The GeeksverseBatman Beyond Unlimited #5-Review vs Marvel 2099 Unlimited

Batman Beyond Unlimited #5-Review vs Marvel 2099 Unlimited
Published on Thursday, June 21, 2012 by

I want to say something pithy like “This is the book that would happen if Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm collaborated,” but this book is far from childish. Putting aside anything happening in current rebooting or retconning the future is being written in the pages of Batman Beyond Unlimited.  $3.99 buys a hefty piece of the future. This is a great outlier to the monthly Bat-books.    This is another great slice of Beyond Adventures.  The cover touts this as a new adventure which is an interesting sentiment since these stories are presented digitally before being printed. Perhaps that is the future being in conflict with the past.

This title still collects several different glimpses at the Beyond universe. Glimpse is probably a weak word given the length of the stories. I felt like I had read a full comic before I made it to the history of Warhawk–continued from the last issue–and again was satisfied before I made it to the Superman Beyond story. The Super-Beyond story was briefest of the three but it brings in an important character from the past into the future.

I’ve sung these praises before and before and before. Those accolades still apply here.

I do want to assert the missed opportunity in this comic which is not a knock on the comic in hand, but rather a hope for the future of this title. Sadly, five issues in I’m not sure they’ll seize this particular opportunity.

In order to point to the chance that Batman Beyond Unlimited may miss in its current run I first want to return to Marvel’s late 90s dip into the future of their comics universe: Marvel 2099. Batman Beyond was compared to Marvel 2099 when the Bat-Cartoon hit the air waves initially. Many commonalities do exist: Move into the future of a franchise, distorted dystopia vision, some new characters, some “futurized” classic characters revisited. I won’t bog into a full blow by blow history of Marvel 2099 at this time. I do want to remind and revisit a few cogent points that fall beyond the comparison.

Marvel 2099 Sampler image

Marvel 2099 launched with 4 titles: Spiderman 2099, Doom 2099, Punisher 2099, and Ravage 2099. Those four titles crossed paths with each other after the launch of X-Men 2099 in an Asgard related event: Fall of the Hammer.

The signature colorful foil #1 comics revisited and re-visioned classic characters–Spidey, Punisher, and Doom–and also launched a brand new character–Ravage. These titles developed the world. Stan Lee was presenting a non-modest start.

Those four titles quickly picked up X-Men 2099 and a few other followers to flesh out the line: (not listed in order)

GHOST RIDER 2099 (1994)

HULK 2099

FANTASTIC FOUR 2099 (1996)

2099 UNLIMITED

2099 APOCALYPSE (1995)

2099: WORLD OF TOMORROW (1996)

2099 AD (1995)

X-MEN 2099: OASIS

X-NATION 2099 (1996)

2099 GENESIS (1996)

2099 SPECIAL: WORLD OF DOOM (1995)

2099: MANIFEST DESTINY (1998)

What stared with a four title launch beginning with Peter David penned Spider-Man 2099 became an entire world that spanned over several years. The auspicious project did not have the best sales record. Most of the titles peaked after the first issue and slumped off in sales quickly. Great stories wound up filling dollar bins across the country and many are still there–including many of those snazy foil #1s. It was not a perfect sales history. It was not a perfect world. It was a daring world that was completely committed to–in part at least–by the Marvel powers that be at the time.

One title in particular I want to highlight. Following Ghost Rider 2099 as a new title 2099 Unlimited was a major piece of the world view puzzle.

2099 Unlimited  launched a “new” character in the first issue that went on to land his own title: Hulk 2099. The subsequent issues also had copious amounts of stand alone short stories featuring the more successful characters. It also launched characters that went no where. Overall, 2099 Unlimited did what it was supposed to do by fleshing out stories noteworthy or forgettable from all over the 2099 universe.

2099 Unlimited did exactly what Batman Beyond Unlimited has been slow to do: expand the world. Batman Beyond Unlimited is spending most of its pages–digital or print–revolving around established characters. Lex Luthor’s daughter, super Metropolis cops, Dana’s brother and others are all great characters but they are barely moving beyond the core group. Readers are still focused by the creative teams on Metropolis and Gotham more than any other locations in the Beyond.

In contrast, Hulk 2099 took readers from the East Coast of 2099–centered heavily in New York— to the West Coast. X-Men had already moved toward Las Vegas. Doom 2099 can’t exist without struggling to regain control of his nation. Marvel’s 2099 had an entire world from realistic sci-fi into the Savage Land of 2099.

DC’s Beyond title is good but the focus is far from Unlimited.

As I mentioned,I am enjoying this series. I enjoy it more than the Hush centered Batman Beyond mini-series or the short run Batman Beyond title that ended oddly with Inque. Having Superman, Warhawk, and Kobra are all great additions to the Beyond world. They’re fodder for good stories and good stories have been crafted.

However, this title is far from Unlimited. 

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