diflucan 2 doses

Assessing the Bat-line as 2010 ends

Brian Hibbs

(I really wanted to title this with a “NaNaNaNaNaNaNaNa”, but thought it was too soon after Graeme’s Flash joke last post)

What is kind of awesome about Batman is just how infinitely malleable he is as a character — not every single note hits all of the time, but for the most part Batman can be a grim avenger of the night, or a smiling Pop-infused Caped Crusader; he can fight lunatic gangsters, or space aliens; he can call Robin “Chum”, or he can say “-tt-” a lot. He can be a pirate and a cowboy and a knight and a superhero and… well it seems like there’s very little Batman can’t become, under the right hands (witness the 47-million different “Elseworlds” books — Batman fits more of them, better, than ol’ Clark does)

In comics, Grant Morrison seems to get this pretty well — and, in a way, his entire run of recent Batman comics has been a way to embrace all of the disparate versions of the character over the year (it is almost as if this is an inversion of Alan Moore’s famous line about “this is an imaginary story. But aren’t they all?” with a “these are all true stories, regardless of the source of that imagination”), and he makes it explicit with the debut of BATMAN, INC. which very nearly makes Batman into Captain Universe (“The Hero Who Could Be You!”)

(Though let me also underline the “Batman: the Brave & the Bold” cartoon also has this “it’s all true!” sensibility, which works crazy better than you thought it would as a cartoon…)

As I said before, a whole lot of the eventual success of this model is going to fall on creators whose initials don’t invoke a car company, there has to be a certain amount of cohesion at the center, but I thought it was worth a look at the batfamily of titles as a (semi-) whole as we reach the last month of 2010.

BATMAN: THE RETURN: Let’s start with this one because it is a clear enough demarcation point. This is the one-shot that “bridges” “The Return of Bruce Wayne” to “Batman, Inc.”, but to me, it was a pretty blah, nothing cash-grab of a comic that added really nothing whatsoever to understanding of what’s going on. In fact, the only thing I found memorable about it, two weeks after having read it was that GM kinda inverted the dead-brilliant eight-word summation of Superman’s origin from ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #1 in taking the original “I shall Become A Bat!” and stretching it out over a half-dozen-ish pages. Yeah, that kind of summarizes what I thought of this comic overall, really:  Stretched out. and pretty AWFUL, really.

(This does give me a great place, however, to link to Colin Smith’s fairly brilliant takedown of JMS'” Superman Earth One” via comparing it to GM’s “ASS” in four parts:






BATMAN, INC. #1: Yeah, this is what the Bat needs to be relevant in the 21st century — a million possible Batmen, of all cultures, and styles. On paper, this is the best idea for Batman in years. As an actual first issue of a comic it was solidly GOOD, though I don’t think we’re really going to be able to judge this too much until we have 3 or 4 arcs done and we see where it gets taken. But I really liked the interplay between Bruce and Selina, and I especially liked the call-back to the 1960s Batman TV show in the “next issue” space (much like Geoff Johns really smart “this year in…” bits in THE FLASH and ADVENTURE and whatever). I want more, and that’s the most important bit.

BATMAN #704: Tony Daniel does a good enough job with the “main” bat-book, even introducing a few new characters (one of which might stick, maybe?), but I can’t say there’s anything in there that made me think “more, now!”. I’ll go with OK

DETECTIVE #871: Scott Snyder and Jock tackle the “flagship” book, with a focus on Dick’s Batman. It’s a bit grim and atmospheric for what I want from a Dick Grayson comic — I kind of want Dick to be the Laughing Daredevil Batman, rather than mini-Bruce — but I certainly liked it enough to want to read more. Solidly GOOD.

BATMAN & ROBIN #17: The book that was started FOR GM, that’s continuing without him. I’m not so sure how I feel about this, really, because at this point it kind becomes “yet another Bat-book” — this book needs to find a hook, and find it fast. Having said that, Paul Cornell and Scott McDaniel turn in a decent enough job here, with a pretty interesting new Oddball Villain.. like I said, this book just needs to find it’s own unique Hook. A low GOOD.

BATWOMAN #0: Well, not batman, per se, but probably the book I’m most looking forward to besides INC. Rucka did a pretty astonishing job in making Kate a well-rounded character, and I want more. This “zero issue” doesn’t have much meat to it, really, but it sure was an attractive 16 pages. On the other hand: only 16 pages of story content, foo. I’ll go with OK because of that.

BATMAN STREETS OF GOTHAM #17: Ostensibly a bat-book, but really it’s the Hush comic. Which might be alright if this “Hey, he stole Bruce’s face!” plot actually tied in at all to anything else that’s going on in the bat titles. I don’t know, I never thought Hush was much more than a decent McGuffin at best, but this doesn’t seem like enough to hang a series on, and I pretty don’t much care what happens next. EH.

BATGIRL #15: One thing these low issue numbers all clumped together makes me think of: man, they just basically rebooted Batman  in the last year and a half, didn’t they? This one is fairly cute and charming, and absolutely weightless. I don’t care, but I don’t not care, y’know? OK

RED ROBIN #17:  Here’s another book desperately in desperate need of a premise. The problem is it was launched on “Tim believes Bruce is alive, and this is his quest” and now that Bruce is back… well, what does this book exist for? It isn’t bad or anything… just kinda pointless. I sort of think Tim either needs to become a Bat himself, or to become an “uber-Robin” of some sort that, dunno, finds and trains new Robins? But I’m-dealing-with-dangling-plotlines-and-am-not-inherently-compelling-myself thing? Not going to work in the mid- or long-term. EH.

BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #??: I couldn’t tell you. It’s dropped into “subs only” sales here, feeling like the place when spoiled inventory went to die. I have a mildly hard time seeing this last another year… unless they really have that much inventory to burn off these days. INCOMPLETE

SUPERMAN/BATMAN #78: Also a book that feels driftless and only there for completionists. Constantly changing creative teams and premises doesn’t help either. Without a singular and focused creative team this one should probably be retired, too.

Nor did I read the latest AZRAEL (and neither are you, as far as I can tell!) or GOTHAM CITY SIRENS, but I don’t really consider either of those “bat” books, myself.

How are YOU feelin’ the bat-reboot?


11 Responses to “ Assessing the Bat-line as 2010 ends ”

  1. I actually quite liked The Return – it was a bridging comic, but of the best kind – it got me excited for what was to come next.
    I liked getting to see Bruce do a couple of complete mini-missions over the issue.
    Also, Finch’s art looked better than I’ve seen it before.
    I think I may have enjoyed it more than Batman Inc #1, if only because it had a larger scope than that issue.

    I also disagree about Superman/Batman – since #75, I think this books been doing great.
    Marco Rudy drew the heck out #76, #77 with the team up between Supergil and Damian (where he went undercover as lil’Matches Malone!) was a really funny – made me want to see the two team up more – and #78 was just a bit of fun, with Joe Kelly coming up with ways for the two to take each other down (and some really funny lines thrown in).
    With the next two issues focusing on the DC One Million Superman and Batman, I’m looking forward to more of the series.
    I can see why no regular team would turn people off, and the stories weren’t as fun after Loeb left for awhile, for me this books been a good chance to get some self contained, mostly fun, stories about two characters who have been in big epic multi-part stories for a few years now.
    The mistake I think DC has made is not running Superman/Batman team ups in the book whilst both characters have been absent from theirs.

    And although I think the non-G-Mozz Bat-books are good, I think it’s weird Paul Dini has stopped being as involved – he was a great guy to have on the other book whilst Morrison was doing RIP, but he seems to have gotten lost.
    Gotham City Sirens launched with a really good story, but without Dini and March, I have no interest, and though Heart Of Hush was pretty sweet, and the first Streets OF Gotham trade alright, I can’t believe that story is still going – it didn’t have those kind of legs.

    I tried the first issue of Azrael, but it had the worst art I’d seen in awhile, and an unexciting plot.
    (And didn’t this guy attack Damian in #666?)

  2. “As I said before, a whole lot of the eventual success of this model is going to fall on creators whose initials don’t invoke a car company”

    I actually see the entire BATMAN, INC concept as being Grant Morrison coming to terms with this fact. He’s Bruce, handing out plot envelopes to the other Bat-teams, but basically saying “I’ll be off over here, creating new toys.”

  3. Great reviews as always.

    I thought the lead story in BATMAN: THE RETURN was decent, if only for the brief Bruce/Damian interplay, but all that back matter raising the price to $5 was bullshit. I should have skimmed it so I could have saved myself the trouble (like I did with Batwoman #0). Not to read the story, btw, but to see that there was not much story there.

    BATMAN AND ROBIN: I’m going to check out the next issue because I like Cornell but this story felt unfocused. I should read it again because I didn’t understand it the first time (why is she still alive with a hole in her head, again?) but I don’t care. I’ll be gone when Tomasi comes on board. He’s not bad at all, but (at least with his superhero stuff) kind of a “house style” writer, imo.

    DETECTIVE COMICS: I agree with you somewhat, Brian, about the book being maybe too dark for the Laughing Batman (I love that term you use) we’ve grown to enjoy, but at least Snyder has a very specific reason for the darkness – this idea of Gotham being a dark mirror sounds unique, and I think will actually avoid the mini-Bruce characterization we saw in, say, Prodigal Son. From what Snyder has said, it’s still a Dick Grayson-specific story. Oh, AND JOCK IS DRAWING IT!

    BATMAN: I didn’t bother. No offense to Tony Daniel, I read the first hardcover of his run and it read like it was written by someone who learned to write (fiction) by reading comics. Very ’90s. Not bad, per se, but not my thing. He definitely has structure and pacing down, it’s just his plots I don’t care about (and his completely misinformed take on Damian. He’s not Jason Todd!).

    BATMAN INC: This isn’t much of a criticism I guess but I wanted more! Morrison gave such a compelling pitch in his interviews about this book and we got what I thought was a fairly back-to-basics dynamic with Catwoman on a murder mystery that sidelines the BATMAN INC idea. But I’m just being a big baby. There are other issues to be published, obviously.

  4. The Morrison Bat-books have been the only books I bought since Summer. I couldn’t justify $3.99 for anything else other than Return of Bruce Wayne (which was worth every penny).

    Your analysis is pretty spot-on, although I would say that I loved The Return. It had a propulsion to it that made it really jump off the page and into my imagination. In talking to a friend, I described it as a Krautrock song (which is how most of Morrison’s Bat-work has read, especially post-RIP). It reads like it’s powered by a motorik beat; somewhat repetitive but constantly moving forward. And, while not perfect, I thought David Finch’s artwork actually served the story and made me wish he had drawn RIP.

  5. Nothing on the Bat books since my pull for Nov hasn’t arrived (loyal to my old comic shop), but interesting reading and big thanks for the link to the Superman head-to-head comparison. A lot of what’s wrong with Earth One could be extrapolated to the JMS monthly Superman and Wonder Woman, which were hanging by a thread with me before his announcement sealed the deal. Definitely not taking that saved money from dropping these titles and investing in JMS OGNs.

  6. Brian, not for the first time I see you claim something along the lines of “this is what the Bat needs to be relevant in the 21st century — a million possible Batmen, of all cultures, and styles.”

    Really? Without that premise, Batman would be irrelevant in this century?

    I can think of obvious evidence to the contrary — a film that came out ONLY TWO YEARS AGO, that was widely acclaimed by critics and the general public alike, to the tune of A BILLION DOLLARS in worldwide gross receipts.

    That quite a few comic fans really enjoy Morrison’s Batman is undeniable, but the idea that Morrison’s ideas are essential to the character’s continued relevance is, to put it most charitably, a contentious enough claim that it needs to be argued rather than asserted.

  7. “Really? Without that premise, Batman would be irrelevant in this century?

    I can think of obvious evidence to the contrary — a film that came out ONLY TWO YEARS AGO, that was widely acclaimed by critics and the general public alike, to the tune of A BILLION DOLLARS in worldwide gross receipts.”

    Hollywood, and those who only watch their films, struggle to be as on the mark as comics do.

    Also, that medium has now told, all up, six Batman stories – two of which different takes on the same character.

    The comics have been doing it every month, in multiple books for seventy years.

    Pump out a film a year, or every six months, and see how long it takes for it all to get stale.

  8. “Also, that medium has now told, all up, six Batman stories”


  9. The funny thing about Batman Confidential- It replaces Legends Of The Dark Knight, a comic that, when it came out twenty years ago, was only the third ongoing Batman comic available, and seemingly tried to have more prestige then the other two. Then, as time went on, that identity concept got diluted (partly by there being way more Batman comics, crossovers, the complete nonexistence of newsstands selling comics, and the whole idea of what constituted prestige and maturity either changing or disappearing) to the point where they had to cancel it, only to replace it with something essentially the same, but with no expectations or associations.

  10. Nice summary of the Bat-line. For what it’s worth, I like when (such as Graeme’s recent Flash piece) y’all take on more than single issues, because I lean toward trades these days, and like hearing how well an arc works more than how good a single issue is. In this case, a kind of overview of the line while discussing the latest singles is very cool.

    (I like whatever you folks offer up by way of free infotainment; this is just saying particular thanks).

    Like you, I agree that Batman Inc, seems to take the character into a new and exciting place, and that this is great for a 70-year-old character. However, it’s one of those ideas that I fear no one else will handle well. I’d hate to see Grant dismantle it himself when he leaves (I’m not expecting him to be doing bat-books for a decade), and I’d hate to see it fall into utter shambles when his successors come along. (See: Marvel dealing with the wake of his X-Men run.)

    But hey, let’s be brave and roll the dice. Right now, it’s lookin’ like a heap of fun.

  11. Thanks a ton for Colin’s pieces on Superman.

    I’d never considered before how close All-Star Superman was to the Golden Age as well as the Silver Age.

    The first Superman stories are astounding in their community ethic and their populism, and would be considered unbelievably radical today, as Superman deals out good-natured but two-fisted justice to wife beaters, arms manufacturers, Washington war-mongers, unjust convictions, and even unsafe working conditions. Of course, he does it all with a grin, in the blink of an eye.

    I always marvel at those books. Superman is indeed a power fantasy for young men as his most boring critics maintain, but he’s a power fantasy from a time when your average young man in America wanted to stick it hard to the banks, the bosses, and whatever sick bastard was making money off howitzer shells.

    We need plenty of that generation’s Superman, and quickly.

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