Overview: After the death of Bruce Wayne at the hands of the city of Gotham, Terry must take up the case to avenge his mentor in Batman Beyond: Neo-Year.
Editor’s Note: This collected edition includes all six issues of the miniseries Batman Beyond: Neo-Year, which had its first issue released in April 2022 and the final issue released in September 2022. This review focuses on the story as a whole rather than the individual issues that made up the limited series.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Batman Beyond: Neo-Year begins with Batman, Terry McGinnis, speaking to a dead Bruce Wayne, giving him the statistics of the crime rates of Gotham since his death. Despite nonstop attention from Terry, the city is becoming worse and worse by the month. The new head of Wayne Enterprises, Donovan Lumos, known as the Holographic Man, is the front man for all the technical upgrades to the city, making being discrete even more of a problem. It doesn’t take long for Terry to hypothesize who is really behind the increased crime and death of Bruce: The Living Gotham.
Having zero proof the city is alive, he goes to Commissioner Barbara Gordon to give proof of Lumos’s corruption, leaving out the part about Gotham being alive. She still insists on retiring and letting the city eat itself. This conversation may breed a new ally though, a young go-getter cop, Beam Boonma.
The first issue ends with our first encounter with the muscle behind the city. Terry is investigating a possible drug smuggling ring moving through Wayne boat shipments when he is attacked by a long white-haired masked man with a huge rectangular sword. With nothing in the Bat computer on this new foe, Terry quickly realizes he is over his head and tries to flee. His efforts fail, and we end with the only Batman remaining under a pile of rubble.
Terry regroups, knowing he no longer owns the night and creates a disguise from parts from his depleting bat suit resources to try to become truly invisible to the city. His investigation leads him to Gestalt, a three-bodied machine. Gestalt had found a way to hide from the city as well; it was to merge together the resources of three to make one, and where Terry first thought he had come across another villain, he finds his first true ally.
Finally getting somewhere in his quest against the city with the emergence of Gestalt, Terry attends former Commissioner Gordon’s retirement party, being thrown by none other than Mr. Lumos. The city and Lumos begin to take more control. In Lumos’s speech to Barbara, he announces that Wayne Enterprises has taken full financial responsibility for the GCPD. A move that only the mayor, who has unfortunately been missing for thirty-two hours, can enact. Terry uses this opportunity to introduce himself to Beam Boonma, who leads him to where the mayor may be located.
Led to a trap by the city, her sword is waiting for Batman, and the fight for his life ensues. A cut scene reveals more about the city, showing us the death of an older homeless man as the city explains how it is timed with the birth rates at the hospital, a death for every birth.
The battle continues in Batman Beyond: Neo-Year through the city ending with Batman seemingly getting the upper hand on the sword. Gotham is already one step ahead, as we come to find that the Sword of Gotham is only the old homeless man hiding behind a holographic shield. Injured in the battle, Terry heads to Detective Boonma’s for help. The city has other plans, turning the detective into her next sword, and instead of receiving help, Terry must continue to fight. Getting the upper hand again, Terry can break Detective Boonma from the holographic control, and they retreat to the Batcave underneath a burnt-down Wayne Manor to regroup again.
Detective Boonma is not just injured but still under the control of Lumos and the city. Gestalt finds a solution, but not one they are confident will work. They must distract the city long enough for Gestalt to upload a virus. They argue about how to proceed with Detective Boonma released from full control by the city but is still in some coma. Gestalt wants to continue to hide, continue to live under the radar, and allow the city to do what it wants. Terry will not have it and eventually convinces Gestalt, and they get to work.
One hundred days pass with them underground, hiding and preparing. The good news is that the plan to wake Detective Boonma has worked, and she wakes unharmed. The preparations to go after Lumos and the city continue as Gestalt completes Terry’s new upgraded suit as well. The plan is coming together.
The last issue of the Batman Beyond: Neo-Year miniseries starts with Gotham uneasy in her search for Batman. She is fearful that she can no longer see him. She knows he is coming. On New Year’s, the city plans to turn all of the people of Gotham into versions of her sword, releasing us from the choices of free will. Terry uses this to gather his team: Gestalt, Detective Boonma, former Commissioner Gordon, and even the Jokerz are enlisted to help.
The assault starts off perfectly; Terry corners a fleeing Lumos. Terry threatens him to turn the city off, but Lumos has no idea what Terry is saying. He explains, hoping this will turn Lumos into another ally, but Batman is wrong. Lumos, now knowing the full extent of what he has helped create, gladly accepts the city of Gotham and becomes her ultimate sword. Now knowing exactly where the city is, Terry flees.
Gotham, now working through Lumos, takes off after Terry. He leads them toward the Jokerz, where they release all the firepower they have. In the explosions, Gestalt uses this time to force the upload. It is successful; the AI known as the city of Gotham is trapped. Terry grabs a falling Lumos and touches him to the ground. Finally, ending the Neo-Year.
It all wraps up with Barbara and Gestalt clearing out the Batcave. Terry and Boonma are out on the town, ready for the next story to start.
Analysis: Batman Beyond: Neo-Year is a solid comic book miniseries. The story flows well over the six issues; I was never bored or overwhelmed with constant action or lack thereof. There are no major underlying themes the authors are trying to convey; Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing quickly get right into who is to blame for Bruce Wayne’s death, making the main structure of the story very easy to follow. It was very easy to pull out an issue and pop right into the story wherever I left off. It is very approachable and a good series for any beginner to jump into the comic world. The art is very loud; a lot of bright neon colors, which makes for good contrast in the fight scenes resulting in the action being very readable. Max Dunbar does solid work: the colors pop, a touch bright, but the art does the story justice.
From the outside, I really enjoyed the story. Once I started to get into it, I did start finding problems. I would have liked Terry to sit in the mystery of who killed Bruce for a little longer. The book begins with a phantom narrator. Not even a page later, Terry takes over the narration and tells us he KNOWS it was Gotham that killed Bruce. It would have been nice to see him do some detective work to figure that out. I thought all the middle issues were great. I blew through issues #2-5 in a single sitting. This is where Terry does his version of detective work, gathering his crew and then hiding and preparing. From his encounter with Gestalt to putting ideas of being a hero back in Barbara’s head, Terry really is Batman in these issues, or what I perceive Batman should be.
The ending of Batman Beyond: Neo-Year was disappointing, rushed, and stood out in a bad way. Lumos, through the story, is portrayed by Terry as the evil mastermind that turned on the Living Gotham. At their final encounter, Terry is the one that reveals the Living Gotham to Lumos, explaining that he has been manipulated into doing the city’s bidding. I did not like the idea of the future tech genius being manipulated by the computer program he accidentally turned on. To add insult to injury, once Lumos finds out he’s been swindled by his own work; he snatches at the chance to be its next minion. Lumos went from an eccentric business tech wizard to an uneducated wimp grasping for power in less than a panel. It did not work.
I found the artwork very enjoyable until I would remember I’m supposed to be in Gotham. I understand that this is the future, I get that the name is Neo, but everything in Gotham looked too clean. Too bright. Not enough doom and gloom. There are some great panels with a brooding Terry with his hood up and head down in the rain or inside a dark club that is totally ruined by a bright neon pink or blue light in the panel giving it brevity, where none is needed or even wanted. That aside, there are some fantastic splash panels throughout the comic. The action scenes have great contrast allowing us to see everything going on in the story clearly. I would have liked to see more darkness in the overall aesthetic of the comic.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with copies of the original issues of this series as they were released but not of this new edition. You can find this collected edition and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this edition digitally either for Comixology through Amazon or as a physical copy in a paperback form at Amazon or from Things from Another World.
Batman Beyond: Neo-Year
I really feel this story would have been more conducive for its own IP. Change all the characters' names, and you have a pretty good futuristic sci-fi adventure comic. As a Batman Beyond property, I kept pulling myself back into believing this could be a Gotham of the future. And for once, can Barbara not just be a woman version of her Dad? This isn't a series that I will return to, but I am glad I have read it. There are glimpses of really good storytelling, and the art is put together very intelligently. The good isn’t enough to outweigh the simple beginning and rushed ending.