Everyone knows about Bruce Wayne AKA The Batman (and if you don’t, where have you been living and why are your parents awful, sheltering people?) and about his war on crime. He’s fought on his own, with the police, aided by apprentices such as Robin and Batgirl, and at times has served with superhero teams such as the Outsiders and the Justice League.
Back in 1999, the animated series Batman Beyond debuted, showing audiences a possible future for the Dark Knight, one in which he developed a high-tech battle suit to help him compensate for his aging body, a suit that went to his successor Terry McGinnis years after Bruce decided it was time to retire. Though the cartoon series has been off the air for years, the world of Batman Beyond is now being explored again in a new on-going comic book series.
Now, in our previous column on the many uniforms of Batman, we already discussed how the hight-tech suit worn by Terry McGinnis compared to the standard uniforms worn by Bruce Wayne. So we won’t be treading over that ground again. Instead, let’s discuss other characters seen in the world of Batman Beyond, those future champions who carried on the legacies of modern-day heroes and those familiar faces who didn’t let the aging process stop them from continuing to fight the good fight.
Just to warn you, I will not be discussing Barda here. Although she did appear in Batman Beyond, she just wore the basic red swimsuit she sometimes wore in the comic Mister Miracle rather than any alternate or updated version of one of her outfits. Since I already discussed that look in our column on the New Gods, I see no reason to talk about it again.
In the Batman Beyond episodes “The Call” Parts 1 and 2, we met the future team of Justice League Unlimited, its most outspoken member was the man called Warhawk. Initially, Warhawk was meant to be simply a futuristic take on the character of Hawkman, since a couple of characters with that identity have served as members of the League.
Usually, as depicted above, Hawkman is shown as shirtless. Other than his helmet, he tends not to wear armor either, just trousers and boots. So Warhawk is a very interesting design in that he immediately evokes the idea of “Hawkman” and yet is such a contrast. Here, Warhawk covers his entire form in multiple layers of battle armor.
And let’s talk about that armor. The way it’s designed, Warhawk obviously has decent flexibility for battles. Yet, whatever that material is, it still looks heavy and that, along with his massive physical build, gives Warhawk a great sense of weight. And yet he is winged and his main power is flight. This paradox makes him stand out from many other winged characters in a very interesting way.
Years later, when Cartoon Network was airing the animated series Justice League Unlimited, it was decided/revealed that Warhawk was the son of Shayera Hol AKA Hawkgirl, a warrior from Thanagar. With this in mind, we can compare Warhawk’s armor to how the Justice League cartoon depicted Thanagarian battle-wear. Notice the similarities, particularly the head piece. A nice touch by the art team.
GREEN LANTERN BEYOND
In the modern-day mainstream comics, we’ve seen several types of Earth people who’ve been chosen to wield a power ring as a member of the intergalactic Green Lantern Corps. We’ve seen a test pilot, a high school gym coach, a former marine-turned-architect, and a freelance artist all act as Earth’s GL. So the creators of Batman Beyond wanted to give yet another perspective on who could wield the ring and asked “what if it were given to a kid?”
Green Lanterns are chosen for their force of will, their honesty, and for their ability to act without fear. So if a kid did become a GL, he’d have to be special indeed. According to Paul Dini, one idea behind this character was that he be akin to a “Dali Lama Green Lantern.” With that in mind, it makes sense that his outfit is a minimalist design, with the simple stylized lantern image dominating the entire costume. The only added details are the green gloves.
My only concern with this outfit is that the placement of the lines could imply the presence of a child’s overalls, which then emphasizes the character’s youth to a point that you don’t take him seriously as a serene and formidable hero.
You gotta love folks who can shrink. The Freedom Fighters had Doll Man. The Avengers got Ant-Man and the Wasp. The Justice League of America had the Atom. And following in his footsteps, the Justice League Unlimited of the future had a hero called Micron among its ranks.
Like the Green Lantern of this future, Micron has gone for a minimalist take on the Atom’s traditional costume, which is depicted above. The only extra decoration to it is the chest symbol. And that mask is noticeably similar to the style of some Jack Kirby characters. This is a very cool look and a perfect example of how “simple” does not have to equal “boring.”
The thought behind this was that Aquagirl was the daughter of Aquaman and his wife Mera. Sounds like a fine idea and one I can get behind, being a fan of both of them. Problem being, this outfit makes me think of neither of those heroes.
As we see here, Aquaman has (usually) dressed in shining golden/orange scale armor, complemented by a golden belt. Mera’s outfit is also scaled, though its style is more simplistic. It covers almost her entire body, yet is quite sexy on her at the same time and the added detail of the crown reminds us that this is a woman of authority.
Yet Aquagirl has none of these design elements working for her. She’s basically wearing a swimsuit. Anyone can do that. Blond hair is not enough to convey a message of “Aquaman’s daughter.” And just giving the suit green highlights doesn’t create a strong enough connection to Mera’s style of dress. It’s not awful. A swimsuit does inform us that she operates in the water. It’s just not enough for me.
By the way, this character Aquagirl should not be confused with the two Aquagirls who have appeared in the mainstream comics and who have worked alongside Aquaman.
Though he wasn’t seen in the initial Batman Beyond cartoon, we did meet an older version of the teen hero static when the series Justice League Unlimited revisited that future world in the story “The Once and Future Thing.”
And we’ve got another example of how the fashion of Batman Beyond seems to focus on streamlining previous designs. As a teenager in the series Static Shock, Static sports a costume that is definitely “off the rack.” He looks as if he raided a few different places before settling on just the right combination.
On the other hand, the uniform he sports as an older man looks far more like a custom-made outfit, one that maintains the style of his younger self but is tempered by the practicality of an older man. Looking at this outfit, we know that he’s still the Static we know and love, but he’s gotten more mature. Great design.
Superman’s often referred to his career as a “never-ending battle” and he meant it. By the time Terry McGinnis began operating as the new Dark Knight, Superman had some gray hair on his temples but hadn’t aged as much as a normal man would due to his Kryptonian attributes. Of course, that wasn’t the only cosmetic change he made.
Pictured above is the DC animated version of Superman’s parents, wearing what the cartoon considered to be typical Kryptonian style. Superman’s new outfit in the Batman Beyond era is clearly in this vein, indicating he may now be embracing his Kryptonian heritage more. Could it be that in this future he’s given up using a cover identity and is now just a full time Superman? Maybe.
The design is in keeping with the simplicity of the rest of the Batman Beyond era characters. And making the S-shield more subtle and alien-esque is an interesting touch, no doubt inspired partly by the modified design of the shield that appeared in the critically acclaimed mini-series Kingdom Come.
But the color scheme of “Superman Beyond” bothers me a bit. Watching the cartoon episodes that he appeared in (“The Call” Parts 1 and 2), the older Superman doesn’t seem drastically more cynical than his modern-day self. With that being the case, I don’t really see why he’s all decked out in black. I realize the world is a bit darker now in this future, but I think that Clark would consider that all the more reason to emphasize hope and optimism and thus he’d stick with the classic, brighter colors.
Like I said, it’s a nice design. I just think it would’ve made more sense to me if we’d been given more of the context behind this future Superman and his attitudes.
DON’T FORGET BRUCE!
Okay, we have to talk about SOMETHING that Batman wore if we’re doing a whole column about the world of Batman Beyond. As stated before, Bruce Wayne (being a normal human being) eventually got older and slower and so he attempted to compensate by using a high-tech exoskeleton. But the suit that Terry McGinnis used in his war on crime was not the first such outfit that Bruce had designed.
In the episode “Disappearing Inque,” audiences got to see the original proto-type suit that Bruce had created and then deemed a failure when using it actually injured him. This design is reminiscent of a suit of armor that was worn by yet another version of Batman featured in the aforementioned “Kingdom Come” mini-series. It looks robotic, but of a slightly older style, art deco bordering on steam punk.
It’s an interesting look, but it’s better for a war zone rather than the Dark Knight’s usual arena of alleys, warehouses, rooftops and shadowy rooms. Bruce and his successor Terry are people who rely on stealth and agility, whereas wearing this thing announces your presence to the neighborhood and would make any attempts of jumping from one rooftop to another just… laughable.
Of course, Bruce never throws anything away (just look at the Cave’s trophy room) and so he did wind up wearing this suit again during an adventure in later years.
And that wraps it up, folks. Hope you enjoyed this little peek into the future. Rest assured, we will have other columns dealing with other possible futures, such as that depicted in DC 1 Million (one of my fave crossovers) and the world of Marvel 2099 A.D. Until next time, this is Alan Kistler, Agent of S.T.Y.L.E., signing off!
Alan Kistler writes the comic book history/fashion column Agent of S.T.Y.L.E. He is an actor and freelance writer living in New York who has been recognized by Warner Bros. Films and major media/news outlets as a comic book historian. He is also the creator/host of the web-show “Crazy Sexy Geeks: The Series.” He knows entirely too much about the history of comics, Star Trek, Doctor Who, time travel, and vampires that don’t sparkle.