Or, Batcave as it were. I have yet to figure out what it is about the Batman that has had me fascinated since who knows when, but I have a distinct memory of needing, begging, to see the new Batman movie when Tim Burton’s take on the Dark Knight hit theaters in 1989. I was in Colorado visiting family and I my aunt and uncle stand in line, in the rain, to see the caped crusader in action. I have no recollection of watching any of the cartoons or TV series, and I know for certain I had not be exposed to comics.
What I do know is the fascination with the character has continued to this day. I will admit to you here today, good readers, that when I saw The Dark Knight Rises in theaters last year I bawled. Not just a tear here or there but outright cried my guts out. I could not tell you exactly why. I think it was the sheer awe I felt in what they had accomplished, and somehow I knew, although I had not been privy to it as much as other Batman aficionados, that they had done the Batman justice.
About ten years ago I was finally convinced to pick up a handful of comics that were not Buffy related. Of course I started with Batman: Year One; Arkham Asylum; Hush; the Killing Joke. All the greatest hits. Then Whedon did a story arc for X-Men and I had to read those, and Kevin Smith wrote some Green Arrows. And I had to have those. But they did not stick with me, as a reader at least. I was used to following words in novels and the pictures threw me off. Go figure. I have tried to keep at it though, and have been enjoying the fruits of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, which is right up my alley. Dream, Death, heaven and hell, creatures, muses.
In recent years I have been known to spend a Saturday afternoon or several watching the animated movies based on some of the books I mentioned above. Now we’re talking. Art and words and comics and all my pop culture favorites (in the form of voice actors) coming at me in the medium I am trained to follow.
Anyway it is my gnerdom that sent me traveling further down this rabbit/bat hole as my continued fandom of most things Kevin Smith brought me to his podcast network. Kevin is a bat fan. So he has an occasional podcast in which he brings in writers, producers, inkers, pencilers and even voice actors to talk about not just Batman but the how and when and why they got involved in the industry and all that stuff that keeps me up at night thinking about. He talked to people like Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison and Paul Dini. They talked about other greats like Frank Miller and Bob Kane. They talked about new story arcs and Batman the Animated Series and Batman Returns which I had also seen as an animated movie, but not in comics form. (I have since remedied that).
That brings us to what I really came here for. The two most memorable podcasts were artist Jim Lee, who I had already been well aware of from a good friend who’s mission it was every year we went to Comic Con to get a Thanos picture drawn by the man. He got said picture and good thing because now that Jim Lee is co-bigshot at DC he no longer makes appearances in artists alley though he is a staple at Comic Con. I digress again. The other podcast that hit a nerve was, of course, writer Scott Snyder’s story. Not for any other reason than the fact that he helped reboot Batman and created a new villain for him, Order of Owls. I like owls.
So DC’s New 52 was on my radar and I put my iPad’s comics apps to use, for once. Two days. I caught up on 22 Batman issues in 2 days. But I have a problem with comic books and I don’t mean it feeding on my addictive personality. The problem is story arcs. They cross titles. That owls arc I was so excited about, started in Batman, moved into Teen Titans, Batman and Robin, Nightwing, Batwoman…and 6 other titles. That is not a total exaggeration. I just spent a good chunk of money on playing catch up and now you’re telling me I have to buy $30 worth more? And that’s just for the Owls story. Two issues later and I am enthralled in Joker heaven (hell?) and that story, which has a major implications to Batman’s legacy, crossed over to other titles too! I see what you did there and I hate you DC Comics!
As I write this entry I am watching the Batman Animated series which aired in 1992. And I am doing my best not to hit any more “yes I want to purchase that item” buttons in the comics app for a little while. My inner “READ ALL THE BOOKS!” monster will have to be satiated by this form of Batman for the time being. Or the “WHERE’D ALL OUR MONEY GO!” monster will eat us all.