I have made no attempt to hide my disdain for Tony Daniel’s run as writer and – until recently – artist on Batman. While I could write a book about why this is, this article is not the place for that. Rather, I’d like to share with you what I think the Batman title should be. Hopefully, you’ll agree.
Superman may be the more famous DC character abroad, but here in America there is only the bat. At least, it seems that way sometimes. As such, I think it’s a fair assumption that a majority of new comic readers are brought into the fold simply by Batman being a huge figure in our popular culture. I know I was. Unfortunately, an uninformed prospective reader is likely to randomly pick a copy of Batman and find themselves in the middle of a long, ongoing narrative with decades of continuity behind it. Obviously, that’s the steep price that comes with a long-running serialized medium, but – and I’m not the first to say this – DC and Marvel need to work harder to bring in new readers rather than cater to a preexisting and shrinking audience.
Ideally, one of the Batman titles should aim to be easily accessible to new readers – especially considering the fact that there are so damn many of them. And why shouldn’t that one title be Batman itself? If I had to bet money on what a prospective reader that has never read a comic and looking to get their caped crusader on would buy, Batman wins over Detective Comics easily (people, please, remember the context).
Am I saying that I want Batman to be taken out of main DC Continuity? Of course not. Instead, I point to Dini’s earlier run on Detective as a model for what I’m talking about. Dini’s Detective was nearly entirely made up of one-shots or two-parters, excluding the “Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul” crossover and the final arc that he ended his run with. To put it simply, it was basically like a comic, more adult version of Batman: The Animated Series – every story was self-contained, the reader was not punished for a lack of background reading, and the status quo still managed to change in subtle ways (speaking of, I miss the reformed Riddler). What Dini did with Detective should be how Batman always is – with occasional exceptions. Hell, make it an anthology. I love anthologies.
Now, normally (but not always), this column presents both an idea and a team to go with it – or, at least, a writer. But I think that would devalue the point I’m trying to make here. I don’t want this to just be something that one writer does until the next person comes around and returns the title to normal. In fact, I’m not sure I would want this to be the product of one writer and artist. Maybe a rotating cast of creators would be better for this sort of idea. Sure, maybe the same sort of thing could be accomplished by a new title, but what do you think the average person walking into a comic book shop for the first time is more likely to buy: Dark Nights of Gotham or Batman? Of course, it’s all just a pipe dream, but it’s a nice one… isn’t it?