Thursday, March 26, 2015

1PanelReview Batgirl Beyond

The best new DC Comics character in a decade isn't even in the main continuity!

What it is: Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond

Which is: A DC Comics Batman trade paperback.
Written by: Adam Beechen & Scott Peterson
Art by: Peter Nguyen, Norm Breyfogle, Adam Archer & Annie Wu 
Published by DC Comics 
From 2014
Lineup DC Beyond lineup
Format: Trade paperback collecting the issues Batman Beyond Unlimited #11-18 (Batman Beyond digital chapters #19-28) & old material from Batman Beyond (Vol. 2) #1-2.

The world of Batman Beyond is basically DC's version of Marvel 2099. Batman Beyond was originally an animated series created by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and Alan Burnett Warner Bros launched in 1999 as a follow-up to the older Batman Animated Series, right before they went on producing the likes of Justice League Unlimited exploring other DC characters for a change. The series took place in the not so-distant future of 2039, in Neo-Gotham now a huge megalopolis with flying cars and what have you. Batman Beyond follows the young
Terry McGinnis who inherited the (hi-tech) mantle of Batman from an aging Bruce Wayne, now his mentor.

The cartoon series proved quite popular. Over a decade later it still remains highly popular and DC finally decided to revisit and pursue the series through the comic book medium, to return to the character and explore new stories. Batman Beyond always kept a presence in DC Comics, having lots of cameos and short of appearances over the years in mainstream DC Books. Following the 2000s comic adaptation of the show, the future Batman first returned in a series titled Batman Beyond Unlimited, then starting from 2013 as Batman Beyond 2.0. This comic series was as popular as the cartoon and an entire spinoff "Beyond line" was launched, with a Justice League Beyond series devoted to the rest of the larger DCU.

This volume "Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond" collects several storylines. Following the chaotic "Joker" event "10,000 Clowns", much of the city was left devastated. In the hospital, Terry's girlfriend Dana has to talk with Terry about something She knows about his and Bruce Wayne's "secrete". There's a lot going on, and flashbacks which were kinda needed to move the overall book forward. After that there is a big storyline that takes most of the trade paperback. Terry's friend Max had been investigating the mysterious "Undercloud", but she was captured by their leader Rebel One and forced to help "his/or her" cause. Meanwhile Batman also has to face an old foe Shriek. But Rebel One's plan is launched and now Batman has to put a stop to this giant Alloy creature... which turns out to be the Metal Men!! After that we get the titular all-new Batgirl glimpsed on the cover art. Who is this new vigilante - is she a friend or a foe? Finally the rest of the trade collects this older material directly based on the cartoon, back then. Two short tales, a Terry vs Bruce revolving around the tricky Spellbinder. And a not-so-redeeming story about the villainous Inque.

What's Good about it: It's such a fun universe!
Writer Adam Beechan has been on a roll exploring and expanding the future DC Universe through this continuation of the fantastic cartoon series which has just seen the return of Dick Grayon and a new Catwoman recently, and many more.
Originally these comics have been digital releases, but don't let that detract you. This series has nothing to shy from "regular" print comics. Other than the fact that you can find all these issues pretty cheap on venues such as Comixology.
What this book gets really right is the fantastic long-awaited introduction of a character everyone had been wishing for, Batgirl! It's a really fun story, even if nothing much happens in it once you think about it. A poorer part of Neo-Gotham has been taken over by violence and drugs. And nobody is bothered to help but the locals having to save themselves. I really dig this Batgirl! She has a great attitude and is such a fun character! Sge doesn't give a damn and simply is so likeable. And let's not forget the absolutely gorgeous art by the very talented Annie Wu.  
The other stories contained in this volume are pretty good too. The fun Metal Men could be see coming from miles away, despite being a surprise twist. But it was still pretty fun, and I liked the fact Max got the chance to shine here as both an Oracle analog/computer expert and a worthy partner of Terry. It has kind of a sad note regarding the fate of Doc Magnus, poor Metal guys and gal they just got awaken to such a different and unfamiliar world... The cartoon art style in this story is closer to the show, while still having its own unique visual.
The trade also contains some older material from the comic companion to the TV series back at the time. These two last stories are less interesting, and the artwork is more stylized akin to Bruce Timm's style. They're a bit more silly and too short to go anywhere really, but it's still some great exploration of the Batman Beyond universe.

What's Bad about it: While I really like the issues and the stories, as a collection or trade paperback this doesn't seem to make much sense to be honest.
The real problem personally comes from what you expect from this book as a trade. You come expecting to see a lot more of this Batgirl Beyond, but she's barely in the book. There's just the one origin story, and that's it.
Rebel One from the first story makes for a pretty silly villain once unmasked, which kinda ruins the whole Undercloud purpose in my eyes. It was all just some petty revenge story by someone that doesn't seem reliable enough to establish a huge organized secret organization.
Also when you come down to it, unlike the animated series didn't tend to much rely on old characters from the past DCU, here the comic series keep making up future versions of these older characters  (there's a new Hush, a new Catwoman, a new Batgirl, etc.).

Overall: It's a great fun book, despite the stories feeling kind of uneven for a collection. 

Personally I would have preferred to see more than 10 pages of said Batgirl...

This Batgirl story illustrated by Annie Wu was definitively the highlight of the trade for me. I would love to see more of the character!

All in all, it's a really fun book, Recommended to any fans feeling nostalgic for the show. It's like watching a few episodes of the show, in paper form. I loved it, and I'm sure any Batman fan can enjoy these even if you're not that familiar with the cartoon.
I give it: 2.5 / 3!


  1. Dat Batgirl costume...yeeesh, not a fan.

    1. Personally, I really dig it. It reminds me of my favorite Batgirl - Cassandra Cain. And it's simple enough and effective unlike Barbara Gordon's current "New 52" trendy look (which is a bit silly in my eyes).
      And it fits next to the Batman Beyond one despite being different, which is great.