now reading: Batman

While on holiday, I managed to get caught up on some comic reading – specifically, my giant stack of Batman. I’m a better comic buyer than I am reader, and while I’d managed to keep mostly up to date with the goings-on over the Batman: RIP and Battle for the Cowel series’, I’d not yet had chance to dive into the aftermath.

Oh, in case you’re not up on these things – perhaps you’ve been living under a blissfully geek-free rock, or maybe you’ve been thrust back in time after being struck by Darkseid’s Omega Sanction – Bruce Wayne a.k.a. The Dark Knight a.k.a. Batman, is dead.

Or is he?

Dum dum duuuum!

Yeah, spoiler alert: he’s not. He’s been sent back in time, and come June we’re going to see how Grant Morrison plans to bring him back to now. But in the meantime, we’ve been left with a bevy of Bruce Wayne-less Batman books to keep us going. Here my take on how it’s all going. Or another way to look at it; whether or not my pull-list is going to become shorter this week.

Streets of Gotham
I was a big fan of Paul Dini’s run on Detective, so having him back in a similar format here is great. Even on his months off, there’s a fairly consistent tone to the book – something that couldn’t be said for Detective. So far, I’m really enjoying it, which means that Streets of Gotham will stay. Which is more than I can say for…

Gotham City Sirens
Yup. Sorry. Comics cannot be carried on eye-candy itself. While Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn together in a monthly book on paper (glossy paper, with lots and lots of pictures) looks good, in practice it just doesn’t work.

Why are they working together? If Quinn is such a pain in the ass, why don’t they kill her? Catwoman would not put up with this shit, seriously. As a one shot, or maybe a short series, I could see this working. Ten issues in however, it’s starting to overstay its welcome. My bad for being behind in my reading really. Dropping it.

It says a lot that I’m currently searching Wikipedia to remind myself of what’s happening in Batman right now. Seriously, I honestly can’t remember. Dick Grayson is now Batman, and he does some … stuff. And maybe Jason Todd is about too? I dunno. I mean, no one is surpised Dick got to be Batman, are they? Battle of the Cowl was always going to end that way. And to be honest, I’ve got no issues with Dick being Batman. He’s doing a pretty good job for now, I just don’t find him interesting on his own. Without a partner, it’s all “I’m never going to be able to replace Bruce, woe is me, being Batman is haaaaard!”

It’s when Dick-Batman is thrown into trouble with an off-sider that things start to get interesting. Seeing the Gotham universe come to grips with a new Batman has been fascinating. For now, Batman is staying on my list, but while I’m reading Batman, I’ll be thinking about…

Batman and Robin
Yup, loving it. Coming into this after Morrison’s run on Batman, I have to say I was a little intimidated. As great as Batman: RIP was, it was so dense in Bat-back-story that most of it went over my head. And then as if that wasn’t enough, he “killed” Batman off in Final Crisis! You need a fucking degree to understand most of that Crisis stuff! Multiverse-whu? Omega-who? My DC Universe knowledge can get me through a five seasons of Justice League and Justice League: Unlimited, but a Crisis? Man, that’s hard work!

So with some trepidation, I picked up Batman and Robin issue #1, and all that disappeared within a mater of pages. Sure, it has its cheesy moments, and yeah, Dick is still settling into the roll, but seeing him bicker with Damian Wayne’s Robin [1] is a real joy.

For me, growing up on the 60s Batman TV series, its been nice to see a little lightness injected back into Batman. And when I say “lightness”, this is still very much a not for kids book. While I understand it’s not for everyone, I’ve really enjoyed Morrison’s work here, and Quitely’s art has been amazing. Almost amazing enough to make me want to check out All Star Superman.

Almost [2].

Batman and Robin is great, but it’s not the best Batman book out there.

The best Batman book doesn’t even feature Batman in a main role. That’s right – Detective now belongs to Batwoman, and she’s awesome.

Kate Kane was introduced as Batwoman during that whole 52 thing that I didn’t ever make an attempt to keep up on. I  remember rolling my eyes at the news of Batwoman being back. And a lesbian. And a red head.

“Seriously?” I thought to myself. “A Bat-wranger?! What are they thinking!” [3]

News was Batwoman would eventually have her own book. Time passed. It didn’t happened, we all moved on. Then it turns out she’s getting Detective in the post Batman: RIP world, and all of a sudden it became my least anticipated Bat-book.

Until I read it. And it was glorious.

At times, Greg Rucka’s run on Batwoman: Detective reminds me of what I loved about Miller’s Year One, and there isn’t much higher praise than that. Her origin story is great, building Kate to be such a solid character. And the art is magnificent – J.H. Williams draws an amazing Batwoman, and for the first time in a while, I really feel I’m seeing art drive a story; it’s not just pretty for pretty’s sake.

So somehow, Bruce Wayne is dead (sort of), and the Batman book I’ve come to look forward to the most, isn’t even about Batman? What has the world come to?

If you forget about the cheesecake mess that is Gotham City Sirens, it’s a good time to be a Bat fan. Bruce Wayne may be dead (he’s not), but I don’t find myself missing him [4]. So then my question becomes, are DC bringing back Bruce too soon? I mean we’re talking comics here; no one stays dead forever, but would it hurt us to wait just a little bit longer? In issue #10 of Batman and Robin, Damian asks Dick outright – If Bruce comes back, does that mean he doesn’t get to be Robin anymore? While I’m sure The Return of Bruce Wayne won’t be as simple as that, I really hope we get to see more of the Bruce-less Gotham before we fall into the inevitable return to the status-quo.

[1] Sorry, just in case you’re still playing catch-up, Damian Wayne is the new Robin. he’s the son of Bruce Wayne, and Talia al Ghul, who is the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul.

Hopefully that clears that up.

[2] But not quite, cause Superman is boring.

[3] Of course, I mean no offense to red heads. Some of my best friends have red hair.

[4] Probably because he’s coming back really, really soon.


Author: Mark Ampersand

Budding writer, connoisseur of fine popular culture and Batman fan.

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