Yay! It’s Batman Day!
Wow! You guys! It’s officially Batman Day – as declared by DC Comics, a celebration of Batman and the glorious 75 years that he has graced us with his batty-presence. No matter what form of Batman you prefer – animated series, comic books, video games, movies – we are celebrating him in all his inclinations today. It’s my favorite day of the year (well, next to Halloween and my birthday – so it’s right up there with the good holidays, at least), and we’re going to celebrate it today here on The Hub! I’ve got a little bit of a history for you (unknown history…exciting!), a few of my favorite stories, and a look at where Batman is going in the future. So, join me, won’t you, on this little walk down Batman road…
First up, the history. Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 long, long ago in May 1939. And, you know how when you watch Batman or read Batman, there’s always that little tagline that says “Batman created by Bob Kane.” Okay, simple enough, right? Well, not right, my friends. Batman had another creator that has languished in obscurity all these 75 years. Luckily, a gentleman named Marc Tyler Nobleman did a little sleuthing and found out the real truth behind Batman.
Long ago, Bob Kane (and if you want my real opinion on Bob Kane, it mirrors “resident Batmanologist” and writer for ComicsAlliance Chris Sims’ feelings – basically, he’s “just the worst”) and Bill Finger were partners who worked at DC Comics before it was named DC Comics. They wanted to match the popularity of Superman, so they worked together to come up with something that would blow the lid off of comics and take the popular prize away from Mr. Superman (not my favorite person, either). Anyway, Bob came up with the name – The Bat-Man, and Bill came up with…literally, everything else. Gotham City – check. The Joker – check. Bruce Wayne’s backstory, aka the murder of his parents – Check. Catwoman – check. I could go on, but I think you get my point. He even came up with his trademark cape & cowl. So, why, you might ask, isn’t Bill Finger listed on any of the “Created by” taglines?
Well, if there was one thing that Bill wasn’t, it was a savvy business man. Unfortunately for him, Bob Kane was. He went to the editors and got it written into his contract that only he would be the one listed as the sole creator of Batman. Sad, huh? It wasn’t until recently when Marc started snooping around, Batman style, that he found out the truth. He researched Bill Finger’s family and even found a living heir, his granddaughter, who has now taken up the fight to get her grandfather’s name restored to Batman. There’s an excellent book about the whole thing that Marc wrote, Bill the Boy Wonder: the Secret Co-Creator of Batman, that’s a great, quick read on the subject.
Can you imagine creating something and not being acknowledged for it? Me neither, so I think that this Batman Day should also be a celebration for Bill Finger and his wonderful imagination.
So, now that we’ve got that subject out of the way, what are my favorite Batman stories? I mentioned a lot of them in my very first post for The Hub (http://bit.ly/1nUPMha), but I can always come up with a few more!
Batman, Volume 3: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo: This is a straight up scary story, ya’ll. But, older teens and adults will revel in the puzzle that Joker has put together for Batman to solve during the Joker’s long absence. Look – I’m just going to spell it out here. Joker has removed, his, um, well, his face, and he’s leading Batman down a path of all their old glory days together, and by glory days, I mean their past encounters, but with a twist. Batman has to turn on the old detective mode (Arkham Asylum game shoutout!) to figure out just how to defeat him once and for all. And, when his Bat-Family gets involved in a way that Batman did not expect, well, let’s just say he is not happy.
Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories by Paul Dini & Bruce Timm: Well, one of my very favorite Batman stories isn’t a real Batman story at all – it’s the story of Harley Quinn and Joker’s super messed up romance. You know, Harley Quinn wasn’t even a character in the comics; she was especially created for Batman: the Animated Series television show by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, but she’s gone on to became a serious fan-fave. This short story is included in a collection of a lot of Paul & Bruce’s best hits stories in this paperback book. Mad Love is my favorite, but all the stories in the book will definitely appeal to lovers of Batman and his animated series alike (maybe even both – ha!). Anyways, Mad Love tells the origin story of Harley, née Harleen Quinzel, a psychiatric intern at the dreaded Arkham Asylum. It’s there that she meets and starts to “treat” the criminal known as The Joker, and the rest is history. She falls deeply in love (him, not so much) and changes her persona to that of a Harley Quinn (get it? Hee.) and is now set to do all his bidding. A great, fun book for teen and adult readers alike.
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland and John Higgins: Guys, I’m going to be honest here. I do really like this book, but it does contain some subject matter that is mature, so older teens and adults would be the best suited readers. This is basically the story where Barbara Gordon is paralyzed by the Joker’s hand. It’s rough, and I’m still not sure how I feel about what happens to Barbara, but it is a book that’s important to the Bat-family mythos, and it was the point where Barbara turns into Oracle. It’s basically a one-off story that is a battle between The Joker and Batman. Grant Morrison just recently came out and said it’s obvious that Batman actually kills Joker at the end – take a read, and find out if you agree with him. There are a lot of people, me included, that don’t think that’s the case.
Gotham Central by Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker: I just love detective stories by Greg Rucka (not Batman related, but see Lazarus & Stumptown Investigations for some awesome detective stories that aren’t Batman related, now back to Batman-), and I know I originally mentioned this series in my Beginner’s Guide to Batman, but it’s so good, people! Greg does a great job of writing, along with artwork by Ed Brubaker, on the entire Gotham Central series. If you want to read about Gotham (and with the new television show, Gotham, debuting in September, you’re probably not the only one), here’s your book series. It tells the stories that the GCPD (Gotham City Police) have to deal with that Batman just really doesn’t have time for. Detectives dealing with Mr. Freeze freezing people, fake Robins, and one of the best Joker stories of all time – Soft Targets – a story where Joker finds out about webcams and uses them to his advantage. A great run on a series, which, unfortunately, didn’t get a lot of love when it was first released. A way to stay connected to Batman, but not that connected.
Well, those are some of my favorite titles that I haven’t gushed about before. And, now, where does Batman go from here in his next 75 years?
- Video games: A new video game is set to be released in 2015 that will be the final chapter in the Batman: Arkham games. And, yes, I know there have already been three – I’m choosing to block out the game that was Batman: Origins. So, back to where I was – the Third in a trilogy – Batman: Arkham Knight will be released in 2015, and it’s set one year after the events of Batman: Arkham City.
- Retro TV: Just recently, all the legal red tape has been cleared and cut to make way for the release of the original Batman ’66 series on DVD later this year! Yay! Let’s revisit a time when shark repellant was all that was needed to keep a great white away and the Joker had a mustache under that white makeup.
- Comic books forever: The current comic run on Batman is still going strong. Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo are continuing their work on the series (and let’s hope that never ends) with Zero Year, Batman: Eternal and the upcoming new story arc – Endgame.
What I’ve learned in my 12 or 13 years of proclaiming Batman as my favorite superhero ever is that we need Batman in our lives. He fights the good fight and keeps the baddies at bay, and it’s nice to think that he’s out there somewhere saving the day and keeping us safe.
‘Til next time, friends – Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.
-Traci Glass, currently reading Batman: Zero Year by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo