Tuesday, June 14, 2005

In Defense of a Schizophrenic Batman (A Copy and Paste Production)

Here's something I wrote in response to a paragraph from David Campbell's latest post about a comic from his longbox, a review of Detective Comics #617. Yes, it's another Batman movie tie-in, but this one's funny and interesting, and it also gave me a chance to spout off about one of my favorite things about superheroes, so hey, everybody wins. Text from Dave's original post is in italics, mine is right under it, and Evan Dorkin's is nowhere to be found, because he doesn't give a shit about Batman comics from the early '90s. At least I'm assuming that's why. Anyway, here's Dave:

One thing I particularly liked about Grant’s version of Batman was that he was human – he made mistakes, he got captured, and he got beat up a lot. Batman’s a versatile enough character to fit into different storylines and genres, but I like the urban avenger model of Batman the best, as opposed to the hyper-competent JLA version of Batman with the sci-fi closet who takes on aliens and stuff. I understand that he needs to be that way in some comics in order to keep up with the titans of the Justice League, but I can’t reconcile that version of Batman – the one that beats the um, poo out of Martians – with the Batman who works up a sweat taking out a gang of bikers.

And here's me:

I get what you're saying, but I don't have the same problem reconciling the different versions of the character. Beyond the fact that I adore the idea that he has a sci-fi closet, I want their to be as many takes on the archetyple characters as possible, if they're going to be so overexposed.

Me, I think every writer should be able to do their own thing with the character. What I like about Batman, especially, is that Denny O'Neil's version different from Frank Miller's different from the animated series version is different from Grant Morrison's while still being Batman. I wish more writers would do their own version of the character, instead of aping Miller's or Morrison's versions of the character, or worse, combining the worst aspects of their takes in to a grim, insufferable asshole who is also ridiculously competent, which is the vibe I get off of him in most of his appearences these days.

And here's actual new content: I think this is why I don't have the same problem with characters being "out of character" that a lot of fans do. As long as they aren't ridiculously different from their core characteristics or concepts, I like seeing people do their own thing with the iconic characters. It helps that I don't see something like Morrison's X-Men as being a huge departure in that regard, I'd imagine. I have a lot of affection for those characters, but I want to see new (or at least different) things done with their continuing adventures. Otherwise, what's the point?

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Blogger David Campbell said...

Brad, you communist!

I think you raise a good point, although I think that few characters are as versatile as Batman. Then again, the reason why Batman is so versatile is that writers were willing to riff on the basic elements and change the character in the first place.

As long as the core concept of a character remains, I'm down with it. I guess one can't be too literal minded about continuity. It's sort of like different painters doing a portrait of the same person - as long as I can recognize the subject being painted, it's all good.

Fuck, have I just totally caved in and flip-flopped what I wrote in my post or what? I'm so malleable. Must drink...

6/14/2005 10:53:00 PM  
Blogger Ali Choudhury said...

That issue of Tec got me reading comics.

Especially like the last line of bats being viewed as a symbol of justice by North American Indians.

6/16/2005 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

"Me, I think every writer should be able to do their own thing with the character."

So me too. SO so, even.

Batman's probably the best example of this, though I'd throw in the Hulk, Green Arrow, an' Superman's careers into the example pool as well.

There's been a buncha different Batmen, and I've honestly liked 'em all.

(Side note: I'd love to see someone revisit the Dick Sprang fifties/early sixties broad shouldered, square jawed ' Batman who paired around with Batwoman and Batgirl-before-Batgirl and Ace the Bathound (chortle.) I always liked the weirdly disfunctional family dynamic/ Batman/Batwoman/Batgirl/Robin/Bruce Wayne/Kathy Keene (etc.) love Octagon.)

And, oh yeah, continuity sucks and I hate it. If I was King of Everything, comics would be required t' follow the "All Star" style model. And pants would be outlawed.

6/16/2005 09:33:00 PM  
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