Batman Beyond may not be on my top 3 fictions, but I do love the show. I would love it if it wasn’t a Batman series. The visuals, the music, and the character all made for a fantastic series. That’s why I was excited to see it return as a comic, much as I was with Batman’s parody, Darkwing Duck.
Some fans voiced concerns about Adam Beechen being attached to the comic, but seeing as his work has included animated series, including The Batman, and the comic version of Justice League Unlimited, he’s done the animated universes. Although I had my own misgivings, seeing as it would be done in the current DC style, I was hopeful that he wasn’t going to screw this up. He’s done the DCAU and wouldn’t frag it up too bad.
I was wrong. I was so very wrong. The latest issue is proof of how wrong I was. Note that if you haven’t read this (I envy you) and plan to (I pity you), there will be spoilers…and heartbreak.
In issue #5 of the series, which takes on the more “adult” tone that has sucked the enjoyment out of the DC Universe and lead to rape-happy supervillains and dead little girls, the storyline has featured not Terry’s foes, but Bruce’s. Someone has been killing Bruce’s old foes, including Signalman and the Calendar Man (plus a failed attempt on the Mad Hatter). If you’ve read the comic or my reviews (including today’s) you know that the culprit is a clone of Dick Grayson trying to make himself appear to be Hush.
This wasn’t enough, however, as “Hush Beyond” (or as I’ll refer to him from here out “Clone Dick”) has also killed three of Terry’s villains…“off-screen”! That means that now they’re dead and nobody can use them (until they find a way to resurrect him or claim that Clone Dick was lying or mistaken). That means some good characters were tossed into the trash. So who’s dead and why?
Not one of Terry’s biggest foes, and I’m not sure they could have done anything with him, so his passing, more hinted at than outright stated like the other two, doesn’t bother me nearly as much. Known as Walter Shreeve, all he really wanted was to continue his research in the manipulation of sound. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of signing up with Derek Powers, who did a little manipulating of his own, turning Shreeve into his personal assassin, giving him his new nickname when Batman foiled him and his identity was exposed. From that day on Shreik became a criminal. Kind of a tragic story, really, and karma would later rob Shreeve of his hearing.
I say that I’m not sure they could have done anything with him, but I could very well be wrong. Shreik would appear in the original comics, an adaptation of the TV series, as well and he did make for a decent nemesis for Terry. Still, he would be the weakest of this list were it not for…
I know why this guy was killed off…he was a goofy character, almost comic relief. I suppose we should be glad he didn’t rape Dana or something, but Stan was always fun to watch. Wikipedia refers to him as “a rabidly anti-government terrorist who rebels against what he sees as a corrupt system”. That seems pretty accurate, as is his method of dealing with the situation: blowing stuff up in ways even the Mythbusters hadn’t thought of.
Now when I say “weakest”, I don’t mean physically. Stan works out like crazy (appropriate) , seems to run purely on adrenaline reserves that rivals the Hulk on the worst day of his life, and is an explosives expert. No origin was ever given for Mad Stan, and we never asked for one. He’s threatened Barbara Gordon, reprogrammed Zeta (a government assassin android that decided he didn’t want to kill, leading to a spin-off cartoon of his own), and over higher registration fees for his vicious attack dog.
Did I mention that Stan was mad? Clone Dick takes his arsenal as part of his plan to restart the “No Man’s Land” Earthquake (which shouldn’t be part of Beyond continuity since it didn’t happen in the DCAU). No report on what happened to poor Boom-Boom up there.
Of all the characters in Terry’s rouges gallery, this one is disappointing not only because of the death but because it WAS off-panel. Clone Dick even uses Stalker’s spear in his most recent battle with the new Batman. Stalker was a hunter wanted for poaching until fate caused him to be attacked by an animal while on a hunt. In an operation that was surprisingly graphic for Saturday Morning, he was given a cybernetic spine to replace the one the animal destroyed.
The first time we meet him (voiced by Carl Lumbly, who we saw in action in the last Saturday Night Showcase) he is looking for the ultimate prey, Batman! He even goes so far as to kidnap Terry’s little brother, Matt. However, he does have a strong sense of honor and never harmed the boy and wanted Batman to have a fair chance. In his next appearance the two actually work together when Kobra terrorists plan to release a plague in Neo-Gotham City. Despite their philosophical differences they make a good team.
But the real shame here isn’t the loss of such a complex character so much as you have to figure a fight between a cybernetically enhanced hunter (with plenty of his own skills and gadgets) and the clone of a guy trained by Batman must have been EPIC! Stalker wouldn’t have gone down like Calendar Man, blown up by his own bomb when he was too old to put up much of a fight. That would have been a fight worthy of pay-per-view, plus Stalker realizing that the hunter had become the prey. Imagine how that would have gone. And we don’t even at least get to see it? Clone Dick just shows up with his spear, calls him “the late Stalker” and that’s all we got?
If you’re going to waste the potential of these characters at least let their fights be epic, and give us a fight worth watching! Stalker’s especially would have been awesome!
That’s the big problem, though: the potential. Shreik may have worked better than I think, Mad Stan is always good for a laugh, and Stalker is a guy who could give the original Batman a challenge in his prime. Plus, with the animated series airing on The Hub, kids are going to be exposed to this series for the first time, while older viewers will be reacquainted with the Batman of the Future (the title used in some other countries). Then they will see this comic and say “hey, they based a comic off of the cartoon!”, read it and see Dick damaged, Clone Dick killing people that they just saw on TV, and wonder the same thing I am.
What the hell were you thinking, Beechen?
But the real worst part? There’s another issue to go, and then the ongoing series. I’ll get the last issue for review purposes, but I won’t touch the ongoing with this writer attached to it. Even with low expectations, you let me down, Adam Beechen, and you screwed up this series.