Monday, May 14, 2012

A Farewell to Batman


The new movie the Dark Knight Rises talks about the epic conclusion to the Dark Knight sage. Of course we know this is talking about the Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale trilogy. All good stories have beginnings, middles and ends. As I have said ad nauseam this is the problem with so many of the cape stories. The nature of the beast has quashed the love I had for the Marvel characters and the new DCU has destroyed my love of those characters. The last cape and cowl character I held onto was Batman, but I feel like even that is at end.

Scott Snyder is writing hands down the best cape and cowl book on the stands, yet it is not drawing me in like his work on Dick Grayson as Batman in Detective comics did. The Court of Owls is just way too big at this point. I find it hard to believe that this organization could be so underground and undetected for years and years. I’m enjoying it, but I’m not buying it. Even worse the cross over nature of the story I think has made the story itself almost too broad in scope and if just feels like every bat member gets a Talon to fight. The most ridiculous I have read to date is that Batgirl gets to have a girl Talon as a foe. I’m surprised Robin did get a ten year old Talon to fight.

The problem is the new DCU was stated to be a soft re-launch. What this left us with is a DC that is not my DCU at all. Instead of a brand new world (which Earth 2 is doing and I loved that first issue) we are getting a world where we are suppose to accept what changed changed and what did not change did not, but as readers we have no insight as to what is history and what is not history.

The fails in the Batman family are huge. Batgirl is now Barbara Gordon again. It appears she was never Oracle and she is portrayed as a girl perhaps in her early twenties who has recovered from being paralyzed from the waist down for three years. Her relationship with Batman is also ill defined. She lives with a roommate she did not know before, her mother shows up and is a slighter older clone of Babs. Her relationship with Dick Grayson is ill defined. Gone is the ultra-brilliant Barbra Gordon who has her insecurities but was also one of the most capable people in the DCU and a mentor to the learning Stephanie Brown. We are given instead Barbara trying to re-establish herself as Batgirl. I have no connection with this woman and the puppy love she and Dick shared is not the great romance that Dick and Babs shared before. After the Court of Owls this book is probably designated for the cancel list.

Catwoman is the worse one of all. A character who was on par with Batman and shared his life in some ways, yet still an outsider with her own mixed agenda. She is now a sex pot who is a thrill seeker having anonymous sex with a guy in a Bat suit. Both characters are cheapened by the tawdry idea. Instead of thinking that would be cool to have sex with the hot girl in the cat suit, I think how what used to be wonderfully flawed characters that had a love/hate type of thing is now reduced to a pure lust. Catwoman is now a 22/23 year old girl who is an adrenaline junkie and the comic is all about boob and ass shots. This book is cancelled after Court of Owls.

Detective Comics is just a mess. Tony Daniel can be co-plotter and artist, but his writing is all over the place. He constantly tries to have too many elements in his stories and essentially never tells any stories. Also Tony has some of the oddest page designs choices ever. Whenever I read one of his comics I’m often taken out of the story as I try to figure out what the heck is going on with the page. After Court of Owls this book is also designated for cancellation.

Of course we also have Batman The Dark Knight. David Finch is hired and they let him write a book. He can’t write and draw a book unless he is doing one issue every five months or so. Finch can create those cool pictures, but again his pure story telling is weak and his story ideas are all over the place. Paul Jenkins was brought in as co-plotter writer and the last issue was a guest writer and guest artist, this book has to be consigned to the trash heap also.

Nightwing is a character that I have always had great fondness for and before the new DCU Dick as the new Batman was a high point in the Batman mythos. Snyder’s run on that story was one of the best Batman stories ever done. And this was happening at the same time that Grant Morrison had turned the whole Bat family into one of the best franchises in all of comics. Batman had been strong Grant made it amazing and Scott Snyder did a story (Black Mirror) that will stand the test of time of being one of the all time great Batman stories. The new Nightwing has been de-aged from a young man in his late twenties, maybe even 30 years old to a young man of 22/23 years old. We also have changed his circus background into the central theme of his life and added that the circus had a malevolent background of recruiting assassins for the Court of Owls. Again the central core and strength of the character has been altered and I barely recognize the character. I will hang onto this book for a little longer but I’m not committed to it.

Batman and Robin is a decent series, but we essentially re-told the whole training of Robin all over. The story was done with Dick and Damian and now is told as Bruce and Damian. Damian is set as ten years old and I have to laugh because I know it was Morrison who created him, but I think 10 is just way too young. Anyway, this series is enjoyable and I like seeing the relationship grow between Bruce and Damian as Bruce accepts him self as a father. Of course the Bruce Wayne in this book is portrayed as older then he is in Batman as the writers and artists struggle with a Batman with a long history and the apparent editorial edict that everyone is younger. The cognitive dissonance always causes my head to hurt.

Red Hood and the Outlaws was a book I dropped early on. I have no idea what the heck this crap is and Jason does not even fit without the Batman mythos anymore. I ignore this book and cancelled it three issues in and have no desire to ever read it again. Even the Court of Owls could not get me to buy this book again.

So that brings me back to Batman, which is DC’s best cape and cowl book and perhaps one of the best on the stands. Scott’s story stands better on its own without the entire Bat family tie-in and I enjoy reading the book. It is just I have lost that connectivity I used to have with Bruce Wayne as Batman. I have no clue how old he is suppose to be, he now has a deeper and more complex history then the Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire and how he fits into the new DCU is something I don’t even try to figure out. The net of all of this is that Batman stays on the buy list, but if another writer takes over, it would be a book that I could drop. That is a sad commentary on a character who I believe is the best character in comics. Of course Grant had advanced the Batman story and DC decided to destroy that progress and it is almost harder to take then the horrid Spider-Man One More Day, which just wiped the slate clean. This is like trying to erase some of the board. DC is saying he is the Batman that you love, but different in ways we can’t tell you about. This Court of Owls story would have almost worked better as a Dick Grayson Batman story. In fact the idea of Dick discovering he was being trained as an assassin would have made him a natural enemy of the Court of Owls.

To wrap up this column I want to mention Batwoman. This book stands on its own. I know DC will try and make it part of the Bat family, but it really is its own thing and enjoyable because of that. Kate Kane does not fit in the new DCU and when they force her with a shoe horn into it the resulting outcome will probably be ugly.

In the end DC has almost freed me from the last vestiges I had of continuing to get a book for the character. In fact if you take out hard covers and Vertigo books out of the three categories I use for my comics every week, DC hero books is often the smallest even on an unusually big week like next week is for me. After Court of Owls the list will be even smaller.

Next week’s list is Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Catwoman, DCU Presents, GL Corps, Hellblazer, Justice League, Nightwing, Saucer Country,  Scalped, Secret Society of Super Villians Vol 2 HC, Shade, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Avengers, Avengers vs X-Men, AvX, Daredevil, Fantastic Four, Fury Max, Incredible Hulk, Secret Service, Thunderbolts, Uncanny X-Men, Winter Solider, Dancer, Danger Club, Hardcore, Manhattan Projects, Saga, Thief of Theives, BPRD, Conan, Errie Archives, Locke & Key, and The Shadow.

That is a wrap for this Monday, come back again next week.


  1. You can always believe that somewhere out there an Earth-Jim is spinning, which has everything just the way you like it. :)

    Good post and a nice update on what I'm not missing. I'm really starting to lean more toward back issues again -- there's so much material out there that I still enjoy and I can pretend all the Secret Invasions and Civil Wars never even happened. I even dropped Captain America this past week and Scarlet Spider (in advance of their artist switch). If it weren't for the coming 700th isue of ASM, I'd stop buying that book too. Again, it's not that an individual issue is necessarily bad, but if I'm just going to read it once and store it forever, then it's no different than a Starbucks addiction and I've never been one to choose optional food over comics (and toys).

    You're still getting the Incredible Hulk? Is that any good or is it on the fence too?

  2. I'm going to get Incredible Hulk for an issue or two because of Dillon's art, but unless the book dramatically improves, another book to drop.

  3. Baroquen131 / Rob5/18/2012 3:46 PM

    Very much like my feelings towards the Batman books. I'm enjoying 'Batman' because of Snyder, though not as much as before. And I haven't dropped Nightwing, though it's close. I'm not a die-hard Batman fan but I've dropped in and out of titles for over 25 years. The problem in my mind is that I've grown up with these characters, but now DC has rebooted and we're being asked to forget events that have shaped these heroes. But some characters are kind of the same. But not. And they change things some more when they shift writers after 6 months. I don't like "events" but I like continuity. Reduce cape stories to stand-alone adventures and you know what's going to happen. Set scene-villain rises-hero wins. Yes, we know this is ultimately true anyway, but try to hide it. Supporting characters and events can provide the illusion of growth.

    Or we can jettison everything to reset things for a new crowd. As a member of the old crowd, I just feel alienated and apathetic.

  4. Rob - Apathy is a great word, it is what I feel and I think that is more dangerous then being upset over stuff.

  5. I can't comment on most of these because I don't read them, but the two I do read are Batwoman and Batgirl.
    I agree with you when it comes to Batwoman it's nice to see her every month with a story line that is completely her own. But what I must argue with is what you gave to say when it comes to Batgirl.
    Yes it's sad that Bab's history is re-written she was Oracle was the arguably one of the smartest and powerful chacectors DC had before the re-launch and the fact that she was in a wheel-chair just made her that more powerful, but you seem to forget you are forgetting something important, this comic book is written by Gail Simone.
    This woman is the reason I love Barbra Gordon, and you can tell she loves her too. Her run on Birds of Prey is what made me crave more Oracle made me want to go back and read her history as Batgirl. Even when she was writing for Wonder Woman she was able to bring her love for this charector over. Now she brings that love to this new Batgirl series and I for one can't get enough!