My experience with the characters of Batman Beyond wouldn’t be what anyone would call “extensive.” I’ve seen a handful of episodes of the original series. I’ve seen the Return of the Joker animated film. I read Future’s End, which canonized Terry McGinnis, but I’ve blocked most of that out. The last I knew, Terry was killed and a bearded future version of Tim Drake took the mantle and headed back to the further future. This brings us to the Batman Beyond installment of Rebirth, bringing Terry back into the forefront and getting things back in order.
Despite the futuristic setting of Neo-Gotham, things start off with familiarity. Thugs, innocent bystanders, Batman, fighting. It’s a formula Bat-fans have come to know and love. During the fight we are given the key notes of Terry McGinnis’ origin. His father was killed by Jokerz, thug devotees of the since-passed Joker, and through divine fate, he came across an elderly Bruce Wayne and discovered his secret. Wayne become an unwitting accomplice to McGinnis’ crusade of justice and that’s that. Batman Beyond was born. Another familiar face from the past meets Batman at the scene of the crime, Barbara Gordon, the current member of the family to answer to the title of Commissioner Gordon. Like previous incarnations of their roles, they have a good working relationship, this one even more personal.
Next, we get a hint of what’s to come. Both of the Jokerz thugs Batman apprehended fall victim to another familiar trope, Joker Venom. We also get another bit of information, Bruce Wayne has apparently passed away at some point. Whether this happened during the previous series, I don’t know. I’m also unaware of whether or not Terry McGinnis’ return was handled in those pages as well. Back in these pages, Terry’s former flame-turned-social-worker, Dana is making a call on the streets of one of the older parts of Gotham when she is nabbed by more Jokerz, at the behest of their leader, who is revealed to be Carter Wilson, a former acquaintance of Dana, who now goes by Terminal.
Meanwhile, Terry and his brother Matt are moving into their new place when they hear the news of Dana’s abduction. He springs into action and heads to the old parts of Gotham, which have begun being referred to as Jokerz Town. There he encounters another callback to the older Batman stories, a Jokerz thug hopped up on what appears to be Venom, the serum which gave Bane his strength. The thug appears to make short work of Batman. We end back with Dana and Terminal, where the villain reveals he isn’t the one really in charge, that honor belongs to the man he is working on reviving: the original Joker.
The Rebirth branding continues to be somewhat confusing in places. This title received a “Rebirth” one-shot that serves as the first part of the story, leading into the second installment in a new #1 issue. I don’t know the qualifications for what stories receive a Rebirth issue and which don’t. That’s a minor gripe, though. Dan Jurgens gave us a fun story that continues to remain in the classic future setting of the story with plenty of callbacks to the modern era to develop the relationship between the two settings. As an admittedly uninformed reader, this was welcome. He is joined by Ryan Sook on pencils and inks while Tony Avina and Travis Lanham share coloring duties. There is a pitfall when it comes to drawing sci-fi/futuristic stories. The art can overpower the story. The team here keeps everything in check and doesn’t go out of their way to show how “wild” the future has become. It’s believable, which is appreciated. Jurgens continues this series hot off the heels of his writings duties on the previous pre-Rebirth Batman Beyond title, so I’m wondering if that might be worth checking out. Should I check out those books? Leave a comment below. The strong story here makes me wonder if I’m missing out on something.