COMICS PORTAL: Looking Good at 75, Batman!

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As I mentioned in my review of Batman #33 last week, I celebrated the official 75th anniversary of Batman on Wednesday, July 23, at the a local comics shop, wearing my Batman t-shirt with art by Greg Capullo on it. This took place at the Coliseum of Comics in Kissimmee, Florida, and it was a fun time. (Their website can be found at this location.) Lots of customers wore Bat-related clothing and costumes while picking up that conclusion to “Zero Year.” There were capes and masks galore, and I enjoyed celebrating Batman’s latest milestone.

Of course, the original celebration was to have taken place months ago, but DC shifted the date (mostly to accommodate recognizing Bill Finger’s achievements with the character, I hear) to July 23. As I mentioned previously on this site, it was a stroke of genius to have this party take place on the same day Batman #33 and another issue of Batman: Eternal arrived!

I’ve spoken about Batman’s influence on my life before, so I won’t repeat myself in that area. Suffice it to say that I admired his deductive talents and the ability to plan ahead, two things I’ve tried hard to integrate into my own life.

So, why honor the Dark Knight after 75 years?

THE EVOLVING HERO

I’ve been enjoying reading Batman ’66 a lot even though I find myself groaning when I see images of Adam West running around carrying a bomb above his head. By that time, Batman had changed from a pistol-packing avenger of the night to the Caped Crusader, loved by the average citizen or hated by Gotham City’s criminals, who were so twisted that even the camera looked at them in twisted angles.

Batman’s cape was the first thing I noticed changing, going from a limp piece of cloth laying on his back to a flowing, almost living thing. Then his stories became darker and more ponderous (although he never solved enough mysteries to suit me).

Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns had friends I knew quoting lines from it, and Batman became more like Clint Eastwood than Adam West.

The films came not long after that, and Batman’s costume changed from a cloth blue-and-gray outfit to today’s armor.

Batman has been everything from a loner to a team leader, a detective to an avenging angel, a fighter to a lover.

And he’s not done yet.

MORE CELEBRATING

Batman, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Dark Knight, Dick Grayson, Batman Beyond, DC Comics, Adam West, Bill Finger, Frank Miller  Yesterday, I had the chance to attend another Batman birthday party, this one in the same city at the recently opened World of Comics in the Plaza del Sol mall. You can check out their website at http://www.worldofcomicsfl.com. There were selections of Bat-music playing, at least four Batmen in full-length costumes, three Catwomen, toys, games, capes, masks and Johnny Duncan, the original Robin from the 1949 Columbia Pictures serial. (I’m in a photo with him on the right. I’m on the left in the photo. Below, I can be seen standing to the right of the guest of honor himself!)

The store has only been open about a month, so they ran radio spots on at least one local station to attract “geek” fans like me. Looks like it worked because I was there with friends! You’ll

I think that events like this one help new stores attract customers while giving established comics shops something fun to do, keeping fans interested and coming in as often as possible to pick up the new stuff!

Also, I wish I could have attended this year’s San Diego Comic-Con if for nothing else than the Batman 75th Anniversary Panel, full of Batman luminaries from past and present. As a fan who started reading with a Batman comic, I would have loved to have been there!

I’ve heard some folks online say that DC Comics didn’t run this celebration the way they should have, but I hear that a lot when it comes to DC. Yes, I’ll say it again, if Marvel had been doing exactly the same thing about, say, Captain America, a lot of those same people would have been singing their praises. Sigh.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT BATMAN?

I’ve previously stated that what draws me to the Dark Knight is that he’s all too human, that if I worked harder than I can imagine and came into a boatload of money, I could conceivably put on the cape and cowl and fight crime like he does. He’s also suffered loss, and although my parents died a few decades apart, I can relate to the tragedy Bruce Wayne has suffered.

It’s also important to me that Batman is an ideal, and by that I mean a hero many of us long to be more like. Even though he’s obviously flawed, he gives it all he has to make things work out a well as they can. I have a lot of friends like that, actually.

Batman also has been a success in comics, film, live-action television shows and animation. That hasn’t always happened, but when he’s worked in these formats, they’ve often been major winners. Batman: The Animated Series, anyone?

THE BATMAN OF THE FUTURE

Batman, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Dark Knight, Dick Grayson, Batman Beyond, DC Comics, Adam West, Bill Finger, Frank Miller  At 75 years of age, Batman is continuing to change and grow with the times. I like to point at the current Batman monthly title as a perfect example. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo continue to create THE best-selling book month after  month, and I hope that continues for a long time.

I usually grouse when a major change hits a classic character, as when Dick Grayson took over the role. But that sometimes still works, as when Terry McGinnis became the hero in Batman Beyond. Still, I think that Snyder, Capullo and company keep Batman’s core centered where it belongs, and as long as that continues, the future is bright for the Dark Knight.

I’m not certain I’ll be around to participate in the Dark Knight’s 150th anniversary, but I’m happy I’ve had the chance to experience Batman as I have. There are still so many great Batman stories to tell, and I can’t wait to get to them!