I’ve mentioned before that there are all kinds of Batman fans. There are some who like the Christopher Nolan movies while there are others who prefer Adam West’s Caped Crusader of the 1960s.
That latter group tends to avoid DC’s New 52 because, as one friend put it, the books are “too gritty.” They point to the early issue of Catwoman in which Batman and she “got it on” while talking on a rooftop. “Batman would never do that!” that friend says!
Some folks want to read books to get away from reality, after all! But is that what comics should be about?
THESE ARE COMICS, AFTER ALL!
Just like any fiction, there’s a certain number of things you have to accept when you read a comic book. For instance, you have to “buy” what is being portrayed on the page. If you don’t believe what’s going on, you won’t enjoy the story.
You also have to be able to remember from month to month what’s been going on or you’ll never understand the ending when you get there. (Hey, I’ve done this – completely forgotten certain details that forced me to go back and re-read past issues so I could “get” what happened. And I HATE to ask someone else to find out what I missed!)
It’s important to know that the characters largely stay the same age from year to year of buying a book. Some characters do mature, like Robin did when he turned into Nightwing. But for the most part, Batman remains about 35 or so eternally (Sorry, I couldn’t resist that pun!)
And the human body does things in comics that would be tough to accomplish in real life. I always wondered how Spider-Man could get his toe in his ear when swinging through New York City. Then, too, some of the particularly muscular characters wouldn’t be able to move if they were that big in “our” world.
There are other things I could mention, but these are the kinds of things we ALL can agree on.
DO WE WANT COMICS TO BE “REAL” OR NOT?
Now that we’ve come to some consensus about what we need to understand to enjoy comics, let’s deal with what some of us don’t agree on.
For instance, in the New 52, Batman has all kinds of updated tech to use when trying to solve a mystery. Hey, I don’t understand it all myself, but I’ve looked some of it up and have found that these things are based on what currently exists or will be available in the near future.
I’ve read several posts online who say that Batman shouldn’t use these kinds of things. He should rely on his wits and whatever knowledge he’s gained. Then, too, these folks often say he should be driving the Batmobile, flying the Batplane and using only what he keeps in his utility belt. To me, this was all well and good back in decades past, but if he’s not keeping up with technology the baddies have access to as well, he’s going to be way lost.
A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THIS KIND OF CONFLICT
Although the Adam West version of Batman often makes me cringe when I see it today (like when the women took over Gotham City and the town went to hell in a hand basket), there’s still a lot of affection for him and his portrayal. In fact, that’s what spawned Batman ’66, a digital-first comic that’s doing very well, thank you, and has even spawned a spin-off with the Green Hornet. It’s extremely cool that both DC and Dynamite are working together to make this happen.
I honestly believe that I’m not in the majority when I say that I enjoy BOTH Batman ’66 and Batman by Snyder & Capullo. Most people I know love one and despise the other.
For Dynamite and DC, though, this is a big win. If Batman ’66 attracts an audience that the New 52 does not, that’s more money in their pockets, and it just might tempt some readers to see what the Dark Knight is up to these days. And it also might draw some comics fans who haven’t been enjoying The Green Hornet to try out the Dynamite Entertainment comics.
TO REAL OR NOT TO REAL?
As with everything else in show business, the answer lies in how much money that version makes. Batman ’66 is selling well and even has new action figures and statues being produced in conjunction with the series. Not only that, but there’s a new set of action figures based on Batman: The Animated Series coming out! (I do love me some B:TAS!) So the “old” Batman is here to stay, as long as the fans keep spending their money on it.
On the flip side, the more “realistic” Batman from the New 52 has nice new action figures for sale. Batman is very often the top-selling comic each month, beating out many other quality books. The “new” Batman is also not going anywhere anytime soon, either!
The trick comes with heroes like Superman, who’s just now getting a new creative talent infusion. The Man of Steel also had a digital-first series in which he was back wearing the red undies versus the armor, but all versions of Superman were used. I liked that and really miss Adventures of Superman.
KEEPING COMICS GOING
What this all comes down to, in my perspective, is that we need comics to continue as we move forward. There’s something special about reading the page of a story in print or on your mobile device. It’s unlike TV or movies or video games, and it needs to keep going. It actually engages one’s imagination, and I need more of that!
Of course, if you don’t like the darker tone to the New 52 or other comics, don’t buy them! There are plenty of other options, such as the aforementioned Batman ’66 and also Astro City, which may be more to your liking.
If you’re on the other side of the fence and aren’t interested in the lighter, brighter tone of previous comics or the ones previously mentioned, then buy the darker books.
Or you could be like me, enjoying both brighter and darker stories. I know I’m loving the wonderful variety in today’s comics like crazy, and if you give them a chance, you just might as well!