Partners and Allies continues with two of Gotham’s finest.
Well…one of Gotham’s Finest and another guy that has a spotty history with Batman and the Gotham City Police Department.
Next time: Two other people from Batman’s life. If you are thinking this is going to be the post where I dump the miscellaneous character entries…well…you’re right.
More to follow…
The Partners and Allies continues today with Batman’s most trusted ally. Depending on the era he has either been there from the beginning or showed up unannounced one day and bulldozed his way into Bruce and Dick’s lives. He is…Alfred Pennyworth.
I am sorry that this post doesn’t have a whole lot of commentary to it and that updates to this blog have been few and far between. I have moved into the busiest time of year for my day job so I have decided that I may forsake commentary for content with some of these posts and just let the Who’s Who entries carry the day. This may change soon but considering Back to School lasts from now until September…well I am not promising anything.
Next time: The cops of Gotham City. Well, two cops from Gotham City, at the very least.
More to follow…
Partners and Allies rolls into Day 5 and now we are moving into the Allies part of the series. There have been a number of heroes Batman has worked with over the years. Some became trusted allies, some had to prove themselves and one was tapped to replace him when Bane broke his back.
The first super-hero ally is kind of an anomaly because while her current incarnation had to go through a lot of crap to gain Batman’s trust she was once related to him.
I’ve discussed how awesome Earth-2 was as a concept in previous posts. One of the main reasons is that characters that are considered icons could actually age, get married and have children. Helena Wayne was one of those children. She was the daughter of the Batman and that makes her sixteen different types of awesome right there. Right from her introduction in All-Star Comics Helena was an interesting character and even though I haven’t read all of her backups in Wonder Woman I really liked what I have seen, both in terms of writing and art.
I feel bad for the Huntress. She was one of the many casualties of the Crisis on Infinite Earths along with Power Girl and just about everything cool Roy Thomas had developed with Earth-2. After Crisis they had to shoehorn her into the new continuity and there were some definite growing pains there. I have read her ongoing series that ran from 1989 to 1990 and while it wasn’t bad it didn’t exactly set the comic book world on fire. Later Chuck Dixon would do some great things with the character and eventually she earned her place in the Bat family. At the same time though it feels like she shouldn’t have had to do that. I mean if you were created as the daughter of the Batman you should have a legacy seat at the table.
That could just be me, though.
If you are looking at this entry and thinking, “Where in the hell did this come from? I’ve never seen this before,” then you and I have something in common. This is from the Update ’93 series of the Loose Leaf Who’s Who, which I didn’t even know existed until about seven or so years ago when I found it on eBay. It was a two issue series that seemed very rushed in nature but it was cool nonetheless because it actually had a Doomsday entry. It also had this one, with some very nice Quesada and Nowlan art.
I like the fact that Azrael got his own entry because I am rather fond the character. Well, let me qualify that statement. I like the first appearances of that character, his time as Batman and the first twenty-five issue of his own series. After that things went a bit off the rails and I think the idea of Jean Paul Valley ran out of steam. Still he is a very important element to the Batman universe. To be sure he was an odd choice to replace Bruce after his…accident but you couldn’t have done the whole Knightfall/Knightsquest/Knightsend saga without him. If Dick Grayson had stepped into the role the whole tone of the saga would have changed and none of the themes that were explored would have made a lick of sense. So for that I will always have a soft spot for Jean Paul.
Tomorrow (maybe): One of the most important people in Batman’s life. His original appearances may have been odd but I can’t think of Batman without him.
More to follow…
Bat-Month continues today with Day 4 of the Partners and Allies series. Today’s partner and/or ally…Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Batgirl.
The first time I was introduced to Miss Gordon was in re-runs of the sixties Batman television series. After realizing that there were episodes with Batgirl and episodes without her (at the age of 4 or 5 I was not aware of the fact that there were different seasons of the show with Batgirl showing up in the third) every viewing of the show began with a little…anticipation may not be the right word but there was kind of a waiting game to see if Batgirl would swing down and kick a bad guy after Robin got done punching the guy he was fighting. I never minded Batgirl. In fact I kind of liked her because she was another super-hero helping out Batman and to me it was more the merrier when it came to people in costumes.
Oddly enough I never knew Batgirl in the comics beyond reading Batman: From the ’30s to the ’70s and in that book there were two young ladies dressing up in a bat themed costume. There was Betty Kane, the Bat-Girl to Kathy Kane’s Batwoman (more on her tomorrow) and then later in the book after it moved into the sixties adventures of the Dark Knight there was the Barbara Gordon Batgirl. To my mind both characters were equally as valid. In fact I had actually read more of Bat-Girl’s adventures than Batgirl’s because Bat-Girl (Confused yet?) got more exposure in the book. Barbara Gordon’s origin was the only Batgirl story to appear but oddly enough the two characters were balanced in my head because I had seen so many episodes of the sixties series.
I remember reading this entry in 1987 and thinking that it was kind of odd that they changed Barbara from Commissioner Gordon’s daughter to his niece. It seemed weird but I rolled with it because I was eleven and had no emotional investment into the comic book version of the character. The entry said she was mostly retired and for me that was that.
I read The Killing Joke when I was 13. It was the summer of 1989 and Batman was freaking everywhere. Killing Joke was cited as an influence on the Tim Burton film and thus I felt I needed to read it. At some point I will go into all of my feelings on that story though oddly enough most of those feelings have nothing to do with Barbara Gordon getting shot by the Joker. I think that a lot of comic readers have latched on to that scene and made it the center piece of Killing Joke which it isn’t. It was certainly a game changer for the character. That can’t be denied but that story was about the Joker and his supposed origin and his conflict with Batman and I think that part of the story gets lost because so many people want to cite it as the moment where Barbara Gordon was either ruined or improved as a character.
To me Barbara works great as Batgirl and as Oracle. I am not an all or nothing type of guy when it comes to the character. I have read stories of Barbara as Batgirl and thought they were awesome. At the same time I got to know the character as Oracle so it is hard for me to shake the feeling that she works better in that role. At the end of the day, at least for me, Barbara is a character that evolved and overcame great tragedy to become a major force in the DCU. It would have been easy to write her off as the former hero in the wheelchair but writers like John Ostrander and Chuck Dixon and Greg Rucka took Barbara and made her into something more. More importantly they made her a character that I cared about.
Tomorrow: The focus will be on a trio of heroes that have assisted the Dark Knight in his battle against crime and corruption. If it seems like I am lumping all of these characters together because I didn’t think they were strong enough to support their own post well…you’re right. They’re cool, though and you even get to see some early ’90s Joe Quesada DC art.
More to follow…
Bat-Month continues today with Day 3 of the Partners and Allies series. This time out I present my favorite Robin of all time!
Tim Drake is awesome and I will not hear any other arguments on the subject. I was there when he first appeared and starting in 1994 I never missed an issue until 2005 when I thought the character was being mishandled. It is a damn shame that Tim has taken a back seat in terms of the Batman titles and that doesn’t seem to be changing with the re-launch.
No one wrote Tim better than Chuck Dixon. He may not have created the character but he certainly defined him . Chuck never lost sight of the fact that he was writing a younger character. He was a teenager and even though he was thrust into very adult and dangerous situation he still had the usual teenage hang-ups like problems with girls and having to hide his something from his father. The first 100 issues of the ongoing Robin series are amazing and I cannot recommend them enough.
Tomorrow: A certain daughter of a certain police commissioner gets her spotlight! Don’t miss it!
More to follow…
Sorry about the lack of a post on Tuesday and Wednesday, folks. Life got in the way again. I’ll probably make up for it with a post on Saturday and Sunday. Until then the Partners and Allies series continues today with the second Robin, Jason Todd.
Both Jason Todds actually.
So if you have never read this entry before you are probably asking yourself, “Man, that sounds a lot like Dick Grayson’s origin. And it does. That doesn’t mean that Jason was a bad character. After a few issues I really didn’t mind that his origin was a carbon copy of Dick Grayson’s. I liked the dynamic between the new…well…Dynamic Duo. There are a lot of great stories in that run of Batman and Detective Comics before the Jason Todd revamp after Crisis on Infinite Earths and Batman: Year One.
After finally getting to read the whole Post-Crisis/Pre-Death Jason Todd run I found I really liked this take on Robin. This Jason was different and that led a more adversarial relationship between Batman and Robin which I found fascinating. Apparently a bunch of people felt differently and when DC gave the audience a choice whether Jason would live or die they chose to let him die. Part of me is curious what would have happened if the vote had been in Jason’s favor. Would he have been sidelined and returned to the role later? Would they have created Tim Drake anyway and have Jason take on another identity? We’ll never know the answers to those questions but it sure is fun speculating.
You haven’t asked this question but I am going to pretend that you did. “Mike,” you say, “What did you think of DC bringing Jason back?” I’ll be honest; the original story that Judd Winick wrote to bring the character back was damn good and I liked it quite a bit. Everything else done with the character after that was, as my friend Andrew Leyland would say, pants. Really and truly the character could have disappeared after that initial storyline and I would have been a happy reader. I did enjoyed the animated Batman: Under the Red Hood film that was released in 2010. The story was solid and the action was pretty good too. There were some wonky elements to the movie but the voice cast more than made up for that.
And thus my very brief look at Jason Todd comes to an end. Come back tomorrow as I cover my favorite of all the Robins…Tim Drake!
More to follow…
There are those that believe that Batman works best as a character when he is the lone, grim vigilante striking fear into the hearts of criminals with only his wits and super awesome fighting skills to rely on. There is some merit to this take on the character but I respectfully (depending on the person) disagree. While I like the all alone with no one there beside him Batman I prefer a Dark Knight that has allies to aid him in his quest to fight crime and pummel bad guys mercilessly about the head and shoulders. This makes a lot of sense where you consider that my first ongoing exposure to Batman was watching re-runs of the sixties Batman television series. On that show the Caped Crusader could depend on Robin, Alfred, eventually Batgirl and to a lesser extent Commissioner Gordon and Chief O’Hara to pick up some of the crime fighting and solving slack.
And thus the sub-series of Bat-Month titled Partners and Allies was born. At first it was going to be a five part series but then I realized I have too many partners and allies to discuss, so this one will take as long as it takes because…well…it is my blog and I get to dictate how things work out around here.
I am going to lead things off with Batman’s very first partner. He has been known by several names. Batman called him Robin. He called himself Nightwing. Ladies and gentlemen I present…Dick Grayson.
You know what’s interesting about this entry? It is the only Dick Grayson as Robin Who’s Who profile that DC gave us and it wasn’t even in the first series. This entry comes from the back of Batman Annual #13 from 1989. In the original 26 issue Who’s Who series they had an entry for the Earth-2 Robin and then went right to Jason Todd. They did a similar thing with Superman and Wonder Woman and I always thought that was a shame because I wanted to see what sort of artwork DC would have commissioned for an in-series Earth-1 Robin entry. My personal theory is that DC wanted to promote Dick Grayson as Nightwing since that identity was so new and popular at the time. I do appreciate the fact that someone at DC decided to include this Robin entry in that annual though again the armchair editor in me thinks they were trying to promote the then upcoming Batman: Year Three story-arc.
Speaking of Nightwing…
This was the first Eath-1 Dick Grayson entry people read in the original Who’s Who series. Read it. Love it. Soak in the awesome George Perez art. This entry was followed by another one in Who’s Who Update ’88.
Earlier in this post I mentioned that the Earth-2 Robin had his own entry. This was odd because by the time that issue of Who’s Who came out Crisis on Infinite Earths was over. In any case it is nice that they gave him an entry. Would have been nicer if the Earth-1 Superman had gotten one too but still.
More to follow…
Bat-Month continues here at the Fortress with the fourth and final day of my look at Batman in Who’s Who!
Oddly enough I don’t have much to “say” about this entry. I have gone on and on in previous posts about how much I love the Loose Leaf Format Who’s Who series, so I don’t want to go over that ground again. Also Batman was in a pretty good place when this entry was published in the final issue of the initial Loose Leaf series. Harold was building gadgets in the Batcave. Tim Drake was firmly established as Robin. The books were by no means boring but they were dependable as far as following them on a monthly basis.
There are two aspects of this entry that stand out for me, though. The first; Norm Breyfogle’s art. For a while there in the early nineties Norm was the Batman artist. His visual take on the character was amazing and the man had mad storytelling skills. I went through a period where I was a bit critical of the latter part of his Batman run but these days I can’t find too many negative things to say about Norm’s work.
The second thing is that last paragraph before the Powers and Weapons section. It is kind of interesting that Mark Waid actually put the whole “Batman is the real guy and Bruce Wayne is the mask” idea into an official Who’s Who entry. This is something I would normally expect to hear from a creator describing their take on the character or fans arguing either in the comic shop or online. Silly as it may sound putting it in Who’s Who makes it official. That’s just kind of…weird. Not in a bad way, mind you. Just…odd.
Alrighty, loyal readers that is it for the Batman entries. Next week I am going to be showcasing the people that have assisted the Dark Knight over the years with Partners and Allies Week. We’ve got three…count them THREE Robins, a Batgirl, an avenging angel and some of the fine members of the Gotham Police Department so be sure to come back on Monday to see what I have in store for you.
More to follow…