Batman Beyond #24 is part four of the “Undercloud” story arc that will wrap up Adam Beechen’s run on the title. While that may sound very uninviting to new readers, Batman Beyond greenhorns should not be afraid to pick up this issue. Despite being the middle chapter of his run, Beechen has constructed this story to allow new readers to jump in without being repetitive to those that have been reading this arc from the beginning.
Before we go any further, I need to confess something. I never watched Batman Beyond during its initial run or even in syndication. The concept never appealed to me. The bright colors, futuristic environments and lack of a cape all seemed very “un-Batman.” I’ve since watched it and loved it. It still isn’t fully “Batman” to me (couldn’t they have given him a cape?), it has a magical mix of cyberpunk, Spider-man, and old man Bruce that is just fascinating to watch unfold. The brash and inexperienced Terry McGinnis is a pleasant change of pace beneath the cowl from Bruce, the man with a plan for everything. Even Dick Grayson as Batman can’t compare to this. Not only is Terry very green, but this Batman has a boss which adds another layer to the mythology.
Beechen understands who the target audience is with these digital-first titles: new readers. As a new reader myself, I did not find myself lost in this story once. We are given a very high-level understanding of what’s happened up until now, and then we just keep going. Moreover, this is just a fun read. Beechen seeds the narrative with Easter eggs for fans of the animated series (and spin-off movies), but it isn’t required that a reader have a full understanding of past events.
While the main battle between Batman and a six-part sentient robot is the main focus, the side plot featuring Commissioner (Barbara) Gordon and Dick Grayson is entertaining. It helps flesh out the period between Batman: The Animated Series and now, while hardly saying a word. I’m looking forward to more of his interaction with characters in the Beyond universe, especially with Nightwing scribe Kyle Higgins taking over in August.
The art by Adam Archer is impressive in this issue. However, I did take issue with a couple items. There is a rule in drawing where, to indicate age, an artist uses lines on a character’s face. The more lines drawn on a face, the older the character looks. Characters like Dick and Babs, who are much older, are drawn with the appropriate line-work. However, Terry’s friend Max, who is supposed to be in her late teens, is drawn with an excessive amount of lines on her face that makes her appear much older than she should. Given that she’s a major character that plays a prominent role, I found it bothersome that a 19 year old appeared to be in her mid-30s. Also, despite the dynamic changes in settings and characters involved, the coloring by Andrew Elder appeared dull when it should have popped.
Story wise, the cliffhanger at the end of this issue was confusing given the location for much of the fighting and our knowledge of Rebel One’s plans for razing Gotham. Also, as much as I enjoyed the big reveal that brought a classic, Silver Age team into the Beyond universe, it was spoiled on the credits page. And because their involvement is a major development in the story, the overall enjoyment of this issue was limited due to the issue’s spoiler.
Batman Beyond #24 is very enjoyable read. Despite some inconsistencies in both story and art, it is very unlikely that you will find a Batman title as fun as this is. Well, at least until Batman ’66 hits Comixology this summer. If you haven’t dipped your toes into the Beyond universe, this is a great place to start.