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Your Alternative Comics Beat For August 23rd, 2013: Batman Beyond 2.0

Alt Beat With Kenneth Porter
 

Hey there Alt Beat fans! I know it’s been a while, so I’ll jump right into my column. I haven’t had a lot of time to read this summer due to project commitments, and now that I have time I’ve been playing catch up in the days leading to my next semester of college. What have I been reading you ask? Well, to be honest, it’s something that might stretch the concept of alternative a little too far when it comes to comics.

I want to talk about Batman Beyond 2.0.

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I know, I know, I picked a Batman book again. How could that even be an alternative to the normal things you have piling up in your pull box? I can defend my choice with a simple answer . . . It’s just too good not to talk about.

Kyle Higgins’ work on such bat titles as Gates of Gotham and Nightwing made me an instant fan of his work, and when I heard that he was moving over to Batman Beyond I was excited at the fresh blood being brought on the title. Don’t get me wrong, I love Adam Beechen’s work on the future Dark Knight of Neo-Gotham, but it’s always fun to see a new creative team take over on a beloved character. Yes, I said it; Terry McGinnis is a beloved character.

It’s not an argument I really have to make, because I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like him or the concept of Batman Beyond. It took one of America’s greatest fictional characters and gave the mantle to a new, younger person in a future setting. Now the concept should have sent people running for the hills, but it didn’t. Audiences welcomed the idea of McGinnis with open arms, just like I’m welcoming this new 2.0 series from Higgins and Thony Silas.

The opening of the series is a time jump from where Beechen’s arc last left off. McGinnis is on his own, not talking to Bruce Wayne, and making a name for himself as Batman. A murder in the new Arkham facility sets off a chain of events that rock McGinnis’ already rocked (unbeknownst to us) world. The stage is set for an incredible detective story, and now is the time to hop on.

DC has been really hitting it hard on the digital first front with this title and others like Batman ’66, Legends of the Dark Knight, Justice League Beyond, and The Adventures of Superman to name a few. All of these titles and more are collected in print at the end of the month, and are eventually moved to trade. What makes the digital versions a wonderful alternative is that they cost around a dollar per installment and arrive at different times during the week.

Are you sick of waiting until Wednesday for new comics? Batman Beyond 2.0 drops on Saturdays to break up that lull. It provides just enough storytelling for a quick read on your phone, tablet, or computer. And I hate to drive this point home, but it’s less than a dollar per installment!

I just want to be clear here and let everyone know that I don’t work for DC. Digital first initiatives have been taking place at every mainstream publisher, but DC seems to be striking the right cord with content. It’s also nice to have out-of-continuity stories to sink your teeth into in your comics reading experience.

Now the new Batman Beyond is kind of a mix between Timm-Verse continuity and actual DC continuity, but it’s enough of a separation that you don’t have to read any other books to know what’s going on. In this day and age, that’s saying a lot. So if that kind of story intrigues you, or if you’re a fan of McGinnis as much as I am, this is a great way to dip into comics when you’re on the go.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of this year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest.

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Exclusive: Kyle Higgins revs up to be new writer on digital-first Batman Beyond 2.0

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Beginning in August, writer Kyle Higgins (Deathstroke, Batman, Detective Comics) makes his debut as scribe on the new digital-first Batman Beyond 2.0.

To catch the latest, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer exclusively met Higgins in a futuristic Batcave and got the lowdown on his new job, how it will be packaged for print, and more.

Cosmic Book News: All new stories, all new creative teams. What does this mean for Batman Beyond, Kyle?

Kyle Higgins: It means really big shoes to fill! The work Adam (Beechen) has done the last few years has been wonderful, and I feel incredibly honored to be able to continue in his stead. I’m a huge fan of the characters and everyone who’s been carrying the torch since the show went off the air. I think that’ll be more than apparent when my first issues come out.

CBN: With Batman Beyond Universe, what changes if any will we be seeing for Terry McGinnis?

Kyle Higgins: A lot, actually. The core of my pitch centered on advancing time by about a year, throwing the characters into new status quos based on unknown events (to readers, anyway). It’s one of my favorite things the show did, and something I’ve been wanting to play around with for quite a while now. So, Terry’s in college at Neo-Gotham University, he and Dana are no longer together, and something big happened in the missing time to change some other things up … but what that event was will remain a mystery for now.

CBN: I see in the print version of the digital-first comic, there seems to be an appearance by the JLA Beyond. Does this mean we will have a different backup story in each issue?

Kyle Higgins: It’s actually two separate digital-first comics that get collected as Batman Beyond Universe in print. The first Saturday in August, Batman Beyond 2.0 (that’s what we’re calling the digital series) #1 hits on the DC App, comiXology, iTunes, etc. Then the following week, Justice League Beyond 2.0 #1 hits. The third week, Batman Beyond 2.0 #2 hits, etc. alternating back and fourth between Batman Beyond 2.0 and Justice League Beyond 2.0. Usually on that fourth week of the month, the PRINT comic called Batman Beyond Universe hits stores … and it includes all four chapters that were released digitally. So, Chris (Gage) is writing Justice League Beyond and I’m writing Batman Beyond

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CBN: How will life as a college student affect Terry’s responsibilities as a crime fighter?

Kyle Higgins: That’s something we get into right away, although I would make the argument it’s not so much how college gets in the way of crime fighting as it is crime fighting getting in the way of college! (laughs)

CBN: What sort of challenges will Terry have to face right away of a more personal nature?

Kyle Higgins: Well, the show — and this book– has always been about the characters and the relationships between them. Terry and Bruce, Terry and his family, Terry and Max, Terry and Dana … all of those are quite personal and will continue to challenge Terry on an emotional level. I’m not going to give specifics, but rest assured this book won’t be just an action comic.

CBN: What is this we hear about a breakout at the new Arkham Institute? What challenge will that be bringing to our hero?

Kyle Higgins: It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like (laughs). For a hero, what’s better than a breakout? Talk about job security!

CBN: What does Thony Silas bring to the table as artist?

Kyle Higgins: Oh man, Thony is the cat’s pajamas. Totally. He’s super clean, dynamic and his Beyond characters pop with energy. I really can’t wait for people to see his art on this. It’s pretty badass.

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CBN: Will we be seeing any elements or plot threads from the great animated series coming into this new book? Were you a fan of the Batman Beyond animated series?

Kyle Higgins: I was — and still am– a big fan of the animated series. So, yes … it’s safe to say I’ll be drudging up some threads from the show.

CBN: Any current or future projects you would like to discuss?

Kyle Higgins: Nothing else at the moment! I’m working on a few other books, but it’s too early to say much of anything about them.

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Kyle Higgins for answering our questions during this busy convention season. We also thank DC’s own Brandy Phillips and Kelley Popham who helped make this interview possible.

“Batman Beyond 2.0” #1 hits digitally Aug. 3rd; “Batman Beyond Universe” #1 hits in print August 21st

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Exclusive interview: Writer Kyle Higgins lays down a new foundation for former boy wonder Nightwing

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Batman’s first partner in peril, Dick Grayson – these days going by the moniker Nightwing – is headed for Chi-town, leaving the owls and the jokers behind.

To discover the reason for this change-of-lifestyle move and what it means to the former Robin, Cosmic Book News Managing Editor Byron Brewer tracked down writer Kyle Higgins in the alleyways behind the United Center and exclusively got the following answers after hours of interrogation.

Cosmic Book News: Kyle, Dick Grayson is one of comic’s oldest characters. How do you hope to redefine this former Robin with a change of venue, Gotham to Chicago?

Kyle Higgins: It opens things up for us. I’ve talked about this before, but I’m really looking to build a world for Dick Grayson that is entirely his own and not predicated on his relationship with Batman. The relationship with Batman is a part of the character, but it’s not what he should be defined by.

CBN: We understand the locale change for Nightwing brought some smiles and cheers at C2E2 … in Chi-town! How’d that feel and was the timing intentional?

Kyle Higgins: The timing was actually a total coincidence. We were originally going to make the change with issue #18, but we pushed it back a month because of “Death of the Family” and Damian. It was pretty cool that it hit a week before C2E2.

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CBN: The hunt for the murderer of Grayson’s parents goes to the core of the “Batman and Robin” legend. How will Nightwing lead the readers through this mystery?

Kyle Higgins: That’s actually a great point, and is the main reason why I wanted to tackle this story. As I was saying before, defining Dick Grayson/Nightwing in a way that separates him from Batman is important … and Tony Zucco is going to be a part of that. That’s all I can say at this point.

CBN: While Dick is becoming Chicago‘s masked avenger, how does he do this is a burg that outlaws masked vigilantes?

Kyle Higgins: He’s just that good! (laughs) Of course, the bigger question to me is “how did the city end up this way?” The history of Chicago in the DCU and its relationship with masked vigilantes is something I’m quite excited to explore.

CBN: From the look of things, Chicago will be an important lurking character in the new Nightwing. How will your hometown bring this character new energy?

Kyle Higgins: It’s a city with a unique personality, and its own rich history (and a bonus history with masked vigilantes in the DCU). Just like Gotham can be used as a character, I’m hoping to do the same with Chicago. By creating a rich world for Nightwing, it gives him more to react to and deal with … which ultimately helps the character grow.

CBN: You seem to be excited about the new supporting cast. Can you tell us about some of them and how they will influence Dick’s world?

Kyle Higgins: Michael is an up and coming photographer/videographer … who doesn’t get many opportunities from his bosses. He’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder and thinks he’s better than he probably is … and definitely better than his bosses think. Joey is a cyber security specialist who says what she thinks … sometimes to her detriment. She works as a contractor primarily, as a 9-5 job isn’t quite her scene. She likes change. In addition to the natural roommate dynamics (ie: drama) that we’ve ALL had at one point or another, Nightwing will have an effect on their lives and vice versa. Don’t want to say much more than that!   

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CBN: What did artist Brett Booth bring to the book?

Kyle Higgins: Brett brought a tremendous sense of energy and fun to the book. Unfortunately, he was only able to do three issues due to other projects, but what a great three issues!

CBN: Any favorite Nightwing/Dick Grayson tales from the past?

Kyle Higgins: “A Knight in Bludhaven” is a personal favorite. I also love the Man-Bat issues and (although it’s not technically Nightwing) Robin: Year One.

CBN: Kyle, any projects present or future you’d care to discuss?

Kyle Higgins: Well, my run on Batman Beyond starts in August … and I’m also working on a creator-owned book right now with Alec Siegel and Rod Reis, based on my college thesis (superhero) film The League. It’s a bit too early to talk about that one, but hopefully more soon!

Cosmic Book News would like to thank Kyle Higgins for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our nosy M.E. We would also like to thank DC’s own Alex Segura and Alex Nagorski for helping to make this story possible.

“Nightwing” #21 hits shelves June 12th!

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Review: Nightwing #1 (Higgins & Barrows)

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Review: Deathstroke #1 (Higgins & Bennet)

The “New 52” is an attempt to renew, refresh and perhaps even reboot several major characters within the DC Universe to reconnect with fans, receive new ones, rejuvenate sales and rethink the overall fictional routines of super people in the comic book medium.  It’s not exactly wiping the slate clean, but it may seem like …

Read More about Review: Deathstroke #1 (Higgins & Bennet)