Since the alphabet is the building block of our language, the Powet Alphabet is the building block of what makes us geeks.

Apathy. Greed. Corruption. Power. Hope.
Batman Beyond.
Courage. Honor. Justice.

These are the words that flash by during the opening credits of Batman Beyond. The series takes place in a not too distant future where corporate greed and power have taken over. Bruce Wayne has hung up the cowl, giving up his life as Batman, for reasons only partially explained in the two-part series opener. Further reasons would be hinted at in many episodes, but we wouldn’t really get an idea until the straight-to-DVD movie, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was released.

Wayne Corp, Bruce’s company, is no longer in Bruce’s sole control. As part of a hostile takover by Derek Powers, Bruce becomes just another stockholder with a large stake in the company. Under the new name Wayne/Powers Corporation, Derek Powers expands the company’s portfolio into some shady business practices. As part of a cover-up over some biological weapons produced by the company, Warren McGuiness, an employee who stumbled upon too much information is permanently silenced. His son, Terry, finds the the data his father had recovered and suspects fowl play. Through a chance meeting with Bruce Wayne, in which, he discovers Bruce’s legendary secret, he assumes the identity of Batman seeking vengeance. Bruce Wayne would go on to hire Terry as a part-time assistant as a cover for his new dual life. Such is the story of Batman Beyond.

The series is a fresh breath for the Batman franchise. Time and again, Batman is synonymous with Bruce Wayne. Even when Batman was injured in the comics or ‘died’ and someone else needed to fill the role, it always came back to Bruce. Batman Beyond is Terry’s gig, though. Bruce Wayne is there, but in a supporting character/mentor role. He still does a lot of the research and analysis for the job, but Terry is the one in the suit fighting the villains and making the calls.

One of my favorite parts of the series is naturally the villains. While there are a small number of Batman’s older villains popping up in several stories, the vast majority of the bad guys are all new or fresh takes on an old concept like the Jokerz and the T’s. These were rival street gangs that seem to base themselves around the original Joker and Mr. Terrific characters, respectively. I was always bothered by Marvel’s 2099 line of books based in a future setting of their Marvel Universe. I really loved how it started out, but after a while it seemed like they were running out of ideas and just taking current concepts and putting ‘2099’ at the end of the name. Venom 2099. Hulk 2099. Ghost Rider 2099. Vulture 2099. Green Goblin 2099.

Batman Beyond never seemed to fall into this trap. With all new villains such as Spellbinder, Shriek, Inque, Curare and the Stalker, the stories always seemed fresh and unique to the series. We would even see a new group of villains never seen before in the DC animated universe, The Royal Flush gang. Bruce would refer to them as old enemies, but they were enemies we had never seen in Batman: The Animated Series. It wasn’t until a few years down the road that they would actually be introduced in the ‘current’ animated timeline as part of an experiment by the Joker in Justice League Unlimited. And while the Royal Flush gang is not a new concept in the comics, to someone who doesn’t read DC books, it was a very interesting way to introduce these characters. This is also where Terry would find his ‘catwoman’, so to speak, in the form of Ten/Melanie, who does not know Terry’s secret.

Another way in which this series sets itself apart from prior material is that in Batman: The Animated Series, we mostly just see Batman. We see very little Bruce Wayne being Bruce Wayne. In Batman Beyond, we are treated with a very nice balance of Terry leading both parts of his dual life. The Eggbaby episode is an excellent example of this where Terry needs to ace a class by taking care of a simulated baby shaped like an egg. Of course, he’s forced to take it with him on patrol because his partner in class won’t take the baby when its her turn to care for it. While Season 1 focused on the corporate angle and villains, Season 2 took a step back and focused more on Terry in high school.

While the series was greenlighted for a fourth season, it was put on hold in favor of the Justice League cartoon that was in production at the time. Justice League went on for two seasons and was then expanded into Justice League Unlimited for another three seasons. Terry would make an appearance in two episodes of Justice League Unlimited including the final episode, Epilogue. Batman Beyond would also get a spin-off series in the form of The Zeta Project based on the episode called Zeta.

Batman Beyond is still quote popular despite the absence of a continued series and the lack of a regular comic. A big deal is always made whenever a new appearance of Terry surfaces in the comics, animation and even toy lines. If DC ever tried to do a future-verse a la Marvel’s 2099 series of books, but involving the future of Batman Beyond, they would have a big hit on their hands.