A.I

Batman Beyond kicks off a new era by murdering Bruce Wayne

I’ve never been truly hooked by any Batman Beyond comic, but a 30-page preview story sold me on writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and artist Max Dunbar’s upcoming Batman Beyond: Neo-Year, hitting shelves in April.

My biggest hurdle is that the Batman Beyond costume doesn’t hold up when drawn with greater realism. Terry Mcginnis’ singular, simple silhouette might represent the nadir of the DC Animated Universe style, and its pioneering use of red on black has left an indelible mark on the costumes of the comics Batfamily ever since. But the moment you treat Terry like a real human with anatomy instead of a kind of goth Gumby figurine, the illusion breaks.

In “Wake,” a preview story in this week’s Batman: Urban Legends #7, Dunbar and colorist Aditya Bidikar show that you can craft a more “house style” Batman Beyond world without sacrificing the stylization that makes the whole thing work visually.

Also, Bruce Wayne dies, so that’s a pretty bold creative move.

What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)


Image: Jackson Lansing, Collin Kelly, Max Dunbar/DC Comics

“Wake” does a lot as the first 30 pages of an Urban Legends anthology issue. The comic gives readers the supporting cast and villains status quo, the future series’ core concept (Terry’s first year of being Batman without Bruce in his ear) and something the cartoon series never did: Actually have Bruce describe why he stopped being Batman in his own words — right before he dies.

“Promise you won’t become a scary monster, Uncle?” says a voice over box as M’Baku, resistance fighter against the Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda, confronts his Earthly namesake in the form of a space suit emblazoned with a gorilla-face emblem in The Last Annihilation: Wakanda (2021).

Image: Evan Narcisse, Germán Peralta/Marvel Comics

One of the things that gets me really nerdy is that the timing of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run meant that Ryan Coogler’s film was able to borrow heavily from its design, and Coates was able to borrow right back for his final arc. Black Panther the movie gave huge facelifts to characters like Killmonger, Nakia, and Man-Ape, and Coates used his Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda arc to introduce a set of space-born characters named after those distant Wakandan figures but without any of their problematic continuity baggage.

Last Annihiliation: Wakanda builds expertly on what Coates left behind, with the utterly comic-booky idea of M’Baku confronting the legacy of his supervillain namesake while he wrestles with going from resistance fighter against the Intergalactic Empire to a warrior for its new emperor, T’Challa. Also, he’s kind of raising a kid? It’s a great one-shot.

Over a double page spread, Laika the Russian cosmonaut dog floats out of her disintegrating craft and into a psychedelic cube floating in space, which is also breaking up into smaller cubes with Laika inside them. “Just like your primates [... Laika] did not die upon launch,” says a mysterious man. “This is insane,” replies Dr. Pembrook. “What happened to them, replies the man, it is beyond everything,” in Primordial #1.

Image: Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino/Image Comics

Primordial, a new six-issue miniseries from Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth) and Andrea Sorrentino (Joker: Killer Smile) is an alternate history cold war thriller in which the first animals the US and Russia launched into space were abducted by some kind of cosmic force. I have no idea where it’s going, but boy howdy, Sorrentino’s art is just off the chain in this one.

“Yes, until the day I die,” Batman says, as Catwoman holds the lasso of truth around him. “All that ruckus jsut for this?!” exclaims Wonder Woman. “You’ve got to be kidding,” in Batman: The World (2021).

Image: Mathieu Gabella/Thierry Martin/DC Comics

Batman: The World has some forgettable skipping stones, as is the case with all anthologies, but it also has some real gems. The real appeal here is getting to sample a bunch of international artists, writers, and cartoonists as they tell Batman stories set in their home countries. The French (above, a Catwoman heist in the Louvre, naturally) and Spanish teams were particular favorites of mine.

Two young male characters — one with plants for hair and the other with big, dark, feathered wings — share a longing look, a cute smooch, and then blushes all around in Wynd #10 (2021).

Image: James Tynion, Michael Dialynas/Image Comics

James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas’ Wynd! It’s still so cute! I think the way I’d describe this is: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power but on the queer boy side of the scale.

An announcer introduces Prince Nematode, a small pink worm who stands upright on a rock to say “Humble greetings,” in a tiny voice in Suicide Squad: King Shark #3 (2021).

Image: Tim Seeley, Scott Kolins/DC Comics

A mass of wriggling pink worms on top of a rock, with a small voice from inside them saying “Let the sacred orgy begin,” in Suicide Squad: King Shark #3 (2021).

This is Prince Nematode, divine champion of the god of worms, and he is my new favorite comic book character.

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