Batman Beyond (1999-2001)

Batman Beyond has, beyond the obvious (depicting an old Bruce Wayne and a new Batman who feels like someone who can actually fill the role), some fascinating aspects. One, it’s a show deeply rooted in superhero comics, one of the most conservative genres in comics, but it’s also a show that takes place in the future and tries its hands at doing science fiction, a genre that can be rather progressive (I know that there are exceptions, I’m just generalizing). This makes for an odd mix, a show that takes place in the future, yet one that is deeply suspicious of any new technology and depicts it nearly always as something threatening, be it human augmentations, mind uploads or similar stuff.

The second fascinating aspect of the show is that it doesn’t just convey the adage that crime doesn’t pay, most of the time the criminals and assorted enemies of Batman suffer rather gruesome fates. In that respect it reminds me of old horror comics, where the punishment for moral digressions of any kind (as perceived by the public opinion of the day) met with death or worse. This also happened to villains in the original Batman Animated series, but somehow I thought it felt even more pronounced here.

And yet, despite it’s conservative stance, I really like the show. Sure, most of the time the plots are rigged to make Batman’s stance the right one, his suspicions of new technology seemingly always proves right. The only exception is Zeta, a neat episode where the new technology shows to be as humans or even more so than it’s creators. Sadly this was spun off into a mediocre, short-lived series that completely lacked the complexities of the Batman Beyond episode that spawned it.

But most of the time I wished they would have shown a more progressive stance, or at least be more ambiguous about future technology. That said, exactly this position between SFnal aesthetics and superheroes morals makes it such an interesting, strange beast. Well, and the good writing, the good animation and all the rest.