The Battle of Who Could Care Less.


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Ooh! Who is going to be the new Batman? Jason Todd? That would be awful! Nightwing? Well, he certainly deserves it! Two-Face? Gosh, do you really think so?

Do you know what I say to all of this? Who cares?

I know DC wants me to react in the manner of the first paragraph. And maybe, if I wasn’t such a cynical yahoo, I would. But this event for me is a non-event. I just can’t feel any enthusiasm for the search for the new Batman, for a number of reasons.

First off, I’ve seen it all before. Think about it, how many times has DC gone the “replacing their biggest heroes” route before? And how many were permanent? Hal Jordan was killed off and replaced as Green Lantern. He came back.

Same happened for Ollie Queen as Green Arrow and Barry Allen as Flash, too. Aquaman and Wonder Woman were replaced at various times in their careers. Wonder Woman came back, and it looks like Arthur Curry is back as well. Even Superman wasn’t left out, only due to his status, he had four potential replacements instead of the one that everyone else got.

This wasn’t even the first time Bruce Wayne was replaced as Batman. Granted, if you started reading comics in 2000, you might not familiar with the “Knightfall/Knightquest/KnightsEnd” storyline from 1993-1994, but most fans are. As you can see, that replacement of Batman lasted under a year.

The replacement game is even toothless when it comes to Superman and Batman. Stand on any corner and ask a random stranger what Green Lantern’s secret identity is, odds are that person won’t even be familiar with GL, let alone know the answer is Hal Jordan. But ask the same people the same question and replace GL with Superman or Batman, I’d bet you’d get a lot of “Clark Kents” and “Bruce Waynes.” Of all the heroes in the DC pantheon, Batman and Superman have too much recognition outside of the fandom to ever be permanently killed or permanently replaced.

This makes events such as Battle for the Cowl shallow and insulting. Really, Bruce Wayne will be coming back. We all know this. This is an absolute certainty. DC couldn’t even wait longer than a month before copping out of the supposed death of the character. It will be amazing if this replacement lasts longer than six months after this miniseries completes. At most, it will last one whole year, including the three months of this series.

This is a lazy way to increase sales. Killing a character and bringing them back is guaranteed sales. Fans have an almost Pavlovian response to this phenomenon. They know these types of changes won’t last, but they still buy into it. Because, more than likely, on days when the competition doesn’t put out a book featuring the President-Elect the same day you kill these characters off, non-comics readers will scarf up copies, making these issue valuable in the short term back issue market.

But creatively, it’s kind of cheap and vapid. It’s a trick. And I really don’t feel like falling for it this time. Why should I invest my money and time in this storyline? I like the Bruce Wayne Batman. I’ll just wait it out and pick it back up when Bruce comes back. Hey, if you are excited about the possibilities of Batman: Battle for the Cowl, more power to you. For me? It will stay off my pull list. And you know what? I’m not really regretting that fact all that much.

Also out this week:

The Stand: American Nightmares #1:

The “Captain Trips” virus has run its course, and America is divided into millions of dead and a handful of the living. Now, it is the time for these survivors to enter the second stage of survival. They made it through the plague, but they still have to eat. They still have to find a place away from the rotting corpses. And they also have to try to resist the evil force that has also made its appearance after the dying has ended.

I have to say, The Stand is my second favorite Stephen King work, right after The Green Mile. And, I have to say, Marvel, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and Mike Perkins have done an excellent job adapting it for comics. The second arc begins with a brand new series. If you skipped the first, you really should pick this one up. This is where the story really picks up.  

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa(W), Mike Perkins (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Simon Dark #18:

Is he alive? Or a cruel mockery of life? The creature that just walked out of a nursery rhyme has been looking for answers, hoping they would lead to a normal life for him. But the results of his questioning might have killed any chance of that happening. Now, not only the dream of a normal life might be over, what passes for his life now might be over too.

You’d think this book would be a can’t miss proposition. It had an interesting concept, ties to the Batman universe, and respected creators in Steve Niles and Scott Hampton. But it couldn’t overcome the hurdles many new characters from the big two face. Readers seem more willing to indulge in nostalgia than try something new. This is a shame in cases like this. 

Steve Niles (W), Scott Hampton (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Final Issue.

Amazon #1:

In show business, there is a lot of fascination around the “Before They Were Stars” idea. You know, we love seeing how a Hollywood heartthrob looked in his high school picture, and we get a thrill when we see a matinee idol making a guest appearance in a classic TV show.

Dark Horse is bringing this experience to comics. It is reprinting a miniseries done by current comic book stars Steven T. Seagle and Tim Sale, twenty years to the month after it was originally published by the now-defunct Comico. If you are at all interested on how good Sale and Seagle were before they hit the big time, look no further than right here.

Steven T. Seagle (W), Tim Sale (A), Dark Horse Comics, $3.50. Three-Issue Miniseries.

Super Zombies #1:

You can tell the zombie trend might be getting out of hand when not only has the genre spawned a bunch of imitators, but a sub-genre of that genre starts spawning imitators.

Some might think that the examination of what might happen if superheroes became zombies began and ended with the Marvel Zombies franchise. Well, you’d be wrong. Here comes another series founded on that idea, taken from an entirely different viewpoint, one hopes.

Just throwing this out there, this series is done by Marc Guggenheim, who writes for Marvel. Could this be a reworked pitch for their Marvel Zombies? Probably not, but it’s an interesting thing to think about.

Marc Guggenheim & Vincent Gonzales (W), Mel Rubi (A), Dynamite Entertainment, $3.50. Ongoing Series.

Ex Machina Special #4:

Fans of Ex Machina who couldn’t get enough of the series have always welcomed the periodic specials like this one. They allowed fans to get an extra dose of Mitchell Hundred and the rest of the cast—albeit not with art by series regular Tony Harris. However, this is likely to be the last such special, as this one leads directly into the two remaining arcs of the series.

This issue deals with Mayor Hundred having to face down an energy crisis. Those of you who have never read the series don’t know how exciting that can be. However, for you naysayers out there, there is also the villain from Hundred’s past to complicate matters a bit.

Brian K. Vaughan (W), John Paul Leon (A), DC/Wildstorm Comics, $3.99. Special.

X-Men Noir #4:

The first of Marvel’s foray into the world of the noir comes to an end and from all indications, it was a resounding success. If you asked me to put money on that fact, I would have declined. Who knew that fans wanted to see darker and more stylized versions of their favorite heroes and villans?

While this might be the last issue of the X-Men incarnation (or I should say this version of the X-Men Incarnation, because there is bound to be more), it doesn’t mean you noir fans have to go long for another fix. Next month brings us two more entries—one featuring Daredevil and an ipso facto sequel to this one starring Wolverine.

Fred Van Lente (W), Dennis Calero (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Final Issue.


William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY and is expecting his first child with his wife Jennifer. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.


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