Jun 24 2011 5:44pm

Reader’s Guide to the New DC Universe: Batman

Each weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: BATMAN!

The Concept and Characters: Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot and…what’s that? You’ve heard of Batman already? Yes, you might have.

Bruce Wayne is Batman. He has a cave full of gadgets. His parents died and he’s sad, but more angry sad than sad sad. He is the peak of human physical perfection. But his real superpower is that he never loses. You know the drill.

But which version of Batman will this series spotlight? Will this be the back-to-basics darknight detective, lurking in the shadows? Or the goofy Silver Age version who sometimes gets turned into a giant gorilla when he’s not visiting alien planets in his mind? Or will this be the Frank Miller tank-of-vengeance, complete with internal monologue straight out of a Mickey Spillane novel?

Most likely, none of the above.

This relaunch, like the various Green Lantern comics, will be the most similar to their current incarnation. The Batman family of comics (along with the Green Lantern franchise) are the most successful books DC has right now, and Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Bob Harras and company have made it a point that they aren’t going to fix what isn’t broken. (It’s all the other DC heroes that need some work.) So this will be the post-Return of Bruce Wayne Batman. The guy who has a plan for every eventuality, and uses his resources to conduct a global war against crime. A global war, in the shape of a bunch of guys and gals wearing versions of a bat costume.

This will be the straight-ahead, no-nonsense Batman. He fights bad guys. He’s smart. He’s tough. He might even have a dry sense of humor. But he won’t be blasting off into space any time soon, and he won’t be speaking to himself in the third person while grunting out haikus on vengeance.

The Creative Team: I would label Scott Snyder a “rising star” at DC, but with his work over the past year-and-a-half on Detective Comics and his success with Vertigo’s American Vampire, I would say that we can remove the “rising” part from “rising star.” No, Snyder’s as close as DC has to a hot-shot writer who is not also an executive at DC Entertainment, and he is a fantastic choice to write the ongoing adventures of Bruce Wayne, Batman.

Artist Greg Capullo is another matter. He’s certainly a capable draftsman, and he has proven himself to be reliable, having worked for Todd McFarlane on Spawn and, more recently, Haunt, for years. I don’t know if Capullo has ever missed a deadline in his life, honestly. I’m sure his consistent production (even after he stepped away from comics for a while and then came back to the industry) was a factor in his participation in the DC relaunch. I just don’t happen to like his post-Jim Lee, post-Image Comics, heavy-rendering style. It’s not a bad fit for a Batman comic, though.

Recommendation: Buy it. Even though I don’t find Capullo’s panel compositions or linework particularly enjoyable, I can’t imagine that it will detract much from what will surely be an interesting script from Scott Snyder. Snyder has been writing former sidekick Dick Grayson in the role of Batman in Detective Comics, and I’m curious to see what he does with Bruce Wayne beneath the cowl. I expect this to be one of most consistently worthwhile comics coming out of the New DC.

Tim Callahan writes about comics for, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.

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Leilani Cantu
1. spanishviolet
I used to love reading comics, but when budget crunches came, the habit abruptly ended. It's been a while since I read them regularly, but I'm still curious to know what they're making of my favorites, so I'll be looking forward to these posts!
Lenny Bailes
2. lennyb
Or the goofy Silver Age version who sometimes gets turned into a giant gorilla when he’s not visiting alien planets in his mind? ....

One of the things that truly touched me in Grant Morrison's recent work on Batman, was the talisman that protected Bruce from the grand schemes of Doctor Hurt.

Visits alien planets in his own mind?

For I hold in my hands, the Bat Radia! ...

I was there for that. I was twelve years old! Sometime afterward, I saw Antonioni's Blow Up -- and Chris Nolan's Memento was just a little while ago, before The Prestige and Batman Begins.

Reality or delusion? What was it that kept Batman from crumbling to pieces in the darkest hour that Morrison defined for him?

Zur-En-Arrh, baby!

(Not to mention the fact that Morrison's story was a splendid excuse to bring Kevin Conroy back, last year, as a Batman: The Brave and the Bold guest star.)
3. jonmwilson1979
I haven't read much Batman of the 21st century other than Morrison's run leading up to Batman R.I.P. While those books had some good moments, I felt kinda lost for the most part through a lot of it. I just didn't have the continuity in my head that he was using for the basis of his stories. I'm really hoping that diving into this new Batman #1, without first reading Scott Snyder's Detective run, will be a fun experience. After hearing him praised as a writing demigod, I have high hopes.
4. stephenb
This isn't really a reader's guide - sorry to complain. It's more just some guesswork and thoughts as opposed to really telling us what we can expect in the new series.

I'd like to know:

What's the time frame? Does it match the series that are ending?
Who is Robin? Tim or Damian?
If it's Damian, is Tim still Red Robin

stuff like that...
7. Sisyphus
But I like haikus of vengeance. Or, short of that, put Etrigan in the Robin shorts.

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