COMICS PORTAL: More Bat-books!

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As a longtime Batman fan, I’ve often posed the question: Will the Dark Knight get overexposed?

I mean, he’s going to appear in Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice with the Man of Steel, he’s in ongoing titles including Batman and Detective Comics, with related comics like Batgirl, Justice League and Red Hood and the Outlaws.

For a fan like me, it’s great! But even the X-Men have taken a popularity hit after years of reigning in comics shops, so I have to wonder if the same will happen to Batman.

This all came rushing back to me with the announcement of two new ongoing series from DC, both set to debut this October.

A TEEN BAT-BOOK

Batman, Arkham Asylum, Arkham Manor, Gotham Academy, Dark Knight, Gregg Hurwitz, The book that grabbed my attention first was Gotham Academy, which has been described as a “monthly teen drama set at Gotham City’s most prestigious prep school.” As I’m writing this, three new characters have been revealed: Olive Silverlock, MAPS and Kyle. We’ll likely learn more about them when the title debuts.

This comic makes sense to me, though the concept is hardly original. I mean, I thought of Nick Spencer’s Morning Glories from Image right away. That said, I doubt that book was the first to utilize that set up although I can’t name anything at the moment.

Gotham Academy can help attract both new teen and female readers since it’s likely to focus on relationships within the framework of a school environment. Let’s face it – Batman is an older guy by comparison, so producing a series with “oddball teachers” as well as strange students will be something younger readers will be better able to identify with. And the fact that there’s supposed to be a ghost in a part of the school might even draw in those folks who like supernatural goings-on. Then, too, there’s a secret tie to Gotham’s past, and I’ve long advocated exploring the city’s previous residents.

Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher will handle the scripting, with Karl Kerschl providing the art.

AN ARKHAM TITLE

Batman, Arkham Asylum, Arkham Manor, Gotham Academy, Dark Knight, Gregg Hurwitz, One of the most successful Batman tie-ins has been the Arkham series of video games produced over the past several years. There have been comics based on it as well as action figures and statues. It’s been something that DC has done well when it comes to gaming.

So, it also works for me that DC is making Arkham Manor. Here’s how the series is described: “When catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum, where will Gotham City house the world’s most dangerous criminals? And when inmates are found murdered, what is Batman prepared to do in search of justice?”

Well, one thing he’ll have to do is find a new place to live if the title implies that Wayne Manor is being refurbished as a prison. And the Batcave might be in jeopardy as well.

But this seems very clearly to be an attempt to attract those who have been enjoying the Arkham games. Will they pick up comics as well?

That’s going to be the challenge for Arkham Manor, which will be written by Gerry Duggan and have art by Shawn Crystal.

BATMAN PRODUCTS DON’T ALWAYS SUCCEED, THOUGH

DC continues to try and match Marvel’s success, and that’s worked well with Batman Eternal and other weekly books that have boosted the company’s numbers. And uber-Batman scripter Scott Snyder came out on Twitter to support these new offerings, saying, “Very proud of pal @markedoyle (new Batman editor Mark Doyle) for making these books happen. Trying daring concepts, bringing in new creators … & more to come.”

But other books haven’t survived even though they’ve focused on Batman.

Not long ago, Batman: The Dark Knight came to an end even though it was launched by fan favorite David Finch. I truly enjoyed Gregg Hurwitz’s scripting, but having a well-known murder mystery novelist on it didn’t save the book.

Also, L’il Gotham, a digital-first title clearly aimed at much younger readers, came out only about a year before getting canned.

Speaking of digital comics, there was a series of Batman stories I loved called Legends of the Dark Knight that gave different creators a chance to work on Batman. It was a lot of fun to read, but it seems they eventually ran out of gas, so the series ended a while back.

I do have to point out that DC has tried to revive everything from war comics to more diverse characters, but they haven’t taken hold. Let’s hope these two fan bases turn out, not to mention the rest of us Bat-fans!