Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #4 Review

Written by: Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing
Art by: Max Dunbar
Colors by: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
Cover art by: Dunbar & Cheng
Cover price $3.99
Release date: July 5, 2022

Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #4 knocks Terry back on his heels as the Sword of Gotham overpowers him at every turn. When Terry seeks out the help of a potential ally, the true scope of the Sword's power shows just how far the Gotham AI's reach extends.

Was It Good?

Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #4 is a bit of a mixed bag. Some vital pieces work well and others suggest the story is a red herring or that the sci-fi elements take leaps in logic that strain credibility. Filled with great art and action tones, plenty is happening on each page to hold your attention, but the journey feels uncertain.

The pieces that work well involve the all-out action and Terry's struggle to overcome a superior foe with a suit that's about to give out. A hero's journey needs to have a challenge that's bigger than the hero, and you get that here in spades. By the end of the issue, Terry is bruised, battered, broken, and on the run, which gives readers a reason to root for him to find a way out of this mess.

Secondly, a comic story works when the action furthers the story, and you certainly get that here with top-notch action art from Dunbar and Fajardo Jr. Terry's fight becomes more desperate. His actions become riskier as his power runs out, and the suit becomes little more than fancy body armor. More importantly, Terry uses the fight to probe for weaknesses in the Sword of Gotham's power. What he finds is helpful for the fight's outcome and the story going forward.

The pieces that don't quite work are the obvious parallels between this story and The Matrix (1999). If you're familiar with the film and without outright spoiling it, the Sword of Gotham has a lot in common with Agent Smith from the film. If the parallels extend even further, there's a possibility the arc is in for a BIG bait-and-switch, which probably wouldn't sit well with most readers. But, on the other hand, if the Agent Smith parallel ends right where it is, the mechanics of Sword of Gotham's identity need a lot of (missing so far) to make sense.

If Kelly and Lanzing can come up with an original direction, so be it. If not, you're better off watching The Matrix (1999) instead.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of ComicalOpinions.com, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Bits and Pieces:

Batman Beyond: Neo-Year #4 pits a weakened Terry against the Sword of Gotham to reveal that not all is as it seems. The art is excellent, and the story is furthered through the action. Still, when the Sword of Gotham's true identity is revealed, the creators seem to suggest that this arc draws heavily from another, better property. In isolation, this is a solid issue, but the future direction of this story is now cast in doubt.


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