Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Batman BRB

With all the hubub being created due to the release of Batman #681 and the conclusion of Grant Morrison's Batman RIP storyline, I'm reminded of an actual good storyline. In the summer of 1977 I was 12 and Star Wars had just come out, and there was a real pageturner burning through Detective comics. Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers created what I consider to be a definitive Batman story. Did anyone believe, looking at this cover, that Batman was actually going to be dead? No. Not even my 12-year old self. So when DC publishes a storyline called Batman RIP, why does it get attention from national publications, as if there is going to be a permanent change in who puts on a mask with pointy ears and goes out to fight crime? People, it's been done before, over and over again, sometimes well done at that. This isn't going to be one of those times.

My real question is why does there have to be another Batman when Bruce Wayne goes out of commission? Why is there a mantle to fight for? Last time this happened, when Batman had his back broken, some nutcase who called himself Azrael stepped in and became a more vicious, murderous Batman and sullied the name. When he was taken down, Nightwing stepped in for Batman for a short time. Now, apparently, Nightwing, Robin, and Batman's son (don't ask) Damien, a resurrected Jason Todd, and even an archvillain named Hush are going to battle it out for the cape and cowl. I get the metastory that someone has to occupy the identity to keep DC's trademark fresh and all that, but why in a world of costumed crimefighters does someone have to be Batman? For that matter, why can't they all be Batman? Who's going to stop someone from doing something that's illegal in the first place, like dressing up and being a vigilante when there's real crime to be prevented? Does Bruce Wayne have a trademark on the Batman name that needs to be protected?

The same thing has happened over in Captain America lately. The guy who's been Captain America was supposedly shot and killed a while back, and now there's a new one. The Flash isn't the original Flash. Green Lantern has been replaced by a namesake and then returned, as has Green Arrow, Superman, the Spectre, Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and I'm sure numerous others. When is anyone going to be convinced that the original character isn't coming back eventually? Never.

That's why they should have called the storyline Batman BRB. Because in internet parliance, don't worry. Batman will Be Right Back.*

* I did not come up with this phrase on my own. I saw it in the comments on a comic book website covering the "event" and then expanded upon the little joke, which actually made me LOL.

1 comment:

KC Ryan said...

There is a darn good reason there must be a Batman in that world.

Bruce Wayne holds a trademark on Bat - (Insert item here).

Batcomputer. Batmobile. All of which go down if there isn't a Batman around to keep the trademark alive.

It's far too valuable a trademark to let go - just the idea that the police will use a searchlight with your logo plastered on it, to summon you, is a pretty good
indicator of that.

I like how John Byrne handled it in Generations - Batman III and Supergirl go to Dr. Occult to find out what's been haunting the Joker. Occult merely states that it's doubtful that Batman before him is the same, original Batguy.

Good post, Jim!