In June, the futuristic world of Batman Beyond hits the DC Universe in a six-issue mini-series by Adam Beechen and Ryan Benjamin.
Announced last year <a href="http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080924-Didio-20-questions.html">here on Newsarama</a> by then-Executive Editor Dan DiDio, the mini-series resulted from fan requests for DC to bring the TV show characters to comics. "We’ve heard the fans, we’ve heard everyone’s interest," DiDio said of the mini-series.
Set 50 years in the future in a Gotham City now called "Neo-Gotham," the TV series began airing in 1999, uniting an old, disabled Bruce Wayne with a sassy juvenile delinquent named Terry McGinnis. With Bruce's constant training and help, Terry became a futuristic, high-tech version of the "Batman."
In this comic, the future will be tied directly to the comic book past, as Terry's foe in the series is killing off old Batman allies and villains from Bruce Wayne's era. According to Beechen, the key to the series is the two-word title of the story arc, which will be revealed to readers at the end of the first issue. (Any guesses?)
Newsarama talked with the writer to find out more.
Nrama: First, Adam, how did you get this gig? Was something you lobbied to do?
Adam Beechen: It came as a very pleasant surprise! Dan DiDio was out visiting in L.A. in December 2008 and mentioned the project to me as a possibility, suggesting I might come up with a pitch for Editor Ian Sattler. I did – the pitch was exactly two words, the title of the story arc. Ian loved it, I fleshed it out for six issues, and got the word it had been greenlit when I saw Dan again at the San Diego Comic Con last summer!
Nrama: Were you a fan of the show?
Beechen: Totally. I'm a sucker for stuff like that, reinventing and extending well-loved longtime properties in such a way that it gives diehard fans extra layers to the stuff they love, new fans an easy "in" to the mythology, and everyone new stories to enjoy. I thought the show was brilliant, and a lot of my favorite writers worked on it.
Nrama: It's pretty rare that a television show is developed showing a futuristic alternate version of a character from a comic book. Was this show as revolutionary as it seems? And why do you think it worked?
Beechen: It was definitely a unique and original approach to the Batman Universe, which I think fans really appreciated. I think it worked so well because, even though it was set in the future in a totally reimagined Neo-Gotham, it was recognizably "Batman" to anyone who had even the slightest knowledge of the character. Also, the costume was flat-out amazing!
Nrama: Will your mini-series explore the exact same Terry McGinnis we know from the series?
Beechen: Yup, same guy. Our story takes place after the animated series ends, so Terry's pretty experienced as Batman. But, as we'll see, he still has a lot to learn.
Nrama: Have you been researching the TV series? Is it kind of cool to be able to watch TV and call it work?
Beechen: I've been refreshing my memory on the TV series, and it's just as amazing as it was the first time around – It really holds up. Any "research" that can be done for one's job while one wears pajamas and eats nacho cheese chips with the television means you have a terrific job indeed.
Nrama: How does this series tie into current DC continuity? Or does it?
Beechen: It fits in, in that it directly references specific, important incidents from the Batman comic book continuity that never tied into the show previously. Also, just as the show told us what became of some of the characters from the comic continuity, this series will tell us a little more about some characters we never saw in the show.
Nrama: We saw Batman Beyond show up in the comic around Issue #23. Is this tied to that appearance at all?
Beechen: Our story doesn't link to that story directly – ours jumps off primarily from where the animated series left off.
Nrama: How does the story that Paul Levitz is telling tie into this series?
Beechen: I haven't read Paul's story yet, but to my knowledge, they won't be linked. There's lots of different stories left to be told about the Batman Beyond characters, so I'm sure we have room for both Paul's story and this one.
Nrama: Will we see Terry's origin story as Batman Beyond?
Beechen: We'll blurb the origin in the first issue, but we won't flash back to show it – we have too much story to tell! But readers should be able, with a minimum of back-story, to jump right in and figure out what's going on.
Nrama: We've been told that Terry will be fighting someone who's killing off old villains and allies of Bruce Wayne when he was Batman. Can you give us the details on that?
Beechen: Ooh, no, can't give you all the details on that, sorry. Suffice to say that something from Batman's Bruce Wayne-era past resurfaces in a very different and challenging way for Terry to confront. Actually, make that two things, at least one of them very deadly. And that when Bruce decides to take the Batman Beyond concept even further beyond, it really tests the relationship he has with Terry.
Nrama: What is the "Neo" Gotham City of the future like in Batman Beyond?
Beechen: It's even darker, if that's possible, albeit in a more futuristic, less outwardly grimy, way. And all the familiar futuristic stuff from the animated series will be here, if not more.
Nrama: What's your favorite thing about writing this series? Is it the Terry/Bruce relationship?
Beechen: I love the Bruce/Terry relationship. Cranky old guy/young whippersnapper repartee is always fun. But the best part, honestly, is to take part, in some small way, in the animated series I enjoyed so much but never had the chance to write for.
Nrama: What's the biggest challenge in writing the mini?
Beechen: Trying to get the voices right. That's always a challenge, no matter what story you're writing, but here it's an especially tricky balance because you have to get the voices right in a way that makes sense for both the comic book characters and the animated series characters.
Nrama: What do you think artist Ryan Benjamin will bring to the series?
Beechen: Energy, energy, energy! That's the first thing I think of when I think of Ryan's work. He'll really go to town with all the futuristic stuff and develop the atmosphere so it's almost its own character in the book. And I think it goes without saying that his action sequences will be fantastic. Ryan understands the grace of superheroic figures, and I can't wait to see his Batman swooping over Neo-Gotham. It'll make for some amazing visuals.
Nrama: What's the tone of the series going to be? The same as the TV series? Or will it have more of a comic book feel to it?
Beechen: The tone's pretty dark, probably closer to that of the comics than the animated series, but hopefully it'll feel right to fans of both!
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about the mini-series?
Beechen: Yeah, I wish I was going to be sitting with a bunch of readers when they hit the last page of the first issue and learn the title of the story arc. I really wish I could see their faces at that moment!
Oh, and Cassandra Cain won't be appearing, so haters can relax.