Sunday, January 9, 2011

On the cancellation of some Batbooks

I knew this was coming. I didn’t know for sure which titles would be cut, but it had been too long since DC had trimmed off some of their lower selling books. And since there are so many Bat family books out right now, I assumed that a few of them would be getting the axe. March will see the final issue of three of my current ongoing series. Let’s take a closer look at these titles, shall we?


I was very close to dropping this book anyway, but the low sales clued me in that this one might not last and it seemed a pity to drop it an issue or two before it ended (since I was there for the beginning and all). This is a title that severely suffered from a change in writers. When Fabian Nicieza had the book I felt that it worked. It wasn’t astonishingly amazing or anything, but it did several very interesting things. I enjoyed the issue with Ragman where the two characters talked about the differences of their powers. It was interesting religious philosophy without being heavy handed. I was intrigued by the fact that the first issue showed the main character dead at some point in the mystery future. I thought it was an interesting gamble, and while I thought it could be a fake out of some kind, I admired the guts it took to set up a story that way.

Unfortunately, Nicieza left the book and was replaced by David Hine. And his take on having a religious hero went from uninteresting to downright offensive. I’m Catholic. The character of Michael Lane is also Catholic. He is “working for” the Order of Purity, a secret religious sect from the middle ages. Now I’m a big girl and can take digs at my religion in forms of media. Nothing said in a comic book or a movie is going to shake my faith. But you would think that the writer or editor might have taken a step back and said, “Hey, Catholicism is a widely practiced religion. Some of our readers might in fact be Catholic. Perhaps we shouldn’t have a splash page that depicts the Pope (who is very real) as a demonic monster. That might be going a bit far.” Azreal was “safe” when he was under the umbrella of the Order of Purity. You could have all sorts of crazy religious commentary things going on and it was okay because that religious sect didn’t actually exist. But suddenly we decided to tie a lot of real world religion into the book in a very unflattering way and it did not come out the better for it. I get that religious conspiracies are cool and hip, but even that felt stale and overused (oh wow, Lane might be the descendent of Jesus, because he didn’t really die and had kids, and this has never ever been thought of or done before, aren’t we edgy?).

I have no idea where Nicieza was planning on going with the book had he stayed on, but I have to assume it would have been better than what we got. As it stands, this book would have been far better off being canceled when Nicieza left instead of trying to squeeze whatever final blood they could get out of the title. I’ll see it through to the end in the hope that it finds a way to redeem itself, but I’m actually pretty glad this one is going away.

Batman Confidential

It really confuses me that this book lasted over 50 issues. DC NEVER promoted this book. I read a lot of interviews online, and even when people were bitching about not being able to read about Bruce Wayne as Batman no one EVER brought this book up. When they were giving the low down about who would be appearing in what Batbook, this title was never mentioned. It was like DC was trying to hide this book for some reason, and yet they kept publishing it.

This book began as a series of untold tales back from when Bruce Wayne had just started being Batman. His first encounter with the Joker, his first this, his first that. It was all very classic stuff. Easy to follow and far less complicated than most of the other books at the time. But then, somewhere along the line, this book seemed to lose its focus. It seemed like we weren’t dealing with a young Batman anymore. It seemed like we were dealing with whatever Batman the writer decided to write about. The stories were still all very “safe” but there didn’t seem to be any connection between the arcs. One arc we’re in Russia, the next we’re dealing with a ghost/fear monster thing, then we’re fighting vampires and werewolves. It really became the weird Batman miniseries book, except that instead of miniseries it was an ongoing with lots of disjointed arcs.

What really bums me out is that the book seemed to be getting back on track. There was a one shot issue that I felt was very good, and the current and final arc seemed to feel more like we were dealing with a young Bruce Wayne still finding his limits and his place. And it was good! And now that I’ve felt we were getting back to where we belonged the rug is pulled out and the book is canceled. Oh, well.

Batman: Streets of Gotham

This is the only cancelation that really surprised me. And apparently surprised the writer too since he mentioned in an interview that he was working on the next year’s worth of stories for the book. I love Paul Dini. Most of his work I have really enjoyed, and I always found Streets to be an interesting read. But I will admit that it didn’t have as clear of a place in the family of Batbooks as some of the others. You can kinda sum up the purpose of most of the other books in a sentence or so. And while I don’t think its necessarily a bad thing that this book didn't have that, I can see it being tough from a marketing point of view. And with so many other Batbooks out there I guess something had to give. Paul Dini is still an amazing writer and I’m sure they will find a place for any Batman stories he still wants to tell. It’s just always sad to hear that a writer had more stuff planned that they won’t get to put out for the readers.

With as many comics as I am getting I will admit that I’m slightly relived to have three less comics a month. I’m sure I’ll find something to replace them with soon enough. And none of them were my top tier favorite books, so all in all I can’t really complain all that much.  But it does serve to remind me to try to help promote those books that I enjoy that have lower sales so that they do not end up cancelled too.

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