(CLASSIC) BATMAN BEYOND [Vol. 3, 2010]

Written by Adam Beechen
Artwork by Ryan Benjamin, John Stanisci

Before I begin, I recognize that 2010 isn’t that long ago and that I may be stretching the idea of a ‘classic’ by regarding such a recent series as such. Since the six-issue run of Batman Beyond two years ago, DC launched a 2011 ongoing series, then relaunched the series as Batman Beyond Unlimited, a web-then-print series that compiled two series, Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond, into a single, monthly title, with an upcoming Superman Beyond in the works. Suffice it to say, Batman Beyond (Vol. 3) was a success.

Batman Beyond (Vol. 3) reintroduced the Dark Knight of Tomorrow to a whole new generation of comic book fans who may not have been old enough to have seen the original TV animated series. With a full decade of new DC universe material from which to draw, Adam Beechen wanted to breathe new life into the world of Terry McGuinness, Neo-Gotham, and the world of Batman in the near-future. When one of Batman’s oldest and deadliest enemies reappears in Neo-Gotham and starts murdering Batman’s rogue gallery, Terry must track down the new(?) Hush on top of dealing with a new Catwoman and a girlfriend who doesn’t know the truth about his after school job working for Mr. Wayne.

“Hush: Beyond” is important for introducing Dick Grayson into the ‘Beyond’ universe. While Tim Drake was the ‘antagonist’ of the 2001 feature-length film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Dick was never shown and barely mentioned. Eventually, the new Hush is revealed to be a disturbed clone of Dick Grayson attempting to rid the city of Batman’s villains to take the name for himself. As head of the scientific research organization Cadmus, Amanda Waller – a character used throughout DC comics and extended universe – authorized the ‘Batman: Beyond’ project to make sure Gotham would always have a Batman. Realizing Bruce Wayne’s clone would go rogue, Dick Grayson was the next logical template. After escaping before full maturation, the clone’s mind cracked and he used the Hush M.O. to hunt down Batman’s villains.

And while it has a competent narrative, “Hush: Beyond” makes a classic comic book misstep by relying on clone technology alone to drive the story. While the first four issues offer a fantastic reintroduction to the Batman Beyond universe, the revelation that Dick Grayson’s clone as the ‘big bad’ is sorely disappointing. Grayson’s story mirrors that of Tim Drake’s in Return of the Joker; instead of a villain taking over his psyche, Cadmus used Grayson’s psyche and created a villain. I’m sure this was somewhat orchestrated, and if it was, then it was done poorly. The clone-Grayson offers no real emotion behind his actions, and the nonexistent connection to the original Hush makes his behavior all the more ridiculous.

Obviously, Batman Beyond (Vol. 3) was popular enough to spawn an ongoing series that survived the culling of the September 2011 relaunch by restarting as an even stronger series. DC took some care to connect the ‘Beyond’ universe to the established DC timeline. But in the end, the results came up short and the series as a whole comes off as unnecessary.

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