Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Ryan Sook, Jeremy Lawson and Tony Avina
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by DC Comics
Review by Oscar Maltby
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
Dan Jurgens and Ryan Sook go back to Bat-basics with Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1, a Jokerz-filled opener that offers a tour around Neo-Gotham whilst also serving as a solid intro to Terry McGinnis: Batman of the Future. Despite it's accessibility, Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1 offers little for seasoned fans of the Bat to sink their teeth into except some accomplished artwork from Ryan Sook.
Dan Jurgens spends the bulk of this first issue setting up the world of Batman Beyond, recapping Terry McGinnis' tragic history and his constant dealings with the Clown Prince of Clown-themed gang the Jokerz. Nothing in this issue's twenty pages will be anything new to any reader who's ever consumed any Batman Beyond media before, clumsily retold through narration and convenient dialogue. “We lost dad years ago and mom died in the war.” says Terry at one point to the benefit of everyone except his baby brother, who is probably more than well aware of the status of their own parents' mortality. With Batman Beyond's "Rebirth," Jurgens has labored to reset everything back to zero, and it comes at the price of smooth storytelling. So many important facts are outright stated, apropos of very little and exclusively for the benefit of the reader. The true characters of Batman Beyond's cast don't really shine through the hammer blow subtlety of Jurgens' world-building. Away from dialogue, Jurgens' builds on his initial origin story with the abduction of a social worker and a tussle with a venom-infused clown behemoth, steadily upping the stakes until we get to the obligatory (and a little bit predictable) cliffhanger finale.
Ryan Sook adeptly illustrates Dan Jurgens' grim future with energetic pencils that lifts Jurgens' middling script to a fun read. His Batman's cowl has wide eyeholes, suggesting robotics with their angular shape and colored a menacing bright red by Jeremy Lawson and Tony Avina. Sook's artwork is intensely detailed; he drafts a tense human hand complete with furrows of sinew and bone, shows the flawed skin beneath a cruel Jokerz' make-up and doesn't shy away from illustrating all the craggy features of an elderly Bruce Wayne. Sook's panel layouts are wildly diverse, utilising break-away panels and pictures-in-pictures to great effect. On page eight, Terry expertly knocks two Jokerz from their bikes, splitting the wide horizontal panels of the page into two with the force of his blows. In another, a splash page of Batman flying high above Neo-Gotham is intruded upon by three increasingly zoomed-in panels of Terry as he glides down into old Gotham City. It's impressive visual storytelling, a sign of a great creative team working in synergy to create a kinetic and visually arresting comic book.
Batman Beyond: Rebirth #1 is a clunky but visually appealing reset for Terry McGinnis. Although Dan Jurgens is capable of much less intrusive storytelling than this, he succeeds in clearly setting up the Beyond universe for the entirely uninitiated. Ryan Sook's imaginative panel layouts work well with Avina and Lawson's bold palette of deep blacks and reds, interlaced with calming blue to create a visually appealing comic book with a wonderful sense of flow from panel to panel and page to page. Now that the "Rebirth" is out of the way, hopefully Jurgens will focus on character and plot to live up to Sook's artwork.