Thursday, September 12, 2013

Comic Review: Batman Beyond: Hear No Evil (2002)

Batman Beyond: Hear No Evil masquerades as a standard children's picture book tying into the ever-popular market of Saturday morning cartoons. The flavor of May, 2002 happened to be the outstanding Batman Beyond animated program, which served as a sequel to the award-winning Batman: The Animated Series and would influence not only the DC Animated Universe, but DC's entire franchise as we know it (even seeing a revival as a monthly title in 2011 which ties directly into the main DC universe). As I mentioned, however, this book, much like Batman himself, is merely undercover. Under its cover you won't find the standard morally-infused childhood fare, but a solid 24-page comic story.

The comic is definitely written for a younger audience, but unlike a lot of such material, it doesn't ever treat them like idiots. Most children's media is far up its adult ass that it can't help talking down to the kids, and that's something that put even me off in my younger years (and I like everything!). This book, on the other hand, just wants to tell a good story. And it does. Well.

Each page is split into a few large panels with surprisingly good art which matches up pretty well with the cartoon it's cashing in on. The dialogue is simple and toned down to appease the censors, but none of it feels contrived and it all flows very naturally. The characters all sound like they're supposed to, and you can tell that the writer, Scott Peterson, really got into their heads and went the extra mile to not just tell a story which is "good enough" for children, but to tell a Batman Beyond story.

While there isn't a moral in plain sight, the book does adequately deliver a message of kindness. There's all of one obvious plot hole which can be ironed out with just the tiniest bit of imagination, and contrary to form, significant character development! I mean, there's no surprises for an adult, we'll all know how it's going to end practically before it's even begun. However, that doesn't detract from the effectiveness of the story and the superb pacing. Honestly, if this were published as a one-shot story in the monthly title, I wouldn't be disappointed one bit.

Let me just answer your questions real quick: story, good. Art, good. Characters, good. Book, good. As far as comics go, it's not the grand epic of a more mature tale, but who could expect it to be? Now, as far as children's comics go? Oh yeah. This is good. This is nine out of ten good. The back cover lets me know that it sold for $3.25 US, which is actually less than modern comics. Weird, considering this will last longer when exposed to its target audience.

You know what the best part is? Any age will enjoy it. I enjoyed it enough to read it again, and I'm sure I'll do so a third time in the future. If you're going to slap four bucks on a comic anyway, might as well make it a good one.

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