By Will Barber – Taylor
Following on from the previous edition in which we looked at the less than excellent Ghosts, we turn our attention to the future. Batman Beyond ran from 1999 to 2001 on The WB Television Network and chronicled the adventures of Terry McGinnis as Batman, tutored by a now aged Bruce Wayne. The animated TV series was so popular that it spawned its own comic series, which the story that is reviewed in this edition is taken from. So let’s delve into “In Blackest Day” (Batman Beyond 21 – 22).
While Ghosts focuses on Batman, In Blackest Day is more of a Justice League story. In the two part Batman Beyond story “The Call”, we see Superman’s Justice League of the future. The Justice League is featured in this story; the focus being on the current Green Lantern Kai Ro. Kai Ro is a young Tibetan monk who was given the ring only a few years before the events of the comic.
The story sees Kai Ro and the League battle someone who appears to resemble the Black Lanterns from earlier Green Lantern stories. The villain of the piece is in fact not a Black Lantern. He’s… just some guy. The story never really tells us who he is or why he dislikes Green Lanterns much. We find out at the end of the tale that he is drawing his power from Green Lantern’s power ring and has no power of his own but this doesn’t make him much of a compelling character. All we know is that he’s evil and that he can drain power from the Lantern’s ring and that he can use it to attack Lantern. Because the main villain of this piece is so one dimensional (I can’t really stretch to saying he is two dimensional as that would mean he’d at least have a reason to hate Green Lantern) the whole story simply centres on the Justice League wanting to stop the bad guy.
This means that the story has very little substance and is really just a boring romp around the world with our characters simply trying to stop the villain being naughty. It could be said that this comic could be excused because it is aimed at a slightly younger age range than the traditional age of comic book readers. However, this simplistic approach is rather repugnant in its automatic suggestion that some comic books are not as good because they are aimed at kids; simply because comic books were originally created with children in mind doesn’t mean that they should be dumbed down.
Secondly, the suggestion is rather insulting to children, making out that their fiction should not be complex or multi-layered for them which is plainly rubbish. How are children ever going to want to read progressive and interesting books later on if they are brought up just on sugar coated dross? Therefore I’d argue that simply shrugging off “In Blackest Day” as being bad simply because it is aimed at children is a gross insult to that audience. The story is bad because it lacks greater depth and substance to it which can sometimes be hard to pull off in a two part comic story.
The artwork in the comic closely follows the designs seen in the Batman Beyond TV show and are nice enough to look at. One bizarre thing though is that Superman features on the cover of both issues that feature this story yet never appears or is never mentioned. Did the artist just shove him on because he appeared in the TV show?
Overall “In Blackest Day” isn’t the best comic but it is far from the worst. Its main problem is lack of substance with its villain and therefore with its story. Without internal motivation and some deeper connection between the hero and antagonist the whole thing falls apart.
Next time we look at Sign of the Skull!