Dennis O’Neil: Happy Endings
For a while, my favorite way of paying the bills was by writing Batman stories for DC Comics. But that was over. I’d accepted a job with Marvel, DC’s arch rival, and so the story I was working on would be my final visit to the Batcave. Well, no problem. I was a pro and a pro, I probably thought, keeps emotions away from the workdesk.
As the splendid Alfred Bester said, “Among professionals the job is boss.” But still…farewell to Batman? Forever? So I wrote a final panel with a final caption that could have ended the Batman saga, which had been going on for decades. I knew that it wouldn’t, of course. Editor Julius Schwartz would employ another writer and Batman would continue with nary a beat missed. But I would know that my Batman, the only one that counted, would have ended his career with that closing caption.
I wonder how Arthur Conan Doyle felt when he sent Sherlock Holmes over Reichenbach Falls to what he apparently believed would be the great detective’s final exit.
Holmes didn’t stay dead and after some seven years at Marvel, neither did my own private Batman. I returned to DC and, power-mad ogre that I am, assumed editorship of the Batman franchise, which at the time consisted of two comic books. No hardcover novels, no megamovies, just two flimsy comic books. (Plus a number of non-bat related titles, but never mind them.)
And why, you might well inquire, if you are still with me, am I blathering on about such ancient (ancientish) history now?
Cast your mind back to last week’s televised Arrow, which you must have watched, the season’s last episode and what could have been the finale for the whole series. Arrow, whose birth name is Oliver Queen, has just vanquished his supreme enemy and restored peace and tranquility to his city. He has assembled his cadre of assistants (disciples?) and proclaimed them his successors. His task is done and they are more than capable of dealing with future tasks. We next see him cruising along an open highway in an open-top convertible, the lovely Felicity Smoak by his side, vanishing into what will surely be the happiest of happy endings.
Except that the series has been renewed and will rise again come fall. So what will Oliver (and let’s not forget the lissome Felicity) be up to in the chilly months while their cohorts kick ass and take villainous names? To just have them leave the series forever would be gutsy, but maybe not commercially prudent. Or maybe they can be more or less absent for a bit – we could look in on them occasionally – and eventually find a reason to return to the fray. Or maybe they’ll never reach their happy-ever-after destination because of an unforeseen crisis that demands their attention. (Are they carrying cell phones?)
Or maybe – here’s hoping! – those clever scribes in tv land will devise something breathtakingly original that will leave me sprawled on the couch, awed.
I’ve got a whole summer to hope that’s what happens.