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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.

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.  

                                                                           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 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!


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," "," 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


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.

Answers to Newsarama's "Lingering Questions"

Alan Kistler, over at Newsarama, has posted an insightful article entitled, "One Year Later: 10 Lingering Questions About The New 52".  These questions are definitely apropos.  At this point it is difficult to know resolutely what the honchos at DC have in store for their universes.  I thought it would be interesting and beneficial to actually go ahead and answer Kistler's questions (as best I can, using the information provided in the New 52 issues thus far).


The short answer is YES—and not only parts, but the entire series!  To explain my answer I will respond to each of Kistler's remarks.  Kistler says, "[The] Leviathan Strikes one-shot is said to take place months before all the new issue #1's, explaining why Dick Grayson has not yet returned to his Nightwing identity and why Barbara Gordon still requires a wheelchair. In fact, Barbara's physical state means that parts of Batman Incorporated need to take place at least 6 months before Batgirl #1."  I have to disagree with this statement because in the New 52 we shouldn't assume that Oracle was a part of Batman Inc—in fact, it is my belief that Oracle never even existed in the New 52.  Furthermore, The Leviathan Strikes! one-shot, based upon the dialogue and events going on—including the formation of the "Dead Heroes Club"—places the skeleton framework of events from Leviathan Strikes! as taking place right before Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #1.  Kistler then extrapolates, "[DC] creators remark[ed] at San Diego Comic-Con that Stephanie was not a Robin, yet Batman Incorporated clearly says that this part of her history remains true."  This is yet another reason to ignore Batman Incorporated from the Modern Age.  Anything involving Stephanie has been wiped clean—clearly she wasn't referenced at all in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #1.  Sorry, Spoiler fans.  Kistler then pontificates, "And while we're told in the pages of Justice League that the team has not had any new members in the five years since it formed, Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #1 includes remarks of Metamorpho's 'Justice League days.' Was he a member but only for a short time now? Was he just an associate or consultant on a few cases?"  I added my response to this conundrum in Year Six of the New Age on my chronology.  We must infer that Metamorpho was indeed, as Kistler theorizes, simply an associate, trainee, or consultant with the team.  So, in summation, it is my belief that all of Batman Incorporated, including Leviathan Strikes!, is non-canon in the New 52.  Only the things that are specifically flashed-back-to or referenced in the New 52 should be considered canon.

2.  WHAT IS N.O.W.H.E.R.E.?

Okay, I can't really answer this one.  As Kistler reminds us, Lobdell said that Superboy's Cadmus origins and his pre-Young Justice adventures would still be in continuity in the New 52.  Of course, Superboy's origins are clearly linked not to Cadmus, and to NOWHERE instead.  And furthermore, it appears as if his pre-Young Justice adventures have not occurred.  So, I don't know what NOWHERE is, but I do know that, again, we must ignore Superboy's past from the Modern Age, except where things are flashed-back-to or specifically referenced in the New Age.


We don't know yet!  It isn't Major Force anymore.  Maybe she never got thrown in the fridge after all?


Of course, this is the very purpose of my project, so I have an answer.  Kistler weighs in on the subject, stating, "If we presume that Dick Grayson became the original Robin after Superman's debut but before the formation of the Justice League, then Batman was probably operating for at least three or four years earlier (taking into account his solo adventures and the previous timeline). So let's say Batman has been around for nine years. Well, his son Damian Wayne is 10. When exactly did Batman meet Ra's al Ghul and Damian's mother Talia in the new reality? Before he was ever Batman?"  Based upon that statement, Kistler and I pretty much agree.  Batman has been around for 9 years.  And Batman was operating for three years when Robin debuts and the Justice League forms—although, Kistler believes that Robin came first, and then the JL whereas I have it the other way around.  Either way, they both happen around the same time, so they could very well be interchangeable.  And in regard to the Al Ghuls, as I have on my chronology, Bruce definitely meets them (and conceives Damian) before becoming Batman.  Kistler also addresses the James Gordon Junior problem—an issue that I also address in my chronology.  Kistler says, "Another problem arises when you consider that Batman's origin is still said to be Batman: Year One. But if that story features the birth of James Gordon Jr., then it must take place almost 20 years ago since James seems to currently be in his late teens, if not older."  My obvious answer to this is that Batman: Year One is non-canon in the New 52.  I know there was a one panel flashback to an image from Batman: Year One in one of Snyder's books, but that doesn't make the entirety of Miller's seminal tale canon.  Clearly, James Junior was born, as Kistler reminds us, around 18 to 20 years ago, which is proof positive that Year One has been significantly altered to the point of non-recognition.


The New 52 Gordon family tree is quite different (and more simplified) than the previous incarnation.  Kistler asks, "What happened to Sarah Essen? Did she never reunite with Jim in the new reality? Did they reunite but never marry? And if Babs/Batgirl is the biological daughter of Jim Gordon and Barbara Gordon, then that brings us back to wondering about the timeline and continuity of Batman: Year One and who that baby is that is being born, and is said to be Jim's first child."  My response to these remarks is, again, Miller's Batman: Year One is now non-canon!  Sarah Essen never existed, there was no baby born in Year One.  Babs' mom left on her own accord.  Babs' biological parents are Barbara and James Gordon.


The mythology behind the Amazons has changed drastically, causing many questions and much controversy alike.  Kistler answers this query with, "There may be a good explanation planned, but we haven't heard it yet."  I concur.


This one is about how in Flash, Barry is shocked upon meeting Gorilla Grodd and the talking gorillas of Gorilla City, yet in the "five years ago" origin story for the Justice League, he mentions having already fought with a talking gorilla.  In my humble opinion, this is probably a miscommunication or continuity snafu that someone in editorial missed.  There is so much going on, a single line of dialogue that is incorrect is bound to slip through the cracks, right?  Or "there may be a good explanation planned, but we haven't heard it yet."


This is less of a continuity question and more of a "I wonder where this story is heading" question.  But Kistler does add an addendum of additional queries at the end, which include: "If the Phantom Stranger and Pandora are aware that this reality has been altered, does that open the door for the old universes to come back? Why reboot all of history if you're going to mention that this isn't how things used to be? Are we leading to a new Crisis?"  I hope we aren't heading to another Crisis.  The New 52 is about new, fresh concepts, and not rehashing the old.  The Trinity's mention of old timelines and alternate universes hopefully will lead toward something unique and thrilling, and possibly the crossover of worlds, but another Crisis we surely don't need.


Kistler talks about how Blackest Night, Batman's Omega time displacement, the destruction of Coast City, and other things have been mentioned as definitively happening in the New 52, but is confused as to how these things can be since they contradict so much of the New 52 mythos.  Not to sound like a broken record, but what we need to remember is that just because a major Modern Age event is referenced in the New 52, it doesn't mean that that event occurred exactly as it did originally.  For all we know, Batman was never involved in Blackest Night.  Obviously, none of the JSA members were involved since they now live on another Earth and have completely revamped backgrounds.  Likewise, the destruction of Coast City no longer happened in conjunction with the Death and Return of Superman story anymore.  I can't stress this enough:  The old tales from before Flashpoint are now non-canon reference materials.  Everything has changed.


Again, this one is more of a "what is in store?" question rather than a continuity based question.  Snyder is at the helm, as Kistler excitedly mentions, so anything could happen.  I'm also excited to see how this plays out.  It's pretty cool (and a strong move) to hold off on using arguably your biggest supervillain draw for over a full real-life calender year.  It's a great way to significantly increase the impact of Joker's return and also demonstrates the New 52 as a omniverse where things have been planned well in advance by its architects.

(My Take on) The State of Superhero Comic Criticism

I've been thinking about the state of the comic book industry, rather I should say, the state of the superhero comic book industry, which unfortunately gets often confused with other very different graphic sequential media such as manga, comix, indie cartoons, etc...  Right now, the industry as a whole is a shell of its former self.  Sales are dwindling in spite of the fact that the characters portrayed in the stories are the highest grossing characters in cinema today and in film history.  Tim Marchman recently wrote an review in the Wall Street Journal that tangentially lambasted superhero comics' inability to draw money these days, stating that DC and Marvel have "given up on the mass audience" choosing instead to produce works that are "for sale not in a real bookstore but in a specialty shop, [...] clumsily drawn, poorly written, and incomprehensible to anyone not steeped in years of arcane mythology."

Of course, the "clumsy" drawings and "poor" writing are a matter of Marchman's own opinion.  The rest seems to be more objective, but can be addressed nevertheless.  DC and Marvel have always been companies designed first and foremost to make money by selling comics.  However, the Big Two have never really catered to a mass audience, in spite of this fact.  Comics have always been a niche market, hence the niche "specialty stores."  Superhero comics cannot and should never be compared to any other graphic works in the indie realm, such as stuff by Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, or anything that can be found at the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Festival or Stumptown Comics Fest.  However, they often are compared to these things in criticisms, by intelligent writers and bloggers like Marchman and Matt Seneca, to cite two recent examples.

Seneca, who always has put a smile on my face with his astute and brilliant commentary, recently ran-down Grant Morrison (a former hero of his) due to his corporate nature, pretentiousness, self-promotion, and unoriginality, among other complaints.  Seneca acknowledges that Morrison never cared to work outside of the confines of the corporate Big Two structure, despite having promoted himself for years as an alternative to those two companies, stating, "Morrison capitalizes on a culture that discourages innovation and progress by telling a captive audience that his own staunchly unadventurous work represents those very values."  Morrison's work is indeed "unadventurous" when compared with the groundbreaking art created by Ware, Clowes, the Hernandez brothers, Seth, etc... or the wonderful stuff seen in various web comics or in Kramers Ergot.  Of course, Seneca's diatribe about Morrison is spot-on and I would agree with him wholeheartedly except for one important thing:  Morrison (who was never a visual artist himself, a fact we should not forget) should never have been and still shouldn't be regarded as being in the same league as indie cartoonists and comix authors that operate in a completely different world.  I'm not saying Morrison is better or worse; I'm simply saying that what Morrison does is incomparable to what, say Clowes, does.  And what Morrison does for mainstream superhero comics, he does very well.  And that is writing the best possible material he can within the constraints of the medium.  I think Seneca would love if indie cartoonism was injected into superhero comics (or replaced in entirely).  Hell, I'd enjoy it too to a certain extent, but what I'm emphasizing is that the two should never even be discussed in the same dialogue.  I agree, guys like Morrison, Didio, Queseda, Bendis, Johns, Millar, Miller, et al have been boosting each others' egos for the past decade and really jerking each other off and patting each other on the back when it comes to guiding the course of comics universes—and also at the expense of guys like Siegel, Shuster, Kirby, and Moore.  (The sheer egotism of MorrisonCon really grosses me out too.)  But, to bring us full-circle back to Marchman's commentary, the world of superhero comics thrives because it is about "arcane mythology" and the constraints associated with the Big Two universes.  Unlike Marchman's view of this, my view is that obsession with continuity is a good thing.  Marchman also fails to note in his article that DC did just reboot its whole line, essentially paving the way for new readership (although, admittedly, the reboot has been only a little effective as a marketing strategy).

It bums me out that Marchman and Seneca's comments, while obviously very different, both seem to attack superhero comics from the standpoint of an outsider (Marchman as the Marvel/DC movie fan that cannot comprehend why superhero comics fail in comparison to the flicks and Seneca as the jaded indie cartoonist that cannot comprehend why superhero comics don't mirror indie cartoons).  Marchman is the actual outsider whereas Seneca is a self-exiled expatriate.  Both writers are very articulate and smart in their own ways, and I geek out when anyone can write scholarly about superhero comics, but I wish the smartest minds on the web weren't so down on the genre.  These guys (and many bright others) feel that the industry owes them something that it has failed to deliver. 

I should stress that I have the same complaints and concerns as Marchman, Seneca, and a ton of others.  Not to mention, sales really are down, DC and Marvel shit on their creators, they are controlled by corporate mega-conglomerates, and sometimes the stories/art are subpar or low-brow.  These items alone make me incredibly frustrated with the industry.  However, I love comics, especially superhero comics.  And it's time for positivity in regard to superhero comics.  I'm not about to write-off Morrison because he's an ego-maniac who never "saved" comics by propelling them into a new century of uniqueness.  Morrison was never supposed to do that, and I don't think he wants to.  Alan Moore realized he never was going to be able to "save comics," so he left the industry.  I commend both Morrison and Moore for doing what they did and currently do now.

Again, I can't say it enough, I love superhero comics.  They revolve around a niche market, and sometimes, as I've said above, they are really bad and poorly drawn.  But that just makes me love them even more.  And the heavy hand of the editor/publisher can be really damn annoying, but it affects continuity and the "arcane mythology" of the universes in ways that are so unpredictable or so incredibly predictable that I can't help but delve into them wholeheartedly.  Often, the disappointment and failure of a superhero arc can be just as interesting as something "successful."  In the end, for better or worse, I'm just glad that the superhero comic exists as its own genre.  It's not cinema and it ain't indie comix or alternative cartoons; it will never make the money that movies make or earn the respect that indie comix receive.  And I'm fine with that.  I just wish writers and bloggers would realize that as well.  The time to criticize mainstream superhero comics is definitely here and now, but the comparisons that have been drawn as of late in order to bring down the genre don't make much sense to me.

Treading in an Uncharted Age

I've often posed the question of what the current "age" of comics should be called.  For simplicity's sake, I usually refer to contemporary comics as the "New Age"--an umbrella term for DC's New 52 and Marvel's Bendis-shaped continuity that exist today.

Greg Burgas, at Comic Book Resources, has an interesting post about this topic that I thought was worth sharing.

Matt Wilson was able to recently ask a bunch of comic book scholars what they thought about this very question:  To read their responses, click on the following link:

Updated Links

In my very first entry to this blog, way way way back in 2009, I added a bunch of links (and have been trying to add to that list ever since) to sites on the web that have been influential, helpful, and just downright cool.  I think it is worthwhile to update the list and re-post it.  Check this stuff out and, if you are so inclined, please take a moment and add your own favorite site--comics-related or otherwise--in the comments section.

Aaron Severson’s Cosmic Teams Batman Chronology
Absolute Knave by Stephen Ryan
Atop the Fourth Wall
Aussie Nightwriter’s Dick Grayson Blog
Axaxaxas mlö
The Bat Squad
Batman Chronological Order by deaconblackfire76
Batman MicroHeroes Visual Index
Books & Comics Blog
Boosterrific! The Unofficial Annotated Adventures of Booster Gold
Collected Editions
Comic Book Resources
Comics Alliance
Comics Bulletin
The Comics Cube!
The Comic Treadmill
The Comics Archives
The Clockworm
David Uzumeri’s annotations @ Funnybook Babylon
DC Comics Database
Deep Space Transmissions
Don Markstein's Toonopedia
Flash Profiles
Gotham Spoilers
Grantbridge Street
Ian’s Trade Reading Order
Jeff Harvey's Unofficial Silver Age DC Chronology
Karridian's DC Universe 
Legions of Gotham
Let's Be Friends Again
Love dat Joker blog
Matt Seneca Comix
Michael Kooiman’s Cosmic Teams Database
Mike’s Amazing World of DC Comics
Mindless Ones
Nerds of the Round Table
Pop Apostle
The Realm of Ryan
Rikdad’s Comic Thoughts
Savage Critics
Sequart Research & Literacy Organization
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…
Superman Homepage
Television Forever
Too Busy Thinking About My Comics
Too Dangerous For a Girl
The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe
The Unauthorized Chronology of the DC Universe
We Believe in Harvey Dent Blog
The Wright Opinion

When was Damian born?

The question of whether or not Damian, in the New Age (New 52) was conceived and born before Bruce became Batman or during his first year as Batman has been mused upon by comic book fans and chronologists at conventions, comic shops, and on message boards for the past year.  DC has yet to address this in its new comic continuity, so until they do, everything surmised is pure speculation.  So far, it is my belief that Bruce trained in his early pre-Batman years with Ra's Al Ghul, met Talia around that time, knocked her up, and had little Damian.  Many argue that Damian's growth was artificially sped up by League of Assassins scientists, meaning that even if he was conceived as little as five years ago, he could still look like a ten-year-old in 2011 or 2012.  This doesn't really sit well with me, for a laundry list of reasons that I won't bother delving into at this juncture.  (Ask me and I'll tell you why if you are truly interested!)  

I've chosen a few selections from message boards and internet forums that seem to grasp the New 52 Damian conundrum with an open and enlightened mind.  Note that a few of these selections quote Scott Snyder.  I have yet to confirm any of the Snyder quotes and don't know where these commentators got them from.  However, the quotes directly from writers and artists like James Tynion and Greg Capullo, we can take as gospel.  Here are just handful of the many, many posts I've scrutinized on the web that deal not only with Damian's age and conception, but the ages of the other Bat Family members as well:

--Anonymous on the Warner Bros/DC Comics message boards/forum (Sept. 13, 2011):
"Scott Snyder has stated that Damian was conceived while Batman was training, which is in his first year.  [...] He says that Bruce will float around 33-35 [years of age] in character personality. Snyder [also says] ... [Batman has been active for] roughly 10 years, roughly [33-35 years old].

--Theozilla on the CBR forum/message boards (Sept. 9, 2011):
"[Scott] Synder basically says Bruce is around 33 years old and that gives him about 12 years of activity, which all the Robins can be squeezed into."

--James Tynion IV (Batman Vol. 2 writer!) says in a CBR interview with Jeffrey Renaud (Feb. 29, 2012):
"The back-up [story in Batman Vol. 2 #8], "The Fall of the House of Wayne," is set around 33 years ago, in Bruce's infancy."

--Greg Capullo (Batman Vol. 2 artist!) on the CBR forums (Sept. 24, 2011):
"The [editor-in-chief, Bob Harras,] said [in regard for how old to make the characters look when drawing them in Batman Vol. 2 #1], ages 30 [for Bruce], 19 [—later changed to 21 for Dick], 16 [for Tim], and 10 [for Damian]."

--Grim on ComicVine message boards/forum (Nov. 22, 2011):
"The one thing you can guess for sure is that all the Robins were only Robin for 2-4 years. Dick is only in his 20s, as is Barb[ara Gordon]."

--TheLuckyOne on CBR message boards (Sept. 4, 2011):
"The ways around [continuity issues regarding Damian’s conception] ... are to either say Damian was artificially aged [quickly], or change Son of the Demon to say Bruce wasn't Batman yet when he and Talia were together."

--SeoulCanuck on CBR message boards (July 21, 2011):
"Doesn't it make more sense for Bruce to have met and trysted with Talia during his "roaming the world, learning from masters" phase, long before he ever put on the cowl? That would mean Talia hadn't drugged and raped him, of course, but it's a lot easier to accept a teenage mistake than artificially aging what would be a three-year-old into a tween's body, isn't it? Why wouldn't Talia have just made him into an adult, if she could clone and indoctrinate the clone that well? It means jettisoning a little bit of Bat-history, but DCnU certainly doesn't seem reluctant to mess with the history of their other icon."

--Vitruvian on CBR message boards (July 21, 2011):
"[The New 52] is better [off] by far to have Bruce and Talia get together while Bruce was roaming the world training himself for his war on crime; maybe even include some of the Nolan movie elements of some of that training coming from the League of Shadows, if not direct tutelage by the Demon's Head himself (or maybe that stays good, too)."

New Age (New 52) Timeline Started

I've begun rough drafting a New Age Batman Chronology aka New 52 Batman Chronology over at the Real Batman Chronology Project, so please check it out and give me notes (via e-mail if possible).

While DC still keeps calling this new multiverse "The New 52," I have not.  In keeping with the linguistic tradition of properly naming superhero comic book epochs, I have dubbed this part of history–since it follows the Golden, Silver (and Bronze), and Modern Ages–the NEW AGE.

2011 brought about a major shift in the DC Universe/Multiverse/Omniverse. With the mega-crossover event Flashpoint, the world of Batman was restructured yet again. This relaunch/reboot gave unto us a brand new history for Batman, one that is still settling to this date. As always, I’m hopefully up to the arduous task of chronicling this dense history. It will be tricky, but here I go again!

This timeline is so new that it will constantly be changing as each new bit of information is revealed week-to-week. Therefore, it should be understood that it is not the finalized version and construction will be occurring for quite some time to come. Unlike our previous timelines, the New Age timeline will run each calendar year from the normal January through December format. As far as this chronology is concerned, if a story/event is not canonically referenced in the pages of the New 52 issues themselves, then I’m not considering it canon–it’s as simple as that. Of course, none of this is a strict policy and everything is subject to change.

Another initial issue I’m having that is of utmost importance: Since DC is being extremely vague as to revealing information regarding a timeline of the New 52, I’m unsure whether or not Batman debuts in the same year as Superman, or if Batman has his “urban legend” period for a few years prior to the new Action Comics Vol. 2 and Justice League Vol. 2. If Detective Comics Vol. 2 takes place during Batman's "rookie years" as well (confirmed by Tony Daniel) then I’m confused as to why, in the first issue, Daniel says Joker has been around for six years. Does this mean that Batman has been secretly active for five or six years prior to Superman’s debut? Or does this simply mean that Joker has been around since before Bruce became Batman? Hopefully, I will figure this out sooner than later.  BUT, if anyone at all has any input, please let me know!

QUICK UPDATE as of 4 March 2012:  I've realized that Tony Daniel's Detective run takes place "in the now," meaning 2012 (as opposed to "5 years ago").  Tony Daniel has recently confirmed that 'tec occurs in 2011-2012.

There are several versions of the New Age that I am playing around with.  Each of them seems feasible at this point, but hopefully one will stand out as the "most correct" one eventually.  I will now run down the different concepts.

A.  The first timeline is the way I'm currently imagining the New Age chronology.  In it the age of superheroes begins FIVE YEARS AGO with Batman debuting roughly a year before Superman and with the Justice League debuting a year after that--thus placing current 2012 story-lines at the beginning of a fresh Year Eight (although some stories begin in late 2011).  Most Internet chronologists that have bothered to attempt a new timeline seem to be going with this version as well (or something like it).  This implies two important changes from the Modern Age: one, Bruce met Ra's Al Ghul shortly before he was Batman and met and conceived a child with Talia shortly before he was Batman;  and two, Dick, Jason, and Tim were each Robins for much shorter time periods.

B.  In regard to the meeting of the Al Ghul family, another alternate timeline idea would be to include an extra few "hidden years" before Year One (thus making our current 2012 year, YEAR NINE or YEAR TEN or even YEAR ELEVEN instead of Year Eight), which would make it so Bruce definitively meets Ra's Al Ghul and knocks up Talia in his first year as Batman.  This would curiously, in a way, synch-up the New 52 timeline with Christopher Nolan's universe--Ra's Al Ghul (and possibly Scarecrow) as the first villains in the first year, followed by Joker in the second.  Version A is already kind of like that, but the extra years ostensibly give Version B more credence. 

C.  IN CONTRAST, I have also seen an alternative which posits that Superman and the JL both indeed debuted FIVE YEARS AGO, but that Batman has been around for five or six years prior to that--having kept out of the public eye and maintained the status of urban legend.  Thus, this alternative timeline says that Batman secretly debuted ELEVEN YEARS AGO or TWELVE YEARS AGO and only publicly "came out" five years ago (placing 2012 as Year Twelve).  If this is true, then it not only gives us a lot more room to work with, but it allows for more reasonable time periods for the Robins (and reasonable ages for the Robins), makes more sense in regard to the conception and birth of Damian.  Also, giving us eleven years to work with instead of a mere five allots a huge chunk of extra space that we can fill with the myriad of canonical-stories-that-surely-will-be-made-canon-if-they-haven't-been-made-canon-already.  However, to play devil's advocate against this alternate timeline I paraphrase vitruvian's insightful commentary from the CBR message boards: "We know that Batman was around for a while as an "urban legend" or hunted vigilante before JL Vol. 2 #1, rather than as a superhero (Superman supposedly being the first person recognized as such), but we really have no idea how long.  I doubt it was a full five or six years, or that the debut of Robin predates the 'superheroic era,' since there was no indication in JL Vol. 2 #1 that vigilante Batman was known for having a kid sidekick, but who knows."  Who knows indeed.

The more I think about it, Version C's Twelve Year Model (where Year 12 is 2012) seems more and more legitimate and appropriate.  In Red Hood & The Outlaws, Jason mentions that he spent "years" (emphasis on the plural yearS) learning to fight crime under Batman's tutelage.  This seemingly implies that the Robins were Robins for longer than a one-year period each.  In the shorter Eight Year Model (Version A), the Robins only serve their sidekick posts for roughly a year each.  In a Twelve Year Model, each Robin can hold his post for around two years.  ALSO, with the recent canonization of elements of "Knightfall" (as per Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #6) i.e. Bane breaking Batman's back, it seems as if an extra year or two (or three or four) might be appropriate.  Maybe a Batman debut in 2000 or 2001 would be correct--it certainly would allow for Damian's conception to occur during Batman's first year in action.  However, the obvious counter-argument against this would be that it extends Batman's "urban legend" period to five or six years long.  Also, we still have to deal with that pesky insinuation in Detective Comics Vol. 2 #1 that says Joker has been active for six years as of 2011-2012.  If this fact is indeed true in the Version C's Twelve Year Model, then Batman is around for nearly six years before Joker debuts.  This seems highly unlikely to the point of it being ludicrous.  Joker isn't around for five or six years!?  How can any of this jive?  Until we get a bit more info I'm afraid I'm still grasping in the dark.

The questions and complications that arise with Version C might be too great to overcome, despite the fact that it seems the most legit.  If you'd like to see what I've done so far (i.e. my Version D!) then please check out:

But what do YOU think?  I'm not only looking to stimulate conversation here, but I am also seriously looking for the correct answer!  Help!  Send me an email at and deliver me some feedback, please!


Doin It and Doin It and Doin It Well... I Hope!

Speaking of (and shilling) the new website--which already has over 10,000 unique viewer hits in less than six months (thanks!)--I just thought I'd add my Intro from the new site onto here, especially since I know there are still a lot of readers that prefer (or are simply just used to) checking out the Real Batman Chronology Project on this blogspot.  For those who haven't had the chance to view the Intro, here it is!  Basically, this Intro explains in further detail why I felt this project was necessary, what it is all about, and why it fascinates me.  It was also important for me to, in an almost disclaimer-ish way, defend myself--well, not quite defend (that's such a harsh word), but explain--that I really wanted this chronology to be non-opinionated and nonobjective as much as humanly possible.  That is, I wanted this project to be scholarly and unbiased.  And I hope that I've been able to achieve that goal.  I've read various criticisms of my site on the web that claim that I've failed to live up to my expectations, but my hope is that the majority of my followers and readers think otherwise.  Ultimately, if this project can turn into something more (i.e. an actual tangible published book or dissertation) it would mean a lot to me if it was devoid of as much fanboy-ism as possible--although, I'm a huge fanboy, so there is always going to be some sarcasm, snarkiness, impertinence, and hyperbole delicately sprinkled throughout the site.

Here is my spiel from the Intro to the new website:

"Why so many timelines, you ask? Well, to put it simply, Batman has a long and storied history that dates back to 1939.  This rich history, aside from a few niche areas of the Internet, has not really been successfully evaluated and analyzed from a narratological perspective of serial-continuity.  To answer the query about "why so many timelines" in a more scrutable and scholarly way, DC has a habit of rebooting its characters about every twenty-five years. For Batman, the titular character debuts in 1939 and gets rebooted roughly somewhere from 1960 to 1964--about twenty-five years later. The second version of Batman--the Silver Age Batman of Earth-One--lasts until 1985/1986. That's close to twenty-five years later. And guess what? Another twenty-five years have passed since 1986. You guessed correctly if you said DC has rebooted Batman again. 2011 brought about the third major reboot (don't call it a relaunch) in the history of the DC Universe. Pretty interesting stuff, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. The complexity and narratological structuring and re-structuring involved with serial fiction has always fascinated me. Batman, in particular, has always been of particular interest in regard to this fascination. I hope you enjoy this project as much as I have enjoyed working on it. And I hope that you can learn something from it, not only about Batman, but about narrative continuity as told by multiple artists and authors in a variegated serial-fictional world."

"Oh, and one final note: This site is meant to be entirely non-opinionated and nonobjective, and not some random fanboy list of my own personal favorite Batman stories.  I'll be the first to admit that I geek out a bit harder (and usually write a bit more positively) about my faves and likewise, write a bit more negatively about things I don't like as much.  That being said, this does not mean that I'm trying to alienate any fans or tell any of my readers what's good and what's bad.  I'll leave that to the reviewers and the critics.  This website is not a comic book review or critique site.  This website is home to an intensive scholarly research project, through-in and throughout.  There are a ton of stories I've included on my timelines that I despise and many more that I absolutely adore, which are absent since they are non-canon. I can't stress this enough: The Real Batman Chronology Project is meant to be uninfluenced, unbiased, and most importantly, a scientific research-based endeavor that examines the continuity of Batman via a narratological reading based solely upon the facts (admittedly as I see them) in the comic books themselves."

Thanks all, and keep reading!

From Blogspot to Dotcom

In case you were unaware.  Please be sure to check out the new website that is up-and-running smoothly at

The Modern Age has been transferred over completely now.  The Golden Age is under way (first eight years nearly completed).  The Silver Age and New Age (New 52) are coming soon!

Thanks for everyone's continued support.  And a special thanks to my followers and anyone who has lent a helping hand, word of advice, criticism, or compliment.