Bruce Wayne is dead, leaving Terry McGinnis to uphold the legacy of Batman. This is the first time Terry will have to go solo without the voice of his mentor and friend guiding him. During the events of Batman: Urban Legends #7, published by DC Comics last year, Bruce’s pacemaker overloads and kills him, but not before he gives Terry his blessings. An enraged Terry tears the city apart in search of the culprit, only to come back home to the Batcave and realize it was Gotham itself that killed Bruce. A super-intelligence, dubbed the Neo-Gotham, now runs through the city’s veins and has identified Batman as the virus. Written by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing with artwork from Max Dunbar and Sebastian Cheng and lettering by Aditya Bidikar, Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #1 starts a new chapter for Batman.
Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #1 pits Terry McGinnis against the sentinel AI avatar of Gotham City. It has been two months since Neo-Gotham woke up and killed Bruce Wayne and two months since Terry started his solitary crusade against the criminal element. However, he is nowhere near cleansing the streets of crime or turning Gotham on his side. To add to the predicament, Bruce’s other legacy, the Wayne-Powers corporation, is now run by a former crook, the Holographic Man. Batman investigates the new CEO when he comes across a cargo ship carrying drug supplies. As he is about to jump into action, an agent of Neo-Gotham stops him in his tracks. Now he has two choices: stand down or join Gotham in her upcoming genocide.
Terry McGinnis is at a crossroads in his life. With his mentor gone and the number of allies dwindling, Terry is trying hard to keep the peace in his city while desperately clamoring to keep Bruce’s legacy intact. Loneliness has gripped him as Batman is spread thin over Gotham putting out fires. Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #1 envisions a different kind of Gotham, one that is aesthetically techno-modern but has transcended the barriers of technology and is now turning on its own citizens. The only person in its way is its sworn protector. A linear narrative with a heavy emphasis on its protagonist, the story progresses through Terry’s point of view, using first-person narrative boxes to explore his inner feelings and resolve him. The debut issue of this batman beyond reboot does well to provide exposure through character interactions. The action kicks up a notch in the latter half, with new adversaries rearing their heads.
Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #1 showcases a neon-lit, futuristic Gotham City filled with high-tech machinery and ultramodern urban architecture. Artist Max Dunbar uses crisp lines and elaborately detailed backgrounds to infuse the pages with animated energy that gives off a cartoonish vibe. To not take away from the seriousness of the plot, Dunbar employs a variety of techniques, from glaring close-ups to brooding panels. However, what catches the eye are the full-length splash pages that frame the characters, new and old, in their natural element. Meanwhile, the coloring best brings out the neo-futuristic aesthetic of the book. Colorist Sebastian Cheng’s use of alternate tones of colors to create light and shadow gives depth to the artwork. Cheng douses the Gotham sky in an eternal shade of soothing purple, creating a great contrast with Batman’s black and red.
From the get-go, Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #1 never seems to let its foot off the gas, continuing the momentum and suspense that started in the pages of Batman: Urban Legends #7 all the while adding new flavors into the mix as the story progresses. A fan-favorite character, Terry McGinnis is at a rough spot in his life, and it is only going to get tougher. After years of listening to an old grumpy man’s voice in his head, Terry has developed an unhealthy habit of speaking to an absent father figure. His grief from him gives the overlaying narration a melancholic tune. As times get tough, Terry must brace himself as Gotham comes for all that stand against it. Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #1 ends on a narrative hook that is bound to bring readers back for more.
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