By BatWatch 21 Comments
With rotating titles like Batman and Nightwing, Batman and Batgirl, Batman and Red Hood, and Batman and Catwoman, I'm not sure if any series has ever managed to suffer from multiple personality disorder as completely as Batman and...
Batman and..., of course, refers to the series formerly known as Batman and Robin, but ever since Damian was beaten, shot full of bullets and arrows, broken Bane style, riddled with projectiles once more, slammed head first into a wall, and run through with a sword, (because killing a Robin with just a crowbar and bomb was so twenty years ago) the old title doesn't really seem to fit the book anymore.
Right now, the series seems to be in limbo. With a new titles every month, it's anybodies guess what the future holds. However, that's exactly what I'm going to examine today, and though I can't authoritatively offer any conclusions, I can certainly give you a fair rundown of the options.
As I see it, there are only three big picture possibilities for the series. The series can be canceled, it can continue to act as a team-up book, or it can continue as originally conceived with a new Robin. Let's check this out one option at a time.
DC has made many calls over the past couple years that I, and many others, find questionable and downright stupid, but despite these reservations for the editorial staff at DC, I do not think there is any real chance that Batman and... is going to be canceled.
Peter J. Tomasi (former editor of Hitman and current writer for Batman and... and Green Lantern Corps) and Partick Gleason (former artist for Robin and cover artist for Arkham City: End Game and current penciler for Batman and Robin) have proven their skills on this book. In addition to delivering many of the most critically acclaimed stories of in the DCNU, they've been successful financially firmly planted in the top third of DC's sales month to month. Very few creative teams are still together since the inception of the New 52; Tomasi and Gleason are one of the very few left, and they apparently enjoy working together and unquestionably deliver a high quality product.
DC might occasionally make some immensely stupid decisions, but I do not believe that they are anywhere near stupid enough to shoot one of their champion horses in the face. Batman and... might switch titles and directions, but as long as Tomasi and Gleason are willing to work together, I think there will be a place for them on a Bat Family title.
The Brave and the Bold
The long term fate of Batman and... might be a mystery, but the immediate future is clear. Batman and... is just a modern incarnation of The Brave and the Bold, and it seems to me that this might be a good fit for the DCNU.
The original The Brave and the Bold lasted for 133 issues as a team up book between Batman and a hero of the month. (the series was also a variety show sort of book for other heroes of the super and non super variety for 67 issues before Bats took the lead) More recently, the animated The Brave and the Bold was a more tongue in cheek version of the series which proved that the basic concept still has legs, and it's really no surprise. People love seeing the emotional, physical and psychological force that is Batman contrasted to the backdrop of other heroes. It's a simple formula. Batman + X = Awesomeness
I believe Peter J. Tomasi's style would be perfect suited to do a modern reinvention of a Batman team up book. In addition to being just a solid comic book writer, Tomasi is an excellent character writer. Think about Tomasi's run on Batman and Robin. What scenes come to mind as those that really stand above the rest? I'll tell you the ones that come to my mind. Damian breaking the bat, (little b) Damian killing Nobody, Bruce worrying about how to be a father to Damian, Damian taking his Dad on a world tour to explore his past while donning a mini Bat suit to guard Gotham, Damian sacrificing himself for his father in Death of the Family, Damian brooding with his headphones, Alfred crying over a painting of the Family, and Bruce losing his mind in rage and loss all stand out to me as phenomenal scenes, and all of these moments are based on the emotional bonds between characters. They are not sweeping and grand actions scnes; they are based off the subtle and not so subtle elements that make the characters who they are. That is exactly the kind of touch that would work perfectly to paint short masterpieces as Batman interacts with some of DC Universe's most colorful characters.
One of the aspects which make this so attractive an option to me is that The Brave and the Bold was almost always a one shot comic, (granted, it was from a one shot age) and personally, I'd like to see comics get a little closer to that approach. Since John Layman (current writer of Image's Chew and Detective Comics) took over Detective Comics, he has been writing each issue as a standalone case, yet he has also built an overarching story which builds from issue to issue. No doubt, this is a more difficult form of constructing a story, and it has not always worked perfectly as Layman has occasionally spent too much time on the one shot aspect of the story and neglected the overarching plot or vice-versa, but at the end of each issue, I've had a complete story which is satisfying in and of itself, and this has made me realize that I am really sick of having to wait eight months to see the end of an arc. Most issues these days try to keep us in a never ending state of suspense, and quite frankly, that is psychologically draining. It's refreshing to read a story that is one and done, yet I can still pick up the next issue and see how events have built from the last.
That appears to be exactly what Tomasi has in mind with the next several issues anyway, and though I did not care for the darkness present in Batman in the most recent issue and I thought Red Robin was forced into the issue unnecessarily, Tomasi did show the ability to tell a one shot story which is complete and satisfying as a standalone while continuing to work through the over arcing story of Bruce grieving for his son, and in addition to the lackluster guest appearance of Red Robin, Tomasi actually included a much more interesting guest appearance of Frankenstein, a character we would never regularly see interact with Batman. In just a few panels, I saw who Frankenstein was as a character, and seeing Frank interact with Bruce was easily the most entertaining part of the last issue.
Batman is, in my view, the center of the DC Universe, yet there are many characters with whom we never see him interact. I hate the reboot, but as long as it is around, Tomasi should use it to his advantage. We have virtually no backstory on a smörgåsbord of characters who, due to the reboot, have probably never met Bruce. That's an opportunity I would think would make many a writer's mouth water.
The New Robin
The most obvious and most likely outcome of Batman and... is that it will continue to have a rotating cast until the new Robin is chosen at which point she or he will take the slot left open by Damian and the series will once again fit its original moniker, Batman and Robin. The question of who will take on the role is still very much up to debate, and if you want a good discussion of options, This should give you some food for thought, but I don't have time to run down the list of options, so I'm just going to look at the most obvious choice, Carrie Kelly.
Carrie Kelly is most definitely not the new Robin yet, and nobody has officially confirmed that she is slated for that role, but you have to think that DC brought her into continuity for a reason, and you would think that reason must be more than just a red herring for future looking fans. There could certainly be another scheme in the works for her, but the timing and location of her debut is more than a tad suspicious, and from the buzz I've heard through interviews, it appears as if she will continue to appear in Batman and... for some time to come, so it seems likely that Carrie Kelly will soon be the Girl Wonder.
As for my personal feelings on the matter, I'm less than thrilled. I think it would be more meaningful if Bats were without a Robin for a couple years, but I understand Robin is a crucial part of the mythos, and DC is concerned about making the universe as friendly as possible to new readers. However, the replacement of the last Robin is less of a concern to me than the nature of Carrie Kelly.
They say first impressions are the most important, and for Carrie's first foray into the mainstream universe, she threw a pizza in the face of some guys who were flirting with her. The more I've thought about this, the more it has bugged me. I mean, let's just reverse this and say it were a guy eating the pizza and two girls pulled up along side him, and said, “Hey Baby, love your hair! Want to share your pizza with me?” and in response, the guy threw the pizza in one of the girl's faces. Does anybody have a problem with that? I do! That would make that guy a complete douche, and though I understand that guys are held to a higher standard of conduct in the way they treat women due to chivalry, it still makes Carrie a severely spoiled brat, doesn't it? Reacting with a minor manifestation of violence to a slightly offensive comment is never a sign of maturity no matter the context.
Beyond that, I guess Carrie was fairly neutral to me, but again, first impressions are powerful, and I can't help but wonder why Carrie was brought out of retirement. Carrie was fine in DKR, but she was just fine. I never thought, “I really want to see this girl in a monthly series,” yet that appears to be the direction things are heading.
I do not think it is a coincidence that the last issue of Batman and... held several prominent costarring roles while possibly introducing the new Robin. I'm guessing that DC is floating the idea of Carrie Kelly as Robin to see how fans respond before they green light her as the certain replacement for everybody's favorite Bat Brat. The emphasis on costars to carry the book in the meantime makes me think they might be flirting with the idea of a team up book as well. If you have any strong feelings on the matter one way or another, this is the time to let DC know about it because they will soon be pushing ahead with their plans whatever they may be, and I suspect they are interested in hearing your opinions on this matter