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The Many (Thousand) Deaths Of Batman

by  in Comic News Comment
The Many (Thousand) Deaths Of Batman

From Douglas Wolk’s excellent review of Batman #686:

Where Batman ends–the only way Batman ends–is where you stop reading Batman, which is how Batman has actually had hundreds of thousands of endings: dissatisfaction or boredom, walking out of the theater (past a dark alley?), cutting losses and wondering if it would’ve gotten better again.

So, how many times has Batman died for you? For me, he never really did.

Even when I was not reading comics regularly, I still cracked open my dog-eared Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told trade paperback that my mom bought me during the Batmania of ’89. I loved the ’90s cartoon that everyone else does, and I think that counts.

But if it doesn’t, his deaths have been pretty mundane for me. I didn’t read many comics (other than the odd Gen13 picked up at the grocery store, back when grocery stores carried comics) from the time I hit puberty until freshman year in college, when I heard that there was this pretty cool X-Men run by Grant Morrison I should check out. Once I jumped both feet first in to that and the stuff Quesada and Jemas were doing at Marvel, I decided it was time that I finally read some of those classics of the medium I’d never picked up. You know, Maus, Watchmen, Jimmy Corrigan, even that Batman thing Frank Miller did.

Once I read DKR, things really changed.

Via my introduction to tradepaperbacks, I’ve read a ton of Batman, from Miller’s to Denny O’Neil’s to Jeph Loeb’s. Yeah, I really liked the Long Halloween the first time I read it. So much so that I was really excited when Loeb and my childhood favorite artist, Jim Lee, were doing a Batman run.

I got bored with that six issues in and have since learned better than to trust a Loeb written comic, even if I kind of want to read his second arc on Hulk because holy hell, Art Adams interiors! I’m not made of stone!

From there, I didn’t pick up another Batman single until my favorite comics writer took over. Even then, I read Grant Morrison’s run on the character in starts and stops. I liked the first arc okay, but found it easy to drift away. I jumped back on for the JH Williams drawn arc, Club of Heroes. I then immediately jumped off during the R’as Al Ghul crossover. It’s always kind of bugged me that a group of comics written by Morrison, Peter Milligan, and Paul Dini didn’t appeal to me, but not enough to pay money for them.

I came back for RIP, and after years of not paying attention to these internet shit storms over event superhero comics, I got to experience that discourse over something I read and enjoyed for the most part. I miss my ignorance on how those things work. I was initially going to skip the Gaiman two parter but got the first one on impulse and wound up really enjoying it, even if the forthcoming trade sounds like it would have been worth waiting for, price be damned.

Wolk’s idea is interesting, but I’m not sure I agree with it. Even if you stop following Batman monthly for whatever reason (be it puberty, boredom, revulsion, finances, or one I couldn’t think of), you can follow his adventures a number of ways. There are entire distinct eras of the character you can delve in to, from his earliest appearances through every decade since the ’30s. You could follow him by creators (which will lead you to reading stuff like All Star Batman And Frank Miller Can Get Away With Pretty Much Anything) if you take it too far. That is, if you limit yourself to comics.

Because Batman exists well beyond the confining panels of comics, as if we didn’t all get a big reminder of that last summer. You can follow Batman by media. People who would never think of paying $4 for a single issue comic or $24 for a collection have DVD sets, video games, or DVRs full of Bat-content.

That’s one of the things that appeals to me about the character, really; he transcends any one take on him. I mean hell, you could not spend a cent and still be involved with the character if you happen to read a blog by a guy who thinks Batman him a whole lot (and chronicles his many emotional states).

So, how many times has Batman died for you? Or does this panel from RIP, that seemingly everyone seemed to forgot about whilst freaking out over the comic, sum up your thoughts on the character? Interested in seeing the responses, even if my previously antagonistic comments about the comment’s section may not get me much of a response. Hey, I’m nice when I want something from you guys!

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