Captain Comics: Happy Birthday, Batman!


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Posted Online: July 11, 2014, 12:12 pm
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By Andrew A. Smith, McClatchy-Tribune News Service
"The Bat-Man" debuted in "Detective Comics" No. 27 in 1939, meaning the now hyphen-less character is 75 years old. And Warner Bros., parent company of Batman's publisher, DC Comics, is holding a year-long party.
Which he surely deserves. Not only are Batman comic books generally best-sellers, but the character is undoubtedly the most successful superhero in other media, including movies and video games.
As Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment and President & Chief Content Officer, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, put it in a news release: "Batman is one of the greatest characters ever created, in comics or elsewhere, and even after 75 years he continues to wildly fascinate fans. He is an integral part of pop culture and has successfully captured the imagination of the entire world. The origin of Batman, Bruce Wayne and the famous citizens of Gotham are legendary and likely a story you know inside out, even if you've never picked up a comic book in your life, and that speaks volumes to the character's immense popularity and the constructs of the original mythology."
What makes Batman so popular? Various Bat-creators talked Batman at New York Comic-Con in 2012, with their comments compiled for a "Batman 101" video available at Batman anniversary central, batman75.com.
"Growing up, you just love Batman, maybe, probably, just the look," said contemporary Bat-artist Greg Capullo, adding that while the police don't always succeed, "Batman gets it done."
Veteran artist Neal Adams, credited with bringing back Batman's "creature of the night" look in the 1970s, said, "He's a Sherlock Holmes who could compete in the Olympics, and probably win most of the events."
Writer Gregg Hurwitz said, "He's one of the few superheroes who's really not afraid to walk that knife edge of sanity and insanity."
"He spent all these years training to make himself the perfect weapon to enact justice," said DC's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. "And it's not revenge. That's a very important distinction to make."
Scott Snyder, the head writer of the Batman books, put it this way: "That really interesting mix of … heroism and completely twisted, self-destructive impulse is what's endlessly fascinating to me. Because it also makes him heroic, in that he's flawed that way."
Certainly all of these things – and more – are needed to explain the Gotham Guardian's popularity. Meanwhile, the Bat-birthday bash already is in full swing.
In April, a new weekly comic book titled "Batman Eternal" joined DC's lineup of roughly a dozen monthly books that chronicle Bruce and his amazing friends. (Yes, I said weekly. That's a tough trick to pull off!) It's written (in part) by Snyder, whose work on the monthly "Batman" book has contributed to that title being one of the most consistent top sellers in the country. And just recently, the first issue of "Grayson" hit comic shops, a new book featuring the first Robin, the former Nightwing, as an adult espionage agent.
Speaking of Robins, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment released "Son of Batman" on May 6, an animated film featuring voice work by Jason O'Mara ("The Good Wife"), Stuart Allen ("Grey's Anatomy"), David McCallum ("Man from U.N.C.L.E."), Morena Baccarin ("Homeland") and Thomas Gibson ("Criminal Minds"). In this story, adapted from the comics, Batman discovers he has a 10-year-old son named Damian (via stolen DNA samples and Talia al Ghul, daughter of his arch-foe Ra's al Ghul) who has been raised to be the world's greatest assassin. So Bruce brings Damian into the Wayne household, not only to teach him how to behave in a civilized way, but to channel his aggression into a hopefully non-lethal role as Robin. But Ms. al Ghul launches a "custody battle" as only the mistress of the League of Assassins can — and terrible things happen.
Oh, OK, spoiler: I don't know how the movie ends — honest! — but in the comics, Talia kills her own son! Batman's been on a tear ever since to resuscitate Damian — hey, it's comics, there are all kinds of ways to do that — and a one-shot titled "Robin Rising: Omega" will arrive soon, followed by the restoration of the "Batman and Robin" title a week later. That sure sounds like Damian's due for a return, but DC remains cagey about which Robin is represented by that title.
This month also brings two delightful coffee-table books: "Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years" and "Joker: A Celebration of 75 years" (DC Comics, $39.99 each). These slick hardcovers contain dozens of important stories involving the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime, presented chronologically with short essays every so often noting a change in style, tone or presentation. Many of these stories have been reprinted a lot — they're either good, or significant, or both — so veteran Bat-fans may give the books a pass. But as primers or reference works, they're invaluable.
There's more Bat-fun to come:
-- "Cape/Cowl/Create": Fashion designer Asher Levine will create a cape and cowl based on the "Batmn: Arkham Knight" video game, which will be used by contemporary artists as a blank slate for an art exhibit for Comic-Con International in San Diego July 24-27.
* Variant covers: Speaking of Comic-Con, DC Comics will release anniversary variant Batman covers at the show.
* "Batman: Assault on Arkham": Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the new animated movie "Batman: Assault on Arkham" Aug. 12, set in the world of the "Batman: Arkham" video game, in which the Dark Knight tackles a virtual army of criminals.
* "Batman: The Complete Television Series": After 48 years, the original "Batman" TV show from 1966-69 will finally be released in November. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will release the details on a panel at Comic-Con International July 24, with special guests Adam "Batman" West, Burt "Robin" Ward and Julie "Catwoman" Newmar.
* "Gotham": Warner Bros. Television is in production on the pilot episode of the new TV series, which will premiere on FOX this fall. The one-hour drama focuses on young Gotham City Detective James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie of "Southland"), the man who will eventually become police commissioner and Batman's staunchest ally. Expect to see young, pre-Batman versions of familiar characters like Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin), Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Edward Nygma (Riddler) and, of course, Bruce Wayne.
There's more, of course, so drop by Batman75.com any Bat-time, and on any Bat-computer, for more info and exclusive content. And wish the old man a happy birthday!

















 



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