Robin has two Batmen…

What are your gut reactions and more finely honed thoughts on the news that Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne will be wearing the cowl?

At first glance, I think WTF? On reflection though, we’ve got this happening all over the DCU already. In any given month there are as many as 4 Flashes running around with a couple of ancillary speedsters to boot. Green Lantern has an entire Corps spanning the Universe. Batman himself has effectively been building an army of mini-Batmen since the first Robin. In recent years it’s become hard as a reader to believe there could still be that much crime in Gotham. Huntress is running around, Catwoman frequently combats crime; Dick Grayson is in and out of Gotham. The Birds of Prey, Azrael, Slam Bradley, Tim Drake all fight Gotham’s crime too. How is Gotham not the safest city in the DCU? With so much caped activity and so many “legacy” characters in general, why shouldn’t there be a couple of Batmen running around?

I’m not going to spend time speculating the logistics of it, but it might be confusing having two guys called “Batman.” Do we go from THE Batman to A Batman? Maybe it does take something from the character. We’ll see.

In the mean time, head over to ComicsAlliance; Chris Sims examines the history of Bat-imposters and the probable meaning of a Dynamic Duo of Batmans or Batmen.

Dream Team: An imaginary story

It’s not unreasonable to say that as much as Jesse loves Batman, I am devoted to Superman. It’s hard being a Superman fan because lately the quality stories and arcs are few and far between. Why? It takes work, imagination, and courage to find a readable challenge for a character who is so…super. It’s so much easier to write a story where he’s punching things. The thing is that most people forget that along with being super strong and super fast, Kal-El is also super smart. Many of his arch-nemeses are too. Instead of truly clever, bizarre, and intelligent threats, Brainiac and Luthor usually send woefully ill-equipped and unoriginal robots or bruisers to deal with/ distract the Man of Steel. At this point, we know he can punch things into submission.

For my money, the last time any one truly understood Superman and what the flagship Superman titles should look like was the Silver Age. I know what you’re thinking: no I’m not really one of those nostalgia pornographers like Geoff Johns. We don’t need Krypto or Kandor or multicolored Kryptonite back just for the sake of having them around. I’m also not saying that Superman should be quite as silly as as he was in the hands of men like Otto Binder and Mort Weisinger. What I am advocating is a return to the wholly ape-shit weirdness: the bigger than life stories and logic defying threats. Binder and Weisinger knew that Superman had to be super in all respects. He needed threats that annoy, hinder, and push the Last Son of Krypton to bring his A-game. Where are the mind bending stories of Superman saving Earth from evil living suns? Where are the distant planets where Luthor is a science hero? Where’s the time and dimension travel? Where’s my damn flying car?

Grant Morrison knows this. He exhibited these ideas in All Star Superman. He proved that Superman can be about the crazy of the Silver Age without being silly. Alan Moore knows this too. If the original Squadron Supreme is the greatest JLA story ever written, Alan Moore’s Supreme is one of the best Superman stories. Both Morrison and Moore understand that these stories need to be out of the box. Superman should attract strange in the same way that it flies to the Fantastic Four.

So in an ideal world, who’s writing Superman and Action Comics? I’m going to call Moore and Morrison on plot with Morrison handling the script. Here’s where I rein them in though. Both writers can get pretty crazy on their own. They need a strong editor to help guide them and keep them within the bounds that’ll keep the book from losing it’s grounding. Weisinger was quite the taskmaster, but Moore would walk. Let’s pull in someone who knows story in his own right. Kurt Busiek would be perfect.

Art chores? I like Kevin Maguire. He knows how to draw muscular as beefy. He also has a great penchant for facial expression. Can you imagine the mischief in Mxyzptlk? The gleeful malice in Luthor? I’d bring in Ed Mcguinness to handle chores when Kevin Maguire needed someone to do fill in issues.Mcguinness’s stout characters scream power. He’s just cartoony enough to keep things light and weird.

Just thinking about how awesome the granddaddy of all superheroes could/ should be makes my bags and boards itch.

It Came from the Longboxes

This week’s book is relatively new. I pulled Final Crisis #4. On the whole, I liked this Event; the art by Jones and company was superb. Morrison was at the peak his of power as a writer as he brings in most of King Kirby’s work at DC. The two missing pieces are Etrigan and Sandman II.

#4 was probably the strongest single issue: evil wins. We see exactly how it happens, and moreso than any other “crisis,” the events here seem apocalyptic and hopeless.

What really sold this run for me is that for the first time in my reading memory, Darkseid was a true god-level threat. Until this series…even counting “Rock of Ages” in JLA… Darkseid was written as just another big and powerful punching bag for Superman. This guy is supposed to be a god and the embodiment of evil? Why does he spend his time getting his ass kicked by Superman? Why do his schemes seem so small and petty? The use of the Anti-life Equation and the chess set up here showed thought and true evil.

Rereading it, I got a chance to see how this set up worked. The poetry of it all brings these events from the good to the great. From hearing Turpin’s struggle against Darkseid to seeing the death of Mr. Miracle and “freedom,” you couldn’t change a single word without losing something.

I’m tempted to reread the whole 7 issues now, but I’m still pretty sure 4 will remain the strongest.