Saturday, March 11, 2006

Friday in various Batcaves

So I'm reading all over the internet, including here, how generally pleased everyone is with the new, one-year-later issue of Detective, and how it represents a nice reboot/kickstart/clean slate for Batman, what a fine jumping-on point it is, and so on and so on. I hasten to add, I thought all those things too, it really was a breath of fresh air as far as I was concerned.

But here's my problem. DC has toyed with me this way before. I thought it would be an interesting perspective to look at all the OTHER times I remember the Bat books getting exactly this kind of kick start. We'll start with the earliest and work our way forward, looking at what was done, what worked, what didn't, what stuck, and so on.

This is the first time I've ever really sat down and done this kind of a list. The conventional wisdom is that there are five different 'eras' for Batman -- the pulp-gothic early issues, the swashbuckling daytime Batman and Robin of the 40's, the aliens-and-weirdness Batman of the 50's and early 60's, the mod swinging Adam West period, and the Dark Knight that started with O'Neil and Adams in the 70's. But when I sat down and thought it through, there have been quite a few more than that. The shelf life of a comics 'era' is really only about three to seven years, for a long-running title. Then there is some kind of a shakeup, a change to the status quo, a minor Crisis or Zero-Hour type of reboot. Batman is a great illustration of this.

Let's walk through it, starting with New Look Batman.

Started In: Detective #327
What Changed: No more aliens. The focus was on street-level crime and detective work. Villains had a gimmick and the stories were mostly about how to out-think the gimmick. Alfred was killed. Aunt Harriet was introduced, as was Barbara Gordon, who became the new Batgirl. The Bat-equipment was generally updated and streamlined.
What Worked: Losing the aliens and returning Batman to protecting the streets of Gotham was a good first step. Barbara Gordon was a good character idea, though she didn't come into her own for a couple more decades. And of course Batman would be all about the science and forensics, it was nice to see more of this.
What Didn't Work: Killing Alfred was a huge, huge mistake. And to editor Julius Schwartz's credit, this was quickly undone. Likewise Aunt Harriet worked a lot better on TV than she did in the comics. In the comic it looked a lot more like a half-assed answer to Dr. Wertham's accusations of Bat-homoeroticism and it probably was. The stories were still too cheerful and daytime. And of course no one ever thinks of this period in the Bat books without referencing the Adam West TV show, including me, to be honest. But there were still a lot of good stories here. And hell, I really liked the first season of the TV show.
What Stuck From This Era To The Present: Bat-science and Barbara Gordon. And Commissioner Gordon kept the weight off.


Next up: Early 1970's streamlined Batman.

Started In: Batman #217
What Changed: Oh, man, lots of stuff. The biggest changes were sending Robin off to college and having Bruce and Alfred move out of the manor back into downtown Gotham. But really it was the tone that changed; daytime became night, the Bat-costume got scary, and Batman himself got a lot meaner. Previously, Batman had been Officer Friendly -- now he was Dirty Harry. Plus he seemed to be a lot more hip, he used more slang and knew more about rock music than he ever used to.
What Worked: The darker tone suited the character a lot better. Telling artists to use the Adams model gave us a lot better art, overall, than using the Infantino model did. Escalating the violence stakes -- suddenly the Joker was a murderous psycho! Whoa! -- worked well too, it upped the emotion and suspense a lot where previously there really hadn't been any. And it felt, at the time, like DC itself was saying a big screw-you to all the people that were making fun of us for reading Batman books, we were still getting over the whole Adam West thing. It was ridiculously validating.
What Didn't Work: Moving Batman into the city was a great idea -- moving Bruce Wayne there, not so much. I just can't see Bruce living in a bachelor apartment, even a penthouse one. That's a Daredevil riff; for Batman, you need Wayne Manor and the cave beneath.
What Stuck From This Era To The Present: To this day Batman is known to be dark, scary, and contemptuous of crime and criminals. He still beats information out of lowlife thugs and crooks are terrified of him. The violence has continued to escalate and Batman continues to be a grim loner. And the origin story is still endlessly referenced... these days everybody knows exactly why Batman does what he does. People forget that this went largely unmentioned in the books till this particular version.


Now, here is where I started to make my own arbitrary divisions. Your mileage may vary -- these aren't full-on reboots, but there are enough basic changes in premise that you can safely say it's a 'new era' or a New Look or whatever you want to call it.

We'll start with what I think of as 'faux-Marvel-era' Batman.

Started In: This can be argued. But I'm going to say it started with Batman #330 or so. At any rate it's when Paul Levitz was editing the book.
What Changed: Robin was back, and he was pissed off. So was everyone else. This was when DC looked at the Marvel books and decided that what was selling was serialized continuity about heroes that made mistakes and didn't get along. So suddenly the entire DCU got a bad case of PMS and Batman and his supporting cast were among the hardest hit -- probably because Batman always looked cranky anyway. Stories suddenly continued from issue to issue, there were subplots that stretched on for months, etc., etc. It was the Marvel model for how to do funnybooks. Except it was Batman.
What Worked: There were several things that worked well here. Not many, but some. There were a few good stories: Marv Wolfman did an interesting arc with Ra's Al Ghul, in particular. It was nice to see Dick Grayson again and this actually became the jumping-off point for him to huff off in a huff and form the new Teen Titans, which as it turned out was a good career move for him.
What Didn't Work: There was a LOT. Most of all, the fact that Bruce couldn't seem to get along with ANYBODY, even Dick or Alfred, was more depressing than deep. Yes, fine, actions should have consequences and ramifications, but, jeez, Robin, could you have done better? No? Then quitcher whining. And Batman himself came off as kind of a creep. This was the start of the "Bat-jerk" characterization that gets complaints to this day. Additionally, the palpitating romance subplots with Selina Kyle and Talia were more annoying than anything. Nobody reads Batman for romance.
What Stuck From This Era To The Present: This is where we met Lucius Fox for the first time. And the Bat-books, along with the rest of the DCU, have continued to follow the Marvel model for serializing stories and subplots. This was when done-in-one, formerly almost a DC guarantee, was really over.


This was followed by the Pre-Crisis Jason Todd version, or maybe call it AUTHENTIC Marvel-era Batman.

Started In: Again, I'm just being arbitrary, but I'm going to say it started in Batman #340 when we suddenly saw Marvel mainstays like Roy Thomas and Gene Colan on the books.
What Changed: The biggest change? Two words: new Robin. But really it was the influx of Marvel exiles like Gene Colan and Gerry Conway and Doug Moench, whose sense of joy at actually getting to work on Batman's adventures was palpable. The books had an energy that hadn't been there in quite a while and art-wise it was the best Batman had looked in a decade. The late Don Newton, particularly, did an exquisite version. The stories were very much back-to-basics, but with the benefit of hindsight. Writers Conway and Moench were very careful to replace the good stuff that had been previously thrown overboard -- suddenly we had classic villains, Wayne Manor and the Batcave back, and soon after, we had a new Robin.
What Worked: Almost everything. Gerry Conway's and Doug Moench's writing was fun and clever and yet had tension and excitement. The books soon fell into a nice rhythm of a main story starting in Batman and concluding in Detective, with over-arcing subplots mostly revolving around young Jason Todd being assimilated into the Bat-family. Moench cleverly reintroduced a lot of old characters and made them fresh simply by showing them to us through Jason's eyes. It was good stuff -- fan enthusiasm coupled with the journeyman craft everyone had learned at Marvel in the 70's. This is a criminally overlooked part of Batman's history, probably because it all got wiped out in the Crisis. Damn OCD continuity nerds ruined it for everybody.
What Didn't Work: Again, the romance subplots. We didn't need to see Vicki Vale ever again, and we REALLY didn't need to know about Alfred and Mademoiselle Marie getting their groove on back in WW2. I never could figure out what Bruce saw in either Vicki or Julia Pennyworth. Sometimes stories dragged on too long -- the shorter two-parters were what worked best, and the books took a real hit when Don Newton passed away.
What Stuck From This Era To The Present: Not much, sadly. But this was the era that first gave us Harvey Bullock, and it was where Barbara Gordon learned, once and for all, no fooling, that Bruce Wayne really is Batman and was accepted as part of the team.


Which brings us to the post-Crisis, Dark Knight years.

Started In: I'm going to say Batman #408, pictured above. You kind of have to treat the Frank Miller Year One stuff in #404-407 as its own separate thing. And #401-403 were filler.
What Changed: Dark Knight and Frank Miller, baby. You want a bad-assed Batman, giggling psychos, obsessed vigilantes, crunching bone? We got it all right here. This was one of the darkest runs of the Bat books ever. Grim. Gritty. Bloody. Jason Todd was revamped into a petty crminal, a young hothead rescued from a life on the streets. No more sense of wonder and awe from this kid. He was tough as nails and mean as a snake... until the Joker beat him to death with a tire iron. Barbara Gordon got crippled for life. And Batman himself was beaten, bloodied, broken, brainwashed, and slapped around every which way.
What Worked: Basically, when Frank Miller did grim-n-gritty Batman he could pull it off. And Max Collins had a brief but cool run on Batman, batting cleanup afterwards. The regular books were in a malaise, but the guest-written stuff largely worked, particularly Sam Hamm's "Blind Justice" and John Byrne's "Many Deaths of the Batman."
What Didn't Work: Two words for you here -- Jim and Starlin. His run is without question the worst Batman ever. (Yes, I loathe it even more than the usual 50's weird-gimmick-and-alien Bat stuff commonly named as "worst ever.") He was the one that gave us "Death in the Family" and "The Cult," two stories that took an almost sadistic glee in taking DC icons and doing horrible things to them, and this climaxed with easily the most tasteless stunt ever done in comics, the 1-800-kill-Robin promotion where fans could call in and vote on whether or not Jason Todd actually got to live through the beating the Joker gave him. Starlin had stacked the deck against the kid by making him thoroughly unlikable, not just a petty crook but a vengeful psycho, so it was pretty much a done deal that fans would vote no. I really enjoyed the Moench/Newton/Colan Jason, but that Robin was long gone.
What Stuck From This Era To The Present: Barbara's still in the wheelchair. Jason Todd is still creepy. And Year One continues to be the template for the current Batman.


Which brings us to the introduction of Tim Drake, and other necessary repair/reboot work. Truthfully, this is the period that gave me the idea for the column this week in the first place.

Started In: Marv Wolfman kicked it off with "Batman: Year Three," starting in Batman #436. It took another two years, almost, to get the kid into the Robin suit, in Batman #457.
What Changed: This was when it became clear that "Robin" was a franchise deal. This was the era that re-introduced Sarah Essen and made her officially Mrs. James Gordon, when we first met the mute Batcave-dwelling mechanic Harold the hunchback, and also when -- very weirdly to fans of my generation -- when Robin, somehow, became cool.
What Worked: Tim Drake as Robin was a very good idea, and executed well. Third time's the charm. (Although a lot of what made Tim work, the seeing-Batman's-world-through-fresh-eyes, also was what made Jason work the FIRST time.) Putting Robin in a new, much cooler costume was a great help. This was very much a rebuilding kind of period, back-to-basics, let's-tell-good-stories, that kind of thing. And largely it succeeded. There were some great new villains introduced, notably the Ventriloquist. There were stunts but they were good ones: bringing in guys like Peter Milligan to do an arc every so often, the Robin series of miniseries, persuading Dick Sprang out of retirement to do some covers, that kind of thing. This is also when Chuck Dixon and Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle started with the Batbooks, and they were great.
What Didn't Work: With the addition of a new Robin, along with Harold, Anarky, Sarah Essen, the Huntress, and the regular gang, it felt like Batman was getting crowded out of his own books sometimes. And not every new villain was a great idea ("Crash and Burn") but at least it felt like the Bat-office was trying harder.
What Stuck From This Era To The Present: Tim Drake and the Robin franchise concept. And the Huntress is still hanging around the fringes of the Bat world.


And now we have arrived at what I would call the stunt-driven, Artificial Event era.

Started In: Sword of Azrael #1 was the opening salvo in what seemed like about five years' worth of Knightfalls, Contagions, Cataclysms, Aftershocks, and so on.
What Changed: Remember when the Batman books started trying to be like Marvel with the bickering and the angst? Well, now it's the 90's, and the Bat books are trying to be the X-men, with oodles of crossovers, specials, mini-series, and Events. It almost doesn't matter who's doing which title because the books are all being done on a chart now. A story lasts six months to two years, and crosses over, through, in and out of Batman, Detective, Azrael, Robin, Catwoman and maybe a tie-in special here or there. It gets so out of control that Denny O'Neil has to mandate a no-crossover rule for a year, in 1996, but it doesn't last -- by '97 we are right back into it with the months-long "Cataclysm," which leads to "Aftershock," which ends up with a year of "No Man's Land."
What Worked: When the new books weren't mired down in this or that crossover madness, they did some really good stories. It was nice to see Robin getting his own book at last, along with Nightwing. Even Azrael's book had some cool stuff in it, though he had one of the worst costumes in comics, and as a character, he was not great.
What Didn't Work: As I've said in other columns, you can layer so many things on top of a premise that you lose the original premise. By this time Batman had essentially become a team book, with Robin, Nightwing, Oracle, Azrael, Catwoman, and occasionally Spoiler and Huntress, in addition to Batman himself. This doesn't actually make a lot of sense for a guy that is portrayed as a grim loner.
What Stuck From This Era To The Present: Robin, Nightwing and Catwoman still have their own books. And I'm afraid "Murderer/Fugitive" and "War Games" showed that the Bat books are still hooked on the Event Crossover.


And finally we have the modern era. The reboot/jump-start that lasted from the end of "No Man's Land" until now, "One Year Later." I'm not going to itemize that one because, quite honestly, it's taken almost two days just to get THIS written and I'm exhausted. Anyway by now, if you've made it this far, you get the idea and it seems silly to do a historical recap of something that is less than five years old. There were some good things in there, especially in the beginning (the beginning of each one of these 'eras' is where the energy and the good stuff often lies) like the Cassandra Cain Batgirl, the Turning Points miniseries, stuff like that; but also some really egregious mistakes -- most notably the death of Ra's Al Ghul and the corruption of Dr. Leslie Thompkins. I'll be interested to see how this new take plays out over the coming months, hoping that it's good, and, more important, hoping that the good stuff will stick.

See you next week.

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Blogger AFKAP of Darkness said...

glad to see some recognition given to "the Authentic Marvel-era Batman," which was probably my favorite Batman epoch (particularly Moench's run).

i was always a bit baffled by the conventional wisdom that DKR and the subsequent post-Crisis semi-reboot was supposed to have "fixed" Batman when i thought the Bat-books were already doing fine (creatively, if not necessarily commercially) and the subsequent era was clearly much, much inferior.

(i did like the Mike W. Barr & Alan Davis stuff in Detective, though)

3/11/2006 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chris Sims said...

>>"What Didn't Work: Two words for you here -- Jim and Starlin. His run is without question the worst Batman ever."

Clearly, you are out of your frigg'n mind

3/11/2006 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger ninjawookie said...

No mans Land was the best crossover ever. The best thing about it was when Batman came out with his non oval bat symbol and his practical utility belt, new adventures of batman/superman style. Sure some of it was hit and miss, but this was Batman at his peak. Getting his back broken really whipped him into shape.

Also even just before that you got dixon and nolans pretty old school classic run on detective, the riddler/cluemaster "team up" was pretty one of favourties, you had the weird kelly jones monench run in batman and villain of the month in shadow of the bat.

Knightfall wasn't so bad really. Sure Jean Paul Valley was this new flavoured coke with an x-treme marketing campaign only to be replaced by classic smooth tasting Bruce Wayne again. Has anyone seen the knightfall batman toy? It's totally rice!

The 90s to me was the happy medium period of Batman, unfortuantely everyone else was reading onslaught at the time, shit even i wanted a taste of that, except they all sold out, and i was like 11 at the time and had to rely on newsagents. But Iceman was the best character anyways, and no one used him until zero tolerance so i didn't miss out on much.

Didn't his period also give us the Long Halloween and Batman: Black and White? (I wish they made black and white a cheap ongoing series)

I don't really understand the whole Batman's a jerk thing really, he was only really a jerk when the JLA found out he plotted against them (that sort of made him cooler) and after he got...shudder... mindwiped.

(i'm pretty sure he's been a jerkface more than twice, but i didn't read them so they don't count :P)

3/11/2006 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

I grew up on late seventies Batman, when they were still calling him "The Bat-Man", so that will always hold a dear spot in my heart. But one minor thing, which could be a whole post/issue of its own....
Anyone re-read the Cataclysm-No Man's Land lately? I remember thinking how frikkin hokey it was as a concept back then. But it has a whole new meaning seeing the real world reaction to recent natural disaters. No one really gives it credit for being so prophetic for our Post Katrina world.

3/12/2006 12:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I've not much love for "The Cult" - which I liked the first time, but years later reads like a weaker-yet-more-over-the-top-somehow Dark Knight - but I have to stick up for the Starlin Batman. Starlin's tormented, violent Jason Todd was unworkable as Robin but a great character and made for a wonderful addition to the Batman mythos (which had to be ruined by Winick making him into an outright villain; this, too, will be forgotten in time, though). I'll even stick up for "A Death In The Family," which, while predicated on a cheap stunt, made for some powerful reading, even allowing for the frankly absurd plot device of Ayatollah Khomeini hiring the Joker to wipe out the UN General Assembly.

And lest we forget, "Ten Nights Of The Beast" is friggin' fantastic. It's also probably the only good story with the KGBeast in it, which is tragic when you consider (1) the dude just got offed, (2) he was a total badass in his first appearance, and (3) they could've spared us all the lame appearances inbetween by just having him kick it at the end of the first one.

Good post overall, though. And yes, there was interesting stuff even in Azrael. It always drove me nuts that that book was full of irresistibly cool elements - secret societies, ancient mystics, alchemy, talking severed heads, animal-human hybrids, angry dwarf zealots - yet never managed to come together into anything that was actually good.

3/12/2006 12:45:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

You say Starlin's run was the worst ever, and there's a case for and against, but I feel obliged to note that he also wrote one of my favorite Batman stories ever, "You Shoulda Seen Him," in issue 423 or thereabouts (it was right before Jason got his brains beat in by Mr. J). Great Cockrum art, spiffy McFarlane cover from before he was a narcissistic dick, a nice Rashomon riff, and not one, but two definitive moments for the character in my eyes.

And you know what would have helped with some of that "too damn many Bat-characters" malaise? Relaunching Batman Family. Make it a quarterly, have Batman and Robin do their teamups with various ancillary characters there, and keep the solo books mostly solo (except Spoiler, who worked as a supporting member for Robin and Batgirl who *wasn't* in the family. Once Bruce went and let her into the club, her days were numbered).

3/12/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Garrie Burr said...

Very good run-down. Glad to see the pre-Crisis Jason Todd get his due. And I'll second the motion for "thumbs-up" on the Mike Barr/Alan Davis run on Detective right after Crisis.

The only quibble I had with Barr was the mind-rape of Selina Kyle by Dr. Moon and the Joker -- an attempt to re-villify her after the Moench run brought her and Batman much closer together.

There were some other Bat-titles and runs worth-mentioning, the odd-balls that popped-up among the one you cited:

1) the Haney Brave & Bold Batman, running through the New Look era all the way up to Crisis, which reads much better today, and the post-Haney run of B&B with rotating writers like Alan Brennert coming up with some more DCU-compatible stories.

2) the Archie Goodwin-edited pre-Crisis Detective Comics and post-Crisis Legends of the Dark Knight

3) the Frank Robbins run -- people forget he wrote Batman 217 where Dick Grayson left for college, along with his creation of Man-Bat -- especially those stories he wrote AND pencilled.

4) the various Batman Adventures titles -- especially the early Parobeck-drawn isssues.

5) Englehart and Rogers' run on Detective Comics.

6) the Julius Schwartz-edited run after Denny O'Neil left where you had David V. Reed turning out really lack-luster stuff, not helped by the Ernie Chua and John Calnan art.

3/12/2006 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

There was also a run of about a year or so in the late 90's where there were no Bat-crossovers-Kelley Jones was doing the art on Batman during most of that period, and while the stories weren't that memorable (aside from a 3-part Deadman team-up that featured glow-in-the-dark covers as well), the art was fantastic.

3/12/2006 01:53:00 PM  
Anonymous stephen Cade said...

Well I haven't read much since the "Artificial event era"
But all the previous versions/varieties/eras had soemthing good to them.

And why can't I like more than one?

I love the Adam West version, but I don't confuse it with the comic book version...
And the Comic book version got pretty silly before the TV show.

Why can't I have my Batman Camoy & gritty?
Humourous & driven?

My favorite era though was the post crisis one, when I rediscovered Batman.

3/12/2006 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger naladahc said...

Well I think you writing all this up so nicely just proves the point that all of this is cyclical.

Every "era" seems to have about an 10-12 year lifespan and then gets "back to the basics" as people get bored with it.

Though the "franchise mentality" of the 90s has definitely take the toll on the character.

I just think it is hilarious that the powers that be seem to feel you have to have some insane gimmick-filled massive crossover to change the tone of the character.

Sure. The real point is to take money out of our wallets and that has no doubt succeeded.

3/13/2006 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger J'onn J'onzz, Martian Manhunter said...

The number was 1-900 not 1-800. THEre's a difference. You have to pay to dial 900. I remember reading Firestorm one time and in "From the Den" (Denny O'niel's column) daying he was actuallysad Robin died. Then don't do the ******* contest and just let the poor guy live!

3/13/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Cove West said...

Dave Campbell calls the 80's the Golden Age, which is hard to argue with when it comes to Marvel and pre-Vertigo Moore/Morrison/Miller/Ostrander DC. But IMO, the Golden Age for the mainstream DCU comes in the 90's, roughly the post-Zero Hour years. Waid's FLASH & IMPULSE, Morrison's JLA, the holy-crap-we're-losing-the-JSA reaction of Robinson's STARMAN (along with the Vertigo infusion via Wagner's SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE and Gaiman's SANDMAN, and the eventual reformation of the JSA by Robinson, Goyer, and Johns), David's YOUNG JUSTICE, Ennis’s HITMAN, Ostrander’s SPECTRE & MARTIAN MANHUNTER, the good-idea-but-bad-execution Grayson TITANS, and the various brilliant short-lived series like CHASE, YOUNG HEROES IN LOVE, CHRONOS, HOURMAN, etc.

Which is all in the way of segue to my defense of the 90's Bat-titles. While not precisely a Golden Age for Batman, this period was influenced by (and itself ifluenced) the line-wide Golden Age. It's mainly a period where each individual of the Bat Family gets defined out from under the shadow of the Bat. While this technically begins with Knightfall, the plot necessities of KnightQuest and KnightsEnd cause such a shifting status quo (and a confusing mess) over the next few years that I'd rather place the start of this era either with Zero Month or the end of Prodigal.

ROBIN and NIGHTWING--and later, BIRDS OF PREY--begin in this era, 3 titles that should make many essential DC lists (and NIGHTWING would make my own top 5). Along with CATWOMAN and AZRAEL, they all accomplish two things: 1) they make it possible to have a large Gotham cast without having to team them up with Batman all the time, and 2) they keep the street-level vibe to the Bat-titles while Morrison goes Bat-god in JLA. Also, the Dixon books in particular pave the way for titles like SUPERBOY, IMPULSE, YOUNG JUSTICE, and TITANS.

The other major facet of this era is the crossovers. But I would argue that despite the frequent occurrence of them, they aren't intrusive enough to be "Marvel style." Marvel crossovers were distinct in how they were heavily foreshadowed months in advance and tied into years-old storylines, and they were very plot-to-the-exclusion-of-all-else affairs. Contagion, Cataclysm, and Aftershock were less serialized crossovers than they were single thematic events every title encountered. For example, you could read NIGHTWING’s Cataclysm issue on its own, or you could isolate the Batman/Gordon/Poison Ivy part of Contagion as its own mini-story.

The major event was of course No Man’s Land. Yeah, the premise was rather contrived and it was all probably a bitch for pre-ordering and title completists, but if you could get past that, I thought the story was awesome. Somehow, Denny and the gang made the largest crossover in history, full of tension and character study and action and suspense, that was still somehow a loose, non-constricting story. Sure, there were plenty of clunkers in there, but overall, IMO it’s the #2 DC crossover (behind Morrison’s DC One Million, another strong-yet-loose crossover). And I would argue that no crossover has done more for one character than NML did for Huntress.

I think DC’s Golden Age starts fading away once NML ends. Losing talented, stalwart, team-player creators like Moench, Grant, and Dixon fractured the core Bat-titles. The stories were still strong (even better in some cases), but it was clearly a different era of Marvel-style individual-title creator runs instead of DC-style group-title collaborations. Soon, Fugitive/Murderer return to the plot-driven, character-stunt events like Knightfall/Quest/End. And most importantly in my mind, Dixon’s work on NIGHTWING is destroyed by Devin Grayson, on ROBIN by War Games/Identity Crisis, and the BoPs are forced out of Gotham by War Games. (If you’re wondering, the rest of DC’s Golden Age ends with Waid leaving FLASH, Morrison leaving JLA, the cancellation of the YOUNG JUSTICE titles, and the beginning of the Johns/Winick/Rucka/Loeb DCU). The days of Jack Drake, Bludhaven, the Speed Force, and Solaris the Tyrant Sun are indeed over.

3/13/2006 05:46:00 PM  
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