heads. It's all a bit odd.

The politics also bug me. Bear with me because I'm going to try to put this into perspective for those of you with more "progressive" sensibilities than me.  

I don't think Batgirl is really embroiled in the class warfare mindset which I despise. Sure, she says the cops don't care about little people like her, but for the most part, she does not seem so concerned about taking down those in power as much as she is concerned about keeping her neighborhood safe. She has no political ideals, it appears; she just wants her neighborhood to have some peace.  

The writer, however, clearly does have some political messaging. (Spoilers until Conclusion) Basically, the bad guy ends up being some big business, fast food tycoon who is intentionally poisoning the poor neighborhoods because they are poor and he despises them. Big rich people wanting to wipe out and/or exploit the little guy is classic class warfare mentality, and this basic mindset is what leads people to embrace the nightmare of Marxism in any one of its dozens of forms.  

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I know if you have any sort of sympathy for left wing politics, you are probably thinking, what's the big deal? Well for one thing, it is teaching the ignorant that this is actually an enlarged form of reality and that businessmen want to stomp on the little guy, but I understand you might agree with that perspective, so let me give you an example from the opposite point of view. A lot of conservative people believe that the liberals in the U.S. government have purposely passed Health Care Reform just to collapse the private healthcare industry and open the door for universal government controlled healthcare. Now let's say some conservative wroth this and  that the villain of a Batgirl Beyond story was a liberal activist who donated a bunch of free medical supplies to private hospitals, but when the hospitals used them, the supplies ended up killing people. Batgirl discovers it was all a liberal extremist plot to collapse the private health care industry. Would that bug you? I'm guessing that overt conservative messaging like that probably would.

Now, I understand that comic villains are almost always exaggerated versions of real life problems and threats, and I wouldn't have a problem with the big business going evil scenario if it were ever balanced with the same time of villainy from the left, but we constantly see the evil coming from the right (I know big business is not necessarily conservative, but that is the stereotype) and almost never see the evil coming from the left. On the rare occasion that leftist are presented as bad guys, then it is people like the socialist Anarky or the environmentalist wacko Poison Ivy, and frequently, we hear things about how, "Their goals are good but there methods are bad." Yeah, their methods are killing people! Would anybody say of the villain of this story, "Sure, he's bad because he kills people, but he's just trying to wipe out poverty." No, nobody would say that because it's inane.

Look, there's plenty to hate politically from both conservatives and liberals, but it really bugs me when a hammer is only ever taken to one side of the aisle. All I'm saying is be fair or admit you are promoting an agenda.

Conclusion 8/10

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I really like this new Batgirl. She seems like she has an attitude that will set her apart in this particular Bat Family. However even though character interactions are good, the main plot structure is a bit strained and full of pretty transparent and extreme political messaging. It's an arc that people interested in this new Batgirl will want to pick up, but enjoy the ride for the dialogue and not for the story.

Recent Reviews: 

Batman '66 #1 - #3 - The Riddler's Ruse

 Batman Beyond #27 - #29 - Batgirl Beyond

Batman  '66 #4 - #5 - Emperor Penguin

Batman '66 #6 - Chandell's Chanteuse

Batman Beyond #24 - #26 - Undercloud

Legends of the Dark Knight #56 - #58 - The Beautiful Ugly

Legends of the Dark Knight  #59 - Arm Candy

Legends of the Dark Knight #60 - Reporter's Notebook

Legends of the Dark Knight #61 - #62 - Break the Mold

Li'l Gotham #14 - Independence Day

Li'l Gotahm #15 - Gotham Comiccon!

Detective Comics #23 - Bat and Mouse

Batwing #23 - Smash

BatWatch Review: Batman Beyond #24-26

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Undercloud

It's time once more for Batman Beyond. When last we saw our hero Terry McGinnis, he had come face to face with a giant metal monstrosity that was released by the leftist terrorist group Undercloud. It was shaping up to be an underwhelming conclusion to a story that had been hyped up for a long time; giant metal behemoths rarely convey much excitement to me. However, hope lingers as it looked like the story was shifting towards the end of the last chapter. Could it be that this giant metal monstrosity is composed of the old heroes the Metal Men?

The answer is yes because even though I only speculated about it in my previous review, I've seen others talk about it since, so yeah, we have the Metal Men returning.  

Does this quasi reunion of Batman and the Metal Men lead to a great conclusion to Batman Beyond or is this story about as dense as Lead?

In this issue, Batman teams up with the Metal Men to save Gotham.

Greatly  Improved

I did not expect much from this based on the last few issues of Godzilla-Bot smashing Gotham, but it really picked up and made for a surprisingly satisfying conclusion to Batman Beyond. The series is not exactly ending, of course, but this issue is the last Batman Beyond until the relaunch as Batman Beyond 2.0, so in some ways, this arc has a lot of weight resting on it.  

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The key improvement is in the fleshing out the robots and ditching of the giant monster scenario. Before too long, Batman and Maxine figure out how to return the Metal Men to their original forms and personalities. I've never been a big Metal Men fan, but I'll admit that their quirky style was enjoyable at least for these brief few issues. I also found myself greatly wondering about the extent of their abilities because they seem to be able to stretch themselves and maintain suitable density to ridiculously long extents. That aside, it was fun to see them in action, and by the end of the story, you even have a bit of a feel going for this poor team who has lost so much of what they loved by being in hibernation for several decades.  

Max also has a good subplot where she confronts Rebel One. Rebel One started spouting her leftist garbage again about class warfare and how she had to kill a bunch of people to save the collective, but Max appropriately put her in her place. I was delighted to see that Max didn't do the typical, "Your goals are right but your methods are wrong." No, it was more like, "Just shut up you crazy hoe."

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Finally, Terry proves himself to be coming along as Batman handling the crisis without Bruce's guidance, and the end of the arc serves as a great reflection point for Beechen's Batman Beyond run while doubling as a springboard for whatever Higgins dreams up for the next arc in Batman 2.0. There is really not much to dislike about the issue other than a few panels from the artist that looked a bit off.  

Conclusion 9/10

I was ready to give this a bad score, but I was delighted to see there was no need. Batman Beyond, under the writing of Adam Beechen, finishes strong, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next for Terry.  

Recent Reviews: 

Batman '66 #1 - #3 - The Riddler's Ruse

 Batman Beyond #27 - #29 - Batgirl Beyond

Batman  '66 #4 - #5 - Emperor Penguin

Batman '66 #6 - Chandell's Chanteuse

Batman Beyond #24 - #26 - Undercloud

Legends of the Dark Knight #56 - #58 - The Beautiful Ugly

Legends of the Dark Knight  #59 - Arm Candy

Legends of the Dark Knight #60 - Reporter's Notebook

Legends of the Dark Knight #61 - #62 - Break the Mold

Li'l Gotham #14 - Independence Day

Li'l Gotahm #15 - Gotham Comiccon!

Detective Comics #23 - Bat and Mouse

Batwing #23 - Smash

BatWatch Review: Batman Beyond #22 - #23

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Batman Beyond

I've been greatly enjoying Batman Beyond and now I'm greatly behind on Batman Beyond, so I'm not looking for a long intro. Long story short, Max is being forced to help a villain named Rebel One arm a giant metallic killing machine called Alloy. That's about it.

Does this story bond together and deliver great things or does this whole thing need to be melted down?

In these issues, Max gets a signal to Batman but not before Alloy is activated.

Hulk Smash!

I've never been a fan of the big monsters smashing through a city story line. Granted, there are a few exceptions, but for the most part, they just seem rather tiring to me. The threat is so big that it either turns into a slug fest on such an epic scale that it loses all believability for me, or you have to take the monster out from some indirect means removing a power source or returning and amulet or causing come sort of cellular deterioration. It just rarely works.

Sadly, this story is not an exception to the rule at least as far as I am concerned. Max activated the robot, and now the robot will smash until either ridiculous level force intervenes or the thing gets taken out indirectly probably by Max doing something quasi-scientific. Yawn.

Nothing else in this issue really surprised me either until the very last few pages, and even then, it's not a big, redeeming surprise just a, “Oh, that's happening” surprise. This seems about as predictable as you can get. Oh, there is also a somewhat interesting development with Grayson too, but still, it's nothing too big and exciting.

The Useful Rebel

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Rebel One is very reminiscent of Anarky in that she is basically a Marxist pawn. I do hope whoever is writing this is not sympathetic to her views because her views are stupid. She talks about how the welfare programs are so hard to use. They are a maze. Yeah right. There are people whose whole job is to go door to door and sign people up for food stamps.

I realize its an alternate universe and Rebel One isn't even being portrayed as a sympathetic character in my view, but still, it bugs me. Fun fact, if you dissolved all the federal welfare programs, you would have enough money to give each person in the U.S. over $20,000 a year.

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Bat Droppings

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

1. One of the few things I found interesting in this issue was Grayson sleeping with Catwoman. I didn't see that coming though I should have. With Dick getting so much face time, I can't help but wonder if he will be taking his final bow soon. It feels like they are setting up for a dramatic death, but maybe I'm being pessimistic.

2. After looking at the final panel a few times, I started to notice that some of the garbled faces of alloy look a little like the Metal Men of the corresponding colors. Clearly, Alloy's technological backbone comes from Metal Men tech. Could the devices have passed the Metal Men's souls into Alloy?

Conclusion 6/10

If this turns out to be the revival of the Metal Men, then I might be a bit more interested, but at the moment, I found this to be rather boring.

More Recent Reviews:

The Dark Knight Annual #1

Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1

Catwoman Annual #1

Legends of the Dark Knight #49 - #50

Batman Beyond #22 - #23

Li'l Gotham #11

Legends of the Dark Knight #51

BatWatch Review: Batman Beyond #21

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The Sound and the Fury

Things are really shaking up in the Batman Beyond universe. Dana just discovered that Terry is Batman, Max is caught up in a mega conspiracy, and even bigger changes are scheduled for the future. A few weeks ago, a quartet of major announcements came out which will have huge effects on the life of Terry McGinnis. First, something will soon fracture the relationship between Terry and Dana. Second, Joker is set to return which might mean disaster for Tim Drake as well was Batman. Third, the series will leap forward in time to when Terry is in college which will make a sizable gap in continuity. Fourth, Batgirl Beyond will be joining the series. Many of these in universe changes will be affected by the real universe change of Kyle Higgins taking over the writing duty of Batman Beyond, but I, for one, am in the dark about exactly when he will be taking the writing duties.

Right now, good old Adam Beechen is still at the reigns. I've read a lot of Beechen's work, and in my book, he delivers consistently good stories. Sure, some are better than others, but they are always entertaining. As he nears the end of his time with Batman Beyond, does he compose a masterpiece of fine art or does he wreck the heroic ballad of Terry McGinnis?

In this issue, Max sees the threat that will destroy Gotham and is informed that she will give it life while Terry responds to a call from Commissioner Gordon.

Have I Mentioned Recently...

Have I mentioned recently how much I wish Batman Beyond was a regular ongoing comic? No? Well, I really wish it was a monthly ongoing comic because it is really good, and I get extremely frustrated when I only get an average of thirteen pages or so a month. This sucks!

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We finally get a better view of the conspiracy which has seized control of Max, and I have to say that the villain, Rebel One, reminds me an awful lot of Anarky. For those of you who might have missed this fairly minor character, he was primarily a Tim Drake villain, and he claimed to be an anarchist, but his philosophy was actually much more Marxist with some liberal ideology thrown in on the side. Anarky did have the, “Burn the mother down” gist of the philosophy, but true anarchy would not desire any laws whereas Anarky wanted a very strict set of laws and government control which would force citizens to do what he believed was best. Similarly, Rebel One seems to want to burn society down to take the power away from the rich, but he talks about the need to rebuild, and I have the sneaking suspicion that he wants to be the one in charge of the rebuilding process. This is indeed the thought process of some leftist “anarchist” type terrorists, and it is interesting to see it presented in a comic. Oh, and for clarity's sake, I'm not saying terrorism is a leftist act, I'm saying that this is a good representation of a particular brand of terrorism which is leftist.

Bat Droppings

There is actually much more worth noting, but for sake of time, I'll finish up quickly.

1. Rebel One's costume looks kind of lame, but it does do a good job of hiding his identity.

2. The metal is interesting. This machine might look crazy awesome when it is done.

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3. Seeing the damage left in the wake of the Joker suicide bombs of the last arc bothered me a bit more in the wake of the Boston bombing. This is in no way a complaint that DC wrote this story; I actually think it's pretty lame when entertainment media pulls programming when something like this happens. (though I do realize this issue was released before the bombings) Horrible things exist in the world, and I don't like it when people hide from it. I'm just saying, it rubs you differently after an event like Boston. Sadly, I think we will be seeing more attacks like this one in the future, but to explain why has nothing to do with comics, so I guess I'll store it until I have an appropriate opening for the conversation. Hopefully, I am wrong.

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(Spoilers until Conclusion)

4. The “I'm going to kill those you love unless you do this horrible thing,” idea has been done too much. I'm on the verge of tiring of it completely. I understand it would be affective, but personally, I've decided I'm not going to help someone do something wrong even if they threaten and kill my family. It's sad that most characters will immediately agree to killing others to spare their own families' lives.

5. The emotion emitters the band used is a cool idea. People would flock to those concerts.

6. It's nice to see one of Batman's classic rogue's though I don't really see Shriek as being a credible threat to Batman at this point in his career.

Conclusion 9/10

Great as always. I just wish there were more.

More Recent Reviews:

Nightwing #19

Red Hood and the Outlaws #19

Catwoman #19

Batwoman #19

Birds of Prey #19

Batwing #19

Batman Beyond #19-20

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Dana

The clowns have exploded, Joker King is subdued, and Bruce Wayne is on the verge of death. That's a full docket for any comic book to cover. Does Batman Beyond deliver a fitting epilogue to this massive tale or does the creative team make a mess trying to clean up after their own story?

In this issue, Dana deals with the death of her brother and has a serious conversation with Terry and Bruce.

Welcome to Womanhood

It feels like Dana grew up a lot in these two issues. I know from interviews with writer Adam Beechen (former writer of Robin and current writer of Batman Beyond) that this was exactly the point (or at least, one of the points) of this arc. It was well past time for Dana to become more than a love interest/victim/hostage, and if that was their goal, mission accomplished. I was really disappointed when the conclusion of issue 18 featured Dana being taken as a hostage once more and acting rather passive as her brother was knocked unconscious and, as we now know, died. However, she more than makes up for it in this issue. I cannot seem to stop thinking of the intro of Batman Beyond which features Dana and many others dancing in a club. Dancing is one of the many things that Dana discusses in her inner monologue, and by getting into her head, we see that Dana is not really a simple character but rather a quiet character who keeps her thoughts to herself. At the same time, we see Dana is strong for her family in their moment of crisis, and that is admirable. Again, it really feels as if, all of a sudden, we are looking at an adult Dana.

Bat Droppings

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1. I hate the cover done by Ryan Benjamin. (former penciler for Batman Beyond and artist for Dark Horse's Ghost and current cover artist for Batman Beyond) The graveyard looks okay, but both Batman and Dana look stretched and unnatural.

2. Maybe it's just me, but I find the origin of the Joker King to be rather terrifying. Clearly, these parents are not completely incompetent since Dana turned out pretty well, so what went wrong with Joker King? Nothing. He just chose to be bad.

3. The Tam's reaction to their son's death is heartbreaking.

4. Excellent tease at the end of issue 19.

Spoilers until Conclusion

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5. I called the whole Doug Tan's liver saves Bruce's life in the last issue, but since I was too lazy to write a review last week, I cannot prove that. Drat!

6. Terry's “You're in love with him,” and Dana's response was great. Parody of Clark and Lois? There are definitely some similarities.

7. It's nice when a girl is not portrayed as a complete ditz in comics. Go Dana!

8. The image of Terry and Dana kissing on the second to last panel is awkward. They are not really meeting lip to lip.

Conclusion 9/10

I am always surprised how much I enjoy this series. As usual, I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

Review: Batman Beyond #18

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The slow pace of Batman Beyond is beginning to really tick me off. The whole series is geared to be released alongside Superman Beyond and Justice League Beyond. If you are following all three series, then you get a new chapter each week, but if you are only following one, then you go nearly a month between each issue. Given the series short chapters, this makes unraveling the story painfully slow. However, the conclusion is finally upon us. Does Bruce Wayne finally meet his maker? Does Joker King meet a grisly end? What about the other half a dozen story lines now up in the air? Does Batman Beyond #18 deliver a satisfying conclusion to this long story, or is it a disappointment?

In this issue, Batman and Grayson take on Joker King while Maxine discovers a different threat to Gotham City.

Not the Conclusion

The cover is a lie. This is not the conclusion to the story. However, the main conflict does appear to wrap up, so perhaps the next chapter will be the last in this arc, and since they usually provide one cover per every two chapters, I guess the mislabeling is forgivable.

As far as the substance of the story itself, it was pretty much all typical action. If anything, it was a bit on the bad side for Joker King went toe to toe with Terry in this issue in hand to hand combat. My understanding is that the Bat Suit is supposed to offer great enhancement to physical abilities, so Terry should be able to deal with Joker King easily, yet he struggles. Similarly, Grayson gets kicked in the stomach and appears to be disabled by this simple blow. I guess he could have had the wind knocked out of him, and he is kind of elderly now, but still, it struck me as odd. Making it even more confusing, Grayson then suddenly summons the ability to throw batarangs even though he cannot get off the floor, so...again, I'm confused.

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Dana also shows up in a typical, “Use me as a hostage” type scenario, and at first that annoyed me, but I suppose it makes sense that Dana, being compassionate, would still want to save her brother, and it does give Dana the chance to stand up to the Joker King.

Much more interesting than all of this is the new plot line coming down the pike featuring Maxine. The stage appears to be primed for a class warfare based terrorist attack which could be entertaining, but I do hope that the author takes time to develop the political structure and ideology that leads to such an attack because the story will otherwise be trite.

Conclusion 8/10

The fight scene had some issues, and there was nothing particularly impressive about this leg of the story. Then again, this is just one small piece in a much larger structure, so I am being generous in the grading because the surrounding story has been such high quality. Hopefully, the next issue will end on a high note.




Review: Batman Beyond #17

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No Future

Batman Beyond has been an unexpected rush bringing great quality stories to readers on an unpredictable schedule. When last we saw Terry McGinnis, he had taken a shot to the head and was badly phased. Does he manage to recover and clean the Joker King's clock, or are two Batmen visiting death's door?

In this issue, Terry escapes Joker King's clutches, and Joker King tangles with Hush.

Calm (Sorta) before the Storm

This plotline is most definitely getting ready to conclude, but in the midst of all the excitement, the creative team takes a slight break from the action to make sure all the pieces are in place.

The vast majority of this issue revolves around Terry being confronted with imminent death and his own lack of power. In a way somewhat reminiscent of Peter Parker, Terry reflects on his own motivations about being a superhero and all that he has and will lose because of it. You could certainly make the case that having such thoughts while on the verge of death is a bit unrealistic, but I can buy into the idea assuming that the well composed thoughts of Terry's monologue are more cohesive versions of what he was feeling rather than actual words running through his head.

Hush and a few other supporting characters get some screen time in this issue as well, but I fear that Dick Grayson might be getting ready for his final bow. I am certainly a long way from sure, but Grayson is in a dangerous position, and Batman Beyond has proven itself to be willing to sacrifice the sacred.

Conclusion 9/10

It's another great issue of Batman Beyond. Pick it up and enjoy.


Review: Batman Beyond #15-#16

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Dark City

I’m a little embarrassed because for the first time since opening BatWatch, I’ve managed to get way behind schedule. My computer freezing up several times a day and moving at the speed of an elderly wino doesn’t exactly help, and Christmas parties and shopping have also taken a bite out of my time, but my original fault was that I simply forgot to download and review Batman Beyond two Saturdays ago, and I have not had a chance to get caught up until now.

This week, I’ll be doing a two for one since another Batman Beyond issue came out yesterday. The last issue I read before this seems ages ago, but I still remember that Terry was dealing with a seemingly endless hoard of suicidal Jokerz armed with explosive vests, and Bruce Wayne, feeble and dying, was the only thing that might stop Joker King from taking his final revenge on his own family. Do Batman and Bruce Wayne summon their last ounces of strength to save the day, or is this a tale of defeat and woe for our flagging heroes?

In this issue, Bruce summons Batman for help, Batman coordinates the heroes then speeds towards the hospital, Grayson and Catwoman take down the Dee Dee Twins, and Joker King explains his origins before ending his family’s life.

The Delicate Balance

As soon as I started to read this issue, I realized that it had actually set itself up for a pretty difficult scenario from a narrative standpoint. Bruce Wayne was left standing against Joker King, but he is extremely feeble and near death. Obviously, we do not want to see Bruce die a gruesome death, but neither do we want to see the mastermind of this long arch be laid low by a supporting character on his death bed. From one perspective, it would be neat for Bruce to show he still has the chops even while dying, but another perspective, it would strain incredulity and make Joker King appear as a villain who just got lucky rather than a true heir to the title of Joker.

To get the emotional feeling of triumph from the story, we really need our hero, Batman, to save the day, yet this presents its own set of difficulties. Joker King is but a man, and Batman’s battle armor makes him ridiculously overpowered for this confrontation. It should not take more than a few seconds for Terry to wipe the floor with this maggot.

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I’m glad to say that that Doug Tan showed himself to be a worthy heir to the name of Joker by giving Bruce and Batman an excellent battle while remaining believable as a human. There is a little question as to the nature of the gun Joker King uses, but I am going to assume it is just extremely powerful, and with that assumption in mind, the entire battle is perfectly satisfying with Joker King remaining a strong threat without either Bruce or Terry taking unnecessary pratfalls so that Doug can remain in the game.

The Gang’s All Here. Let’s Ignore Them.

I loved seeing the ragtag group of Gotham “heroes” assemble in the previous issues, but though everybody is present, Grayson and Catwoman didn’t really have much of a role in these two issues. There were hints of a possible romance between the two, but other than that, they were not really utilized. To be fair, there was not much room for the characters to have a big role in these issues, but I hope Beechen has a plan that keeps them relevant in the issues to come.

Dana’s Sacrifice

This is a minor point and not necessarily even a criticism, but I have to mention it. At the end of issue 15, Dana places herself in front of Joker King’s gun and tells Doug that he has to kill her first before she will let him kill their father. I suppose that is noble, and if she believed there was some hope for  her brother, then it sort of makes sense, but the character is clearly beyond redemption. He just killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of people; you really think he will hesitate to blow your brains out, Dana? You should have tried to hit him, girl.

Conclusion 9/10

Another great issue, but I have got to say that the delivery of this series is frustrating me. The wait between issues is much too long. Batman Beyond deserves its own monthly series. 

Review: Batman Beyond #14

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Lights of Gotham

The current volume of Batman Beyond has been a wonderful treat every week. I expected little from this series when I first started reading it, but boy have I ever been surprised! Adam Beechen took what was already a solid story from the television series and previous comics and cranked it up to eleven with this tale of 10,000 Clowns which seems to just get bigger and better with each new issue. In the last issue, Terry brought Tim Drake back on board to help with the crisis only to be surprised when Dick Grayson also made an appearance to lend a hand. As Jokerz continue to explode across the city, will the old school and new school be able to pull together to save the day, or is this a team up destined to fail?

In this issue, Joker King cuts his last ties, Tim Drake confronts his past, and Bruce Wayne proves that he still has what it takes to be a hero.

An Ensemble Performance

Perhaps one of the things that works best in this story is the ensemble approach that Beechen has used. In this brief issue alone, Beechen presents six main characters, four heroes, one villain, and a civilian, all playing important roles in the overall scheme of the story. Every voice is crafted perfectly, and they blend together to form a beautiful melody.

I was a little disappointed that Joker King killed off his underling. That is such a cliché that I would not mind if I never saw it again, but it did not seem out of character for the Nihilist Ne’er Do Well, so I cannot fault Beeched too much for that move.

Several pages were given to Tim Drake’s entrance into the Bat Cave, and though these panels took up valuable real estate, I’m glad Beechen included this scene. Breyfogle and Elder do a wonderful job conveying the weight of Tim’s emotional burden through the art.

The issue ends on a big cliffhanger which will no doubt get your heart pumping.

Conclusion 9/10

This is another great issue. Check it out.

Review: Batman Beyond #13

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All Hands

Batman Beyond has been on hiatus, strangely, for over two weeks. I’ve tried to find a reason for this, but none has been forthcoming. Presumably, part of it is due to Batman Beyond’s relocation to a Saturday release schedule. Regardless, I had nearly forgotten about this story it had been so much longer than expected since an update. When last we say Terry, Gotham City was blowing up amongst a host of Jokerz. Has the long wait given the creative team time to create a perfect chapter, or have they been twiddling their thumbs on their extended break?

In this issue, Batman teams up with Catwoman to take down the Jokerz, but even her help is not enough to win the day. With Max missing, Terry turns to the only person he can think of to help, Tim Drake.

Nerdgasm

At the end of this issue, I tried very hard not to have a full fledged nerdgasm, and I failed miserably. Though this issue was just as action packed as the last one, it was also balanced with enough surprises to make me very happy. The introduction of Tim Drake and some other supporting cast members was genius, and it might prove for some interesting drama down the line when the extended Bat Family learns that Bruce is dying.

The updated Catwoman bugged me at first, but I soon grew used to her. Her powers are odd, but her personality actually seems somewhat similar to Selina, so I can buy her as the inheritor of the legacy.

The last page of the issue made me very happy.

Conclusion 9/10

If you like Batman Beyond, you should definitely pick up this issue.

Review: Batman Beyond #12

Levels of Panic

I’ve never followed Batman Beyond before last month, but these last few issues have impressed me so much that I have started watching the old cartoons, and I am greatly enjoying the series in all mediums now. I do feel the more mature nature of the comics improves the Batman Beyond unvierse, but there is a lot of value in the old cartoon as well.

In this issue, Batman teams up with Vigilante to try to stop Jokerz from blowing themselves up all over Gotham City. They soon find out that stopping a suicide bomber is a tall order, and after getting knocked around a little, Terry calls Maxine for backup.

Jokerz Gone Mad!

Once again, this series continues to impress me. This issue is decidedly focused on action which is a little disappointing because I am so invested in Bruce’s liver failure and the Joker King’s philosophical ramblings. Nonetheless, the action delivers and you sympathize with Terry’s helplessness at being faced with such an insurmountable problem.

The parallels between the Jokerz’ strategy in this issue and the operations of Islamic extremists is pretty striking, and Terry is faced with the same very real problem many nations face today, how do you stop people who are willing to kill themselves just to see their enemies suffer?

Beyond that, there is really not much else to say. Maxine’s subplot continues to advance, and Vigilante makes a good showing for himself though I am interested in seeing Terry discover that he is fighting crime alongside his father’s killer.

Conclusion 8/10

Batman Beyond continues to be a very good comic though I did not find this one quite as engaging as the last couple issues simply because this one was all action, and I prefer a story with a little more meat on its bones.

Review: Batman Beyond #11

Boomtown

I’ve never been a fan of Batman Beyond. I don’t dislike it, but I’ve never had much experience with it. Despite that, I found the last issue of Batman Beyond to be extremely engaging. The last issue left us on a cliffhanger revealing the Bruce is suffering from liver failure, and I was very interested to see how this story progresses.

In this issue, Terry reacts to the news that Bruce is, in all likelihood, dying. Before he can even begin to come to terms with this news, Terry hears of an explosion which has killed about a dozen and injured many more.

Excellence

I’m delighted to say that I have loved these last two issues. Again, I don’t have a lot of experience with this character, so my expectations were that I would find only a moderately good story, but these stories have been extremely good. Terry and Bruce’s interactions are great as always. It is intriguing to see how the Bat God faces the frailty of old age since we never get this from regular Bat titles. This issue holds the introduction of a new character which wears a costume design that older comic fans will immediately recognize, and these sort of reimagined characters are always fun. The art does an excellent job of remaining true to the visuals of the cartoon yet providing a more detailed and adult feel. In short, the writing and the art team are doing a great job.

Conclusion    9/10

This story only makes me hungry for more Batman Beyond. The only reason I did give this the highest rating is that the weekly issues are too short for me to really get a good grasp of the story arc as a whole. Theoretically, the next issue could be awful and make this one much less meaningful by virtue of association, and with issues this short, it is really not fair to separate them. However, this series will soon earn my five star rating if it continuities to display this level of integrity.


Batman Beyond #10

Crooked Parallel Lines

I’ve never been a follower of Batman Beyond. I have nothing against it, but though I enjoyed the episodes of the series I had the opportunity to see, I was not memorized by it, and I’ve never really pursued my passing interest. Wanting to give Batman Beyond a fair shake, I made sure to read up on all the characters' histories before I read this issue. Does the new Batman Beyond series deserve the full attention of comic readers, or does is earn nothing more than to be passed over for more mainstream titles?

In this issue, we get insight into the activities of the Jokerz gangs as a new player takes the stage, and we also find out what is happening with our heroes.

The Good

I found this issue to be quite well written. I love that the Joker King discussed the philosophy of the Joker as if the Clown Prince of Crime was a recently deceased prophet or philosophical theorist. It makes sense that someone would be able to unite the disparate Jokerz groups into one at least semi-cohesive gang, and as history has born witness, stupid young people can make for quite the zealous army, so I expect this arc to go good places. I also found the subplots revolving around Bruce’s failing health and Maxine’s involvement with a mysterious organization to be interesting. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

The Art

I think perhaps one of the things that has steered me away from Batman Beyond thus far is the aesthetic. The style of the Jokerz looks just a little too zany for me to take them seriously as a threat, and I find this to be true with many aspects of the world. The Joker King is no exception to this, and though I find his ideas fascinating, it would be hard for me not to laugh if I saw him coming down the street at me, deadly or not. Beyond the design, the art itself is a bit too simple. I like detail in my art, and the world’s look a bit flat to me as if the panels were being drawn for television rather than comics. You do not have to draw the same scene a hundred times with only minor difference, so why not include a little more detail?

The Spoiler

It appears that Bruce might be parting ways with the land of the living. Being an alternate future, the comic certainly has enough leeway to write whatever kind of story the author chooses, but I think the story would lose part of its emotional heart without the Terry/Bruce relationship. Time will reveal all things.

Conclusion 9/10

I am really enjoying this series.