Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Johanna's reaction to the Batman in the 80s collection was very similar to my own. The book seemed to exist to showcase lots of fun and exciting things that were happening the Batman books of the early 1980s, and were discarded, destroyed, or ignored in the following years. Over the weekend, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I watched a featurette on the first volume of the Batman: The Animated Series DVDs that talked about how influential the series was. And I scratched my head, because to my mind the incredible thing about that cartoon was how much better it was than 99% of the Batman comics being published at the time and since then.

Batman's starting to pop up everywhere with the new movie coming out, of course, though it's a far cry from 1989's Batmania. One new book I noticed was something called The Batman Handbook, the chief purpose of which was to draw attention to all of the parts of Batman lore that should be ignored if one wishes to tell entertaining Batman stories. It dedicated page after page to features of Batman's uniform: It's liked with Kevlar! It contains a distributed taser network that allows Batman to repulse any attacker with 300,000 volts! The cape is also armored! (One imagines that a real-world person putting on such an outfit would bear a passing resemblance to Ralphie's younger brother bundled up for winter in A Christmas Story. The secret identity gets lots of unnecessary attention, too: Batman has such strong control over his facial muscles that no one could ever mistake him for Bruce Wayne! Alfred specially tailors Bruce Wayne's suits so he can wear his armored Batman costume beneath them! And so on. I mean, just write good stories about Batman fighting villains and solving mysteries and stop thinking so much about how things that don't work if you analyze them too hard are supposed to work. Just accept the costume and secret identity and move on. Paul Dini gets it. Bruce Timm gets it. Their friends get it. Why does DC refuse to get it?

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