Sunday, November 30, 2008

Legacy Commentary: Batman RIP: Aftermath

With the final issue of "Batman RIP" already out this past Wednesday it seems that a lot of fans have been split on if they loved or hated the ending to such a big event. I already gave my thoughts on the issue (here). But however you felt about the issue and the whole storyline it is clear that Morrison did his job in changing the status quo for all those in the Bat-Family. So I decided before the next issue of Batman, which is a two-part epilogue called "Last Rites," that I wanted to talk about were I think "Batman RIP" leaves many of the major characters in the Bat-Family. Also I will not talk about Bruce since it looks like that he won't be appearing for a while, at least physically, so I won't be talking about him in this post.

Who Will be the New Batman?
The biggest question that "Batman RIP" gave readers is that with Bruce seemingly dead who will take the mantle of Batman. This question will not be answered until "The Battle for the Cowl" event that Tony Daniel is writing and drawing which will not be released until March, barring any delays. It is pretty obvious that their are only three real candidates for the mantle of Batman: Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Jason Todd. So I am going to talk about each of these candidates and make the cases for and against them being the new Batman as well as what role I think they will take.

Dick Grayson (Nightwing)
Case for being Batman:
-Martial arts and detective skills are only second to that of Bruce himself.
-Has the most experience in the superhero business.
-Is most familiar with and defeated Batman's Rogue alone in the past.
-Is an accomplished strategist and leader with his time leading the Titans, JLA, and Outsiders.
-Already has a good relationships with most of those within the DC Universe especially with the JLA.
Case against being Batman:
-Uses witty banter instead of intimidation to get inside his enemies head.
-Does not share the same drive as Bruce since his parents deaths were quickly avenged before even starting out as Robin
-He already had his chance of being Batman only to give it up to Bruce upon his return.
-Has worked hard to distance himself from Batman and create his own identity.

Verdict: The new Batman
The splash page at the end of "Batman RIP" with Dick physically alone on the roof with Bruce's cape and cowl point to him taking over as Batman. I know a lot of people will say that Dick already had his chance of being Batman back in "The Prodigal Son" arc only to give it up to Bruce once he recovered but to be fair Dick I don't think that Dick was ready to be Batman at the time. When he took over the role of Batman at the time Dick was probably only 21 or 22 years old while Bruce was about 26 or 27 years old when he started being Batman. At the time he was not in the proper mind set with his failed wedding to Starfire and all the problems with just trying to keep the Titans together. And really what 22 year old is ready to take over his father's legacy, especially the one Bruce had built up. Now I think Dick is in his late twenties and doesn't have as much drama in his life as he did when he was younger

But for those that read Tomasi's recent two arcs on Nightwing it showed that Dick is able to pull of the dark and brooding part to Batman's job as well as taking on two of Batman's biggest rogues. And I get the feeling that Tomasi was brought onto Nightwing to build up Dick into being more like Bruce for what was happening post-RIP.

Also with the re-introduction of the Kryptonian Nightwing there is no way that DC would allow two Nightwings to run around in the same universe. And I think that Dick is the only one of the three candidates that will be accepted by everyone in the DCU. Also with what has been announced of DC plans of putting Superman in space the JLA will need a leader and Dick can fit that role since he has already lead the team before as well as teams like the Titans and Outsiders. Plus I think he could present as an interesting dynamic with the DCU characters and all of Batman's Rogue Gallery that is different to that Bruce had.

Tim Drake (Robin)
Case for being Batman:
-Bruce has admitted in the past that Tim has the potential of being an even greater detective than him.
-Has started using intimidation a lot more against his enemies with all the recent deaths in his life.
-Has shown that he already is able to defeat many of Batman's Rogue Gallery.
-Shown to a very good strategist and leader as part with being the leader of Young Justice and Teen Titans.
Case against being Batman:
-Is still to young.
-Allows his emotions to get the better of him due to the recent deaths of those close to him.
-While he has shown to be intimidating at times he is still more similar to Dick than Bruce in terms of personality.
-Is still developing his martial art skills.
-Will be hard to sell as being a believable JLA member to the JLA and the fans.

Verdict: Will be the new Red Robin.
To be honest I have always thought that Tim was much closer to being The Question than Batman. Even now with Renee Montoya as the new Question I believe that Tim would be a much better fit as The Question than Renee. No offense to Renee and her fanbase but Tim has always shown to be a much better detective than martial artist. Plus I think that with all the recent things that have happened since Damian showed up I think Tim may try and distance himself from Batman similar to what Dick did at his age even if Dick turns out to be Batman.

Also I think that Tim is about 18 years old already and should be graduating high school soon and going to college. And with the rumored "Red Robin" series starting up soon it would make sense that Tim would be Red Robin since he has made the Robin character his own but is to old to continue running around as Robin. This way Tim gets a cape and cowl just like many of his fans want while still maintaining Robin as part of his name. And the Teen Titans always need a Robin in their group. The Teen Titans have already had enough of a rotating cast as it is and it won't help the sales of that comic if they are missing Tim in their group, who is one of the only interesting characters in that book.

Plus I don't think we have seen a comic book character attend college while still being a superhero since Peter Parker. There is a lot of possibilities with Tim going to college and trying to juggle his college work, superhero life, and being the leader of the Teen Titans. This would give a logical reason for Tim leaving Gotham City without it feeling like he is being forced out due to the new Robin (cough*Damian*cough) and put him in a new setting, hopefully in the West Coast since there aren't many superheroes on the West Coast as it is.

Jason Todd (Red Hood)
Case for being Batman:
-Fighting abilities are on par with both Bruce and Dick.
-Has similar anger that Bruce has (had) as Batman.
-Does not hold back in his fights like Bruce, Dick, and Tim.
-Is more familiar with the underground than even Bruce due to being Red Hood.
Case against being Batman:
-Hasn't shown to be as good of a detective as Bruce, Dick, or Tim.
-Let's his anger cloud his judgment.
-Willing to kill.
-Has a non-existent relationship with all the DCU superheroes.
-Anger does not correlate to being able to intimidate enemies.

Verdict: Stay as Red Hood.
While Jason might have been a major player in Countdown it has been a while since he played a major role in any Batman storylines, outside of the recent short fight he had with Tim in Robin. If DC really wanted Jason as Batman he would have appeared in some of the more recent Batman storylines as a major player and they could have drawn more parallels to him being just like Bruce. But since Jason has been almost non-existent in all the Batman titles for the past few years him winning and turning out to be Batman would be to forced and less believable than Tim being Batman since Tim has at least some build up with recent portrayals that he can be Batman in the future.

We have already seen that both Dick and Jason just don't plain like each other and with the disappearance of the Joker along with Bruce this is a great opportunity to have Jason play the same role Joker played against Bruce with Dick since it has been shown that they are on par with one another in terms of fighting skills. If anything who ever is writing Batman should play up the jealousy that Jason feels for not being the new Batman and than after a long over arching story have Jason quietly accept Dick as the new Batman while still posing a threat to Dick.

What about the Supporting Cast?
Even though the biggest question coming out of "Batman RIP" is who will take over the mantle of Batman, this storyline also brought change to everyone that is related to Bruce. It has already been announced that 'Nightwing,' 'Robin,' and 'Birds of Prey' are going to be canceled along with the already canceled 'Catwoman.' So with only 'Detective Comics' and 'Batman' books being the lone "survivors" in the aftermath of "Batman RIP" it brings to question what happens now to all the other major characters in the Batuniverse?

Alfred Pennyworth
Future:
Alfred has been through a lot in his time as Bruce loyal butler but with what has recently happend with this Black Glove event Alfred looks like he needs time to himself to figure stuff out. Even though I may have not like how alof Alfred acted when Damian crashed into the ambulance, after going back and reading all of "Batman RIP" it seems that when that happened Alfred just look done with everything going on in his life. Just looking at his facial reaction he looks like he can't take seeing Bruce and everyone else around him getting hurt while he stands on the sidelines. So now with Bruce's "death" it would be as good of time as any for this loyal butler to take some time away from everything to do with Batman and try and see what life is like with no Batman in his life. But I still seeing him come back to help Dick, or whoever is Batman, since he knows that he is needed by all those in the Bat-Family and that he is the emotional center for everyone but after taking a short vacation.

Barbara Gordon (Oracle)
Future:
With 'Birds of Prey' canceled I think that DC should bring Barbara back to Gotham. With a new Batman to be introduced I think they can have Barbara play a similar role that Bruce played in the "Batman Beyond" cartoon and be the informant to the new Batman. Also since I think that Dick is going to be the new Batman that it is the right time to finally deal with their relationship that was put on hold in Nightwing Annual #3. There has been little communication between Dick and Barbara since then and it is about time they dealt with and not left on hold for much longer.

Also Barbara can still gather a new team of Birds of Prey in Gotham since it doesn't feel right that the Birds of Prey operate outside of Gotham. And since Dick will not always need Barbara to work with him she could use her free time to run a new Birds of Prey in a new watchtower.

Damian Wayne
Future:
With a new Batman it is obvious that there is going to be a new Robin as well. Damian will most likely be the new Robin since he is Bruce son. Also we will finally see Dick train a new Robin himself and provide an interesting dynamic between the two brothers. Knowing how challenging Damian is it provides Dick with a personal challenge as the new Batman since he has never really trained a protege before, and no that Nite-Wing punk does not count. And it would be fun to see how Damian interacts with Dick and if he thinks Dick is the same as Tim or actually accepts him as a big brother.

Commissioner James Gordon
Future:
With Gordon revealing that he has known that Bruce is Batman all this time this should provide an interesting new dynamic between him and the Bat-Family. Gordon has always shown hints that he may have known that Bruce is Batman but now that he officially knows the relationship between him and everyone will change. Since he knows about Bruce than he will probably be quick to realize that Dick is the new Batman and the interaction between them will see a change from that of the normal Gordon/Batman interactions. Also this new development can change his role as a Commissioner is affected by this knowledge and if he will feel that he may have to distance himself from all things Batman.

Talia al Ghul
Future:
With Damian being the new Robin this puts Talia into more prominence as a Batman supporting character since she will probably be keeping a close eye on how Dick is training Damian. Plus in a recent arc in 'Nightwing' it has been shown that Dick and Talia don't quite on friendly terms. And knowing Dick he will probably try and get Damian to forgot a lot he learned from Talia and make think like him and Tim and not like a League of Assassins member. And she may not be a big fan that anyone but Bruce is Batman much less that she is leaving her son's training to one of Bruce adoptive son's. All of this could lead to a big storyline involving her father Ra's al Ghul were after that story she finally accepts Dick as both Batman and the right person to train Damian.

Selina Kyle (Catwoman)
Future:
With her title canceled and Bruce gone it seems that Catwoman is left in comic book purgatory. A lot of her appearances relied on her relationship with Bruce but now he is gone and she hasn't shown to share a close relationship with Dick, Tim, or Jason. Also you can't just have her return to being a villain with all the character work that was done with her in her title. So right now unless DC relaunches a new Catwoman title it seems that Catwoman is the odd person out due to "Batman RIP." My idea for Catwoman would be put her in The Outsiders and make her out to be the leader of that team since here skills would probably fit in with the underground team feel of The Outsider.

Stephanie Brown (Spoiler)
Future:
With Tim going off into his own adventures outside of Gotham as Red Robin it is most likely that Stephanie will follow him. With all that has happend in Tim's life with the recent deaths of those close to him and the whole Damian thing Tim needs someone to help him through these events and Stephanie can serve that purpose. Plus, there is still a lot about her and her return that can be explored. And we have seen that Tim trying to distance himself from Stephanie since she returned and it is time they had a talk about one another.

Lucius Fox
Future:

With Bruce gone Lucius is left to run all of Wayne Corps as the CEO since Dick and Tim don't have the business experience to run Wayne Corp anyways. Also I would like to see Lucius bring play a bigger part in the Bat-titles and this is a great opportunity to have him train Bruce's successor in how to run Wayne Corps since the company still needs that face to the company that Bruce served.

Kate Kane (Batwoman)
Future:

Even though Kate has gone around calling herself Batwoman she has yet to interact with anyone in the Bat-Family outside of Oracle. So it is about time they introduce Kate as part of the Bat-Family. Also their is suppose to be a 'Batwoman' title that is suppose to be released in the future and it could serve as a way to help bring her into the Bat-Family by having her fight some of Batman's villains while also interacting with all of the characters in the Batuniverse outside of Oracle and Renee.

Now whether you like the ending of "Batman RIP" or not the aftermath should give us some entertaining stories, especially with legendary creators Dennis O'Neil and Neil Gaiman each writing their own arc before "Battle for the Cowl" event. And while I have my questions on the decision of Tony Daniel being both the writer and artist for "Battle of the Cowl" I will hold my opinion on that decision until I actually read the first issue of the event.

4 Comments:

heffison said...

Most guesses as to who will be the new Batman are concerned with who can best fill the position, but that may not be what DC has in mind. The "winner" could be intended to fail, the point of this being that no one else can really be Batman.

That actually doesn't change the two main contenders' chances very much. Dick could be set up for a tragic failure to live up to Bruce, or Jason could just show his true colors as Batman, and it wouldn't work.

If that is the plan, I'd rather see it happen to Jason. He may even fit better with Damian since he isn't an adopted Wayne, and they're both kind of nasty people.

Character work aside, hardly anyone is trying to draw Tim Drake as looking big enough to be the new Batman. Even though they have been "darkening him up," which just makes him seem more like Bruce and less interesting as his own character, nothing has happened to make us think he could physically pass as Batman.

Kevin said...

@heffison: I would hope that DC doesn't do that since that already happend with Knghtfall and Prodigal Son with both Azrael and Dick. And this be a very lazy and uncreative move and I kind of expect Didio and all the editors, with all the bad press they have gotten lately, not to do this to however replace Bruce. But if it happens as you said than it would really wreck that characters future development.

Also with Tim I wasn't trying to say that he should be Batman but that there is a case for him being Batman. But as I said I think that Tim would work much better as a Question type character instead of Batman.

heffison said...

You know, Tim could be a Question "type" character no matter what name he is using. Robin, if he were to keep the name, could become more of an inquisitor than an enforcer. The only problem I have with either Tim or Renee being The Question is that using the faceless mask helps take away whatever individuality the character had before. That's why it seems idiotic to me for DC, admittedly anxious to increase diversity within its ranks, to take a Latina lesbian and cover her face (and name, to a degree). Renee Montoya added more to the DCU before she became The Question, and there is virtually nothing she has done with the mask that, as a detective, she could not have done as herself.

Tim would need some mask/name combo to work with, but there is no real reason he needs to give up "Robin" to be what he wants to be, aside from possibly the intimidation factor, and for that he needs to grow up before anything else will matter.

Jeez, this is the longest I've ranted about a DC subject without whining about Conner.

Kevin said...

@heffison: As both a hispanic and a fan of The Question I did not like the move of making Renee Montoya the new Question, and still don't, and it is just a move by DC to try and put more diversity in their comics by killing of established characters, also happend with Blue Beetle and the Atom, and replacing them with minority characters.

But I could rant about that for another page.

Back to the whole Tim thing. I think you are right about him not having to leave the Robin identity behind completely that is why I think that he is going to become Red Robin. I think that Red Robin is a natural progression for Tim since he will be able to keep the Robin identity while also getting a cape and cowl. The only problem with the Red Robin identity is that it looks a little to similar to Dr Mide-Nite's costume.