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Ironically enough, between watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold on Cartoon Network, reading the companion DC title, and following a blog on The Brave and the Bold: The Lost Issues, I've found myself re-reading Superman & Batman Generations. I'm about a third of the way through Generations 3. I say "ironically", because of the current "Flashboot" under way, that has DC announcing 52 new #1's. Superman and Wonder Woman look like they will be getting a major overhaul; whereas Green Lantern and Batman won't neccesarily need one. Dick Grayson is hanging up his cowl as Batman and resuming his Nightwing identity. Tim Drake will still be Red Robin, and be a part of Teen Titans it looks like; and, Damian Wayne will still be just plain, old Robin. There will only be one Batman - Bruce Wayne. DC is saying that this is a re-launch, not a reboot.
This got me to thinking:
The underlying theme of John Byrne's Generations is not just that Superman and Batman age normally; but that they become as immortal as they seem.
Ask the average person on the street who Superman is, and he or she will probably tell you Clark Kent. He or she might answer Bruce Wayne if you asked who Batman is.
What Byrne did over three seperate series and twenty issues, was present a Superman and Batman as immortal as their legends.
In Generations, the first mini-series, Byrne tracks The World's Finest from 1929 to 2919 in ten year increments. His Clark Kent has a career as Superboy; and, as Bruce Wayne makes his way toward becoming Batman, he employs a Flying Fox (in the sedond mini-series) and an early Robin guise - much like he did in The Untold Legend of The Batman - to team-up with The Boy of Steel. The early adventures are light and fun. But, in 1969, Dick Grayson is brutally murdered by The Joker. Bruce Wayne not only outlives his first sidekick, but his mystery wife, his son and daughter-in-law, The Joker and Ra's al Ghul. It's interesting how he manages to stay alive and young. Ra's challenges him to enter the Lazarus Pit - just the two of them - the survivor wins. Naturally, Bruce and not Ra's comes out of the pit - and doesn't have a hint of madness to him. Wayne doesn't make any offer to use the pit to his estranged wife. The only person other than Bruce and Talia that use the pit is Bruce's son, BJ. And BJ chooses to stop so that he can join his late wife Kara Kent.
Superman? Byrne's Superman doesn't seem very bright or focused. He's invulnerable, so he ages more slowly than normal humans. He uses make-up to age Clark. His wife, the former Lois Lane develops cancer apparently from smoking. In Generations II, he's trapped on an alien world looking for a cure for cancer for his boss, Perry White, in 1953. Abin Sur rescues him, and, while it seems vague on whether or not he is successful in finding a cure, I'd have to say no. Perry passes off panel. In both series, He and Lois never tell their son Joel about super powers, giving Luthor an opportunity to turn Joel against them. Clark and Lois have a daughter, Kara, with super powers, which only aggravates the situation. On Kara and BJ's wedding day, Luthor murders Lois - brutally snapping her neck - Joel kills Kara, then dies at Luthors feet as Clark watches. Luthor also orchestrates the deaths of EVERY one close to Clark having learned his dual identity sometime in the mid to late '40's. With no roots or family ties, Superman abandons Earth for the wide-open galaxy in 1999. Bruce catches up to him on a distant planet in 2919 and they reminisce over old times.
Throughout the series, Bruce attempts to maintain the illusion that there has always been only one Batman. Over the years, in the main DCU, there was AzBat; and, Dick Grayson is wrapping up his second tour as Batman. Neither one has lasted very long.
Now Batman and Superman are pretty iconic. But they are both pretty different from, say the characters that made up The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Sherlock Holmes or James Bond. Superman and Batman are almost like Doctor Who, in that, whenever neccesary they regenerate.
Do you think Bruce Wayne should live forever? Maybe that's partly what this relaunch is all about? Sure, Dick's not being de-aged back to Robin. He did get sent back to the "minors", though. I'm not a fan of his adult Robin look on Brave and the Bold.
It almost looks like Batman is taking a soak in the Lazarus Pit.
Barry comes back from the dead. Barbara gets up out of her wheelchair. Don Hall still rests in peace, though.
Who wants to live forever? Superman? Batman?
What character would you think/want to be timeless and immortal and live forever?