Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Ryan Sook
Colors: Jeremy Lawson & Tony Avina
Letters: Travis Lanham
Batman Beyond Rebirth #1 is one of the new DC Rebirth titles hitting the shelves this week. I’ll be honest; this is the first Batman Beyond comic that I have read. I know the history of the character. That he began as an elseworld’s style cartoon as the Batman of the future. In this future Bruce Wayne played more of an Alfred role and was the mentor of the new Batman, a young man named Terry McGinnis, who ended up with an experimental Bat-suit and became the defender of a future Gotham City. I was in Graduate School when the show originally ran and I only caught an episode here or there but did enjoy what I saw. DC began producing cartoon continuity comics when the show was on and revived them a few years ago on their digital platform. In recent years DC has merged the Batman Beyond mythos into their mainstream continuity, most notably in their weekly comic Future’s End. By the end of that book Terry was dead and the modern day Tim Drake ended up in the future and in the suit as a new Batman.
Batman Beyond Rebirth #1 resets the status quo. Tim Drake has been removed from the suit, a continuity link to the recent storyline in Detective Comics. Terry McGinnis is back due to some nice comic magic/science explanation. Fans of the television show will be happy to see Barbara Gordon here as the police commissioner. The Jokerz, a gang based on the life and lessons of the Clown Prince of Crime, are back as the principle antagonists. Batman is busy reasserting his position as Gotham’s Dark Knight and keeping the city from falling into chaos. The book has action as it opens and closes with hostage situations and Batman dealing with them both. There’s tension as Batman begins tracking the Jokerz and piecing together their plan. But it’s not all out action as the issue also sets up Terry’s life when he’s not being Batman and meet some of the key supporting characters. We learn what has become of his family and the impact of being trapped in the past and then seemingly dead has had on his life outside of the cowl.
The book reads as a solid first issue. There is enough background for new readers but also forward progress for those readers who have been with the character for some time. As a new reader I appreciated the fact that this issue does an excellent job in explaining the world of Batman Beyond but does so in a manner that flows with the story. It isn’t a forced recap page or an information dump at the beginning of the book. It flows naturally as the story flashes from the past to the present seamlessly and we get a sense of what has happened and what is to come in the Batman Beyond future.
I wasn’t originally going to pick this issue up. My interest has a lot to do with Ryan Sook. I love his artwork. It’s clean, realistic, and darkly atmospheric. Over the past few years he has been more of a cover artist so I was excited when he was going to be doing interiors again. His pencils here are good but they’re not his best work. I’m not sure if it is a style change or the futuristic setting but I didn’t get the same feel I have from his other work, such as his Seven Soldiers: Zatanna mini-series or his beautiful artwork on Wednesday Comics: Kamandi. The art is clunky and a bit of a disappointment. Dan Jurgens is a solid writer who is having a resurgence in the DC Rebirth Universe. His Action Comics has been a very entertaining tale and his writing is also solid here. He knows this character and this future landscape and introduces it to new readers in an unforced manner. I appreciated this as a new reader to Batman Beyond. The colors are dark and gloomy, which is expected from a grimy dystopian future setting. The Jokerz are the only bright part of the book but even they are somewhat muted. I would have liked to see them almost overly bright in contrast to both their plans as well as our darkly clad protagonist.
Verdict: For me it is a pass. I enjoyed the book but not enough to pick it up every month. If Ryan Sook was staying onboard I may give it a few more issues but he is only doing the Rebirth issue and then turning it over to Bernard Chang. If you’re a long time fan of Terry McGinnis Batman Beyond will appeal to you & you should give it a read. I personally can live without reading it again.