Saturday, November 6, 2010

COMIC: Batmania (Commentary)

One of my favorite comic book characters of all time is DC Comics' Batman. The legacy of Batman has grown over the decades, going through multiple iterations, looks and relaunches through several media but for this article I am focusing on the original comic book aspect of the character and what I like and do not like about the current status of the Batman world.

Over time the aspect of Batman having a family has developed and grown to include several Robins - five so far - and Batgirls - four. With the amount of characters in the immediate universe having grown so much, sometimes a character or two will fall through the cracks if they do not have a title they regularly appear in.

This happens to be the case with the previous current Batgirl, Cassandra Cain. Since Batman RIP and the storyline of Bruce Wayne's death, the character stopped being a regular presence and only returned briefly in the first issue of the Batgirl series relaunch to pass the mantle to Stephanie Brown.

The irony in Cassandra's descent into anonymity is that the character had just been rescued from the horrid development she had gone through since Infinite Crisis four years ago. She had just been re-accepted into the family by Bruce, who had gone ahead and adopted her, declaring that while he was around she would always have a family but that ended up being a horrible tease because the Batman RIP storyline was next.

Now she has been seemingly forgotten - like always - by the creators on the Bat books but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel because during this current return of Bruce Wayne story that is happening, Bruce offhandedly mentioned that Cassandra was off doing what he told her to do if anything should happen to me. This could just be a throwaway comment to appease the fans and quickly explain why she has not been around but with the upcoming Batman, Inc. franchising, I think it would be fantastic if Cassandra has been globetrotting around the world scouting potential candidates and had already started the process of implementing Batman's presence on a global basis.

My dream would be for Cassandra to get a featured book but with Stephanie Brown finally getting some deserved spotlight as Batgirl, it would have to be something like a second batgirl book somewhat in the style of how there is a Batman book and a Batman and Robin book. So I would like to see maybe a Batgirls title that has Cassandra and Stephanie working together because their duo rivaled that of the typical Batman and Robin or Robin and Batgirl.

As a result I think it would be best for Cassandra to be a second Batgirl. With how the Bat characters seem to grow into another's costume when that character moves on to something else, I have seen some great fan drawings of Cassandra taking on the Nightwing costume which would be fine for me as well as long as Dick stayed as Batman.

Now that this seems to be the way things are going at least for the next few years while Grant Morrison is in charge of the Batman creative direction, fans will finally be getting the result I was hoping would come from this entire Batman RIP storyline in that both Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne will be Batman. Outside of a few writers who handle Dick poorly in order to make Bruce seem invincible and on a level too high for Dick to ever reach, Dick has been written fantastically as Batman.

I've been wanting to see the direction of multiple Batmen ever since Dick took over the mantle and thrived with it and knowing that Bruce Wayne would be returning especially with a character like Green Lantern who originally only had one Lantern from a given section now having four Lanterns from Earth alone at the same time, I always wondered why other characters had not been expanded that way. I think Wonder Woman with Donna Troy somewhat languishing in this awkward not Wonder Girl not Wonder Woman phase would be an excellent second Wonder Woman.

The great thing about bringing about multiple Batmen is that the yellow background behind the Bat symbol is coming back as part of Bruce's new costume to help tell apart the characters. I've been thinking for years now that I missed the yellow, even going so far as to wishing they had brought Bruce back in the classic blue and yellow costume that was prevalent in the 1980s or bringing the Michael Keaton-era Batman movie costume to the comic books and giving that to Bruce to where, classic solid black with the yellow background bat emblem.

The only part of the Bat universe - outside the lack of Cass - that really has my ire is the overwhelming push to make Batman Beyond a part of the main canon. Now, the animated show was a fun experience, but I was only able to enjoy it by placing it in its own little world as an alternate universe and there is one of the 52 worlds that is for Batman Beyond.

Except now the mini-series comic book has turned into an ongoing and I've stayed away because for some reason DC has refused to put the Elseworlds label on it despite having brought back that label this year with the Superman: Last Family of Krypton mini and I can not see any reason why any Batman fan would be happy with this being the future for the characters.

Going just off the animated series since I haven't read the new book, Bruce ends up old and alone, Barbara is old, alone and police commissioner (and because of the animated verse she and Bruce have something between them), there is no sign of Dick Grayson at all, and Tim is horribly treated in the Return of Joker film.

Batman Beyond is a fun alternate future tale and I want to keep it that way. And that is what this Bat fan has to say on the topic. Same Bat time, same Bat channel!

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Batman themed picspam.

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