Review: Justice League Beyond #1 by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen

Justice League Beyond #1
Konstriction Chapter 1: Three-Ring Circus

Written by: Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen
Pencilled by: Dustin Nguyen
Inked by: Derek Fridolfs
Colored by: Randy Mayor
Lettering by: Saida Temofonte

Published by: DC
Cover Price: $0.99

Note : This review is for the digital version of the comic available from DC Comics on Comixology

Batman Beyond was just about the first comic I read when I was starting getting back into comics last year. Grey had asked me to review issue 2 of the ongoing, and for the hell of it, I picked up the mini-series from 2009. I loved the Batman Beyond cartoon when it aired, but hadn’t really even thought of the series in the years since. I vaguely knew that the character had shown up a few times here and there in DC books, but was surprised to see he has his own book again…and that it was so damn good!

I was pretty let down when DC canceled Batman Beyond temporarily just before DC Relaunch. Still not exactly what the point of that was, but I was glad when they announced it would be coming back as a digital-first release, along with Justice League Beyond.

Summary (contains spoilers): The issue starts with a news commentator talking about Splicers, a underground cultural phenomenom of people splicing their genetics with animals. In Neo-Gotham, a group of Slicers and Jokerz are about to have an all out gang war over the control of splicing technology.

The Justice League drops in, with Batman, Green Lantern, Warhawk, and Barda looking to stop this before it gets out of hand:

I am a sucker for superhero banter, and I really loved that line about the Zoo and Circus being in town.

The rest of the issue is basically superhero action with the heroes working together to take out both gangs. Some really cool moments showing how the team works together, and even some fun characterization slipped in like Terry talking about “his dog” Ace. It doesn’t take long for the heroes to stop both gangs, but Terry gets a call from Bruce Wayne saying that “He’s needed elsewhere.”

Review: I am real curious about that ending, are the two series going to flow back and forth, or is this just a one time thing? I would have no real problem either way, I am just curious how it will work.

This comic really had the feel of the Batman Beyond cartoon, which is definitely what I was hoping for. The action and teamwork with the Justice League was great. I especially liked the dialouge. Again it felt like I could be watching an episode of the cartoon.

Granted, I would have liked to see more of Terry’s supporting cast, but hopefully we will get more of that in the Batman Beyond segments. Adam Beechen has really helped bring the supporting cast to the forefront of the series, with great solo focus issues on Bruce Wayne, Inque, and Max.

I think this is because of my love for Abnett and Lanning, but I always love when one of the co-writers inks a book. That is just a weird quirk of mine.

Speaking of the art, my only real complaint with this comic (and it’s a big one) is that I thought the art was inconsistent at times. Look at the two pages I posted above. The standoff between the Splicers and Jokerz looked great…so much detail, all the characters had a lot of life to them.

Then the very next page, when the Justice League arrives, they just seem very lackluster. Seemed like a strange way to introduce the heroes, in my opinion.  Yeah, villains usually are more visually appealing than the hero, but when the heroes first show up, they should stand out and not look like a quick sketch.

I also thought it was a cruel bait and switch to have Superman, Micron, and Aquagirl on the cover, but not in the book. I always liked Aquagirl, especially since she was voiced by Jodi Benson (The Little Mermaid).

And (this is just petty), Konstriction?  Really?  What is this Mortal Kombat where everything needs to start with a K.  Worst title ever!

Honestly, I’m just glad that the Beyond Universe is back. At 99 cents this book was a real steal, and even if you only have a mild interest in the Beyond universe, it’s worth checking out. Fun superhero action, a great team book (which DC desperately needs more of), and you only have to wait a week to see more of these characters. If this was Marvel, that would cost you 4 bucks an issue.

Final Score: 7.5 – A really strong start to DC’s digital-first Beyond experiment. I did think the art was inconsistent at times, but I can’t wait to see more of these great series.

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