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Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition
The World's Finest Review



Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition
Written by: Hilary J. Bader, Rich Fogel, Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt, Paul D. Storrie, and Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Art by: Craig Rousseau, Rick Burchett, Min S. Ku, Joe Staton, and others
Cover by: Bruce Timm
Synopsis: The year is 2039 and it's been decades since anyone last spotted the Batman. Gotham has prospered into a megalopolis of neon and steel. But for all its glitz and advanced tech, it is still one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. When fate brings teenager Terry McGinnis into the life of reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne, the time will come for a new Dark Knight to rise. This compendium collects Batman Beyond (vol. 1) #1-6, Batman Beyond (vol. 2) #1-24--which has never been collected in its entirety--and a guest appearance in Superman Adventures #64.
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Softcover Collected Edition
Release Date: March 5, 2024
Pages: 752
Price: $59.99US



Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition
Review by James Harvey

Gathering over 30 adventures starring the Tomorrow Knight, Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition is a near-perfect, near-complete collection of the fun - if uneven - original tie-in comic titles based on the beloved Batman Beyond cartoon. While never hitting the same heights as The Batman Adventures, and other such tie-in books published by DC Comics at the time, the comics were thoroughly entertaining despite the occasional less-than-stellar effort. There's still plenty of solid stories to be found in here, and die-hard fans will definitely want to scoop this book up.

Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition finds Gotham City roughly 40 years after the events of Batman: The Animated Series, and it's become a megalopolis of neon and steel. But for all its glitz and advanced tech, it's still one of the most dangerous cities on the planet. When fate brings teenager Terry McGinnis into the life of reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne, the time will come for a new Dark Knight! The compendium collection includes Batman Beyond (vol. 1) #1-6, Batman Beyond (vol. 2) #1-24, and Terry's guest appearance in Superman Adventures #64.

It didn't take long for DC Comics to kick-off a tie-in title to Batman Beyond, with the first issue of the Tomorrow Knight's initial comic, a six-issue mini-series, hitting shelves within two weeks of the cartoon's prime-time debut in Jan. 1999. Following the success of the mini-series, DC Comics quickly followed it up with an ongoing series, which ran for 24 issues, and published an adaptation of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. And now, 25 years after Batman Beyond first hit the small screen, DC Comics has collected the majority of these comics in a handsome and hefty (if slightly incomplete) collection.

Comprised mostly of single-issue stories, with the couple two-parters thrown in, the Batman Beyond tie-in comics offered up new adventures starring the Dark Knight of the Future along with "sequels" (sorta) to a handful of episodes. Unfortunately, not every issue was a success. For every story that feels ripped right from the show itself, there's usually another that feels like a discarded script repurposed for the comic. It's a mixed-bag without a doubt, but the book does soar when it hits its marks.

Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition kicks off with covering the first Batman Beyond mini-series, which features a two-part adaptation of the cartoon's series premiere and four original stories. The adaptation is basically a bridged retelling of Batman Beyond's first two episode, though it tosses in a new prologue bridging some of the time between The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond. It's totally serviceable and is a pretty adequate retelling, and not much else, but they're unfortunately arguably the strongest issues of the entire mini-series.

The mini-series' four original installments are fairly weak overall, with a tale bringing Inque back into the fold being the best amongst them (and neatly resets itself as the end to avoid continuity snafus). Blight also pops in here, but the story is a convoluted mess that doesn't fit at all with what's established in the Batman Beyond cartoon. Etrigan also guests to help Batman handle a demon and an actual mummy falls in love with Dana, Terry's girlfriend, in the two remaining and absolutely befuddling adventures. Thankfully, it's only up (mostly) from here.

The 24-issue ongoing series feels a bit more on the mark when it comes to bringing Batman Beyond to the comic page, with the vast majority of issues featuring notable foes and other characters from the cartoon. There's even a great issue, focused on Commissioner Barbara Gordon, that serves as a pretty effective follow-up to "Over The Edge" from The New Batman Adventures. The ongoing also introduces a few original characters to the tie-in comics, but none of them end up being really memorable.

Beyond the aforementioned "Over The Edge" semi-sequel in Batman Beyond #13, titled "Commissioner of Fear," there's still quite a few other issues from the ongoing series worth revisiting (or checking out for the first time) in this chunky collection. There's a two-part Justice League team-up that's a blast of a time, titled "In Blackest Day" from issues #21-22, and the return appearance of Inque in "Ebony Tears" from issue #2, where we seeks out a cure for her condition, are two more highlights from Batman Beyond's first swing at an ongoing series. Shriek's jailbreak in "Pitch Perfect," from issue #5, finds Terry up against staggering odds in another of the title's best offerings.

Further notable yarns include a Blight/Stalker confrontation in "Prey or Hunter, Hunter or Prey" from issue #18 (despite it unnecessarily bringing Blight back following his demise in the Batman Beyond episode "Ascension"), Terminal's mental meltdown in "Terminal Velocity" from issue #12, and Curare starting a league of her own in "The Last of Her Kind" from issue #19. Additionally, "Toy Wonder" from issue #10 is a surprisingly heavy entry worth a read, a fight between Terry and Bruce in debut issue, "Grounded," should keep readers on their toes, and "Terry's Mom Dates a Splicer" from issue #24 is a light, cute little wrap to the book.

The quality gets pretty mixed from here on out. While there's still plenty more entertaining stories collected here, there's also some that are sadly less-than-stellar. The worst offenders here include the naive and borderline offensive "Royal Mayhem" from issue #19, where Ma Mayhem attempts to kidnap a Middle Eastern princess, and "Two of a Kind" from issue #4, which bizarrely adds identical twins to the Royal Flush Gang family tree. Despite the commendable talent, some of the issues here just don't work.

The regular writer of both the Batman Beyond mini-series and ongoing titles assembled here is Hilary J. Bader, with sporadic co-writing assistance from Rich Fogel and a few fill-ins by Jason Hernandez-Rosenblatt (#15 and #20) and Paul D. Storrie (#23). Bader - an Emmy Award-winning creator who also wrote for Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, and (appropriately) Batman Beyond, among other cartoons - has an unsurprisingly solid grasp of the characters and and whips up some pretty fun corkers, but there's also a fair share of duds mixed-in.




When it comes to the artwork, there's nary a weak link to be found here. Contributors include Rick Burchett and Joe Staton, who split the mini-series with three issues each, with Craig Rousseau coming aboard as regular artist for the ongoing. Burchett would return and pencil the two-part Justice League team-up, with Min S. Ku filling-in for a few issues (FYI: The first interview WF performed was with Ku about his work on the Batman Beyond comics). Bruce Timm, James Tucker, Darwyn Cooke, Bob Smith, Terry Beatty, Ronnie del Carmen, Brian Stelfreeze and Rousseau all provided cover artwork, rounding out the legitimately impressive roster of artistic talent.

There's a lot to like about Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition when it comes to the stories collected within. The artwork here is consistently eye-popping and it definitely picks up the slack whenever the writing falls short. The writing quality unfortunately doesn't ever really hit the same heights as The Batman Adventures and its assorted relaunches, but there's still a lot of terrific Batman Beyond adventures here that fans will enjoy.

The physical collection and its presentation also marks a strong overall effort by DC Comics, with each comic here looking as sharp as can be, despite a couple glaring omissions. First, not including Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker - The Official Comics Adaptation here is a massive and sloppy oversight on the publisher's part. There's truly no reason for it not to be here, especially since Batman: Mask of the Phantasm - The Official Comics Adaptation is included with The Batman Adventures Omnibus and Batman & Robin Adventures: Sub-Zero - The Official Comics Adaptation is part of The Batman & Robin Adventures Omnibus, two other similar collections from DC Comics. While not a dealbreaker, it's an avoidable frustration for completionists that truly has no reason to be. Terry's guest-appearance in Superman Adventures #64 is even in here, so why not Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker - The Official Comics Adaptation?

Another missed opportunity here is DC Comics not including the unpublished The Terrific Trio story originally slated for the third issue of the ongoing Batman Beyond series, which was shelved due to the Trio's clear similarities to Marvel Comics' The Fantastic Four. There should've been cover art and a sample of the interiors on display at the very least. For a special 25th Anniversary Edition release such as this, a little extra care could've been paid so there's some actual bonus content to mark the occasion. And, just to be super nit-picky, the unwieldy name of this collection really should've been simplified to something less cumbersome.

A welcome and long-overdue release for The Tomorrow Knight's earliest animated adventures on the four-color page, Batman Beyond: The Animated Series Classics Compendium - 25th Anniversary Edition is a sizable and straight-forward collection, albeit an imperfect one. While the story quality can vary issue-to-issue, the artwork is top-notch through-and-though and alone should draw in readers page after page. The absence of the Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker adaptation is pretty staggering, as is the lack of any real bonus materials for the celebratory tome, but even without this book still overflows with plenty of Batman Beyond goodness worthy of any long-time fan or collector's shelf. Highly Recommended!


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