Batman Beyond Universe #1: Dick’s In The Saddle


Let me warn you, if you haven’t read Batman Beyond: 10,000 Clowns, then this new story will be a little confusing. It’s not impossible to follow, but some of the dramatic details might become head scratchers. That aside, Batman Beyond Universe #1 is a solid entry to the franchise.

Terry McGinnis is still the new Batman. Neo-Gotham, having barely pulled through the 10,000 Clowns, is looking at new forms of dealing with the mentally unstable. The Mayor has created Gotham Institute, a center looking to help cure the criminally insane as opposed to just housing them. Naturally, within two pages, the Mayor is killed. First on the suspect list? Ghoul, a rather menacing new version of the Joker.

Meanwhile, Batman is helping to thwart crime, this time with the help of Dick Grayson. The former Nightwing has taken to being Terry’s help in being Batman because Bruce Wayne has been diagnosed with liver failure. Batman assumes the Mayor’s killer is the Ghoul, but oh no, it’s not that easy. As the mystery unfolds, it turns out there is a new player in Neo-Gotham, one who has decided all of the criminally insane are now cured. Having made that decision, this mystery nemesis frees them all.

Splitting the story between Terry’s personal life and his Batman adventures, writer Kyle Higgins is unfolding a new dawn to the series. In 10,000 Clowns (more of those head scratchers), we met Catwoman and another mysterious vigilante. Terry had to deal with the betrayal of Dana’s brother, and the fallout that had on their relationship. There’s also a transition with Dick taking over for Bruce. For most of its life, Batman Beyond has held to the same format, this issue begins to change all that.

There isn’t much in the way of nuance here. Higgins has a very direct writing style. On scene leads to another, with little in the way of side stories or subtext. That might change once this Universe has been established, and for now it works to reorient readers to the franchise, the players, and what all they might have missed.

American Vampire artist Rafael Albuquerque penciled the cover, but has nothing to do with the inside work. Thony Silas takes those honors, and expecting Albuquerque and getting Silas was a let down. Batman Beyond Universe #1 holds tight to the manga-meets-American-computer-art vibe.  I understand that this future-Batman idea calls for art that’s more sci-fi oriented, but the work here is just dull. It lacks personality and punch. Silas is obviously talented, but he doesn’t leave his own fingerprint on the work. In short, this could be any computer program.


(3.5 Story, 2 Art)


Now, as you may or may not know, within the Batman Beyond Universe there is a Justice League. The members are different. For instance, this future Justice League has a member that can grow or shrink, but named Micron. Barda and Mister Miracle are there, and a Hawkman-style hero named Warhawk. Flash is there, but a girl, Aquagirl is also a member, as is Shazam and our own favorite Batman.

Another hero who arrives on this scene is Superman. In this secondary tale, Superman is having a rough day. An object has hit the sun, supercharging Superman’s powers. He can’t control his heat vision, his speed, even his strength. With no explanation as to the cause, and no magical or scientific way to cure it, Superman seems to be out of commission. His teammates think he should use his supercharged powers, and become a better version of his former self.

The problem escalates with Superman nearly killing Aquagirl with his uncontrolled heat vision. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Superman has Micron shrink to subatomic size, then enter Superman’s body through the pores. Using a scientific concoction Superman put together, Micron strips the hero of his powers. Relieved not to be a menace, Superman returns to being a fireman. All is well until a four alarm fire collapses a building on the newly powerless Superman. What will happen to our hero? The answer lies in the next issue.

Writer Christos Gage lays out a pretty interesting story. Much like Superman Unchained, this Superman is interesting because he’s now fallible. I’ve always dug the future Justice League, and this story expands on them. How will this lack of Superman hurt them? Will the enemies come running? Gage opens up a lot of new roads here.

I enjoyed Iban Coello’s art. It’s not extraordinary, but it tells the story in a less impersonal way than Thony Silas on Batman Beyond. Coello’s lines are strong, his ability with movement is excellent, especially during the race between Flash and Superman. While nothing here leaps off the page, it does give a nice counterpart to Silas’s artwork.

While not visually stunning to look at, the stories in Batman Beyond Universe #1 are both solid, enjoyable reads.

(4 Story, 2.5 Art)