Too Many Batbooks?
Last week, Entertainment Weekly of all places announced two new titles that will be appearing on DC’s publishing slate in October: Arkham Manor and Gotham Academy. As a surprise to pretty much no one, both of these titles are, you guessed it, Batman related. Naturally the internet got into a tizzy about there being even more Batman books being released on the nerd buying public, but is it really that big of a deal?
To be honest, no. Yes, there are a ton of Batman books on the comic shelves, but it sounds like neither Arkham Manor or Gotham Academy will star the Dark Knight. In fact, they seem to be shining a new light on the denizens of Gotham, which I’m all for. One of my favorite comic series of all time is Gotham Central, a book that, while technically falling under the Batman family of books, barely featured the Caped Crusader. Batman’s supporting cast is extremely strong, and definitely deserves a chance to be put in the spotlight. Plus, if one of these books hooks that mythical “new reader”, isn’t that a good thing?
But back to the books., of which I’ll be checking both out. I’m more interested in Arkham Manor, where the premise is something catastrophic happens to Arkham Asylum, so Bruce Wayne offers to renovate Wayne Manor into a new facility to hold all of Gotham’s greatest rogues. This idea is both extremely stupid and exactly the kind of thing Batman would do, since he’d be able to keep tabs on all of this worst enemies at all times (and hopefully beef up the security too). The fact that this idea can either be really cool or really dumb is what makes me interested in it. I want to see if writer Gerry Duggan can make it seem like a smart thing for Batman to do, and if it’s anything like Dan Slott’s Arkham Asylum: Living Hell (which I just finished) I’m in 100%.
Gotham Academy, on the other hand, isn’t a premise I’m that interested in, but with the phenomenal Becky Cloonan on hand to pen the series, I’m going to give it a shot. In that series, Bruce Wayne is a benefactor for Gotham Academy, and the series will focus on the students at the school. It could have a cool Morning Glories feel to it, and who knows, maybe it’ll find a strong audience that will in turn check out some other Batman comics.
Publishers’ using their most popular characters in multiple series isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Ever. You can complain about DC putting out another Batman book, or Marvel putting out another Wolverine book, but you know why they do it? BECAUSE THEY SELL. People blindly pick them up because of the character, not because of the story being interesting to them. At least with the release of these two books we’re getting something different, and not another book with Batman running around beating the crap out of the Mad Hatter. As long as DC and Marvel put out books the feature their big characters with a different spin on them, they can put out fifteen books for every character for all I care.