After one issue off, I am back to reviewing Batman Beyond Unlimited. Each month it gets better, and despite one downfall, this month does not let up especially in the Beyond story.
The Beyond story is perhaps my favorite of the three as it seems to be akin in style to the Justice League Unlimited episode “Epilogue.” It begins with a man reflecting on his past. He recalls his great-grand uncle who was a desperate man. He had to make desperate decisions in his life such as killing two people that haunted him for the rest of his life. The man reflecting is Jake, and he is disappointed at his spiral to the bottom. He makes clear he has sinned like his relative, and he cannot confess to a church he does not believe in. He recalls how he was a security guard for Wayne-Powers, and then moved up to the “Quiet Squad” under the great Mr. Fix. He then recalls what happened to one of Warren McGinnis’ friends at work. Warren was Terry’s dad, and what Fix hired Jake to do was unbearable on his soul. The “Quiet Squad” was hired to break into Warren’s home, and ransack the place. Unfortunately, Warren is home, and is not too receptive to the likes of Mr. Fix’s questions. Jake is then given the command that would forever change the life of Terry McGinnis. He was told to murder Warren. Afterwards, Jake gets a “bump” in his check for what is called “hazard pay.” He also has trouble not watching the news coverage, and feeling depressed for what he did to two young boys and a committed wife. He recalls how his life took quite a fall as he began drinking more and becoming less reliable at work. As Terry took the role of Batman, Jake recalls how Powers was exposed to nerve-gas, and all the while, how Jake wanted Terry to give him the beating he deserved. Jake recalled how he just fell further and further down the class system as he lost his job as a result of Powers and Fix going missing with the new management of WP firing the “Quiet Squad” after finding out about them. When Jake finally found his house being robbed one night, he decided enough was enough; it was time to take back his life. He got rid of them, and realized he still had something to offer. He could be something different than his uncle. He didn’t have to be the great grandnephew of Joe Chill. Instead, he could be a hero.
The next story answers questions Batman Beyond fans have had for a while. Mainly, what happened between JLU and BB. Adam Strange brings John and Shayera up to speed about Thanagar and its alliance with Rannia after the Gordanians took over Thanagar. However, after Hawkman’s dark side The Shadow Thief began to wreak havoc between the alliance, Hawkman decides to sacrifice himself. Not long after do the heroes realize that Hawkman’s death didn’t guarantee the death of The Shadow Thief. In him not doing, he kills Vixen. Warhawk continues his recollection of his past by stating his father John’s loss of love and the rage he felt as a result. As The Shadow Thief returns to cause trouble for John, John loses his ring when he begins to lose willpower letting rage determine his decisions. The Guardians decide this is not right, and they rid John of his ring. They also decide to stop protecting Space Sector 2814 because they determine humans to be an anger-prone species, and they decide to reexamine Earth. What happens next is the burial of Vixen in her native African village of Zambesi. The native burial rites were followed, and John and Shayera spent more time than they originally planned together eventually having Warhawk. Warhawk recalls how he was brought up in both Earth and Thanagarian cultures and histories, and eventually went back to free Thanagar. Even though it took him awhile to be accepted as he is only part Thanagarian, he eventually made his way back to Earth where he found himself among old friends and a Justice League familiar to those who raised him.
Superman Beyond continues with a very familiar scenario from the past episodes of the story. It begins with Superman continuing to wonder about his position of the world. As a result of many of his friends and family having died out, he does not feel the world has much of a need for him. He then enters into a very familiar scenario fighting alongside the new Metropolis Police Force. They end up taking the creatures down, and Superman realizes they have similar attributes but he has the heat vision they do not. He then comes to the conclusion it’s a decoy. We then see some sort of robot hacking into computers for data. However, then its revealed Luthor’s supposed daughter is actually behind it. As Superman comes and defeats her robot, he tries to reason with her as the robot is broadcasting the girl. Unfortunately, a bomb is attached to the robot, and it blows. Superman speaks with one of the normal cops who questions Superman’s assumption Luthor’s behind it. However, he makes clear the girl’s access to LexCorp technology and the police nanotech as well is dangerous. We then go back to the girl who is trying to get into a club. She electrocutes both men who try to stop her. As she enters, she speaks with a Mr. Stone. She wants to form an alliance with him. However, it’s revealed that man Is Solomon Grundy.
Batman Beyond continues to have no faults. Adam Beechen has an extremely potent vision for the story he wants to tell, and spun one of the best Batman Beyond tales to date with “Legends of The Dark Knight: Jake.” Norm Breyfogle continues to pound out great sequential art fitting Beechen’s narrative like a glove. Going into “10,000 Clowns,” and future arcs, I hope we see more of Jake Chill, a new hero (I hope) who is likely to mess with the status quo of Terry and Bruce’s lives.
Justice League Beyond does a nice job finishing up the two-part Warhawk narrative which was awesome. Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs do a nice job creating a compelling origin for Warhawk, and expanding upon the animated series threads. My only issue is the reliance on flashback which seems to populate the narrative. I would like to see different ways of handling that. The art continues to be first rate with the two writers doing an excellent job playing the story out in panels. I am left a little saddened that we did not see the main JLB narrative as it seems to be gone from the book this month. Despite that, I know based on the cover to next month’s issue, we will see a return of it.
Superman Beyond’s narrative comes to a headways as the conflict between Superman and the young Ms. Luthor becomes clearer. JT Krul does a fine job of continuing Superman’s dilemma with the world he finds himself in. Unfortunately, I find some of the dialogue and scenarios Superman finds himself in a bit repetitive. That being said, I understand his building of the relationship between Superman and the police. My other problem is with the motivation behind Ms. Luthor. I tend to wonder why she jumps to stealing the data, and automatically becoming a bad girl. She was already a bad girl but her transformation into the villain she is now I feel could be better explained. However, I think we will see more of that as the future issues are unveiled. Yes, she was brainwashed by the real Luthor a bit but does she not have her own thoughts….. Another positive for the story is Howard Porter’s very detailed art. He creates a very detailed future Metropolis and future Superman which works quite well for Krul’s emphasis on psychology and relationships in the story. Together, I hope to have more answers to this story, and will not totally fault the story for not providing answers right from the get-go. They need to play out some more threads for the next month.