In a move that will set a precedent, DC has announced an ongoing series that will appear digitally prior to its print release. That’s right comic book purists, starting in February 2012 Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond will appear digitally first and then will be collected into print. The print series, titled Batman Beyond Unlimited, will actually be a collection of the digital “chapters”, and should we ever see a Superman Beyond ongoing, I would expect it to be folded in as well.

DC is no stranger to pushing the limits with digital. Since the relaunch, all of their major titles have been released same date digital, and they have released several collections digitally first, including Beyond the Fringe, Batman: Arkham Unleashed, and Batman: Arkham City. Having to wait for something that is already being released digitally will certainly ruffle a few purists feathers. I am a digital buyer myself, and think it would be a shame for this to cause any sort of backlash. Digital is the future of all print, not just comic books, and the Beyond universe is awesome. There is a silver lining for print fans, while we do not yet know the pricing, it has to bode well that you will get these as a collection rather than having to buy the individual titles and chapters.

In regards to the titles themselves, I love the Beyond universe and Terry McGinnis has quickly become one of my favorite characters. Along side Harley Quinn’s creation, Batman Beyond has set the tone for how well animated shows and characters can translate to print. It will actually be interesting to see what DC does going forward with the Beyond stuff. It has never been clearly defined if it exists completely outside of the DC multiverse, is the actual future of the mainstream books, or is just another universe within the multiverse itself. With the relaunch the timeline for these characters has been dramatically shifted and for once would make some sense in relation to the Beyond future. In addition I think it is time that Terry be properly folded into the Bat family. His stories have often left much to be desired when addressing his relationship to the rest of the bat family. He has a relationship with Barbara Gordon as commissioner but this is not where anyone sees Babs going, and while Return of the Joker was a great story, it is again hardly viable in terms of the mainstream Tim Drake. Prior to the relaunch there was a one time off shoot that showed Terry being mentored by Damian instead of Bruce, and portrayed Terry as Damian’s successor to the cowl, but again this is hardly steadfast. I think it is not only time for us to see Cadmus create Terry, but it is past time to see how that story plays out in the main Bat books with Bruce already struggling to build his relationship with Damian. In addition, with Dick having officially left the cowl behind, Terry makes the most sense to be Bruce’s replacement and the timeline fits. Until DC recognizes the sense of my argument and makes it happen, here is the press release for Batman Beyond Unlimited!

Beginning in February 2012, DC Comics will be launching BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED, a monthly print periodical which will collect chapters from various digital-first series. Releasing weekly, JUSTICE LEAGUE BEYOND and BATMAN BEYOND will come out as individual chapters prior to (and in conjunction with) the collected, 48-page monthly BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED print edition.

JUSTICE LEAGUE BEYOND is from the creative team of Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, adding Batman (Terry McGinnis) to the team of superheroes to combat a Neo Goath-related enemy. And in BATMAN BEYOND, from Adam Beecham and Norm Breyfogle, McGinnis and Bruce Wayne face an onslaught of Jokerz – and the return of an old foe.
DC Entertainment has previously released digital-first series including BEYOND THE FRINGE, as well as the limited run of BATMAN: ARKHAM UNLEASHED and BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY, which was recently collected in a hardcover release last month. BATMAN BEYOND UNLIMITED marks the first time that DC Entertainment is launching an ongoing series digitally ahead of its planned monthly print release.

By Jason Padua