Monday, October 14, 2013

Batman Infinitum

Art (clockwise from upper left): Michael Cho, Dustin Nguyen, Steve Rude, Darwyn Cooke, Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson, Andy Kubert/Scott Williams, Sheldon Moldoff/Joe Giella, Brian Bolland, Simon Bianchi, Alex Ross, Kelsey Shannon & Dan Davis

Hi, there! I'm Dave-El and welcome to I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You, the blog that is the scourge of the Gotham underworld.
The question for today is....How much Batman is too much Batman?
Well, if you're noted Batmanologist Chris Sims*, the answer might be, "There is no such thing as too much Batman." But even Mr. Sims might find himself a bit overwhelmed in the months to come.
*Follow Chris on Twitter at Also his columns can be found at
This past weekend at the New York Comic Con, one of the announced new projects coming from DC Comics Entertainment for 2014 is Batman: Eternal, a WEEKLY series headed up by uber-Bat writer Scott Snyder who will be joined by fellow writers such as John Layman, James Tynion IV and Ray Fawkes with Jason Fabok as the principal artist but joined by other artists along the way.  In addition to the ground breaking nature of the book (DC has done weekly series before but never centered on one character), the series has gained some notoriety with the announcement that Stephanie Brown will make her long awaited New 52 debut in issue #3.**
**Please please PLEASE don't let her be a drug-addicted sex-fiend assassin. But it's DC's New 52 so my hopes are not very high in that regard.
But the noteworthy thing here to me is that this weekly Batman series isn't replacing anything. This means that any given month, you can get your Batman fix in the following places:
Batman: Eternal (4, sometimes 5, issues a month)
Batman and....  (Stupidest title for a Batman comic ever!)
Batman: The Dark Knight
Detective Comics
Batman '66 (I freakin' LOVE this book!)
Batman Beyond Universe
Beware the Batman
Batman: Li'l Gotham
Then factor all the "Bat-Family" books:
Red Hood & the Outlaws
Birds of Prey
And let's not forget the Batman of an alternate world in Earth-2.
PLUS wherever else Batman (or a variant thereof) may appear (such as Justice League).
And Batman's Legends of the Dark Knight digital series.
And any annuals or specials.
And any trade paperbacks, hardcovers, etc. etc.
That's a mighty big chunk of disposable income going to ONE character.
When I began reading comics, here's where you could find Batman:
Detective Comics
Brave and the Bold (Bob Haney's stuff was so freakin' off the hook!)
World's Finest (with Superman! Also more Bob Haney insanity!)
Justice League of America
That was it.
At some point Batman Family was rolled out to feature stories for Robin, Batgirl & Man-Bat and occasionally Batman himself might pop in. 
After the DC Implosion of 1978, Batman Family and Detective Comics merged so there was actually 1 less title to keep track of.
Of course, this was not the best times for Batman in terms of sales. In fact, Detective Comics was actually on the chopping block for cancellation in 1978 in favor of the better-selling Batman Family until wiser heads prevailed and moved the Bat-Fam stuff under the Detective banner. 
Now, I like Batman. And I like different kinds of Batman: super hero, detective, anti-social asshole, avatar of vengeance. champion of justice, dark and brooding, light and goofy, street level, cosmic.  The beauty of the whole concept of Batman is that after 75 years, so many people have had so many different takes on the character and his associates in crime fighting that there is a wealth of opportunity to explore Batman and his world in a variety of different ways.
It's a bit disconcerting that so much of DC's output is built around this one...let's not say "character" and call it what it is, a commodity. Batman is a commodity and DC is a company with a bottom line to answer for. If any company needs to bolster sales or profits or whatever, you sell more of your best selling product. Ultimately DC cannot be criticized for playing to its strengths.
And look down the street at Marvel who slap the word "Avengers" on every 3rd title and put Wolverine in every other book. Marvel's doing very well for itself. 
But how far can a commodity be stretched before it loses that strength? How much can a star performer expect to perform before reaching a breaking point? For Batman, is that breaking point upon us? A weekly series on top of all the other monthly titles, spin offs, thematic variations, annuals, specials, limited series, graphic novels and other sundry items accounts for a lot of the Batman Infinitum that DC scrounges up each month. Could this be the Bat's breaking point?
And if DC has placed all their eggs in one Bat-basket, what happens next when those eggs are no longer golden?
But perhaps all this hand wringing is for naught. Perhaps Batman has no breaking point. Perhaps Batman is eternal after all.
Perhaps we'll reach a state of nirvana where Chris Sims can immerse himself in an endless array of Batman stuff including a title written by the ghost of Bob Haney himself.
If THAT could happen, then the answer would be, "No, there can never be too much Batman."
Dave-El can also be found on Twitter at where he fights crime as The Amazing Capt. Lethargy, fighting the forces of evil.
Sooner or later.
Maybe after I've had a nap. 

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