July 24th, 2010
Originally I thought the better batmobile Grant’s been building was a metaphor for a new Bruce Wayne, which it is, but I didn’t give any thought to what that would mean… Probably some sort of fusion of bat and bruce after some terrible ordeal, with links to the ten eyed men exorcism and the thogal retreat, but that’s as far as it went. I just figured Grant would wrap his run after that and some other writer would immediately drag us kicking and screaming back to the land of FENESTRATE-ME-ZSASZ!
I was being stupid.
It was obvious we’d need to see the batmobile in action, the new vehicle for Bruce’s war on crime, if only because the idea contains so much story potential. In fact it probably contains more potential than any plot device so far. What batfan wouldn’t have to see where Bruce was going next, a Bruce with his shit together, utilising every weapon available to him? Because so far he’s amassed quite an arsenal: the 99 Miagani, the Club of Heroes, the extended bat-family, and… are the Outsiders still on the payroll?
See, this is where I have a problem with the internet’s constant, whining refrain of ‘unoriginality!’. Yes, we’ve read Kingdom Come and Dark Knight and we’ve seen Bruce extend his reach with mutants, robots and Red Robins, but, and this is the thing, it was only for a few bloody panels in the former and the end point for the latter. No writer yet has actually explored this idea in any detail, probably because of the inflexibility of the bat office, and, yes, because it would take big, big balls. If I was ever to interview a creator on a massive book, and was guaranteed an honest, thoughtful, non-pr driven response, the first question I would ask them would be ‘How intimidating is it?’ I think it would be terrifying, and to genuinely take the book to a new place, while finely balancing the direction with the demands the character (read: his audience and history) places on you, probably the most daunting thing of all.
And, yeah, the grittYIsts probably have a right to feel afraid, because what does Batman, Inc. promise us? A fuller absorption of characters some fans would like to keep at arms length into the main batbooks, a return of the globe trotting batman who needs to keep tabs on every area of his operation, elements of the first person shooter aesthetic(!), a full blown out of the shadows and into the light bat army (or at the very least a far less creepy, far more conspicuous operation), and the aforementioned return of bruce wayne to the equation, bringing all of his resources to bear on the bat mission. This is the worst, because the grittyists don’t like Bruce Wayne. They deny he even exists.
(And who can blame them, seeing as Batman himself seems to agree, only just now in Morrison’s run describing him as ‘..a shallow, reckless mask of a man who never grew up’. Aaah, but Batman was always going to be a bit biased, wasn’t he? An unintegrated Batman, that is.)
Anyway, just some thoughts, and I’ll leave you with one to chew on. What kind of enemies would a bat-army fight? Maybe there was something in that ‘population explosion’ business after all.