By Dan Jurgens, Ryan Sook, Jeremy Lawson, Tony Aviña, and Travis Lanham.
Batman Beyond is back and we have our first issue following DC’s Rebirth. This issue certainly has some high notes with its great energetic art, but falls short with some yawn inducing writing. Terry McGinnis is back in the iconic black and red bat suit we associate with Batman Beyond, and we get to see him flying and punching around Neo-Gotham against the Jokerz. Batman Beyond Rebirth #1 certainly takes its time reintroducing the readers to the Gotham of the future with plenty of backstory for Terry and how he took up the cowl. He’s returned from being assumed dead thanks to Spellbinder, and we get to see him try to re-acquaint himself with his family, friends, and city after a long absence.
Okay, there is one thing this book does well that needs to be applauded and that is the art. The style of Ryan Sook is on full display in not only skill, but also versatility as we watch the story take a turn mid-way through some pages of backstory. The art is a clever way to show the decisive shift in time, with Sook using clear decisive lines, with lots of kinetic energy jumping off the page in the panels in the present time. When we have panels that are memories, flashbacks to when Terry first met Bruce Wayne and took on the Jokerz for the first time, we see a grittier art from Sook, that is only emphasized more by the decision to use two different colorists in this issue.
We get Jeremy Lawson and Tony Aviña working double duty on this issue. The best part of this book are the visuals, which is highlighted quite nicely by the colorists. It appears that the coloring duties were shared between the two, but they both were able to adapt their color palette, shading, shadowing, and warmth really keep the readers aligned with whether we are in the past or present. The present day panels throughout Batman Beyond Rebirth #1 are pure brilliance on display with great character heroic posing as Terry beats up the bad guys and protects the innocent, all in attempt to get the readers to fall back in love with Terry in the bat suit. One particular panel really cemented that reintroduction with Terry kicking his way through a windshield to get to the Jokerz. He was in his full elegance with glass shards falling about him while he was taking down the whole gang with ease.
Dan Jurgens wrote this issue, and to be honest, it left something to be desired. The ending, the big reveal, was a little predictable from all the heavy-handed foreshadowing presented throughout the book. Jurgens really spent his time re-introducing audiences to Terry McGinnis, probably because he rightfully assumed new readers are going to be attracted to this Rebirth title. However, it still felt like an absurd amount of space in this book was devoted to backstory and foreshadowing toward a surprise ending that was banal and entirely unimaginative. In this world of Neo-Gotham there are so many characters to explore and with Bruce Wayne staying dead, (for now) there are many interesting arcs to take Terry down without leading readers down a familiar path with an already well established, and maybe overused, bad guy in Batman comics. Basically, leave out bad guys we have read a million times and get us invested in some cool bad guys from Neo-Gotham to help establish this book apart from other Batman titles.
What this book lacked in originality it made up for in beautiful art that had complexity and depth. You may pick this comic up for the familiar title, but you will continue to read the book and turn the pages for the art. If a book is drawn well it can truly save a story, and in this case it is true. This series is not dead, in fact this first issue could be a case of a poorly executed first issue that takes up space of backstory so the rest of the arc can fly by, but that has yet to be determined.