Batman Beyond Rebirth Comics | The Bat Saving Teenage Lives in the Year 2000 and Beyond
I’ve said it here on the website, as well as our Geek News Bat News: A Batman Podcast. I don’t come from the world of comics. I do come from a world of Batman. Just not Batman comics. And yet, the most current Batman Beyond comics of today have brought me back full circle to my childhood/teenage roots of cartoon Batman. Around the year 2000, I discovered an animated Batman of the future that nearly saved my teenage life. This is why these new Rebirth Beyond comics mean so much to me.
My first memory of obsessive Bat intrigue was Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman on VHS.
It was Jack Nicholson Joker frying a gangster to death with the trick hand buzzer. Then, it was the Animated Series a few years later. But, for a typical hiatus of years thereafter, I became a bit too cool for the animated Bat. When male puberty hits, comic book properties tend to go by the wayside for some time– unfortunately for most, they go away for good. I don’t know that my departure from the Bat universe was necessarily deliberate because I know I never fully denounced my interest. Though, the interest did die down.
Then, Batman Beyond hit. It hit during a time when I needed it most, too.
Often, the stories we keep closest are those that helped us along the way at some point in our lives. They helped us get through the things we didn’t want to think about. For a half hour, they let us forget about the pain. The problems. Whatever it was you needed to escape. I was sixteen. I had recently gotten in some trouble (minor teenage trouble, nothing serious), so I had to keep my nose clean. I had to be good for a bit. Faithful as sixteen year old peers tend to be, my “friends” at the time seemed to now have no use for me as a buddy. Why hang out with someone if they can’t have the exact type of fun we want to have? Why be there for them when times are rough? What would I get out of that?
The best move possible at this juncture: Take this “friendly” rejection as a blessing in disguise. Seek out genuine, healthy friendship.
My preferred course of action: Daily pity parties straight home after school, alone with Batman Beyond.
As much as I love Batman Beyond, this is still really depressing to admit: I can say for sure from memory that that show was literally the only thing I looked forward to every day. Thank god for kids programming syndication. Otherwise, the only day worth living would’ve been Saturday, or whatever day they happened to run new episodes at the time. The “WB Network” as it were, ran Beyond every day after school, so if I missed a day, something was even more wrong in my life.
At the very least, you’d assume grades would be the one thing I’d be taking care of. No job; the new reality of no friends; Definitely, no sports. All the time in the world and I was still failing classes. Nothing to be proud of ’cause nothing was getting done. Very little self-worth. And, when a sixteen year old kid thinks this little of himself, it’s positive examples like Batman and Batman Beyond that end up meaning everything.
While Batman: The Animated Series will always be my first consistent love of the Bat, Batman Beyond will forever have a uniquely deep meaning to me. I was older at the time of Beyond, so I could see more directly the impact of TV and story escapism from rough times. Believe me, times were rough early on, too. But, again, I was much younger so it’s harder to objectively tell how important Batman was to my mental and emotional health. I recall being self aware during the Beyond years, reflecting on my pathetic routine: school, bus, Batman Beyond/snack, TV, dinner, TV, passing out on the couch in front of the TV. Repeat. Depressing.
But, I had Batman Beyond.
Over the past few years, I’ve had a similar renaissance of interest in the Bat. Again, my past hiatus was around 8th and 9th grade, and then Beyond brought me back. My more recent return to Gotham was interestingly due mostly to podcasts. In particular, Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman, on the Smodcast Network. I was pretty new to podcast listening, so that could have been partly why, but I was obsessed. And, I mean that almost literally. Not necessarily obsessed with Smith himself, though his work has had a huge impact on my life, in particular my childhood. Rather, I think my obsession was the beautifully simple idea that you could just have a show where you “sit around and talk about Batman” as Smith always puts it.
It was a mix of things about Fatman that brought me back.
One, of course, being the quality of programming. You have an indie film/Batman nerd master interviewing all the biggest figures of the Bat. Second, was educational. I’m personally a huge academic nerd for subjects that I like, so the Bat education was one dopamine shot after the next of new and interesting knowledge. Undoubtedly, nostalgia’s a hell of a drug too, so all of the pure childhood love and wonder for the material reawakened and kept me listening. Though, I think for a 28 year old man (at the time), it was Kevin Smith’s confidence enough in himself to never feel too old for stuff. Especially, the stuff you like. Who cares if you’re a grown man going on thirty? If you like something, spend as much time as you can in that world.
Fast forward to the Beyond present.
A few weeks ago, I got completely caught up with the newest DC Rebirth run of Batman Beyond. The first issue of of this run dropped back in September 2016. The newest #8 dropped on May 24th and it was fantastic! Both issue #7 and #8 throw you some unexpected curveballs from the classic Bat canon. Without specifying, we get appearances and references from the legendary League of Shadows leader, Ra’s al Ghul. Then, for last issue’s money shot, Damian Wayne (son of Bruce and former Robin) is revealed!
The Beyond universe has an interesting writing advantage when it comes to surprising your audience.
We don’t know for sure in this future who’s alive and who isn’t. So, it allows for more surprises, reveals, unexpected turns. In the standard present timeline of Batman, you expect, if not demand the abysmally deep bench of Batman villains to appear at any moment. And, I say that in the most reverent and respectful way. But, in Neo Gotham, you’re immersed into such a different futuristic world that you sometimes forget the potential for all those classic pulls and deep cuts. Dan Jurgens (writer) and Bernard Chang (artist) have been beautifully pulling from the old toy box in a very clever and fun way.
We will get into more details about these new Beyond comics very soon, both here at the site as well as on our Geek News Bat News podcast. Today, I wanted to talk more about what the original show meant to me as a sixteen year old and why it means so much to me now. The other thing I personally love about Batman Beyond and The Animated Series is that I can be a legitimate source of information about these topics. These two iterations of the Bat were both born during my lifetime as I mentioned. Batman comics, on the other hand, are 78 years of art history. Not coming from the world of comics, I don’t feel enough credibility quite yet to review Batman comics. As many as I’ve read and as much as I love them, it’s just not my background. Animation is.
So, agree or don’t agree. I feel I have the credibility to review and dig into some Batman Beyond comics. While the medium is still something I’m learning, the universe feels just like home. One that I’ve known for 17 years at this point.
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