Traveler Farlander (twfarlan) wrote,
Traveler Farlander
twfarlan

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Batman: Rest in Pieces

For those of you who follow comic books, the title "Batman: RIP" should probably conjure a variety of feelings. For those who want to avoid possible spoilers of current DC plot arcs, that's exactly what I'm going to discuss here, so you might want to plug your ears, cover your eyes, and navigate to another page. For those who don't follow comic books, you can skip this whole thing, because it's just opinionated noodling on my part.

Dan "kill em all and let the next EIC sort em out" DiDio and Grant "there are other writers?" Morrison have each hinted that, while the Batman will continue, Bruce Wayne might not. Easiest way to read this is that the Black Hand will kill Bruce Wayne but that his war on crime will go on, fought by the soldiers he has assembled over the years. Personally speaking? Fine.

Over the last fifteen years or so, the Batman has been increasingly portrayed as being the single most dangerous and effective costumed hero in the entire DC universe. There is no villain the Bat cannot conquer with enough advance warning. There is nothing the Bat either does not already know or cannot find out in short order. He is a master of all fields. He can do anything except fly under his own power. He does not need to breathe, or at least no one has managed to withhold oxygen long enough to suffocate him. The Bat can survive in hard vacuum.

Further, the Bat is a humorless dick. He treats his own most loyal soldiers like whipping boys (no slash intended), withholds information, runs any group like he was born to it, and is such a complete ass that they had him go on a fucking spiritual quest just to siphon off the incipient insanity and rampant dickery of the previous years. Oh, who came up with that idea? Grant Morrison. Oh, whose revision in 52 did all the other writers in DC ignore since then? Grant Morrison. Bruce is back to being a humorless dick just like he was before the One Year Later jump. The idea that Bruce Wayne as the Batman is just a complete jerk is so ingrained in DC, resetting his character in 52 did not stick. Partially, that might have been an intentional reaction on every other writer's part just because they're sick to death of Grant Morrison acting like the only toddler in the sandbox, but I think it's more of a failure to know how to write Bruce as anything other than a jackass.

The Bat as he exists today is fuckin' Chuck Norris. There is nothing he can't do. The only way to bring the character universally back under the leash, to take away the Batgod and replace him with a Batman, is to replace him. They tried this back in the Knightfall arc, when Bane broke Bruce's back. Bruce replaced himself in the Batsuit with a guy named Jean Paul, aka Azrael. Now, there's been question of whether the replacement was intended to be temporary all along or if editorial caved to fan disgust, but Azrael was written out no more than two years later, and Bruce Wayne... well, Bruce conquered paraplegia through sheer force of will. Okay, not really just that... but effectively, just like that.

The Batman as he exists now is not only a damned jackass, but something far worse: he's boring. He's got to go, and he's got to be gone in a way that the fans will accept, that they'll roll with and want to read to see what will happen.

Please understand that I find most of the DC work by Grant Morrison to be excrement. Truly, the guy used to write good stuff, but he's at his best in "Elseworlds," "What Ifs?" and with original, unshared stories and characters. When other people have to try to pick up where he lets off once he's bored with a project and moves on, it's like he's salted the Earth for anyone who isn't him. No one can follow Grant Morrison, and I don't mean he's just that damned awesome. I mean no other writer can figure out where the hell he was going in any coherent manner. Despite this, the Batman still needs a revamp, even if it is Morrison doing it.

Now, I'm going to give you my roster of the Bat Family, how I think things would work and why.
Bruce Wayne: dead and buried. Folks, it's not comics blasphemy; the Batman of Earth-2 was killed in that continuity and lives continued.
The Batman: The cowl, the Wayne fortune, all of it should be taken up by the one man who has lived in the shadow of the Bat the longest. Richard "Dick" Grayson should take on the mantle of the Bat. Dick is now where the Batman was when he was several years into his war on crime. What the Bat lacked back then, Dick has in spades: friends and family. More, Dick had the ultimate mentor, namely the Batman. Dick also has something that Bruce has completely lost: his fucking mind. Dick has a sense of humor, a sense of perspective, and the understanding that you can't do everything alone. Dick has led several teams successfully, including the Teen Titans and the Outsiders.
Robin: Tim Drake should continue on as Robin. He's part of it, now, and has brought his own identity to the character. He no longer lives in Dick's shadow as the first Robin. Drake is NOT skilled or experienced enough to take on the mantle of the Bat, though he may be someday.
Batgirl: Cass Cain. Let her keep the cowl she's got, and Dick should try to reintegrate her into the fold fully. This may be happening anyway; there are hints that an upcoming Batgirl mini-series will show her return to the Wayne camp.
Nightwing: I do not think that we should lose this hero identity. Dick has made the Nightwing name into a force all his own, and it still has value, even if his original chosen home is currently a radioactive no man's land. Still, who would wear the costume? If Dick takes over as the Batman and Drake stays on as Robin, who would fill the blue wing? Stephanie Brown, aka "Spoiler." Face it: Spoiler as a hero name makes sense only when you know that her father was the villainous Cluemaster. Steph's only recently back from "the dead," in other words hiding in semi-retirement, and she has put on the purple mask once more as she rejoins the game. Thing is, she's given up the Spoiler identity once before for a name you might recognize: Robin. In-continuity, she was the first female Robin, a position she held for far too short a time. She's been trained by Bruce Wayne, is easily the equal of Drake as Robin, and was skilled enough several years ago in comics time to fill the role of Batman's sidekick. Steph's been poorly used and sadly underused. What could make her stronger than taking on the role designed to help its bearer grow out from the shadow of the Bat? Further, Steph's got fans, people, fans like you wouldn't believe. They would support seeing her take a deeper role in the Bat Family, though there are some I'm sure who'd resent any more changes to Spoiler, even something like giving up a hero ID that no longer makes sense on its own.
Alfred Pennyworth: Good question. Alfred might not be around by the end of Batman: RIP, which I think would be a crime. Folks, Marvel has already fucked over the Avengers using Jarvis. It's just not right to have the butler do it in every damned major plotline of both big houses this year. Don't fuck with Alfred. If DC thought Spoiler had dedicated fans, they may not be prepared for the hell betraying the legacy of Alfred could unleash.

Anyway. I know, tl;dr. If you've made it this far, think about what I've suggested. Tell me what you think, and remember: there's a reason I'm not employed as a comic writer.
Tags: batman, comics
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