Every week CBD’s Editor in Chief Pete DeCourcy asks the question and the crew (and special guests) give their answers, we’ll be doing this for 52 weeks. Tip of the hat goes to the gang at Scans_Daily for the inspiration.
Today’s Question: “What’s your take on the new direction of the Batman line?”
Chris Howard (From Egesta Comics, one of the masterminds behind the fan favourite webcomic series Dressed For Success)
My take? How long till someone else takes over and dumps it all? We’ve just spent what, a year where Batman was dead? Now we’ve got, say 18 months of Batman inc. Then sales will dip, or the creative team will have run out of ideas or an editorial change will give them a new mandate, or DC Universe magic turns every hero into invertebrates and that’ll be the direction for the next, “EVERYTHING CHANGES” period.
If you enjoy the stories, great. If you don’t, read something else till the next bus comes and see if it’s better. There’s always another bus.
Kevin Boyd (Director of the illustrious Joe Shuster Awards Committee)
As always, too many books. With Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman Incorporated, Batman: The Dark Knight, Detective Comics, Batwoman, Red Robin, Batgirl, Streets of Gotham, Gotham City Sirens and the Birds of Prey plus additional mini-series and specials there is no doubt here that at least a couple of these will be axed. While I am a wait for the collected edition kind of guy, I do read Batman, Batman and Robin and now Batman, Inc., Batman: The Dark Knight and Batwoman every month. These titles, along with Green Lantern are some of the better books DC is putting out these days, and like everything the big two do these days – if it is successful multiply it until it collapses.
Grant Morrison definitely controls the overall shots here and it’s been a bumpy ride. The Return of Bruce Wayne was an awkward, convoluted story that was released out of order, making it even more confused. Morrison is partcularly fond of dusting off crazy Silver Age Batman concepts and giving them a modern tweak, like the International Batmen (that are the backbone of Batman, Incorporated). I will go out on a limb here and say I do like the idea of Batman, Incorporated and Bruce creating a privately funded international network of crimefighters. Batman, Incorporated started off well, with some gorgeous Paquette art. That said, Inc. will probably get about 2 years of play before fans get bored of it and the entire structure gets compromised both internally (with a rogue or rebellious Batman undermining the philosophy of it) and/or externally (from United Nations and or individual nation governments fighting exported, corporate American vigilantism and working to shut Bruce down. I also quite like the fact that it doesn’t force the removal of Dick Grayson as Batman, the Grayson Batman stories and the character’s lighter nature have actually made books like Batman and Robin enjoyable to this reader and see good things down the line. The return of Batwoman is highly anticipated, even without Greg Rucka at the helm because of the unbelievably awesome artwork of JH Williams III.
Of course, the other great thing about the Bat-books these days is the presence of high profile Canadian artists like Yanick Paquette (Batman, Inc.), David Finch (Batman: The Dark Knight), Marcus To (Red Robin) and occasionally Cameron Stewart (Batman and Robin). Go Canada!
Chris Owen (Professor of Comic Books History at Hamilton’s Mohawk College and host of The Comic Culture Radio Show.)
I am inclined to agree with Kevin on this. There are way too many Bat-Books for my liking. I will check it out for a while to see what happens, but for a character that has been around for 70+ years, there are just so many good stories that can be written. That’s not to say that there aren’t any left for Batman, but is it possible to have a similar story about a character that isn’t Batman? Probably. I think that for something like Batman Inc., it almost feels like any character could be substituted. I guess the main problem I have is that I get bored of all these huge story lines that I know aren’t really going to affect the DC universe that much. But I could be wrong. It’s certainly happened before!
Anthony Falcone (Writer of Whosoever Holds This Hammer)
The problem with big status-changing storylines is that their implementation assumes they are necessary. Was Batman so boring that things needed to be “shaken-up”? No. The basic concept of Billionaire Playboy who is the world’s greatest crime-fighter pretty much lends itself to great stories. How many times has a title gotten stale and we get a “Year-One” type story that we love? You can’t go wrong going back to basics.
I do regularly collect Batman and Detective, mostly because I have a collection that goes back to the mid sixties that I’m trying to keep going. That said, I DO want to like these comics, and often I don’t. But for some reason I’ve added Batman & Robin to my regular buys and I’ve signed up for at least the first issues of all these new Batman, Incorporated” books. As Anthony said, Grant Morrison writes “incredible stuff or utter garbage” The return of Bruce Wayne stuff started off pretty good, and turned in to something unreadable (like I find with most DC things at the moment). And as others said, there are too many books (I already ignore a lot of them, and find it EASY to ignore them). The whole Batman, Incorporated idea sounds silly to me, and I sure hope it doesn’t last.
As much as I liked Dick Greyson as Batman, that can’t last either. Bruce Wayne is Batman, end of story. I’m expecting Bucky Captain America to get killed so that Steve Rogers HAS to go back to being Captain America, but I sure hope this isn’t what they do with Dick Greyson… he can’t be Batman, but they can’t kill him.
Also, that new Bruce Wayne Batman costume is the WORST! What up with the codpiece? Did Joel Schumacher design it?
David Diep (News Editor, Part time Comic Shoppe Employee, All Time Sexual Dynamo)
While there are a huge number of Batman family books out there, I don’t mind the quantity of them if the quality is up to snuff. A lot of the core Batman titles are hit and miss in terms of quality. To me, the best Bat titles are Batman Streets of Gotham, Birds of Prey and Batman and Robin. Gotham City Sirens started off very strong with good writing by Paul Dini who has a good grasp on the characters backed up by some good looking girl art by Guillem March. But once Dini left the title, the quality of writing and subsequently my interest in it went downhill. The quality of the main Batman title is concerning as well. Every time we get an issue by Tony Daniel I cringe inside. Ok, I can understand that artists sometimes need to stretch their wings and try out new things…but on your flagship Batman title? Oh yeesh, this reminds me of the stuff Neal Adams is doing on Batman Odyssey which in a nutshell is just awful. Tony Daniel and Neal Adams may be fantastic artists but they can’t write a story worth a damn. And Detective Comics? Bleh, ever since coming off of Batwoman, they can’t seem to throw any combination of writer and artist at this book that can put together a decent story. Two of your longest running and most well-known titles should always be your most consistently well-written!
Sorry, I’m kind of going on a tangential rant there since I’m completely ignoring the original question. But in terms of direction, I think Batman is going in a great direction. I love the concept of Batman Inc where we can see all sorts of international crimefighters with unique gimmicks being trained by Batman. It’s able to provide the campy fun that Morrison is great at pulling out when he wants to. I think Morrison is great at plotting out huge overarching stories for the DC Universe and Batman specifically but may falter a bit when it comes down to writing the issues and having them make sense and not seem incomprehensible.
Having Dick Grayson as Batman works for me personally since he continues to grow as a character which is rare in comic books. Plus, we don’t even have to worry about whether or not Bruce Wayne will still be Batman since they have stated that both of them will continue to be Batman in different titles. Dick in Streets and Batman while Bruce takes Dark Knight and Batman Inc so fans of Bruce and Dick will be satisfied. The Bat-family are doing just fine for the foreseeable future, they just may need to chain some good writers to the titles to keep the quality consistent.
I’m of two minds on the subject. On the one hand, I think we have to praise Grant Morrison for finding a way to tell a new, original Batman story. We may not like it, less may appreciate it, but think about it. What other stories are there to tell? Where was Batman headed before Morrison took over? Did we have more Bat-titles? Yes. Were they good? Does anyone else remember Gotham Knights?
Where the new influx of titles are concerned, I think the best option is sample each of the new books, and stick with that depending on what kind of Batman story you want to read. Dick and Damian? Read Batman and Robin. Dick? Read Batman. Bruce? Read whatever title he stars in. By and large I feel Grant Morrison has done a great job with the character, and will follow him into Batman Inc.
I doubt all of the titles will be worth reading, but I think we should at least give them a shot before throwing the idea of an internationalized Batman into the “bad idea” bin.