This summer, the Beyond comic book universe that is thriving on DC's digital platform will be expanding yet again, with new creative teams and lead characters adding to an already substantial list of ongoing titles.
The obvious success of the current Beyond universe in digital-to-print comics can be traced back to the short-lived (but fan favorite) print mini-series launched by writer Adam Beechen in 2010.
It was successful enough that DC gave Beechen an ongoing Beyond series in 2011, and it eventually became a digital-first series that thrived enough to spawn to spin-offs: Justice League Beyond, Superman Beyond, and soon, Batgirl Beyond.
But this week, Adam Beechen is ending his run on the Beyond series with the July 6th issue. Newsarama talked to the writer about what he was able to achieve through the Beyond universe.
Newsarama: Adam, Batman Beyond fans are sad that you're leaving the series, and I have to admit I am too. But does it feel sad to you, that you're leaving behind this series that you've been working on for awhile?
Adam Beechen: First of all, I'm glad that you feel sad about it. That's nice to know. But yeah, you put a couple years of your life into something, and you tell the stories that you want to tell, and [for you] to move on, it's tough to leave those characters behind. I feel like I've gotten to know them pretty well, and we've been on this journey together. So it is kind of sad to leave them behind.
But I feel tremendously grateful that I've had the chance to be with the characters as long as I have. Not many writers have had the chance to do that. And I'm looking forward to whatever comes next.
Nrama: Looking back at your run, there are a lot of things you were able to establish beyond what was seen in the animated series. Do you feel like you've been able to really create a universe with these toys that existed?
Beechen: Yes and no. We're building out from the animated universe. So a lot of the concept already existed. And the framework already existed. I think what we were able to do was bring that world to the world of the mainstream DC comics reader. We were able to add some things into it that maybe hadn't been explored before. But the heavy lifting of establishing that world had already been done by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini and all the tremendous writers and artists who had worked on the animated series. They really gave us a great tapestry on which to work.
We were just fortunate that some of the parts weren't colored in. So we were able to color it in for the fans and ourselves. It was a great opportunity. It really was.
Nrama: Looking back, what character that you either introduced or got to explore more fully would you say that you're most proud of?
Beechen: There are a couple, as far as new characters go. I'm really proud of the "10,000 Clowns" story that we were able to tell. That was the big centerpiece of, I think, our run.
And getting to create a character like the Joker King, which is a reinterpretation of what it means to be the Joker according to this very specific character, was really important for me. I feel like I contributed a character to the Batman mythology, the Batman Beyond mythology, that's going to be a lasting one, that people are going to remember.
Unfortunately, we killed him off! [Laughs.] At the end of the run. But I suppose there's some possibility he could come back someday, in some form.
But I think it's a story that really caught people's attention, and was a memorable character for a lot of people.
The other character that we came up with that I think I'm really proud of is the character of Jake Chill, who's a new vigilante. I think, in telling his story, we added a lot of depth that, previously, people didn't know about Terry's origin as Batman, while also finding a neat way to connect him, yet again, in a different way, to Bruce Wayne and how Bruce became Batman.
So those two characters and the stories we told around them are ones that I'm particularly proud of, as far as new characters go.
Nrama: You were also able to bring back and explore the older versions of some relationships that existed in the "present day" comic book universe, like with some of the former Robins. Was that one your goals when the digital series came along and gave you the time to really explore the aged Batman family?
Beechen: That was actually a goal from the very first "Hush Beyond" mini-series, which wasn't even digital. We wanted to explore the universe more fully than the animated series had been able to. Bruce and Terry had such a rich supporting cast that didn't really get a chance to be explored in the animated series, just because the format didn't allow for it quite as much.
So it was always a goal of mine to explore the idea of Bruce coming to confront his own mortality as he gets older, what his legacy is going to be and his effect on the people that he would be leaving behind.
So I always wanted to get into the idea that he was realizing that he had alienated most of the people in his life during the course of his life, and him trying in his own, very Bruce-like way — without saying "I'm sorry for everything that happened" — to make amends to all of those people, whether it's by giving them jobs or by welcoming them back into the Bat-family in some other way.
That was always a goal of mine. I always felt like it didn't need to just be the Bruce and Terry story. There were a lot of other characters in this world that really could contribute thematically and in terms of conflict to the story. So I always wanted to get to characters like Tim, to Dick (who had never been explored in the animated series), work a little bit more on breaking out who Dana was, who Max is, who Commissioner Gordon is — and have them all play important parts in the course of the series.
Nrama: We've heard about some new titles and creators coming on board. What can you tell us about the future of the Beyond titles now that you're leaving? It's still safe after your departure, right?
Beechen: As far as I know, Kyle Higgins is still coming in to take over Batman Beyond Unlimited. And I know a little bit about his plans — at least I know what I've read in the media. So it sounds like he's not planning on wrapping up the story anytime soon. He's got some stuff he wants to tell. And I know how much he loves the characters.
So as far as I know, everything is continuing. I don't know as much about the Justice League Beyond world and the Superman Beyond world, but I know Kyle's enthusiasm for the characters, and I think the fans are in for a real treat with the stories he's going to tell.
Nrama: After you leave the Beyond universe, what are you doing? Where else will we see your work?
Beechen: Unfortunately, I can't tell you what I'm going to be doing in comics or in television just yet. Both projects are top secret. But I am working on something. I'm working on something for DC on the digital side. I can tell you that. And I think that's going to be announced reasonably soon. But I'm involved with that.
And then I'm working on a new television series — a new animated television series as well.
So I'm not going away — for better or for worse, depending on what kind of fan you are.
Nrama: This series' success, and particularly its return through digital, seems to have really hinged on the demand of fans. What would you say to fans about Batman Beyond as you leave the series behind?
Beechen: I think DC's decision just to create a Batman Beyond book in the first place, regardless of what the talent was on it, was an acknowledgement of the tremendous amount of fan love that was out there for the Beyond universe — and it had been out there since the animated series went off the air.
It was time to acknowledge those people, and I think the book's success is a tribute to how much people continue to love those characters. It's a real tribute to the strong work by, like I mentioned before, that Bruce, Paul and Stan Berkowitz and Bob Goodman and all those people who worked the show.
Every character is somebody's favorite. And the Batman Beyond characters happened to be the favorites of a lot of people out there. We have very vocal fans, very passionate fans, who have really cared about the book and stuck by the book, and made it one of their favorites that they pick up every month. Otherwise, DC wouldn't have it out there in the first place.
So I'm incredibly grateful. I'm grateful to the fans, I'm grateful to DC. It's been a ton of fun to work on, from top to bottom. I would be remiss in not mentioning Norm Breyfogle, and his contribution to the most recent series. Working with Norm, who's one of the legendary Batman artists of all time — regardless of which Batman he's drawing — has been a pleasure and an education at the same time. Working with Adam Archer, who drew the last couple of chapters, has been great, getting to know him and his work. Andy Elder and Saida Temofonte have been on board with us from the beginning of this latest series as colorist and letterer, and their contributions are very overlooked. They're as much artists as any of us, and have added immeasurably to what the book has been all about.
So from top to bottom, working with everybody I've worked with on this book, as just been a dream come true. And it's been a pleasure to get to know the fans. I don't know if you know this, but I do video commentary on every issue, over on YouTube. And I take the readers through each issue, page by page, and talk about what we all put into it. And then we've set up an email address that the fans can write into and ask questions or just talk about the book or what have you. And I've had the chance to get to know a lot of the fans that way. And that's been a real pleasure.
So in a lot of ways, it's been the most fun book I've ever worked on.
Check back with Newsarama as we talk with the new creators coming on board to guide the "Beyond" universe going forward.