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He's Just Pining For The Fjords
November 28, 2008 11:53 AM   Subscribe

Batman is dead, joining the ranks of Martian Manhunter (in the DCU) and Captain America in Marvel Universe. Are there no other ways to generate comic book sales without killing off characters or blowing up the universe every year?
posted by hrbrmstr (57 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
The infinitely-long serial is the worst form of storytelling. Nothing, not even death, can have a lasting effect on the world; there is no climax, no resolution. It's dismal.
posted by sonic meat machine at 11:56 AM on November 28, 2008 [11 favorites]


"Wayne is missing, presumed dead"

naw...he'll be back....
posted by HuronBob at 12:06 PM on November 28, 2008


Nah, he'll be back. I've been killing him with Scorpion all week, and he still shows up on the player select screen.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:09 PM on November 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


"This is certainly the most serious thing that's ever happened to Wayne, far worse, for example, than the incident where he broke his back during the 1990s," one expert said. "But even if readers were actually shown his body, (and remember, they haven't in this case) there will always be potential for a comeback." said one expert.

Oooo, that would make me an expert, too! And thousands of other chubby guys who have a run of Knightfall mouldering in a longbox.
Sort of weak sauce.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:09 PM on November 28, 2008


Makes some sense. Bats is among the few in the pantheon of heroes who hasn't experienced the requisite crucifixion/resurrection process (I think) giving him true superhero status.
posted by hojoki at 12:13 PM on November 28, 2008


"... Morrison, 48, told an interviewer that the hero faced "a fate worse than death". He added: "This is the end of Bruce Wayne as Batman. But, like I say, it's so much better than death. People have killed characters in the past but to me, that kind of ends the story. I like to keep the story twisting and turning. So what I am doing is a fate worse than death. Things that no one would expect to happen to these guys at all."

Sounds to me like Wayne will be without his cowl for a while, but not dead. The title makes sense in that context, too: Batman as an identity rests in peace. But I think the chances of the actual dude being permanently killed are exactly nil. This is just a throwback to the constant fake-out deaths of the '80s and '90s.
posted by Gotham at 12:14 PM on November 28, 2008


A few theories.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2008


lazarus pit blah blah who cares

I've no problem with killing major characters, but there has to be a commitment to not trivialize it by quickly bringing them back (yes, I realize I am talking about comic book death).

I have faith that Grant Morrison will do something interesting with this, but I also have faith DC Comics will wipe it out as quickly as possible, and so I can't even pretend to care about it. I'll wait for Seaguy 2, thanks.
posted by Donnie VandenBos at 12:23 PM on November 28, 2008


Are there no other ways to generate comic book sales without killing off characters or blowing up the universe every year?

It's not that there aren't other ways, it's that this one is easy and effective.

After Superman DIED in the early nineties, a friend of mine hung a "Death of Superman" poster in his bedroom. Upon seeing it, I mentioned that the art was awesome, but that it was kind of weird to hang a poster for what was clearly such a transitory event. He assured me, as a long-time comics reader, that Superman would never come back to life.

And there will always be people who read these things this way, and so it will continue to be profitable to "kill" superheroes. It hits us somewhere between the morbid fascination of death and the desire to collect important things.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:39 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


This has been telegraphed for at least a year if you follow the DCU.

And after nearly 25 years dead, Barry Allen is back. So ... there you are.

Also? Morrison's finally hit the "taken too many psychedelics" limit for me. Final Crisis and Batman are inchoate messes. Actually the whole post-Countdown DCU for me has left me scratching my head. However, Legion of Three Worlds is awesome.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:40 PM on November 28, 2008


Val Kilmer killed the Batman.
posted by ColdChef at 12:41 PM on November 28, 2008


How disappointing. Batman was the first comic book hero I actually got into when I started collecting comics over 10 years ago. Right, by the way, when the Knightfall thing happened, which ran pretty much concurrently with 'The Death of Superman', another silly, stupid plotline that left Supes dead for all of, what, a month, before brining back not one but FOUR different Supermen. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
This isn't too unexpected though - comic book writers have proven over the last year years that nothing is sacred by bringing back Bucky (Captain America) and Jason Todd (Batman) as plot points. However, I'd say this will be the stake in the heart as far as my love for Batman comics are concerned. The one thing that always drew me to his character was that he was human, 'just like me' (except super rich, a ninja, and encumbered with hundreds of nifty toys). Anyone could be Batman with enough money and training (and luck). Killing him and then, inevitably, bringing him back to life strips whatever meager reality I could pretend to percieve in the comic.
I'll stick to The Dark Tower series and eagerly await the day Jhonen Vasquez returns to comics. Civil War, House of M, Secret Wars.... none of it seems nearly as awesome as Bone, 100 Bullets, or Y the last man. Mayhaps stories aren't meant to continue on forever....

(coming from the guy reading probably his 60th Dragonlance book)
posted by Bageena at 12:41 PM on November 28, 2008


Comic book death being what it is, if they wanted to make a splash they should have done something permanent, and outed him. There's no taking that back three issues down the line. It's the Dumbledore effect: death comes and goes, but gay is forever.
posted by bicyclefish at 12:43 PM on November 28, 2008 [18 favorites]


They'd just hetcon it, bicyclefish.
posted by cortex at 12:44 PM on November 28, 2008 [28 favorites]


I read the full run of Batman R.I.P., and I honestly don't really know what's going on, or even what happened. This is like The Invisibles version of a Batman story, all ambiguous motivations, actions and outcomes.

Although, to be fair, Tony Daniels' art sure didn't help.
posted by joelhunt at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2008


The infinitely-long serial is the worst form of storytelling. Nothing, not even death, can have a lasting effect on the world; there is no climax, no resolution. It's dismal.
posted by sonic meat machine at 3:56 PM on November 28 [+] [!]


I wholeheartedly disagree with you. The beauty of mainstream superhero comic books (MSHCB) is precisely the "infinitely-long serial" format. Stories that have taken 70 years and hundreds of writers / artists to tell are, as far as I know, unique. It's what's elevated comic books to a form of folklore, and their protagonists to iconic stature.
I don't think you can judge Batman, or Spider-Man or the X-Men by the same canon as lighter fare such as Finnegan's Wake, Infinite Jest or The Odyssey. These are not simple stories that can have a 'climax' or 'resolution'. They are palimpsests of a multitude of generations' fears and prejudices. The cyclical nature of death in MSHCBs is part of their epic nature. Always changing, always the same. To sit down and read, whether in paper or electronic format, a decade or so of your favorite MSHCB is a sublime experience.
One of the things I dearly love about the U.S., together with the Blues, Rock, the First Amendment and Oreo Milkshakes.
posted by signal at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2008 [9 favorites]


> I don't think you can judge Batman, or Spider-Man or the X-Men by the same canon as lighter fare such as Finnegan's Wake, Infinite Jest or The Odyssey.

Elijah Price, is that you?
posted by you just lost the game at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Signal, the only problem is that 20 years ago DC rebooted and tossed all the previous continuity into the ashcan. And they've done partial reboots several times since then.
posted by Class Goat at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2008


the only problem is that 20 years ago DC rebooted and tossed all the previous continuity into the ashcan

I think that the reboots are part of the cyclical nature. It's not one long, coherent story, with a beginning and end. It's decades worth of storytelling with common characters and motifs.
posted by signal at 1:00 PM on November 28, 2008


RIP J'onn and I'd say RIP Bruce, but we know he'll be back. I'm even pretty sure J'onn will be back, just not as quickly as Bruce.

I'm glad I'm not pissing away my money on this crap any longer when I have better things to spend it on. And the comics industry wonders why long-term fans like me stop getting subscriptions. It's not just the price, it's the decrease in quality. (Yeah, I know it's Morrison, but "killing off" Batman, particularly after Bane broke his back, is just lazy storytelling.)
posted by immlass at 1:08 PM on November 28, 2008


White on white leather black capes
Back on the rack
Batman is dead
The bats have left the bell tower
The perps have been tied
Red rubber lines the bat cave
Bela Lugosi's dead
Undead undead undead
The villians file past his tomb
Strewn with traps and bombs
Another battle they crave
Alfred alone in a darkened cave
The Bat
Bruce Wayne is dead
Undead undead undead

posted by The Whelk at 1:24 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Welll... if signs are right this thing with the Black Rings and the Darkest Night over at the GL titles would allow them to bring back everybody and their superpet, if they wish.

*gets all shifty-eyed around and develops a massive headache trying to picture a Black Ringed Vibe*

Ugh.
posted by Iosephus at 1:33 PM on November 28, 2008


(Yes, yes, I fudged that one. It's the Blackest Night, more correctly. Sigh-ity.)
posted by Iosephus at 1:38 PM on November 28, 2008


Morrison still has the honor of having brought back to life dead characters in the most honest way I've ever seen; after killing off Animal Man's family, he feels bad, and tells Animal Man directly, writer-to-character, that he now recognizes he'd made a lazy choice as a writer:

"We thought that by making your world more violent, we would make it more 'realistic,' more 'adult.' God help us if that's what it means. Maybe, for once, we could try to be kind."

And then Animal Man's family magically reappears by the powers of postmodernism. And that's that.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2008 [7 favorites]


DC has my favorite characters, but their new stories have become all but irrelevant... they make almost no sense anymore because DC keeps rebooting and/or fixing the multiverse. Their editorial staff lurches from one huge company-wide stunt storyline to the next with little or no thought for what happens after the event is over. What's really tiresome is their tendency to kill off a beloved but underperforming character, then introduce a lame new replacement, and then when that replacement flops, just like their multiple reboots have, they do it all again.

I blame Crisis on Infinite Earths and A Death in the Family.

If Geoff Johns ever leaves, they might as well stop publishing new stories entirely.
posted by MegoSteve at 1:47 PM on November 28, 2008


Bat who?
Super what?

Ohhhhh, right.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:55 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Comics still suffers from this "bigger, better" thing -- as far as editorial seems to think, especially editors who worked through the "gritty"/X-trEEEEM 90s, you have to have some gigantic event to draw readers in. Certainly, mere good storytelling and art would never keep readers buying issues (*cough*Fables*cough*).

So, every arc has to have a major "THINGS WILL NEVER BE THE SAME AGAIN" tagline. At this point, things never being the same again is the default state for DC and Marvel lines -- so for things to REALLY never be the same again would mean a storyline that didn't end with a death, resurrection, secret good/evil/Skrull reveal or gratuitous explosion.
posted by subbes at 2:04 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


The essential problem of fandom:

Do something to massively shake-up/advance/change the storyline = vomiting on people's childhood.

Change nothing = *yawn*. I enjoy re-tellings and re-imaginings as much as the next superhero fan, but at some point I realized that my enjoyment was not from being surprised by the story, but was being derived from how much I agreed/disagreed with a particular version of the character's story. From there, it wasn't long until I was done with comics.
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:17 PM on November 28, 2008


Maybe I'm old and cranky, and I haven't read a super hero comic in more than a decade, but retcons and reboots and rebirths and such always always struck me as lazy writing.

The hotshot creators du jour always seem to come to the publishers with some idea they want to write, or maybe it's in reverse with a gimmick they think will sell books. ("Batman should totally kill the Joker in a meat grinder.") and so they bend continuity and mess up timelines and generally write off their own backstory just to indulge their whims. If you didn't want this character to have had a sister, no problem, we'll retroactively redefine history or the universe or whatever to make it the way you wanted to write it.

I'd have so much more respect for a 50 or 60 year ongoing serial if it DID maintain continuity. That would be damn hard, and increasingly so, and would bring in so many challenges for writers, but I have this theory that it would also squeeze out much better work.

I suppose what I would wish is that writers would approach a mountain of continuity as a challenge, rather than an obstacle. Gaiman's Sandman and James Robinson's Starman seemed to do this, or at least try to... they managed to tell bizarrely different stories that didn't (as far as I remember) contradict or cancel out any of the Silver/Golden age histories, though they sure provided new perspectives on them and often added new "history" to make it all fit, even though their stories and characters and styles were very very very different than the ones that came before.
posted by rokusan at 2:39 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Batman's death was foreshadowed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2008


. The beauty of mainstream superhero comic books (MSHCB) is precisely the "infinitely-long serial" format.

Yep. It puts them up there alongside such creative genius as Coronation Street, Neighbours, and The Bold and the Beautiful.
posted by Jimbob at 3:08 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eh, continuity in comics (or anything else of this nature, like, say, Star Trek), really has struck me as the literary equivalent of The Papal Bull Problem.

Popes are infallible, according to, ah ... Popes. They get to write the rules of what is and is not wrong. However, their very infallibility leaves them liable to painting the entire theology into a corner — you can never go back on your word. Each potential successive papal bull not only has to be judged to avoid conflicts with previous papal bulls, but must also leave room for later advancement. And on top of that, you must adapt to a changing world.

Worse yet, the Popes, like writers on Star Trek, change. They have different ideas on how they want the story going forward to play out. To rehash the same storylines means people get bored, they stop watching (or attending Mass). They can be uncomfortable with decisions made by previous Popes, for one reason or another. A great retcon can pull you out of a tricky situation; a bad one just looks transparent and causes everyone to lose faith.

It's kind of a lose-lose situation if your devout followers (whether they are neckbeards or clutching rosary beads) take things seriously and look too hard at what you've done.
posted by adipocere at 4:03 PM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Popes are infallible, according to, ah ... Popes. They get to write the rules of what is and is not wrong. However, their very infallibility leaves them liable to painting the entire theology into a corner — you can never go back on your word. Each potential successive papal bull not only has to be judged to avoid conflicts with previous papal bulls, but must also leave room for later advancement. And on top of that, you must adapt to a changing world.

Popes are not inherently infallible. Only declarations made ex cathedra, from the Chair of St. Peter, are infallible. This has only been done something like seven times in the history of the church. The idea that popes are somehow always infallible, and therefore paint themselves into corners with every new Papal Bull, is a popular one, but simply not true. Popes do reverse the declarations of other Popes, and constantly reinterpret matters of doctrine based on new circumstances.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:25 PM on November 28, 2008


I haven't read the articles linked above, but I just finished Batman RIP this morning and was dying to talk to someone about it.

1. For those of you that haven't read this, Batman RIP is clearly different from Knightfall and The Death of Superman--it's a psychedelic character study bent on salvaging all of Batman's continuity, rather than a crass marketing ploy. (I would also distinguish the death of Captain America, which actually made Bucky coming back to life seem compelling and believable.) It's probably the most unintelligible, fan-abrasive big comics event I can think of, far more similar to, say, The Crying of Lot 49 than to these silly moneymakers or even the relatively straightforward Batman movies. Some elements of Batman RIP: the devil; the cyberpunk batman of the future; a coalition of Batmen from many nations; a reinvention of the Batman origin; a fourth-dimensional imp made from imagination; a back-up personality; a reinterpretation of the Joker as an amoral, androgynous, carnivalesque David Bowie; and the bright purple Batman of Zur-en-ah!

2. Another example of its non-stunt-like nature: Morrison has said that the Batman of Final Crisis, which happens after Batman RIP, is Bruce Wayne. (Plus, there is some intimation that DC editorial screwed around with what Morrison actually wanted to do with the story.)

3. More than any other comic I've seen, Batman RIP is an attempt to write comics as though all of continuity--from the absurdist silver age stories to the grim&gritty nineties comics--were all true. Morrison wrings two effects out of this: (a) he delegates some of continuity to psychology (the Silver Age happened b/c Batman was insane, drugged, etc.) and the psychological cost of absorbing fifty years of comics has devastated Batman psychologically; (b) the comic relies almost exclusively on a type of seamless pastiche--a diffuse clunky horizontal form Morrison has deployed increasingly over the last few years.
posted by johnasdf at 4:34 PM on November 28, 2008 [4 favorites]


Declaration ex Cathedra would be an awesone band name, book title, meme.
posted by The Whelk at 5:24 PM on November 28, 2008


Maybe I'm old and cranky, and I haven't read a super hero comic in more than a decade, but retcons and reboots and rebirths and such always always struck me as lazy writing.

Oh god, this is going to rack my brain until I remember where I read it, but it was someone saying that the problem with Soap Operas and Sci-FI stories and Comic Books was that they avoided death. The cliff-hanger action hero can always come back, Because! Because there is..time travel or a saved imprint or a ghost or a twin or ...something. The stories bang hollow because you know any death isn't really real for real, and so the characters never have to deal with it. And then many sentences about how this retarded the genres and kept them from being Respectable and yadda yada.
posted by The Whelk at 5:28 PM on November 28, 2008


I never understood the need for continuity in comic books. If it constrains you so much that you feel the need to periodically reboot the unverse, what's the point? Why not just have serials of a defined length that can tell whatever story the artist wants. Batman kills the Joker, Joker kills Batman, Joker is really Batman's father, Joker and Batman have to share an apartment and end up painting a white line down the middle. Whatever.

If you feel some sort of need for continuity, then commit to it. Have the characters age in real time. Let superheroes die or move on, and have new ones take their place. That would be a much more interesting universe than the one DC seems to currently have.
posted by heathkit at 5:51 PM on November 28, 2008 [3 favorites]


As someone who is peripherally aware of comics, I find that the death of a major super hero to be simultaneously alienating and boring. No matter how well a death is done, it still feels like a lazy thing to do unless it actually is intended to close out the story of that character. If they instead committed to a major change, like outing him as a superhero, or having him try and retire and start a family, or having him go down an evil and megalomaniac path towards fascism, or setting off an atomic bomb in Gotham which forces him to relocate to a different city, or...

Death isn't a change, it's a long (or short) break in the story before returning to the status quo. Either there isn't a real need to change the character, in which case you find new and interesting ways to tell familiar stories instead of relying on gimmicks like this, or else there is a need for some fundamental change, in which case you commit to that change and write it that way from now on. Spider-Man seemed like it was moving in that direction with some interesting character developments before it all got overzealously retconned away.

The other thing about deaths is that they don't really remove the character like a death in the real world does, or even the way a death in a work by a single author does; the whole time while Batman is "dead" there will still be new Batman stories being created. For instance, Batman: The Brave and the Bold just started airing on Cartoon Network this month. That type of thing kind of circumvents the need for continuity in the first place. I don't know, maybe Grant Morrison has something redeeming up his sleeve with his hints of "a fate worse than death," but anything that is framed as being The Death of Such and Such leaves me feeling fairly cynical.
posted by CheshireCat at 6:45 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with signal.

But this smacks of "we've run out of ideas."
posted by Smedleyman at 7:48 PM on November 28, 2008


Batman is missing, and presumed dead. Police are currently looking for Wesley Willis, who was spotted fleeing the scene.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:22 PM on November 28, 2008 [6 favorites]


And I guess Batman doesn't always win.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:25 PM on November 28, 2008


At the mulit-dollar prices they get these days it's no wonder that it takes something as extreme as killing off a major character to generate sales.
posted by caddis at 8:34 PM on November 28, 2008


Police are currently looking for Wesley Willis, who was spotted fleeing the scene.

Wesley merely whupped Batman's (and Superman's) ass, he didn't kill anyone. He may whup a little ass when necessary, but he's no murderer.
posted by DecemberBoy at 8:35 PM on November 28, 2008


Report from the trenches: Well, if it's any help, the "death of Batman" issue isn't selling very much beyond previous month's issues, so there is that.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2008


As a long-time comics fan: frankly, not caring.

I just got two remarkable comics hardcovers, and they were remarkable, despite not being terribly original and/or previously unseen. Too Cool To Be Forgotten is a gender-switched version of the old Francis Ford Coppola movie Peggy Sue Got Married, and most of the strips in The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For are either available in earlier collections or online, and yet I am greatly enchanted by both. And then I come back to what DC and Marvel are doing, and I sincerely have to ask myself: who could really give a shit? Dead? Ha ha ha ha ha! Right. Whatever vaguely pomo variations that Morrison is ringing on Batman this year, they can and probably will be undone even more swiftly than Superman's "death" in the 90s.

Even the mildest variations on superdudes tropes seem to be canceled recently--Spider-Girl, Manhunter, Blue Beetle--pace John Rogers' brutal assessment of comics economics. I'm not all that interested in maintaining what remains of the status quo. That makes me sad; I know some people who do their best at the remaining brick-and-mortar stores, and they depend on these standbys to pay the rent and allow them to stock the more deserving books. But, you know, I actually have to go out of my way to visit my local comics shop every Wednesday, and I'm having a harder and harder time justifying the amount of gas to do so.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:40 PM on November 28, 2008


I went and read the RIP issues and the previous of Morrison's run on Batman.. I don't read comics (though I followed X-Men books for maybe 2 years in middle school) but had heard a lot about his work and was curious. It's awfully messy and overwrought. I think he needs an editor, there are too many extra words thrown in, to the point that it undercuts some of the drama - telling us this is the most awful thing ever, ever, ever, EVER, no REALLY - sounds like struggling too hard to make a point. I'm intensely aggravated by some of the stereotypes I find showing up. I found the Joker prose issue turgid, almost unreadable.

Though I wonder if it's deliberate, in this RIP story, to throw on so much noise and so many disparate references, so that everything that happens over the course of this arc is unbelievably overdetermined. Maybe what he's getting at in the most recent book (681) is that when all this stuff is thrown at us, the massive confusion - red/black, drugs, flashbacks, allusions to older stories, duplicitous characters with several identities, some global conspiracy of god-knows-who - readers get hopelessly lost and have no idea how to find a way out. We can't solve this mystery at all. But apparently Batman really does think of everything and has been several steps ahead the whole time. I wonder if he's suggesting that the Black Glove is a stand-in for the writer(s) of all these Batman stories. Whatever the shocking revelation is, though, nobody can actually tell..
posted by citron at 11:47 PM on November 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Of course these things are done for the economic reasons, but it seems those reasons always tend to be short-sighted. Does doing this to an anchor character stimulate short -term sales at the expense of long-term loyalty?

Personal anecdote: My husband is the worlds biggest Superman fan. Don't argue that point wit me, he just is. Accept it :-) And has been all his life. However, he has not bought a comic book since the Superman/Doomsday "debacle" (as he calls it) in the early 90s. He was a 10-20 per week comic book buyer up until then. He had 10+ year runs of a lot of DC titles. He pretty much quit cold turkey. YMMV, but doing that to "his" character ruined him on the medium.

Not the character, but the medium.
posted by sandra_s at 8:34 AM on November 29, 2008


The infinitely-long serial is the worst form of storytelling. Nothing, not even death, can have a lasting effect on the world; there is no climax, no resolution. It's dismal.

Yeah. I did most of my superhero reading around the time they broke Batman`s back.

These days any superhero stuff I read has to be high-concept or at least self-contained and not trading on some stupid "life-changing event" in the life of the characters. I love self-contained stories like The Watchmen, We3, Seven Soldiers of Victory, etc. because anything can happen to the characters.
posted by autodidact at 9:04 AM on November 29, 2008


Batman kills the Joker, Joker kills Batman, Joker is really Batman's father, Joker and Batman have to share an apartment and end up painting a white line down the middle.


I want all of this to happen in one issue. I want it so bad I can taste it.
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 AM on November 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


That would be one rad fucking comic.

I haven't read Batman RIP yet, but I'm sure as hell going to. I really like what Grant Morrison has done to mainstream comics. It never seems stunty or artificial to me. I get the sense that he has a deep respect for the genre, and is always trying to push it in new directions without abandoning the elements that made comics good in the first place.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:21 AM on November 29, 2008


I also have yet to read RIP, because I've been following Morrison's run in collected form. His run on New X-Men was the first time I'd bought an X-Men comic since grade school; Batman's the same way (at least the monthly Batman book: I'm sure I bought some Elseworlds where Batman was a French surrealist painter in the '50s and/or fought Rasputin or something); and, as with X-Men, I'm sure I will bail as soon as the new guy comes on. So, to me, his work on the book may as well be a self-contained story. I don't really care if DC goes and undoes it all, because I won't be there to see it.

As for the book itself...? Eh, I dunno. For a book that seems so determined to weave every possible element of the character's history into a unified whole, it's a little ironic that the series has been less than the sum of its parts. I dig Satanic Batman, dig the Club of Heroes (okay, that I dug a lot), even appreciated the Prose Joker that everyone seems to hate, but taken as a whole, the run just does not gel. It's when you try to make it All One Thing that book goes all wonky and incoherent. I think just telling a bunch of fun stories would have worked better than trying for the grand statement Morrison seems to be grasping at. I'm especially baffled by his even attempting to bring the Silver Age stories into continuity -- it's clever and all, but seems pretty much pointless. (And incomplete in the context of a larger comic book world: If Batman's goofy old stories all took place because he was shrooming or whatever, what about all the other heroes'?) Morrison has always seemed like the last guy in comics to give a shit about continuity, so I have no idea why he of all people thought this was something that really required an explanation.

Looking forward to some new Seaguy, though.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2008


If they make Nightwing the new Batman, Ed Brubaker and Marvel oughtta sue somebody.

I generally like Morrison's work, but this feels like some strange desperation on DC's part. I find it interesting that he seems to have become DC's answer to Brian Michael Bendis, taking an editorial lead on many of their bread-and-butter titles, but "Death of [Insert_Name_Here] is weak soup. Perhaps DC just needs to a) Un-Crisis their entire product line and allow for a Marvel-like mulit-verse or; b) Just settle for a single continuity where characters live in something approaching real continuity, living, breeding and dying, to keep these product-lines afload.

As many ^upthread^ have said, one of the key impediments to these stories is the reset button -- classical narratives don't do it and even soap operas abandon it at some point. With the reset button, these characters inevitably fail to grow and evolve -- even the villains.

Perhaps it's time for them to put down the Kryptonite, the Lazarus Pits and all the rest, just to allow these characters to come to terms with their mortal ends. This is what Frank Miller tried to do with DKR and what made Doctor Manhattan (formerly Jonathan Osterman) such a compelling, if not tragic character.

If they want to keep these titles running, that's all good and fine, but Superman should have outlived Lois, Jimmy and Perry White at this point and Bruce Wayne should be somewhere north of 70.

For all of the re-jiggering they do to make these properties palatable to younger audiences (à la Batman Beyond), they should just pass the baton to a younger generation of protagonists.
posted by vhsiv at 11:03 AM on November 29, 2008


Bats is among the few in the pantheon of heroes who hasn't experienced the requisite crucifixion/resurrection process (I think) giving him true superhero status.

You're forgetting the Dark Knight Returns.

As far as continuity goes, I suggest that any story in any medium that the writer (or reader) chooses to remember is part of the character's history, and that anything they deem worth forgetting never happened. Doesn't everybody think this way?

Here's one way to do that: the Doombot trick. If you've ever read a story about Dr. Doom that you didn't like, don't worry, it was just a robot pretending to be Doom.

Most big-name comics deserve to be ignored at present. Watch the movies or the animated versions -- that's where all the fun is.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:32 PM on November 29, 2008


Damn you johnasdf, you're comment has made me want to read the RIP series now. Batman on drugs is awesome (see 'Venom' arc). CRAP!
posted by Bageena at 7:25 AM on November 30, 2008


Man, I remember walking into a comic book store and seeing the very first Marvel Comics Graphic Novel: The Death of Captain Marvel. I was a little kid and this concept really shook me up. Super heroes are not supposed to die! A few years later I read the book and was even more disturbed to find out that Captain Marvel died of cancer. Cancer! A superhero had been felled by a real-life killer.

Over the years Captain Marvel remained dead. Other characters "died" and came back to life, but Captain Marvel stayed dead. Talk about continuity! Life- Death. That's continuity right there.

Then I read somewhere that Marvel Entertainment was bringing back Captain Marvel. I felt disgusted. Just another example of modern-day hacks undercutting someone else's work.

Then I found out that Captain Marvel wasn't really back. Goddamn right.

Batman, Superman, etc, can "die" and spring up from the grave like jack-in-the-boxes again and again, with special holographic glow-in-the-dark alternate covers and all the other bells and whistles the comic publishers use to reel in more cash-- we know it's a game; we know they'll be back.

But Captain Marvel?

He's dead.

Captain Marvel remains dead.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 7:54 AM on November 30, 2008


Anyway, who cares about Batman? I just hope Kitty Pryde is alive and on her way back to Earth.
posted by signal at 6:59 PM on November 30, 2008


China to miss out on 'Dark Knight'
posted by homunculus at 3:57 PM on December 24, 2008


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