Odds and Ends: Beginnings Even for Spirit, Rocketeer, and Batman Beyond

Two announcements have excited me for…last Summer!  I have been sitting on some posts for months, and they are only now hatching.

Batman Beyond 2.0 Kyle Higgins Thony Silas 1 Cover

According to the first announcement, Kyle Higgins will be taking over writing duties on DC’s ongoing monthly title, Batman Beyond.  The character has been written by Adam Beechen since 2010.

Higgins is a young writer broke into the comics industry a few years ago.  He has already written two of the oldest superheroes, Captain America and Batman.  Before that, he directed an interesting short film, The League, set in 1960’s Chicago and around the world’s first superhero labor union.

The comic, based on Bruce Timm’s animated series of the same name (1999-2001), began and ended several times, whether as miniseries or ongoing series.

After the success of Timm and crew’s two animated Batman series (1992-95 and 1997-99), which rode on the success of the Tim Burton films (1989 and 1992), Timm was tasked with producing a series for a new audience and therefore with a younger cast.

The result is a futuristic vision of Gotham, not in a perpetual 1930’s-40’s era from which the inhabitants never escape, nor in a later era of techno-architectural progress but the same ethico-political status.  The city has changed.  Architecturally, it is a city of dark surfaces and neon lights, like Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns but further in the timeline, as may be expected.  Politically, however, economics have ineluctably raised the city.  Crime–to turn a phrase–has become rust on metal and flickering fluorescence instead of dirt on brick and yellowed incandescence.

In the first episode, we see Batman in a modified suit, black and red, without a scalloped cape on his back to simulate flight but with a pair of jets built into the bottom of his boots to achieve it.  After he feels himself a failure in his latest mission, he calls it his last, and he doffs the cowl and quits his crusade, until he finds Terry McGinnis and appoints him as his protégé.

The animated series ingeniously keeps the tone specific to the Dark Knight, by retaining the presence of Bruce Wayne himself, while it also develops the fugue to its fullest measure, as the heroes, the villains, and the city around them change in the time allowed.

According to the second announcement, Mark Waid will be penning a crossover between Will Eisner’s city-dwelling, hat-and-tie hero, The Spirit, and Dave Stevens’ high-flying, jetpack-and-leather-jacket adventurer, The Rocketeer.  What more needs to be said?

Rocketeer Spirit Mark Waid Paul Smith 1 Cover