On Batman

Batman in Outer Space

By Mike W. Barr

The fate of the Batman franchise is looking pretty good right now. The series, once claimed to be near cancellation due to low sales, is again one of the jewels in the crown of publisher DC Comics, still riding a wave created in the 1970s by such talent as writers Denny O’Neil and Frank Robbins and such artists as Neal Adams, Irv Novick, and Bob Brown. Modern writers and artists such as Frank Miller have continued this treatment and even enhanced it, influencing such directors as Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan, whose films have drawn even more readers to the comics, and carrying over to the modern version of Batman presented in cartoons.

In analyses of how the creators cited above were able to bring new life to a franchise almost seven decades old, the major emphasis is always given to the mood of the stories. After years of acting as almost a costumed adjunct of the Gotham City Police (in some stories of the ’50s and ’60s, Batman even carried a badge from the GCPD), it was decided to restore Batman to a dark, moody creature of the night, dashing in and out of shadows, much as was the case in the early days of the character’s series, when he took a lot of cues from a preexisting inspiration, the Shadow.

Due to the popularity of this handling of Batman–which obtains to this day–it has become common, among both comics creators and fans, to disparage any version of the  …

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