MIKE GOLD: The Batman Family Feud
I’m enjoying the back-and-forth between my fellow columnists Marc Alan Fishman and Michael Davis regarding DC’s New 52, but now it has come to the point where I must give Marc, ComicMix’s own Snapper Carr, some love.
(Hey, Snapper, just swallow it. We’ve already got Johnny DC writing here. No kidding.)
For a third of a year Marc has been singing the praises of the New 52 Batman to me. I’ve been reluctant to read it despite the fact that I enjoy friends’ recommendations and I respect Marc’s opinions. I’d respect Michael Davis’s opinions as well, if he ever had any. No, my problem is that Batman was one of my favorite characters until the rank and file turned him into a guy who was just as psychotic as his cadre of evildoers. That created a domino effect: the villains became psychoticer. This is the exact opposite of what happened to Mickey Mouse in the 1930s.
Fans of this stuff attacked me as an old fart who wanted the Bat to be like the 1960s teevee show. No; I’m older than that. I grew up a precocious reader during the waning days of Bill Finger and Dick Sprang and stories that were geared to a solidly pre-adolescent audience. If I had my druthers I would wipe out the past 10+ years of Bat-tales and go back to the approach best presented by (in alphabetical order) Adams, Aparo, Englehart, O’Neil, Robins and Rogers, et al. Barring that, I’d take my lead from the Batman of the animated show as professed by (in alphabetical order) Burnett, Dini, and Timm, et al. Of course, some of those efforts were adaptations of the works of Adams, Aparo, Englehart, O’Neil, Robins and Rogers, et al.
Besides, I thought “the New 52 Batman” referred to the number of Batsmen who currently inhabit DC’s new universe. How many Batmen are there today? I have no idea. I can’t count how many were there the day the previous DCU got itself ignored. Evidently, somebody thought Photoshop was for ideas and concepts as well as art. So, with all this hoo-hah between Messrs. Davis and Fishman, I decided to read the New 52 Batman. Keep in mind: I italicized “Batman,” so I’m onlyreferring to the Batman title per se. I have yet to read Detective Comics, Batwing, Wolverbat, or Batpool.
Damn. Score one for our Earth-ComicMix Snapper Carr. Batman has a Batman that isn’t an asshole. That, alone, goes a long way to restoring my faith in the character, DC Comics, and the concept of “the child is father to the man.” Like the rest of us, I have no clue how this ties into that which may or may not have gone before, but Bats is more human and less lunatic. He – or rather Bruce Wayne – is the subject of a deadly conspiracy by something called the Court of Owls (please don’t tell me that’s going to tie into the forthcoming and ill-advised Watchmen prequel). He seems a bit high-techier than he was before, and Alfred has less need to play off of Batty’s psychoses and is a better character for that.
Most important, the Batman Batman is a hero. Hero is a term of respect we bestow upon those who have earned it. A hero need not be a nice guy, but he/she/it should be, at heart, a decent human being. So far, after four issues, this Batman is a hero.
Thanks, Marc. Michael… your turn. Make a heartfelt recommendation.
THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil
Woo! I’m Snapper Carr! Double Woo! I have a point and Davis doesn’t!
I have been in the minority criticising Grant Morrison’s work.
His handling of Batman seemed to be be an ill advised way to mine the 50s stories for inspiration.
His original stuff gives me a migrane.
In my humble opinion, Denny O’Neil, Frank Robbins, Steve Englehart, et al. did the best work with the character.
I date myself, but he will always be “THE Batman”
The Englehart/Rogers Batman has yet to the equaled. The idea that Hugo Strange would die rather than betray an enemy he came to respect was unprecedented in my memory. And the the Joker dealing with the poor clerk at the patent office when he expected to patent Joker-fish… great stuff.
Marc, you’re a heartbeat away from Etta Candy.
Ian, as I noted above we agree on BatWriters. Grant’s work has been all over the map for me — I think Zenith was one of the finest comics ever published, and there’s a lot of stuff of his that I really enjoy. OTOH, there’s some stuff of his that just makes no sense to me. That’s cool; an artist should not be expected to level his work for all peoples. In this particular case, his New 52 Batman makes me look forward to the next issue, and that hasn’t happened since the days of O’Neil, Robins and Engelhart. Which would be the weirdest law firm outside of Crane, Poole & Schmidt
George, if I had to pick my favorite continuous run on Batman, I would pick Steve and Marshall’s in a heartbeat. Marshall was a good friend as well; a great guy to hang out with.
“I’d respect Michael Davis’s opinions as well, if he ever had any.”
In all my 21 years (what??) I’ve NEVER been told I had a LACK of opinions. Clearly you have mistaken me for someone trying to be elected to office by any means. I’ll remind you good sir, my name is Michael not Mitt.
Michael, look up “sarcasm” in the dictionary. It’s the definition next to my picture.