Review – Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

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Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Ryan Sook
Colours: Jeremy Lawson
Release Date: 28th September, 2016

Whether you missed the television series “Batman Beyond” or just miss the show in general, you’re going to want to check out Dan Jurgens’ “Batman Beyond: Rebirth.”

The new Rebirth title finds Terry McGinnis patrolling the skies of Neo-Gotham. When a couple of Jokerz hijack a school bus, Batman quickly intervenes and disarms the thugs. The altercation reveals the gang inspired by the Clown Prince of Crime has changed tactics.  Commissioner Barbara Gordon arrives on the scene and oversees the arrest and tells Batman about Jokerz Town – a neighborhood run by the Jokerz gang.

This introductory issue’s primary concern is reestablishing Terry as the Batman of the Future after Tim Drake’s exit. Jurgens weaves the story he wants to tell while lightly retreading Terry’s origin from the first episode of “Batman Beyond” – coincidentally titled Rebirth. If that isn’t enough nostalgia for you then you’ll be happy to know that other supporting characters from the series also make an appearance such as Barbara Gordon, Maxine “Max” Gibson, Matthew “Matt” McGinnis, Dana Tan and Carter Wilson aka Terminal. That said, the story doesn’t do much with the characters, including Terry – for the time being, at least.

I’ll be the first to say it. I am not a fan of the redesigned Batsuit. The big red Transformers-esque eyes don’t do anything for me, though I’m definitely a fan of the Spider-Gwen soles.

Design niggles aside, Ryan Sook’s artwork in this issue is spectacular – minus the depictions of Terry outside the suit. The most impressive example is the transition from the present/future to the past and back again. Neo-Gotham and Wayne Manor are vastly different settings, but Sook’s interpretations of both are so well balanced that the juxtaposition of one image to the other isn’t harsh, creatiung a cohesive yet different space.

The level of detail Sook puts into some of these panels is unreal. Like when one of the two Jokerz cocks his gun, you get an illustration of the action and the sound effect. A better example are the HA’s as the Jokerz die. The ransom like lettering and the uneven pattern only add to the already unsettling mood in the subsequent panels. It’s reminiscent of the Joker’s reveal after taking off the red hood in Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s “Batman: The Killing Joke”

Talking about the artwork without talking about the coloring in this book would be a crime. Colorist, Jeremy Lawson chooses colors that are literally out of this world. The pinks, purples, oranges and yellows give Neo-Gotham a personality all its own, but the muted colors in the flashbacks at Wayne Manor give the mansion and Batcave their distant look. Yet somehow all of these colors exists together without ever feeling unnatural.

The book concludes by saying, “definitely to be continued,” and I’m happy to report that I will definitely be following this title. There were a couple qualifiers in this review, so let me boil it down. Did I love this reintroduction? Not particularly. In fact I’d say the story played it a little too safe. But given Jurgens’ impressive track record on DC’s previous “Batman Beyond” run, I’m expecting a bigger, better and far more unpredictable story from future issues. So as it stands, “Batman Beyond” continues to be my most anticipated title of the Rebirth brand.

Rating: 3.5/5.

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Lawr_avThe writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511

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