New Batman Books Offer More Variety Than You Think

With the announcement of Gotham by Midnight, a new ongoing series from DC, I have no doubt that many comic book fans are groaning, or at least letting out a sigh of discontent. This new book, for those who don’t know, comes from the creative team of Ray Fawkes (Batman Eternal) and Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night), and will focus on the more supernatural side of Gotham. It has been described by the creative team as a horror book. It will follow the Midnight Shift, a team of Gotham City detectives led by Jim Corrigan that is tasked with dealing with supernatural threats. It’s definitely perked my interest, but I can see many comic book readers completely disregarding it as “another Batman book,” which is what they’ve done with pretty much every book that is even tangentially related to Batman.

Sure, there are a lot of books that take place in Gotham City, or at least are related to the Dark Knight. Right now, we have Batman, Batgirl, Batman Eternal, Batman and Robin, Batwoman, Catwoman, Detective Comics, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Harley Quinn, Birds of Prey and Grayson. In October, Gotham Academy and Arkham Manor will be added to the line up, followed by Gotham by Midnight in November. Birds of Prey is ending with the Future’s End one shot, and five series have been cancelled from the Batman line. Two of which, Nightwing and Batman Incorporated, ended purely for story reasons. So, in November, there will have been a total of nineteen Bat-books, plus team books like Justice League and Batman/Superman that Batman appears in. The question then becomes “Why” Why are there so many Batman books?

Well, they sell. Of the top 20 selling books in the month of July, 5 were books in the Batman line, with Batman/Superman and Justice League (which both feature Batman) taking up two more spots. Disregarding those two books, that’s a quarter of the top 20 given to that line. And additional seven break the top 100. It makes a ton of sense for DC to continue pumping out Batman books, then, because they obviously turn a profit for the company. But if you’re looking for variety, this doesn’t seem like the company you would go to, because of all the books related to one character. Many fans make this argument, and, well, fair enough. But to me, it seems like people making this argument aren’t reading most of these books.

No book in the Batman line is the same. You’ve got Batman, which is pretty straight up heroics, but Snyder and Capullo add enough twists to make it different. Then there’s Harley Quinn, which is a book filled to the brim with heart and fun, and completely different from Batman. The line also provides a spy/espionage book, in the recently launched Grayson. Detective Comics provides a look at Batman through a completely different lens, focusing more on detective work. With the creative team change, Batgirl is going to become a fun book focused on a character living her life. Gotham Academy seems like a fun story about teenagers, targeting that demographic. Red Hood and the Outlaws is a pretty straight up action comic. Batman and Robin is a fun team book, focusing on Batman’s relationships with other characters in the DCU. Arkham Manor and Gotham by Midnight look to be bringing the darker, more horror-esque elements of the DCU to Gotham. And Batman Eternal brings the very best of all of that.

You want variety? It seems to me that this line is the place to go. It offers far more variety than any other of DC’s lines. Green Lantern books are basically all telling the same story, the Superman line are all straight up superhero books, and the Young Justice, Edge, and Dark lines barely exist any longer. Claims about DC doing the same thing with all their books are, frankly, false. They need an outlet to create variety in a way that makes them a profit. Sure, they could have pushed some of their other books a little bit more than they did, but those are long gone now. DC is actually looking to create more variety, but taking advantage of existing machinations to do so. Batman sells, so put the variety in books related to Batman. And yet, fans still get angry whenever a new Batman book is announced.

It makes little sense to me, really, that people are still complaining about the lack of variety at DC. They’re doing what they can to turn things around in that department in a way that allows them to continue turning a profit. All I ask is that before you bash new books in the Batman line, read what they’re about. Then check them out. You may realize that they aren’t all as similar as you may think they are.