So, this October marks a HUGE turning point in a lot of the Bat related books, as a few new ones are getting started, and pre-existing ones are getting big changes in relation to what’s going on in Batman Eternal. What’s interesting about the new books is that some of them don’t even necessarily star Batman, or even involve him directly, rather simply taking place in Gotham City and starring different characters. Now, because they take place in Gotham, I would assume he’ll make appearances, but otherwise, they aren’t about him. It honestly reminds me of an often brought up theory that DC doesn’t know how to market products that don’t involve Batman anymore. And before anyone brings up that it could be in relation to the upcoming Gotham TV series, let me remind everyone that Green Arrow has had a TV show for a couple of years, but has advertising for his comics improved much? Granted, they’ve done more with him, but the actual marketing for his books don’t seem to have changed at all. Flash is getting a new TV show, but I don’t see much in the way of marketing improvements for his series, despite the fact that Wally West is coming back as Kid Flash. Last year was Superman’s 75th Anniversary, and yes, he got a new book that I’ve come to love, but compare what they did for him to what they’ve done for Batman’s 75th. You start to see the problem, yes? And sure, a lot of people love Batman, but what about people that are sick of Batman and want to see the other heroes get some attention? They’re pretty much outta luck.
But anyway, enough about me ranting about that, let’s instead focus on these changes, in no particular order, and what my thoughts on each of them are before giving a final overall opinion. Keep in mind, these are my thoughts going into these changes, and I could end up flip-flopping on some of them when they actually occur. Let’s start off with…
Barbara Gordon loses everything she owns in a fire, and so, as part of her attempts to start her life over following the end of Gail Simone’s run, she decides to do the same with Batgirl, creating a whole new costume. The book promises to be a bit more lighthearted and fun, with Babs going to grad school, and will feature quite a few LGBT characters in addition to fan favourite, Alysia. Again, I wish this was Stephanie Brown in this role, in fact the costume immediately makes me think of Steph’s (just picture her in blonde hair and you’ll see immediately), but I am NOT gonna say no to a book that promotes itself as being fun and lighthearted while also starring one of my favourite characters, so I’m going into this with a good attitude.
Something happens at Arkham Asylum that causes them to have to move a bunch of their inmates to a new location. As such, Wayne Manor becomes a new home for Gotham’s criminally insane, because that’s the most logical place to put them, right? Now, based on Batman #34, which takes place at the same time as the new Arkham Manor book, Batman is still operating out of the Batcave. But is it THE Batcave, or simply A Batcave? Sure, all the usual stuff is there, but they could’ve been moved. After all, having your base of operations underneath some of your worst enemies, with an access route in place to it, isn’t exactly a very tactically sound idea, and we know Batman isn’t stupid. He either moved to a new cave, or has found a way to block off the cave from the inmates. Either way, while I don’t think I’ll be buying this book, I will say I’m interested to see where this is going. Also, I’m curious as to Bruce’s stance on all of this. Is he against the idea, or could it actually have been his to begin with?
Apparently, another book that will look at the youth of Gotham City is the new book Gotham Academy. Don’t really know much about it beyond that, other than the art looks fantastic. Can’t say as I’m familiar at all with the cast, which is unfortunate as they could’ve easily had Stephanie and/or Harper Row be part of it just to give them more exposure, but whatever. Not terribly interested myself, but looks promising for people wanting to know more about Gotham and the people living there, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if some of the characters cross over into Batgirl.
Okay, this is where the whole “DC not knowing how to market anything unrelated to Batman and Gotham” thing can actually seem kinda devious. Why? Because the star of Gotham By Midnight is Jim Corrigan, AKA The Spectre. Granted, in the book Gotham Central, which I believe is getting a reprint soon (which proves Dan DiDio a blatant liar about the book’s popularity…AGAIN), there was a corrupt cop named Jim Corrigan on the squad, but he was VERY different from the previous version of the character. However, in the pages of Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger, the two versions were more or less merged into one, making The Spectre a Gotham based hero of sorts. Anyway, this is slated to be a more horror-style book, with Corrigan being part of a division of the GCPD that investigates supernatural cases. Haven’t decided if I’ll be getting it yet or not, but fans of The Spectre should be pleased nonetheless.
As revealed in Batman #28, and will be made official this October, Catwoman will at some point become the kingpin of crime in Gotham City and take direct control of all organized crime in the city. This is an especially welcome change to many who have read her solo book, like my colleague FHIZ of Gotham Spoilers, who have voiced their EXTREME displeasure of the title for the past 2-3 years. And frankly, having read some of what goes on in that book, I can’t say as I blame them. It also makes her relationship with Batman all the more complex. Yes, she’s running a major source of his biggest griefs, but she’s also shown that if Gotham is in big enough danger, she will help him in her own unique way. Again, not sure if I’ll be getting her book, but it’s at least a change I can get behind.
This is a change I’m NOT so fond of. As far as I can tell, Batwoman becoming a vampire is a change they’re actually rolling with, and will see her teaming with a group called The Unknowns, which are made up of Ragman, Etrigan the Demon, Red Alice, and Clayface. So in other words, she’s a brooding anti-hero at best, and a straight-up villain at worst. Wonderful, DC, just fucking wonderful. PASS.
While the major change here isn’t occurring in October, we will nonetheless see the next chapter of the Batman and Robin story, Robin Rises, which concludes in December. Long story short, Damian’s body is on Apokolips, as it has accidentally absorbed energy from something called the Chaos Shard, which we saw back in Batman/Superman’s first arc, and as they were unable to regain the crystal itself, they took Damian’s body instead. This crystal has the power to bring the dead back to life, though quite possibly at a cost. As such, Batman has declared that he’s going to Apokolips to get Robin, and he’s bringing him back, ALIVE. Peter J Tomasi has gone on record as saying that this story WILL resolve with Batman having a Robin again, though whether that Robin is Damian or not remains to be seen. It could be that the quest to bring Damian back could instead result in someone else taking up the mantle. Frankly, I’m hoping it’s either Damian back from the grave to reclaim his role at his father’s side, or that he becomes Redbird again and Carrie, Stephanie, or Tim take up the role of Robin. Either way, I think we all know that Batman NEEDS a Robin, so I’m just glad for that much. Will I buy the book again? Not right away. I’m waiting until Robin is active again to start buying. But once that’s done, most likely.
Don’t know, don’t care. NEXT!
So we already knew that Harper Row would be becoming the heroine Bluebird, but it seems that another character possibly coming to Batman’s side is someone named Lark. Who are they? Heck if I know. Maybe it’s Harper’s brother, Cullen, deciding to join his sister in her fight against crime. If so, I demand a book for them. No, seriously, make it happen. I wanna see a book about Bluebird and Lark fighting C and D list criminals. Maybe even add Steph, Calvin Rose, and the recently returned Misfit to the mix for funsies. Heck, they could form a whole new Birds of Prey group with Black Canary and/or Batgirl.
Anyway, that’s most of the changes to the Bat Family books (because I don’t wanna spoil EVERYTHING). How do I feel about them overall? Honestly, I think that, in the end, change can be a positive thing, as long as it’s handled well. Even the stuff I’m not exactly on-board with, like Batwoman And The Unknowns, can be done well if given the right amount of thought and direction. So, overall, I think this is a good thing. Ultimately, though, it feels like Batman Eternal’s actual story is taking a backseat to setting up this new status quo and showing how we get to this point, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In the end, I remain hopeful that these changes will lead to a better, more fleshed out Gotham.
So, those are my thoughts. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments section below, and we’ll see what happens in October. Ja né!