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Batman's "New Era?" Bring It On!
Author: Cary Ashby
March 27, 2009

EDITOR'S NOTE: You can listen to BOF's "New Era of Batman" roundtable podcast HERE. We've got all opinions covered on this one, so don't think it's all one-sided. One can also find an opposing view to this op-ed (authored by me -- full disclaimer) RIGHT HERE. - "Jett"

Before I started ranting on “Batman‘s New Era,” let me establish a few things…

1) Most importantly, I'm no "Bat-Sheep," as Jett puts it. I have no problem saying DC has made knuckleheaded editorial decisions. (Superman Blue and Red, anyone?) When I see some of those poor choices, I just want to smack myself in the head -- mentally, at least -- and then want to do the same thing to the writers and editors. ("Help us, Denny O'Neil, you're our only hope!”)

2) I'm also not willing to follow DC around blindly simply because I can't freakin' afford it! If I'm going to lay down my hard-earned cash for some comics, I want to make sure I get my money's worth. In other words, if it goes in my collection it's because I truly WANT it in my collection and will be re-reading those issues on occasion. When I returned to collecting comics in the late 80s (after leaving when I get royally irritated about Jason Todd, basically an obnoxious version of Dick Grayson, being Robin), I promised I'd be very selective about what BATMAN releases I would buy. And I still stick to those guns. 'Cause let's face it, some of the stuff released since the '89 film has been forgettable, well, you know….

3) Bruce Wayne IS the Batman. Always will be (but apparently not starting in June) and will be again. How can you not put BW and The Dark Knight together in the same thought? They are inseparable. I stopped watching BATMAN BEYOND because I realized I didn't like somebody besides BW being The Bat. The best part of KNIGHTFALL? Knowing Bruce would be driven to return as Batman and then see him putting a hurtin' on AzBats, who had soiled what Batman stood for, to reclaim The Mantle of the Bat.

4) I'm all for trying to keep long-time characters fresh. Sometimes that involves making controversial or unpopular writing decisions. In other words, writers have to take storytelling chances. Some work well and some fail miserably.

5) At the end of the day, I want to read (or watch) a memorable, fun comic book adventure.

6) SO...I'm down with this "New Era of Batman."

GRANTed (pun intended), I’m as event-fatigued as the next guy. I’m sick and tired of DC having a Crisis after Crisis. Enough already! Grant Morrison shouldn't have given us two (!) ways for Batman to "die." He should have chosen one and stuck with it and made it flow between the end of “Batman: R.I.P.” and FINAL CRISIS. Instead, we're left confused…very confused. As frustrated and disappointed as I am with the way the continuity between “R.I.P.” and FINAL CRISIS was mishandled, I’m not willing to be a fair weather fan and give up comics because the original Batman is no longer The Dark Knight. (Although I do see why that might be the case.)

Why, you ask? I have faith DC and the talented pool of Batman family writers can spin some good yarns out this Batman-is-gone scenario. It should be a heckuva ride. After all, I’ve referred to myself as a diehard Batman fan for too long to jump ship now.

Without further adieu, here are my thoughts and predictions on the new era of Batman…

THE NEW BATMAN

As I wrote for my paper's column in mid-November, I have no doubt Dick Grayson (aka Nightwing) will be the new Batman. He’s been groomed to take over for Bruce Wayne ever since he became the first Robin. And frankly, like Marvel’s Captain America, I’d love for DC to take a long time with Dick in the cowl and truly try to make a go of it. That would make for interesting story possibilities. What better way to get fans anxious about the original's return than by having them wonder when, or even if, Bruce is returning to the cowl?

BATMAN AND ROBIN

First of all, it’s about time we had a series focused on The Dynamic Duo. Yes, this is a roll-your-eyes way of DC getting readers to buy more titles, but the post-Bruce Wayne world is the best time to debut this title.

My heart wants to see the new Dynamic Duo being Dick and Robin III (Tim Drake), but my instinct is telling me Robin might be Damian, Bruce’s biological son. I just don’t see Dick wanting his partner to be someone both people haven’t been able to trust. Why would Tim suddenly giving up his Robin identity? Morrison gave a lot of clues to Damian being Robin not only throughout his BATMAN run, but also in his extensive interview with blog.wired.com. Having Damian as Robin would be extremely disappointing, especially considering how great the interactions have been between Dick and Tim and how much time other writers have taken to develop their brotherly relationship. The tweaked Robin costume and Morrison using B&R (and BATMAN #666) to probably keep his "Batman & Son" storyline going is further evidence Robin could be the brat, er, Damian. (Drat!)

Morrison’s “David Lynch directs the Batman TV show” pitch makes me nervous, but I’m usually that way with him -- or utterly confused. How ‘bout some linear narratives for a change, huh, Grant? I hope he approaches B&R with the same respect and novelty he did ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. Regardless, it should be an intriguing approach to the Dynamic Duo.

DETECTIVE

I’m all for Batwoman getting her time in the spotlight. She was way too underused in 52. Why introduce a character with ties to DC’s past and not do much of anything with her? Let’s face it: Batwoman’s time in this title could be an audition for her own series.

GOTHAM CITY SIRENS
I might not pick up this title much past its first issue or storyline, but if it’s anything like the Webisodes of “Gotham Girls,” we’re in for a treat. Besides, Dini’s run on DETECTIVE COMICS was stellar, if not (dare I say it?) an instant classic. SIRENS could be the villainous answer to BIRDS OF PREY, but probably will be much more interesting, at least under Dini’s more than capable pen.

RED ROBIN

All evidence points to Jason Todd being Red Robin. The second Robin has had an annoying habit of taking up other people’s identities since he was resurrected. So it makes sense for him to bear the name of the middle-aged, alternative Dick Grayson in KINGDOM COME and the duds that JT wore in COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #7. But wait -- Dan Didio, in an IGN video interview about Batman’s future, said Tim doesn’t believe Bruce is dead, so could Robin III become Red Robin? Maybe Tim gives up being Robin to search for Bruce as a civilian.

OK, I admit it: It's a toss-up between Jason Todd and Tim Drake. My vote is for JT to be Red Robin, keep Tim as Robin and Damian as the unwanted intruder.

Here's to deep pockets, discerning, skeptical minds, a lot of fun, and some great reading during this “New Era of Batman” -- however long it lasts.

Professional ournalist Cary Ashby is a longtime contributor to BOF.
You can follow him at TWITTER.COM.

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