The last couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and game-playing with little mind to how I could blog about it.
While it has been liberating, it certainly hasn’t been good for blogging.
I’ve actually taken a bit of a break from old Sci-Fi and even the Pulps (though I’m managing to stay on top of my column for Castalia House) to plow through the massive stacks of Batman I’ve acquired over the last couple of years.
At one point, I found a list that put a ton of the Batman trades in Chronological order (Year One/Post-Crisis Batman) and entered them into my Amazon wishlist. Because I entered them in order, that meant that a bunch of the latter day Batman books were at the top of the list, so, when people bought stuff off my wishlist, I tended to get those books close to the ‘end’ of pre-Flashpoint universe. Meanwhile, when I buy single issue runs, I go for early Legends of the Dark Knight stuff when I can, and I also bought someone’s graphic novel collection which includes bookends of the Cataclysm/No Man’s Land arc which I’m currently filling out.
So, where I’m at now, I’ve been reading the post-whichever-Crisis Dick Grayson Batman and 90s Batman, and eventually I will end up in a place where they will meet. Someday. There’s still a lot of Batman in between.
90s Chuck Dixon/Alan Grant Batman is some of my favorite, with some really great story-telling and creepy villains. The 90s stuff really strikes that great balance of crime, horror, and superhero stuff that tonally sets Batman apart from rest of the DC world he’s in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Bruce Wayne as Batman – he is THE Batman, but I also really enjoyed the Prodigal arc epilogue of Knightfall, during which a Grayson/Drake dynamic duo fill in while Batman gets his head right (and returns with 3-foot ears and terrible artwork in time for Troika). It was a different dynamic with different psychological baggage to unpack. I don’t really care one way or the other for Grayson’s Robin, nor have I ever gotten into Nightwing, but I really enjoy seeing Grayson as Batman and his struggles to fill the enormous shoes of his mentor. I liked it in Prodigal, and I still like it in post-Battle for the Cowl Batman arcs I’ve read.
It does seem like Tim Drake gets a bit hung out to dry, though. In a lot of ways, Tim Drake is the definitive Robin of my generation – he was the Robin in the comics, he was the Robin in the last season of BtAS, he was probably Robin in Teen Titans, while Dick was the “old Robin” and those of us who weren’t as up on the comics had no idea who Jason Todd was. While I enjoyed the relationship between Bruce and Damien, a Batman struggling to figure out what to do with an ACTUAL son, I think I preferred the Grayson/Drake pairing to Grayson/Wayne. BUT, I can understand why Tim has to be shuffled out of the mix – by the time the mantle has been passed on, Drake and Grayson are too close to the same age, so it’s a different relationship (Drake doesn’t need the mentoring anymore the way Damien does).
It’s still kind of sad seeing the exchange during the earthquake arc where Bruce tells Tim that hopes that one day he will take up the mantle, knowing that it is not meant to be. Jean Paul Valley was a disaster, and Bruce himself says that Dick Grayson was the wrong person. Bruce may have changed his mind on that during the intervening years, but Dick probably knew Bruce felt that way at least at one point, and has that, along with all of his other doubts, hanging over him.