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Missing in the Modern Age

Hey folks!  Long time no action on here (although that's not entirely true, since I'm still tweaking and adding things to the Modern Age timeline almost on a daily basis).  Where did the action go, you ask?  Well if you didn't already know, it's moved over to The Real Batman Chronology Project.COM.

But I'm not just posting on here to shill the website (which you should def go check out!), I'm posting because I've assembled a list on the new blog that is relevant to the Modern Age timeline.  The list details ninety-plus single issues that supposedly feature Batman cameos, but ones that I can't get ahold of or have read so long ago that I have forgotten.  These issues need to be crossed-off or added to the chronology!  If anyone can help out with any of them, let me know! Just head over to the list-link above and take a gander and leave a comment or email me at therealbatmanchronologyproject@gmail.com.  I've got a few other posts online at the new blogspace as well.

I'm also still taking name suggestions for the new blog.  I've gotten a few, but nothing snazzy enough to warrant making a change.  Thanks everyone!

—C.

New Post up on the New Blog Space

http://www.therealbatmanchronologyproject.com/blog/


CHECK IT OUT!  It's the brand spanking new blog space!

I'm also looking for a new cool name for the blog.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'll definitely take them into consideration!

Ramblings: The New 52 Bat-Verse


Reader Jamison asked me a great series of questions recently on the website, so I thought I would respond via a post.  Here is is question in full:

I wanted to get your thoughts on the new 52 so far. I want to like it, but I’m sort of appalled that they squandered the opportunity to have a sensible continuity. There’s two things that bother me about this relaunch. Damian’s age and James Gordon Junior’s age. You already know these problems. Batman vol. 2 Annual 1 suggests Bruce has returned from his training 6 years before the present, and the issue loosely crosses over with "Night of the Owls," so we know it’s present day. Damien can’t be 10 years old. Also if Year One is canon, then James Gordon Junior goes from infant to 11 year old in 4 years (as seen in Batgirl 0). Even if you or I can somehow rationalize these glaring errors, it’s still unacceptable. It’s one thing for Jeph Loeb or Grant Morison to create continuity errors with material that’s 10 or 20 years old, but these new stories are all less than a year old. Does DC think we are idiots? Once again, I’m insulted.
Even if I can ignore all the continuity errors, the stories themselves aren’t really that good. I think Scott Snyder’s stories are a bit overrated and ape [sic] Grant Morrison a bit too much. So far I don’t find anything unique to the New 52 all that appealing. Within a year or two of the post-crisis relaunch we got the Dark Knight Returns, Year One, and the Killing joke. These new stories, especially Tony Daniel’s work, don’t even come close. We need at least one great story and at least an explanation of Damian (opportunity squandered in Batman and Robin #0) before I will consider forgiving them for raping Darkseid’s character to death before my eyes.
Thoughts?

I've got plenty of thoughts, Jamison, and here they are!  The continuity in the New 52 does seem to have some glaring holes that lack sense.  Obviously, I've been harping about Damian's age for months now.  And I'm still crossing my fingers that DC is simply waiting to unveil the big reveal that explains it all.  There have been subtle hints that an explanation is going to be given, including the bizarre "I'm going to be growing soon" comment in Batman & Robin #13.  We also kinda sorta know that there exists another cloned Damian (probably in the form of the adult Heretic aka Fatherless).  So, maybe Damian's age conundrum is linked to that.  But in any case—definitely a cluster fuck.  

                                                                                 THIS...
                                                                           comes before THIS.
So, how old is Damian again?

James Gordon Junior isn't really a problem for me, but only because I've fully accepted that Miller's "Year One" has been significantly altered.  Sure parts of it are still canon, but in the New 52, plain and simple, JG Junior was already a bit older (around ten or eleven-years-old) when Year One occurs.  Likewise, I think it isn't an unsafe bet to assume that Sarah Essen never existed either—although it is a possibility.
                                   Imagine Bruce catching THIS KID falling off a bridge instead of a baby.

As far as appeal goes:  I like some books in the Bat-verse and I hate some others.  I can't say whether or not Snyder is overrated (although he does get a huge heap of praise time and time again), but I have been intrigued with his arc thus far and it does feel like something fresh and new, which is what the New 52 is supposed to invoke.  Also, Greg Capullo's art has been divine, so I definitely can't complain about that.  And anyone who knows me knows that, in spite of a lot of controversial and frankly bone-headed commentary that has been spewed out of Morrison's mouth in the past year or two, he remains as one of my favorite comic book authors.  I've said it before and I fully understand, Morrison isn't everyone's cup o' tea.  But he's my favorite cup of tea, so I can definitely get on board the love fest for Batman, Inc.  That being said, it is a little annoying that Morrison's portion of the Bat-verse, which is arguably the most important, lives on the fringe and at times lives on its own, ostensibly—if only for mere moments—outside of the rest of the Bat-verse.  Now I'm not saying that Morrsion's stuff ignores canon; I'm simply saying that sometimes Morrison bends canon to the breaking point, which can be dangerous when there are so many other canon Bat books running simultaneously.  I wish ALL the creators would respect each other a bit more.  But maybe having ten, eleven, twelve, a hundred, whatever the number is Bat books come out each month is too much for Mike Martz or whoever else bears the burden of making sure everything jives.

In response to the comparison between the last mega reboot versus the current one—the post Crisis on Infinite Earths transition into the Modern Age versus the post Flashpoint transition into the New 52 aka New Age—I think that is often compared incorrectly.  And in Jamison's case, I'm not sure I agree entirely.  See http://famousfanboy.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-new-52-continuity-it-aint-so-bad.html for a great write-up that compares the New 52 to the post-original Crisis, and you'll see that things are just the same as they've always been.  But let's focus on the Bat-verse.

I agree Daniel's run was very, very bad.  But thankfully, he's off and the first issue of 'tec without him was quite strong (and had better art).  But let's compare 'tec in the first year following Flashpoint to 'tec in the first year following Crisis.  The silly, goofy Mike W. Barr run that ushered in 'tec for the Modern Age was just as bad, if not worse, than Daniels' stuff.  Meanwhile, in 1986-1987 Starlin and Aparo, in Batman, were beginning the long road leading to A Death in the Family, which to this day is one my favorite arcs.  I think the gritty dark stuff going on in that book is tantamount to the gritty dark stuff both Snyder and Tomasi are writing now.  Let's also not forget that Legends of the Dark Knight didn't begin until 1989, a series which filled in a lot of gaps.  But at the same time, let's not forget how terrible an idea it was to have a quasi-canonical, some-of-the-stories-are-canon-and-some-aren't-but-we-will-never-tell-you series in the first place!  At least in the New 52 we know what's canon and what's not when it's given to us.
                                 TONY S. DANIEL (2011-2012)            =           MIKE W. BARR (1986-1987)

                                   SCOTT SNYDER (2011-2013)         =            JIM STARLIN (1986-1988)


Maybe we haven't had a Year One, Dark Knight Returns, Killing Joke, Legends, Millennium, Cosmic Odyssey, and Batman: The Cult come out yet since the New 52 reboot, but don't forget that Crisis wrapped in 1986.  Besides Legends and Year One, all of these other great arcs took place in 1988, two years after the reboot.  So with that in mind, we are about to enter the second year following the 2011 reboot, so maybe there are some great stories about to explode onto the scene.  

In regard to Justice League Vol. 2:  It is unforgivably bad.  Some of the worst issues of the year.  Now, I don't agree that Darkseid's character has been ruined—that statement is a bit too hyperbolic for my taste, plus we'll see him again and it can only get better—but I do understand and feel your pain.  However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel.  The second year looks to be much stronger, with the interesting JLA lineup, Booster Gold interaction, and various other plot lines hinted at thus far.  

The main problem with the New 52 Bat-verse, of course, is that there are simply too many books.  When there are too many books, it waters down continuity and it waters down quality.  Here's my take:  Batman Inc = excellent.  Batman = very good.  Batman & Robin = very good.  Justice League = bordering on very bad and terrible.  Detective Comics = terrible.  Batwing = bad.  Catwoman = very bad.  Nightwing = ok to good.  Batman: The Dark Knight = terrible/very bad.  Batwoman = great on art, but meh on story—glad it has become its own entity separate from the main Bat Family, though.  Batgirl = not very good.

All of these titles, I feel, have limitless potential to either stay great or get better (besides Batwing, which unfortunately is a lost cause—why can't a Black Bat character work?  I'm reminded of the waste of Onyx and Orpheus, both of which could have been really successful if handled properly).  Catwoman, unless revamped and revamped right quick, is becoming a lost cause too, unfortunately.

But I digress.  Bit of a ramble there towards the finish.  I'm sure there's more to say, but I'll save it for next time!

--CC

Links and Ramblings of the Week

No, this probably isn't the start of an ongoing new weekly post in spite of its title (simply because I'm much to busy to do it every week).  BUT who knows, I'll try my damnedest to make it happen!

Here are some wonderful and informative web links this week, each about continuity—continuity with a CAPITAL C!  Definitely all food for thought.  And also a short rambling about stuff going on in the world of comic books (outside of the DC Bat-verse).


The DCnU 52: One Year Later by Kent G. Hare


Ask Chris: Continuity and You by Chris Sims


New 52 Continuity : It Ain't That Bad! @ Last of the Famous International Fanboys

I don't usually talk about anything other than Batman-related things on here, but let's take a stroll off the beaten path for a hot second, shall we?  My favorite Marvel book (currently and for quite some time now) is Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force.  I highly recommend it—a book where every issue counts to the umpteenth degree and the stakes are always high.  I never thought I'd be so over-the-moon about an X book again.  It's been years since I've liked any X book. 
In my humble opinion, the entire concept of the X-characters and mutants in general is a highly flawed and, dare I say it, lame concept.  The idea of a world of mutants in the Marvel U has been a lame idea for the past thirty years (in spite of some really great flashes of storytelling and art here and there).  What do I mean exactly?  Well, Aaron Diaz sums it up quite perfectly: 

“Mutations [should] have a clear sci-fi foundation rather than just being random superpowers.  Mutants being “the next stage in human evolution” was biologically dubious in the 60s, and now it’s just corny.  Additionally, I think the X-Men premise only really makes sense in a setting without other superheroes.”

I agree wholeheartedly.  Why have mutants when ostensibly Captain America, Spider-Man, and so many others are basically mutants too?  I understand that mutants are born with powers whereas Cap and Spidey were not, but really other than that, how are they any different?  Plus, there are plenty of characters in the Marvel U that were born with powers, and yet are not mutants, right? 

I think one of the reasons Uncanny X-Force works so well is because its a genuine multiverse book.  While it doesn't ignore the mutant dilemma or mutant history linked to overall Marvel continuity, it deals more with the fact that Wolverine, Deadpool, Fantomex (RIP!), Psylocke, AOA Nightcrawler, et al exist in the bountiful superhero world that is the great Marvel multiverse.  This isn't your insular mutant X book that lives outside of the rest of the Marvel multiverse, as much of the X-verse has done for decades.   Remender is really playing in the multiversial sandbox rather than limiting himself to the mutants-only sandbox.  And the end result is an inspired, intense, touching, and unique X title the likes of which we haven't seen before. 




Dead Links (to the Past)

I was recently browsing the amazing Mikel Midnight's Cosmology Compendium, which from the looks of it hasn't been updated in nearly a decade.  Despite the cobwebs growing on the site, Midnight offers a still-relevant list of links to various comic book timeline projects (for the most part).  However, I was struck by the number of dead links, not so much by how many there were, but by the idea that there was apparently a flourishing geekdom revolving around the desire to chronologically document the multiverse around the late 90s and early 2000s.  The links that actually still connect to a destination on the Internet are mostly no-frills Geocities and Yahoo sites, evidence of the time period in which they were spawned. 


But whatever happened to these internauts obsessed with Yahoo message boards, Fanzing, and "Comments on a Finite Number of Earths" by Lou Mougin and Mark Waid?  I have a theory that even the most dedicated chronology nerds were frustrated with the Modern Age as it progressed through the 2000s with soft reboots that didn't stick (Zero Hour), multiple Crises, and Elseworlds tales galore no longer linked to specific numbered or lettered Earths.  Likewise, the fun labyrinthine nature of the multiverse, both pre-original Crisis and immediately afterward, must have been an exciting moment for anyone documenting its history and changes.  But as that faded into the past and the Modern Age really began to take a hold as the one solid New Earth, I can imagine people getting bummed that all of their hard work and cataloguing was becoming obsolete, in a sense, becoming tomes of unpublished information shelved forever only to collect dust until the host sites faded, the renewals lapsed, or the mirrors cracked.  I mean, just look at some of these sites that no longer exist, the names themselves are great: "DC Timeline Constructors," "Else-Aquaman," "Elseworlds.net," Les Elseworlds du Batman," "Alternate Robins," "Superman's Imaginary Costumes," "Temporal Paradoxes in Science Fiction," "The Wonder Woman Pages," "The Quarter Bin: Superheroes in the Age of Agnew," and many more.  Of course there are a bunch of links that do still work, but most of these sites haven't been touched in ages.  Why is it that the seemingly most-dedicated would-be scholars of the field all gave up over a decade ago, never to return?  Don't get me wrong, if you look at my links page I've included dozens of current up-to-date and ongoing websites that deal with comic book history and historiography.  But are older comic book-heads really so jaded about the current product that they don't have an interest in the New 52? Or how AvX affects the greater 616?  Hehe, maybe I can understand why, now that I think about it.  Anyway, this is just an observation, not a call to arms or a state of the industry address.  It's also possible that this steam-of-consciousness post isn't even really saying much (and that's fine too)!  What do y'all think?

An Eight Year New 52 After All?

I was reading David Uzumeri's annotations of Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2 and it struck me—not the information particularly, since I'd read it in the Mindless Ones annotations of the same issue earlier—not the information but the numbers.

"Ra's [Al Ghul] and Melisande are at a concert greatly reminiscent of the Live Aid charity show from July 13, 1985—which would make Talia roughly twenty-six-years-old, which would make her somewhat age-appropriate for the about-thirty-ish Batman currently residing in the New 52.
 . . .
Melisande talks about Neptune being in Capricorn, which would also date this page (and Talia's birth) as taking place between 1984 and 1997."

Thus, if we go by a twelve-year timeline that starts in 2001 (and is in the current year 2012) then that means Bruce impregnates Talia, who is supposedly attending university at the time, at age sixteen or seventeen!  Now I'm not about to enter into a debate about legality, foreign law, etc. but I'm fairly certain that DC did not draft a new world where Bruce is tantamount to a child predator.

However, one can still work with a twelve-year timeline and have Bruce engage with Talia at a more legal age of eighteen if the Saga of Ra's Al Ghul stuff occurs in Year Two (2002) instead of Year One (2001).  Here's the problem with that situation, though:  It throws off Damian's age—he wouldn't have turned ten in 2011, he'd have turned nine.  And if Damian's age is thrown off then that means the idea that he is a biological age of ten but actually younger is definitively true.  If that is indeed true, then there is no reason not to go with the shorter seven or eight year timeline that starts in 2005.

Of course if we do go with the latter, then what I've dreaded is unfortunately true:  Damian is much younger and his age referred to in the comics (turned ten in 2011) is merely his biological age, not how long he has actually lived.  Here's what I'm thinking it might look like—and bear in mind the horde of zero issues coming out soon might help shape things.


YEAR ONE (2005)

-The Saga of Ra's Al Ghul
-Damian conceived
-Catwoman debuts
-Hugo Strange debuts
-Batman pays tribute to parents in Crime Alley 
-Batman vs. The Mad Monk
-Bruce officially returns to Gotham (referenced in Annual #1)
-Joker debuts
-Kathy Kane debuts as Bat-Woman


YEAR TWO (2006)
-Bruce meets Victor Fries (from Annual #1
-Kathy Kane retires, her relationship with Bruce goes cold
-Talia's relationship with Bruce goes cold
-Damian born in secret; aging sped-up via genetic engineering
-Kathy Kane fakes death
-The Phantasm debuts
-Batman collects Batcave trophies
-Mr. Freeze debuts (from Annual #1)
-Batman pays tribute to parents in Crime Alley
-Justice League debuts (from Justice League #1-6)
-Batman fights a Talon (from flashback in Dark Knight #9)
-Dick Grayson becomes Robin
-Batman begins working with Gordon, Bullock, and Dent
-David Graves publishes Justice League: Gods Among Men
-Action Comics #10-12


YEAR THREE—YEAR EIGHT (2007-2012)

exactly the same as the current YEAR SEVEN through YEAR TWELVE



So there you have it.  Of course there are other variations of this that could work, based upon the information that we currently have.  Joker could even debut before the Saga of Ra's Al Ghul and Damian's conception.  But we'll see what happens with the zero issues before I make any changes on the website.  Until then I will wait patiently.

—Collin C.