REVIEW: DC’s Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #2

The first issue of Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing and Max Dunbar's Batman Beyond: Neo-Year picks up where Batman: Urban Legends #7 leaves off, with young Terry McGinnis struggling to fill the late Bruce Wayne's crime-fighting shoes in a city that has been taken over by a nefarious AI. Kelly, Lanzing and Dunbar return in Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #2, a fun new issue that introduces an incredible new villain.

Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #2 follows Terry as he attempts to gain some tactical advantage over the artificial intelligence that controls Neo Gotham and investigates a series of mysterious robberies. After some sleuthing, the caped crusader traces the string of heists back to a frightening character named Gestalt, who is actually the amalgamation of three individuals operating with a Borg-like hivemind. Gestalt proves themselves to be a formidable opponent, but Terry still has a few tricks up his sleeves.

Kelly and Lanzing do a great job keeping readers on their toes throughout the course of Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #2. Rather than immediately following the events of the first issue, the authors give Terry a few weeks to heal and recuperate before he begins patrolling again. This slight jump in time puts enough distance between Terry's clashes with the Holographic Man and the evil AI, so that the authors can continue to expand their version of Gotham without rushing any of the several storylines they are introducing.

The new character Gestalt is an inventive fresh addition to the universe. Kelly and Lanzing use the new character as a fascinating foil for the AI that controls the city. Here are three individuals who have decided to give up their separate identities in order to main some semblance of freedom. This bleak origin complements the overall tone of the series while being charmingly zany.

Gestalt is as well-drawn as they are written. Dunbar lets the sinuous green monstrosity stand out as a writhing organic creature in the otherwise rigid, mechanical Neo Gotham. Colorist Sebastian Cheng is careful to reserve the color green for Gestalt so that every element of the new character contrasts with the confines of the city. The scene where Terry sees the world from Gestalt's perspective is particularly striking. Throughout Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #2, Dunbar surrounds his characters with the sprawling, claustrophobic architecture of the city to keep Batman's rivalry with the ever-watching AI at the forefront of the reader's minds, even when the narrative moves in different directions.

The end of this issue gives Terry a glimpse of hope for the first time in a while, before reminding the reader of the imminent danger waiting around every corner for the inexperienced Batman. Kelly, Lanzing and Dunbar all do an excellent job crafting a thoroughly entertaining story that puts a fresh spin on the familiar world of Gotham City. Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #2 is even better than the first issue. Batman fans definitely won't want to miss out on this series.

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