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After Forty-Five Years… the Friday I Said So Long

You know, maybe it’s some kind of comics-related Seasonal Affective Disorder or something.

Because the same week that my colleagues Mr. Burgas and Mr. Nevett have owned up to feeling a bit burned out on the modern Marvel and DC, I find myself almost completely abandoning both of those publishers as well, as far as new comics are concerned.

In fact, I finally did something I’d been thinking about doing for a while; I canceled the last Bat book from my pull list. I just can’t justify keeping any of them on it any longer; I’m not enjoying them, they cost too damn much, and if for some reason I change my mind, the idea that they won’t eventually be available as discounted trade paperbacks is laughable.

But it felt… weird.

See, I’ve been buying some kind of Batman-related book once a month for– well, decades. It’s embarrassing to admit, but it was like ending a relationship or something. Somewhere in the back of my head I can hear myself saying, Dude, it’s not you, it’s me. I just can’t hang out any more. Good luck with that whole fighting crime thing.

I’m turning fifty-one in a few days, which means that I’ve been somehow embroiled with comics and superheroes one way or another for forty-five years. More than a hobby, less than an obsession…. somewhere in that middle ground where it’s a big part of my life without quite veering over into Compulsive Crazytown.

And for almost all of those years, Batman comics have been front and center.

As I’ve said more than once, it started with Adam West; this was back when a big TV hit could actually boost sales of a comic book. Certainly without the TV show I probably never would have found Batman comics, at least not when I did.

Still airing here on KVOS, Saturday nights at 7pm, and we usually still watch it.

Anyway, thinking about that, it occurred to me that it might be fun to look back at those four-and-a-half decades of Batman comics, at five-year intervals, and see what was going on in Gotham City back then.

The first actual Batman comic book I ever bought was this one, Batman #207. Forty-five years ago almost to the day.

Reprinted in SHOWCASE PRESENTS BATMAN volume four, for those playing along at home.

At the time, I wasn’t much impressed. The story was “The Doomsday Ball!” by Frank Robbins, with art from Irv Novick and Joe Giella. A “super-miniaturized” hydrogen bomb has fallen into the hands of a criminal who is using it to extort ten million dollars from the city. The U.S. military asks Commissioner Gordon to call in Batman and Robin to find it before the deadline.

Batman and Robin enlist the aid of the local mob to try to ID the extortionist from the tape of the phone call to Gordon’s office. (The ‘death trap’ on the cover is just the Dynamic Duo fighting their way in to see the mob kingpin in his office.)

Batman and Robin make their case to the mob 'district captains.' Unfortunately, when they catch up to the guy, it doesn't go well.

It’s the usual tightly-plotted story (with the usual vaguely implausible gimmick) you would get from Frank Robbins back then. I like it better today than I did when I was six, but back in 1968, it just didn’t do much for me. There weren’t any ‘name’ Batman villains in it, and the action was largely confined to breaking into the mob’s office building to enlist their help. (I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, but what I wanted was more dynamism in the art, a little Marvel-style bombast.)

Nevertheless, I kept buying Batman comics, usually when there was a Giant issue. But it wouldn’t develop into a monthly thing until…

…Five years later. Batman had gotten his makeover into THE Batman, and I was well and truly hooked. In November of 1973 we had these two classics–

Detective #439, one of my favorite single issues of all time from my favorite run of Batman. The lead story was “Night of the Stalker,” one of the best single-issue Bat stories ever.

Blew my eleven-year-old self out of my chair.

There was no actual issue of Batman that month, it was alternating bi-monthly with Detective. But we did get this– Brave and the Bold #111, with the classic “Death Has The Last Laugh!” from Haney and Aparo.

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It took me a few years to actually OWN this one. I eventually bought it as a back issue-- but I vividly remember reading it on the stand, while we were at the Brightwood General Store waiting for Dad to buy beer.

Many people have written about how great these were, including me more than once, so I’ll just sigh a little and move on.

Five years later, in 1978? Not legendary greatness like we were were getting in 1973, but not BAD.

Batman #308. A solid if unremarkable Mr. Freeze story from Len Wein. Chiefly of interest because this is the run where Wein was introducing the character of Lucius Fox and bringing Selina Kyle into the book as Bruce’s love interest.

This is another one I didn't buy-- just flipped through it and put it back. John Calnan's art wasn't doing it for me, I was still pining for Marshall Rogers. But I was interested enough in the soap opera Wein was spinning to skim it.

Brave and the Bold #147 was another solid-if-uninspiring tale. Batman and Supergirl in “Death-Scream From the Sky!” I still dug what Haney and Aparo were doing and I did buy this one, but it’s not up there with the classics.

Still good comics, but the art from Jim Aparo felt a little off to me. The shadows weren't as rich, he was doing something different with the inking.

No, that month the book I enjoyed the most was far and away Detective #482, which had merged with Batman Family.

NIGHT OF THE BODY SNATCHER! was a weird but cool story from Jim Starlin and Craig Russell, two guys I never expected to see work on a Batman story at all, let alone as collaborators.

I had mixed feelings about the Dollar Comics experiment– I think I’d have preferred a couple of reprints rather than the second-rate backup features we were getting– but the lead stories were always good and sometimes there’d be a pleasant surprise in the back. In the case of Detective, though, I loved that they’d managed to rescue the Batman Family title by folding it into the book, and the stories were definitely on a roll, especially with the artists.

I was totally willing to ignore Etrigan not really being a Bat-character if it meant getting cool stuff like this.

Fast-forwarding again, to November of 1983…

I don’t know what it is about November. I didn’t actually look these up before deciding to write this retrospective, but somehow the November releases keep hitting issues of Batman and Detective that are on my personal greatest-hits list.

Case in point: this great little two-parter from Doug Moench, Don Newton, and Gene Colan– the (first) debut of Jason Todd as Robin. Batman #368 and Detective #535.

My SECOND-favorite run of Bat-comics.

This was when Batman and Detective were tied together, so you essentially were getting a serialized Batman narrative with a new installment every other week. I loved it. Especially with Don Newton on Batman…

…and Gene Colan on Detective.

And Doug Moench writing both. It was great stuff. Amazingly, it’s never been reprinted, as far as I know. There are the two hardcover collections featuring Don Newton and Gene Colan Batman stories, but only the Colan got as far as the Moench era… and since the books are meant to feature the artists, the stories that are reprinted feel a bit disjointed.

That particular run of stories leading up to Batman #400, when Len Wein relinquished his editorial duties to Denny O’Neil, is what I think of as the last hurrah of “my” Batman. The guy that showed up in “Secret of the Waiting Graves” back in 1969, peaked with Englehart and Rogers in 1977, and pretty much left with Len Wein in 1986.

My guy's beginning, middle, and end.

Who replaced him? Grim-n-gritty, post-Frank Miller Batman, as we can see when we jump forward to November 1988.

On the monthly books, things were not going well.

Didn't love these.

Batman #429 was the last chapter of “Death in The Family.” This was when Jim Starlin was on the book and he seemed determined to bring us everything bad about post-Watchmen ‘dark’ superheroes, culminating with this story built around the 1-800-KILL-ROBIN stunt. That remains, to my mind, one of the lowest points in the history of the title. And Detective #595 was a lame tie-in to Invasion! — Alan Grant and John Wagner were still new on the book, Norm Breyfogle had taken the month off, and this tie-in to a not-very-good crossover was not their finest hour.

Really, it wasn't, and the Irv Novick art wasn't great either.


The November streak wasn’t over, because that month we also got these! Best of the Brave and the Bold #6, and The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told. Both awesome, and they really took the edge off the sad state of the current books.

I DID love these.

Although the B&B reprint book did remind me again how annoyed I was that the title had been canceled in favor of saddling Batman with a second-rate version of the Titans. (I did eventually come around on Batman and the Outsiders, but it took YEARS.)

How about 1993? If anything could kill the November lucky streak, it would have to be the early nineties. Let’s see.

Well, the regular books — Batman #503, Detective #670, and Shadow of the Bat #23– were all in the middle of “Knightquest.” The saggy second act of the Knightfall Saga.

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I didn’t care for these stories at all. In fact, I didn’t much care for Knightfall as a whole until I read Denny O’Neil’s prose novel, at which point I came around on it.

However, there was still good Batman around, because the early nineties also were the heyday of Batman: The Animated Series. Which meant we got The Batman Adventures every month.

And they were GREAT.

That November gave us not only #15 of the regular monthly but also a trade collection of the first six issues, just in time for Christmas. Several youngsters of my acquaintance got that book from Santa that year.

And by then we also had Legends of the Dark Knight, which usually could be depended on to have the real Batman in it and not this Azrael guy. #56 was part two of “Watchtower,” an odd three-parter from Chuck Dixon and Mike McMahon. Much better was the second part of Two-Face Strikes Twice!, a terrific little two-part prestige miniseries from Mike Barr, Joe Staton, and Daerick Gross.

I think the Two-Face book preserves the November streak.

So even in the middle of the Azrael business, there were still good Batman books to be had.

And five years after that? November of 1998 brought us…

…well, a whole pantload of Bat books.

That’s not even counting the ancillary titles starring Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, and Azrael… and that November was the month that the Birds of Prey debuted in their regular monthly, too. I think I’m not going to try and do individual reviews from this point on.

And I was buying all of them– my pull list order was simply, “All Batman,” so by God they gave me all the Batman. I suspect around this period was probably when I looked at my Batman-related pull list and said to myself, “Self, this is getting ridiculous. We don’t need EVERY SINGLE BATMAN BOOK THERE IS.”

(Although that November did bring some good books. Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1, the hardcover of Crimson Mist, Die Laughing with Batman and Judge Dredd… if it wasn’t a high point, well, there was still a good haul of Bat stuff to be had that month.)

So I began to thin the herd. By 2003 I was down to the core titles…

And I was digging Death and the Maidens, from Greg Rucka and Klaus Janson, and also the two trade paperbacks Child of Dreams and Batgirl: Year One.

And I was still in with the secondary books — Robin, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, and Batgirl (the Cassandra Cain one.) Still a lot, but it felt more manageable. It was also finally beginning to dawn on me that book collections were vastly preferable to the monthly booklet-style comics.

Five years later, in 2008… well, I was doing this weekly gig here by then, I think, so I can just go look it up. I’d seriously resolved to cut the monthly pull and I was doing reasonably well everywhere else… but damn, it was hard to quit the Batman stuff, even though it was getting regularly collected in book form by then. I was buying Batman, Detective, Nightwing, and Birds of Prey, and it was right in the middle of the whole “Last Rites” – “Batman R.I.P.” thing.

I wrote about it then, I’m not going to go back over it now. Suffice it to say that I mostly liked the core story, hated the tie-ins, and thought DC massively mishandled the way the trade collections were put together.

And the next leap after that takes us to today. And… well, here I am, not buying Batman comics. The Court of Owls crossover pretty much chased me off the Batman titles, and Nightwing… I just was not digging it.

I know Batman Inc. is back, but I find I don’t miss it. (Honestly, I much preferred the Morrison version of Batman and Robin starring Dick and Damian, I was not ready to say goodbye to that one.) And though I hear good things about this Joker arc Snyder has lined up, I just can’t get excited about another Joker story, particularly with the new ‘dark’ version that DC is touting.

The last Batman book I bought was the Dark Knight collection, Knight Terrors. Because it was on sale and I thought I’d give it a shot, despite not really loving the steroid-abuse look of the Batman on the cover.

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And…. well, I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for it. Further deponent sayeth not.

The two I went out on.

At any rate, I’m forced to conclude that this New 52 Batman is just not for me. I’ve hung in there for almost a half-century, and there have been some pretty crappy Batman comics here and there, but mostly I enjoyed them. But the new stuff… I dunno. I was on board for most of the Morrison ride, but I’m just not as in love with that Batman as my colleagues here.

I’m pretty sure that has more to do with my tastes than with the merits of the work itself. You know, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Maybe it’s just time for a change. Or maybe it’s winter blahs.

Anyway, it’s not as though I don’t have Batman comics to enjoy. The nice thing about doing a retrospective like this is that it reminds me how many cool comics I already have here. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from building the library and just enjoy it.

See you next week.


I gave up about three years ago.

For more than forty years there wasn’t a week went by that I didn’t read at least one Batman story.

Just thinking about that staggers me. That is an amazing amount of stories about one character.

They were all fun, but there are only a few that resonate.

Robin Dies at Dawn.

The Laughing Fish.

And a few in between.

I hear you, DC and Marvel are making new comics for someone but it is not me.

Good gravy, Greg, for a second there I thought you were quitting the blogging business like Chad. I was freaking out until I realized you were just talking about Batman.

Anyway, I stopped buying monthlies 4 years ago about this time. I just don’t have the cash for it. I don’t really keep up with the trades either. I focus most of my limited funds on buying collections of older comics. I’m just not feeling superhero comics as they’re published today. This feels weird to say considering that I’m a few decades younger than you, but I feel like the comics times have passed me by.

Great article.
I really miss DickBats&Damien.
That said when it comes to the best Batman series of the last 20 years the Animated series (including the recent brave and the bold) win hands down

P.S. Go ahead and quit monthlies but just don’t quit blogging!!

See, here I am going, it’s been 5 years since that RIP/Last Rites thing? Damn, I’m gettin’ old!

(which makes it even odder if Morrison’s Bat run didn’t make the top 100 list in ’08, as the stuff up to that point was really really good.)

While I haven’t been as big on the Big 2 lately (most Marvel is meh to me, and most of the 52 haven’t impressed me — some of those zero issues were totally garbage, too), I have been trying to visit my comics shops weekly for the first time…ever. Between having reliable transportation, money, and a wide interest in all sortsa comics, I’m pumped to get to the comics shop most every week this year. IDW, Dynamite, Image, DH, lots of “other” publishers are doing really really good stuff this year. 2012 will be looked at as a golden year when future comics geeks talk about “the good old days”, I think.

Of course, if I just updated my own pull list, I wouldn’t HAVE to get to the shop every week.

But I too should sit back and enjoy the comics library I’ve built up. My list of comics I’ve bought and haven’t read is pretty damn big, and I need to cut down that shelf of shame. That, and finish actually sorting and boxing my comics. My OCD/bizarre sorting rituals don’t help me out there. I’ll dig out one book, say, ooh, that should go with THAT group of books, and then I’ve got a whole ‘nother pile that is “in transition” from one box to another.

Obsessive compulsive AND addicted. That’s my problem.

I gave up in a similar fashion on new comics, during NO MAN’S LAND. too many “events” turned me off, I just could not grasp the story any more, which was barely sequential if at all.
Yet there are plenty of independent, self-contained, well-written comics out there for an avid reader to be satisfied, and today I’m even catching up with all those golden age and silver age gems I never had a chance to read before. You know, when comics were still fun. I do it in digital, for a fraction of the price, so all is well.
I’m now in the process of selling my 25k+ collection, to make space in the house for a new era and make other people happy in the process. That is the circle of life ;) Amen Brother.

What kinda books you selling, JC? Got any old Cerebus?

Yeah, I’m obsessed.

What Ninjazilla said (about blogging) – for a second there when I saw the post title my heart skipped a beat because I thought you were giving up your column…
Since I gave up regular month-to-month comics buying a looooong time ago (like in the late 1980s), I can’t entirely relate to the feeling of loss expressed here, but I still get it. Great rundown, by the way. Your entry from 1978 brought back some pleasant memories, for although I was more of a Marvel boy, I did buy quite a few DC titles in those cheap Whitman three-packs, including that very issue of Batman (#308). Also, I very much loved the Dollar Comics of that time: Batman Family/Detective, World’s Finest, Adventure – they were just packed with great stuff.
By the way, since I see you have Crimson Mist pictured in your 1998 entry, and given the general laments over the stuff going on in the regular, ‘canon’ Bat series, what do you think of the various Batman Elseworlds stories? I’ve enjoyed every single one I’ve read – I think Batman (like Superman) lends himself well to the Elseworlds format, and it’s a great way to enjoy Bat stories without worrying about the baggage of continuity, etc.

Hey Travis, welcome to the club ;-)
Of Cerebus I have all the phone books, some autographed by Sim and Gerhard + Cerebus 0, no more than a handful of scattered single issues. they will come up for sale as soon as I finish the inventory. Anyone interested, drop me an email at scarce@jclebourdais.com
Some of my original art is up at http://www.millon-associes.com/index.jsp?setLng=en for sale in early december.
35 years worth of collecting will take a bit of time to dig up through ;)

The funny thing is we agree on the fundamentals while profoundly disagreeing on a lot of points. Certainly that’s the case with the historical stuff (I love the Len Wein edited era but wasn’t wild about Moench’s Batman but loved Batman and the Outsiders and anything Mike W. Barr did with the character), but also the current situation.

I’m pretty much done with DC as well, but the one book I’ve been keeping with in terms of superhero stuff is Scott Synder’s Batman. I really liked the Court of the Owls storyline (though I think it went on a bit too long) and I’m sticking with the new Joker storyline for now. I think they’ve been the best superhero comics of the New 52. But I can see your point too: they’re the best of a bad lot (not just in terms of the Bat books, but the new DC).

I don’t know how long I’ll keep with it (and the other DC book I’ve been loving, Dial H). I’m just burned out with a DC universe founded on being dark and edgy and gritty. I could take what you’re saying about the Bat Books and easily say them about the Superman books. I just gave up on Action Comics (which I should be loving because it’s one of the only bastions of whimsy left in the DC universe, but Morrison is phoning it in; and watching Grant Morrison phone in anything is not a pretty sight) and Superman was left behind ages ago. I started the New 52 with about 8 or 10 books. Now I’m down to 2.

It’s funny though. The books that have really shaken my faith in the whole experiment have been books with female characters: Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman in name only. And the less said about the new Amethyst the better.

I’m a little younger than you, though not much. Clearly these books aren’t written for me. And maybe they’re doing what the public wants now. I think that’s a shame if that’s the case.

Mint City Comics

November 3, 2012 at 4:25 am

You hit the nail on the head for me in regards to current comics. I owned a comics store for nine years and read everything that came out (including a great majority of small press an independent publishers) and when I sold the shop it wasn’t the same. I haven’t bought a monthly issue in 8 years and I don’t miss it. I buy runs of comics, sometimes taking me months or years to finish. I am either re-reading stuff from when I was younger (finally getting to reading Cerebus in its entirety for the first time, only read 53-150 originally) or finding things I never read (Shade the Changing Man and 80s independents). I can’t really get into the monthly thing anymore and the cost is quite prohibitive! Hope you keep up the column.

The column is not going away, and in fact my weekly visit to the comics shop is probably not going away. The weekly checking in with Marvel and DC, though, and in particular the monthly checking in with Batman, is done. That’s all.

Which sounds silly when I say it. But it still feels weird. That’s where the column came from.

Down to just Batwoman for non-Vertigo DC on my pull-list; in the year before/ of Infinite Crisis and the year of 52 I was probably getting 25-30 DCU books per month. Marvel, down to Daredevil and X-Factor. I suppose it might be simpler to say “I’m out” and cancel ‘em all, but I’m not *quite* ready for that. Close, but not quite.

DC and Marvel drove me away, too.

I never thought it was possible. I bought dozens of both DC and Marvel every month for 45 years. Hell, I even hung in there through the worst garbage they published in the nineties. Maybe somebody likes these new versions of our old heroes, but they’re not for me.

A pox be upon them.

I haven’t bought a regular single issue since the Gaiman issues of Batman, and those were the first in a good while. It’s mostly about the cost of the damn things these days – I have greatly reduced disposable income thanks to being the sole breadwinner for a young family, and the cost of single issues has outstripped inflation by double or more in the last couple if decades, combined with comics in general having a lot less actual content. Main culprits: decompression, too many lazy splash pages in place of story, and no letter columns (used to be a nice bonus that gave you a little more reading for your money).

These days I get trades and keep up with Marvel and DC by getting the UK reprints from Panini and Titan – you get 3 issues bundled together for about 40 pence more than what you pay for a single… And yet when I read something like the new Justice League I still feel like I’m getting ripped off. In general, it’s been a good way of keeping up with Batman, Spidey, Cap, etc, and they’ve just started running Waid’s Daredevil which I’m loving.

I do miss getting my weekly stack of comic books in the late 80s/early 90s, but I guess the upside is the wealth of collections available is a thousand times better than when that Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told you mention got me interested in the fantastic Batman stories that had gone before the stuff I was currently reading by Grant/Breyfogle etc. I had the other version that substituted Son of the Demon for a couple of the other stories, but some of those selections like Ghost of the Killer Skies remain among my favourite Batman stories.

Greg, it is my understanding that Green Lanterns will fill that Bat-Void very nicely.

Sounds like you did exactly what you should’ve, and more “fans” should do. You recognized you’ve moved past the comics you were reading and stopped. The problem is that there used to be new fans coming in to replaced people like you. Instead the companies are so focused on catering to fans who should’ve moved on and have made the comics and where to buy them as new reader unfriendly as possible.

I think the last Bat-comics I bought were the two parts of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” I bought them expecting the story to be some kind of conclusion to Batman’s life, the same way Alan Moore’s Superman story ended the Silver Age. Instead, it turned out to be this masturbatory meta-commnentary on how Batman has achieved legendary status and will always be reincarnated for the next audience. Which I guess is fine as far as Gaiman stories go–I get the sense that they’re ALL like this–but as an ongoing reader, it bothered me. I felt like it effectively undid Frank Miller’s approach with TDKR–that Batman’s life could have a conclusion.* TDKR gave an end to Batman’s beginning and perpetual middle. However, Gaiman’s story–and really all modern storyteling–keeps us in that perpetual middle.

Maybe that’s a big chunk of your dissatisfaction–you’ve been on a treadmill with Batman for 45 years and finally decided that you want off. The price and the nonstop shock stories are just symptoms of that.

* – Yeah, I know that Miller screwed his own story with TDKSB. I just pretend that part never happened.

I am enjoying stuff right now, and I like buying monthlies. But i think if you aren’t enjoying what is coming out, this is the exact right response. Not only can you still buy and read old comics that DO make you happy, but voting with your wallet is the only way to communicate to the Big 2. People who buy their pull list out of duty/obsession and not enjoyment are just telling the Big 2 that they approve of what they are doing. If you don’t like it, you have to not buy it. Nothing else will affect change.

I hit that point with the Fantastic Four back in the 90’s, and it was a hard decisions, since I had EVERY FF story, either as an original or reprint. I had deep love for the characters and their world, but the Tom DeFalco issues were just painful to read. It created a domino effect where I simply followed creator and quit caring about “Keeping the run intact” and changed how I read and collected comics.

Excellent post. I feel much the same way. I’m going to finish Morrison’s stuff in Action and Batman Inc and probably only do trades from there on except for Wonder Woman which I still get excited for monthly…which kind of sucks, because getting that monthly cliff hanger in books is always so fun…

I’ve found myself, the past couple of years, going back and finding more stuff I enjoy. I’ve been devouring Showcases, certain Archives, Essentials and Omnibuses…and have found it to be a much more enjoyable and find myself happier to spend money on…

Crushing buck boxes has also been a lot of fun…I’ve been putting together runs of comics that I love and aren’t too pricey…

I reached this point with my own favorite title, Avengers, during Civil War. After 22 years of buying just about everything Avengers related, I couldn’t take it any longer and quit.

With the Marvel now! nonsense, I find I am also done with Captain America and Thor, which leaves me with just one single Marvel title left on my pull list (Hawkeye). I’ve been reading Marvel faithfully since 1984, but the last few years have killed my affection for the MU. I prefer the movie version.

I find it funny when I read people saying that Marvel and DC are pandering to their old fans. I see this a lot, but just about every old fan I know has been driven away from comics over the last few years. So if pandering to their older fans was their plan, they are doing an incredibly sucky job of it.

I find it funny when I read people saying that Marvel and DC are pandering to their old fans. I see this a lot, but just about every old fan I know has been driven away from comics over the last few years. So if pandering to their older fans was their plan, they are doing an incredibly sucky job of it.

I wonder this a lot too. They don’t seem interested in picking up the newly-minted movie audience for superhero stories, old coots like me are not happy despite the zillions of in-references and heavily-layered continuity…. Who are the books FOR? “Obsessive hobbyists” seems like it should be an incredibly narrow demographic.

I think this is just what happens over time. We get used to a certain style and eventually that becomes so modernized that you are left with something almost unrecognizable. I’ve been collecting for almost 30 years. I remember when a single issues told an actual story, with a beginning and an end, with parts in-between to further the story from one issue to another. The last 10 years of the big two have been hard. I grew up on Avengers and Daredevil, X-Men and FF, with some Batman and Green Lantern mixed in. While the last decade hasn’t been bad, it’s been bad in single issue format. There’s almost no point to single issues anymore, unless you actually get something that’s worth some money, which is few and far between.

I could never read a new Avengers book monthly. I was spoiled by how great it was as a child. I don’t want to spend $3-$4 for twenty-ish pages of faux storytelling. I don’t mind trades and both Marvel and DC make great hardcover collections, but single issues are just not what they were.

With all due respect, could the perceived decline in the Bat-Books have been less due to the actual quality of the comics, and more due to the fact that you were just getting older and moving forward in your life and thinking?

Even though you’ve been reading comics for almost twice as long as I’ve been alive, I agree with you about the new stuff from DC and Marvel. For me the main culprit is the decompression; older comics with same page count used to take 20-30 minutes to read, but modern comics take me only 5-10 minutes to read. I want substantial stories in my single issues, these days it feels like every issue is a segment of a TV episode that is shown between 2 commercial breaks. I also prefer old school paper and coloring to the new stuff.

Man, this column hits home for me.

I’m about 11 years younger than you, Greg, and I’ve experienced a lot of the same feelings you’re talking about here. Although I still read a few books in monthly form (Mark Waid’s Daredevil, the Geoff Johns/Ivan Reis Aquaman & the Francis Maripul Flash), I don’t even hit a comic shop weekly any more. I just wander in to one of the shops in my area about once every month or two and catch up on what I’ve missed. There just wasn’t enough that interested me to justify going in every week.

And yes, all the intense inter-title continuity and the constant rebooting from both DC and Marvel has just worn me down. I don’t think I’ll ever stop reading comics completely, but it doesn’t really feel like they’re writing them for me any more, either. Not that a 40-year old dude SHOULD be their primary target audience, but yes, like you, I’m rather mystified as to who they’re actually writing these comics FOR. There are hardly any superhero comics these days that I’d feel comfortable giving to my 7-year old neices.

I think another factor is that as I’ve gotten older and worked towards doing my own comic books, I’ve developed to many of my OWN ideas about what these characters should & shouldn’t be like. It really interferes with your enjoyment of a comic when you’re going, “But why is Batman doing THAT?” by page 2. That’s why I tend to follow creators more than characters these days.

But you can still find ocassional gems like that. Just this morning I was rereading my trade of BATMAN: KING TUT’S TOMB, which reprints a fun 2010 BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL story by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir (two writers who are new to me) and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (one of the BEST Batman artists ever, IMO). It has pretty much everything I want in a Batman story: Cool villains (My old favorite the Riddler & a new version of King Tut from the 60s TV show), a neat mystery, deathtraps for Batman to escape from, Batman being dark, clever and mysterious, and most of all, FUN. Plus, it doesn’t have any of the gratutious gore that DC seems to put into every book these days. It’s the sort of thing that DC and Marvel should be producing EVERY month, but I only seem to get once every year or so. I still have trouble understanding why that is, excactly.

John: DeFilippis and Weir and very good writers. You should try to find some of their other stuff, especially their non-Marvel comics.

“ARE” good writers. Confounded typos!

I’d certainly be up for it, Greg. Anything of theirs in particular that you’d recommend?

Eh. It seems like every time something I like ends, something else that appeals to me starts. And that goes for Marvel & DC, too.

Part of it may be willingness to try parts of the universe that haven’t been my thing, previously. Heck, that’s how I started reading DC, since I was a Marvel Zombie for a long while.

The Moench run mentioned in this article is one of my least favorite Batman runs period. It’s all that awful schmaltzy soap-opera crap that Moench brought from Marvel. I don’t care about Catwoman and Batman hooking up! Just write fun stories!

I’m re-reading Bob Haney and Jim Aparo’s run of Brave and the Bold and I’m in love with it. It may be one of my favorite comic-book runs ever.

…and why am I in love with it?

No continuity. No soap-opera bullshit. Just Batman and an underused, obscure, and fun partner teaming up for crazy hi-jinks. A run that was killed by Paul Levitz who was trying to Marvel-ize DC…

Honestly, I don’t know the history of comics well enough to make these types of statements but I feel like Marvel’s need to turn everything into an inter-connected soap-opera, which was the reason they were successful in the first place, has ultimately led to why I find 90% of comics junk.

Soap-Opera’s are circular and repetitive in nature. It’s why characters like Spiderman and the X-Men have the same stories told OVER and OVER again (The DEATH of Gwen Stacy, the DEATH of Jean-Wolf….). It’s also why I can’t stand to read any of those stories. They’ve been done to death, but now by writers who grew up with them (Remender, Slott, and Hickman are the biggest offenders).

Batman has had the same problem the past two decades with these “breaking-point” stories. Knightfall, No Man’s Land, Hush…ENOUGH ALREADY! I though the farce/meta commentary that was BATMAN RIP would finally put an end to it, but COURT OF OWLS success proved me wrong. Shame.

I still think Batman Inc. is amazing, but if it’s not for you, I understand. Like John Trumbull mentioned though, there are still great Batman comics coming out every once in awhile (Like the Batman Confidential story), which is more than any other super-hero at the moment.

I’ve been digging the core Batman books– although it took new writers coming aboard to make that happen for TDK and ‘Tec– but I have also been lamenting the end of the Morrison era. Sure, BATMAN INC still comes out every month, and is awesome as always, but it’s ignored by all the other books, aside from an occasional nod in B&R. I really wish Morrison’s B&R would have lasted at least twice as long before Bruce returned. I do enjoy the current books, like I said, but we already have so many great Bruce-as-Batman stories that it would have been very nice to have that different flavor last a while longer. Anyway…

The Batman books have been a constant in my life too, all the way back to the day I found a stack of comics at a garage sale, ranging from the early ’70s to the then-current mid-’80s. My mom told me I could pick out either 3 or 5– I don’t recall for certain which number it was– and I had a hell of a time making a decision. I wound up with 1 Green Lantern, and the rest were Batman books. they were part of the stack of comics and dinosaur books I used to teach myself to read before I was old enough to start school. Batman comics have been with me ever since.

Given all that, I can definitely relate to the sheer damn weirdness of suddenly being cut off from the regular flow of new Batman stories. I once had to do it myself on a temporary basis years ago, due to financial difficulties. At least you’re not having to go cold turkey off all comics altogether; that would be significantly rougher. There are always great collections of classic material coming out, too.

That was a nicely written stroll down memory lane, Greg. I had to smile when I saw your 1978 books as Batman #308 and B&TB #147 were two of the first comics I ever read. Picked them both up in those 3-packs of comics they used to sell at places like K-Mart. Specifically, I got Batman #306-308 and B&TB #145-147 and those six issues, while not terribly great comics in retrospect, hold great amounts of nostalgia for me. Along with another 3-pack purchase, Superboy & The LOSH #246-248, I credit them with playing a big role in my lifelong love affair with comics…

I agree Morrison’s Batman and Robin was excellent and as much as I’m enjoying Snyder I do think people overhype it. I think you should give Tomasi’s Batman and Robin a chance, it’s been the most enjoyable of all the new52 titles

John: Their first comic was Skinwalker, with art by Brian Hurtt – it’s not great, but it’s pretty good. They also wrote two mysteries starring a character named Amy Devlin – Past Lies and All Saints’ Day. Both are quite good. Currently they’re working on Bad Medicine with Christopher Mitten, which has had five issues come out and is also pretty good. I’m not sure if more is coming out – it’s supposed to be ongoing, but it might have been cancelled, I guess. They did some X-Men stuff in the middle of last decade, but I read very little of that, and it wasn’t too impressive.

Oh, I forgot that they did Three Strikes, also with Brian Hurtt. That might be my favorite of theirs!

don’t blame you greg for batman burn out and giving up on the books. for i stopped when grant started writting them with batman rip though did love that grant made talie and batmans son from bride of the demon cannon . other wise have not touched batman books since. not even for court of owls or the current death of the family . even though have to say its about time dc lets the joker pure evil lose

My comment is probably going to make me seem like a total geek and part of “the problem”, but, like many of you it’s a situation with which I find myself faced. However, I still manage to find something to keep me in the game.

I’ve been battling with this feeling of “should I walk away?” for several years now, but for several reasons keep chugging along with the hobby.

Yes, PART of why I stay is the whole; “I’ve been doing this since 1979, and I have a very cool collection” and a PART of it is the fact that I don’t want to give up a part of what makes me happy and “me” in this world where I am being forced to constantly give up parts of myself for the sake of necessity.

Also, PART of it is that while I USED to buy many, many titles from just about every publisher (including BATMAN for quite a number of years), I had stopped buying many of those titles over the years and now ONLY follow a scant few characters (DOCTOR STRANGE, MAN-THING and a few other mystical types).

But, I also run a blog dedicated to aspects of my collector hobby, and the urge to produce content for that kinda keeps me going as well. (I keep hoping my life will stabilize a bit more so that I can produce all the content that I’ve got on the back-burner and REALLY cut loose, much like I did in my first 6 months of my blog; before my downsizing from my old gig forced many life changes).

While, I’ve been disenchanted with some of the product coming out, and I find that while the characters aren’t what I am used to (or even close to what I remember growing up) there’s usually some reason to stick with it (either a good issue now and again, an interesting direction, or a hope that SOMETHING interesting will come of it all).
Doctor Strange has taken such a beating character-wise, but there’s a glimmer there of something still worth reading (especially if Bendis is NOT writing him). [And I may be one of the few old-timers that actually LIKES his new look.]

I’m currently a buyer of Marvel nearly exclusively (I gave up on independants and DC several years ago – HELLBLAZER being the final title after STARMAN ended. I gave up on Batman just around the time of Knightfall and Azreal, but had always had SOME DC title in the buy pile – some of my first titles collected were DC’s intermixed with the Marvels – remember ARION; Lord of Atlantis?)
However, I don’t only buy the comics, but any ancillary item (action figures, toys, assorted whatnot) that features DR. STRANGE and assorted characters (And yes, I KNOW that sounds stupid, but I truly do enjoy it and even though I could probably walk away from it all, I don’t really WANT to – YET. I know one day I will HAVE to, obviously, but I’d prefer to do it on my terms and not because the vicissitudes of fate and vagueries of life have forced me to do so. I hope that doesn’t liken me to a petulant child, but that’s just how I feel.)

The cost of it all is one of the most pressing factors.
The price of comics these days IS excessive, (and my income has been slashed to about a third of what it used to be), I still do what I can to make the purchase (as long as I’m responsible).
Sadly, up until very recently, the lack of an affordable digital method (without downloading the bootleg digital copies) of collecting and organizing the files, was a real detriment.
However, I’ve always received at least a 30% – 40% (or more) discount on anything I order (I used to work in a comic shoppe, then my next dealer was a relative and now I order from DCBS), so that offsets the costs drastically.

The other major problem is “decompression”.
Comics from any time before the late 1990’s were dense reads crammed with information, exposition and action!
You could get a done-in-one issue that told w whole story and sacrificed nothing in the course of telling a great tale.
Nowadays, comics are written for “arcs” or “trades” and thus are thinly written fluff with more silent panels and pages of “reaction shots” (or Bendis’ dinner table conversations)..
Basically, much of what has been published of late is exactly the kind of tripe that comics of yesteryear were purported as being; mind-rotting drivel.

I’m currently 45 years old and have been a reader of comics from 1977 (but collecting since 1979 when I found a place to get a monthly fix, and thus ability to get concurrent issues), and I have been telling myself that maybe I’ll stop when I’m 50.

We’ll see.
Logic dictates that since I KNOW I’ll be stopping within a few years anyway, I should just stop now.
But I truly don’t want to.

Thanks for your time.


@Macc: The Haney/Aparo run on Brave and Bold is my favorite interpretation of The Batman for the very reasons you mention. Just a great Batman story once a month. With a cool guest star. I didn’t need to read three other comics to know what was going on. I didn’t even need to read any other comics. Does this version of Wildcat match what is going on in some other comic? Who cares?

I am not a comic book pollyanna. Casper and Archie and Lois Lane may have been the gateway drug, but it was Enemy Ace that made me a junkie. It was as hard core as anything published today. Not as graphic, of course, but it dealt with death and violence and hard moral choices as well as any comic I’ve ever read. I didn’t need to see arms ripped off or heads bouncing across the panel. I didn’t need to see Shatzi splat on the ground. It was enough to know that he did.

I never once wondered why Superman wasn’t coming to save those soldiers who were getting eaten by dinosaurs on that island.

Reading comic books is supposed to be fun. It is not supposed to be like taking a history class..


What a sorry, sorry thread of responses.

I’ll never stop getting my favorites, nor will i pine for mediocre comics from the 70’s, lol.

You guys have given up on modern TV, Film,, novels too? Gonna rewatch your VHS tapes of Magnum PI?

I would totally rewatch my VHS tapes of Magnum if I had any. I keep meaning to buy the DVDs…

I find myself a little bored with comics, but I’m now buying more than ever. As far as Batman goes, I’m buying three Bat-titles in singles, and I’m waiting on the hardcovers for the Morrison stuff. Snyder’s Batman is fine, though not as good as his Detective run with Jock and Francavilla. Tomasi and Gleason’s Batman & Robin is pretty solid, and would be even better if it didn’t keep getting interrupted by crossovers.

The one I would have thought you’d really be enjoying, Greg, is Detective, now that Layman is on board. It’s the closest thing to a Bat-comic of my youth I’ve read in a while. But my youth was the early 90s. We had Grant and Breyfogle, Aparo, Puckett and Parobeck… Those were all definitive runs for me.

I tried quite a few DC titles when the New 52 came. It’s whittled down over the course of the year. Part of that is because the stuff just wasn’t that good, and also I have no attention span anymore. I do enjoy Dial H, however, and I’m looking forward to the trade of All Star Western which will be on its way to my door soon.

I’ve quietly not been buying Marvel comics for like years now, but I will try again with some of these Now! books. I’ve just been getting Daredevil in trade, but I expect Hawkeye, Aaron’s Thor, and Remender’s Cap to join it on the shelf. In singles I’m trying out both FFs, Journey into Mystery, and thinking about Young Avengers.

Mainly I buy for creators, though, and would much prefer these guys be making their own stuff. Image is on fire right now, and of course Atomic Robo remains my favorite series. But I keep dipping into DC and Marvel the same way I keep watching network TV shows rather than going solely to cable.

I don’t remember where I was going with this. Anyway, comics are fine, but these days I’m enjoying beer and TV more. That said, I keep ordering $40 worth of comics every month. So it goes.

But I still think you should try Detective.

Obviously you watch Magnum PI on Betamax. EVERYONE knows that.

@The Mutt: Schatzi! I have that issue! What a great story.


for anyone who doesn’t know what we’re talking about.

I’ll never stop getting my favorites, nor will i pine for mediocre comics from the 70?s, lol.

Me neither. I’m pining for the really GREAT comics from the 70s and 80s that were far superior than practically anything we’re getting today. :)

John, hear, hear!
(…I could add something about even the mediocre comics from the 70s being… o.k. I’ll stop at that.)

Considering I didn’t start pulling ongoing titles until a few months prior to the launch of the New 52, it is odd that I hold a somewhat similar view to many of the long time readers here, although I appear to have much greater tolerance for some of the content in this new and reduced universe. I spend more each month picking up old trades – even used – than I do picking up new comics, but I’ve stuck with a nice set – mostly Image and DC. Don’t pick up any Batman in issues because I know it will be collected, and it isn’t good (All-Star Western, Swamp Thing, Dial H) or promising (Batwoman, G.I. Combat, Justice League Dark, National Comics) enough to pull in issues despite that.

I do think there will be good works in this era, but we won’t know it until the next one; and if we don’t follow the present there may not be a bright future. But then, all my publisher pulls have dwindled from their peaks, only ten months back.

Bill, oddly I feel All-Star Western read better in issues than as a trade. I get Daredevil in issues, but that is the only title from Marvel I get in issues now that Rucka is off Punisher. I’d recommend Batman & Robin over Detective, but I admit I stopped reading Detective after two issues.

Considering I’m a fair bit younger than most of the commentators on this site and have been reading for less time (about 20 years), I’ll go ahead and throw in my two cents…

I’m going to go ahead and say I’m enjoying comics as much as I ever did, if not more. There are constant reboots and relaunches that drive me up the wall, sure, and can be frustrating, but as someone who works 50+ hours a week in a high pressure job surrounded by all sorts of distraction, these events remind me to “pick up comics”. And the comics I do pick up I tend to enjoy and buy them monthly, even as I know in the modern era, I may only get a few issues before they’re cancelled and I have to move on. And there are still great comics out there, but in terms of always following one character or one book, it may just be unrealistic, and as a result I npw tend to follow creators as opposed to books. Joe Casey’s Cable was the first ongoing I followed religiously, so I always follow Casey now. I became an Avengers fan following the Busiek era and hunted down a helluva lot of back issues (up till west coast avengers began, which for me is when the Avengers began to decline), but I didn’t read a single page written by Bendis after Disassembled which I thought was rubbish wrapped in garbage, but I still read Brubaker’s Captain America. I read (and loved) Iron Fist he wrote with Matt Fraction, and have since then followed Fraction through Iron Man, Thor, the (awesome) Defenders and Hawkeye, my favorite new book of the year. Johnathon Hickman made me a fan of the Fantastic Four, which I think may be the best run on Fantastic Four I have ever read (including the Lee/Kirby classics) and so I tracked down Pax Romana, Secret Warriors, etc. Kieron Gillen has become my new favorite writer after writing what I think is the best series of the millenium in the Big Two, Journey into Mystery (whose latest issue had me in tears right after reading, and cast a gloomy pall on me for a few days, in a good way!). As a result, I’m picking up his Young Avengers and Iron Man,even though the abomination that is Greg Land will be getting my money as a result (seriously, why does Land get work?). I follow Scott Nsyder’s Swamp Thing because of his great run on Detective with Dick as Batman, Chew may be the first book that conintually surprises me in a good way and I will follow John Layman going forward, I will always buy something written by jeff Parker and Mark Waid, Brian Azarello’s work on 100 bullets convinced me to try his Wonder Woman, and for the first time I care about her.

I apologize for the rambling nature of this post, but I felt there was just a bit too much negativity about the state of modern comics and dreams of a bygone era. Comics are less detailed now, admittedly, and everything is written for a TPB. My loyalty towards characters is fairly malleable now and I can no longer say that I will always follow a certain character or title no matter what. Sometimes a run defines a character so much that I will always be loyal (I love Cable thanks to Casey, FF thanks to Hickman, Cyclops and Kid Loki thanks to Gillen, etc.), but it’s just not a realistic proposition to buy a character no matter who the creative team is these days. With so much else to distract us, I don’t think it’s realistic and the best we can do is go with those teams we trust, and from there make pathways to other creators and other runs that continue to bring us joy. It’s a new world we live in, and I;m more excited for comics than I’ve ever been, even as I acknowledge I may be the last generation that buys monthlys.

TL;DR: Buy Journey into Mystery. Kieron Gillen is a brilliant, evil man.

This idea keeps coming up that I’m giving up on comics, or walking away from buying modern comics. I love modern comics, honest. My Young Authors students and I spent all day yesterday at the Short Run festival talking to folks like David Lasky and Chelsea Baker and Peter Bagge and seeing great new stuff from a host of indie publishers and ‘zine makers. Came home with an armload of new stuff to read and we all had a great time. (Photos next week.)

And my monthly pull list at the shop probably is bigger than last year’s… but it’s all stuff like The Shadow and The Spider and the Bionic books and The Lone Ranger and Dark Horse Robert E. Howard books and so on. It just doesn’t have Batman on it any longer, for the first time in decades.

It’s not a column beating up on modern comics, and I don’t think it’s even really about beating up on DC. Other than admitting that it’s time to move beyond my personal sentimental attachment and acknowledge that what DC does now is clearly not for me… and a look back on when they WERE doing stuff for me. Anything beyond that, you’re bringing to it, because it’s not what I wrote.

I don’t think anyone is accusing you of giving up on comics or modern comics; I get you’re just talking about Batman. But I think you touched a nerve amongst a lot of us of a similar demographic, who have just been getting burned out with the state of comics generally, and find a lot of the things that is bugging you about Batman is bugging us about comics in general.

I almost approached Brian recently if I could blog about how the recent Amethyst revival and other recent comics have left me very frustrated with the mindset of DC’s output. I didn’t because I kind of want to see what solutions I can find in comics today rather than bemoaning the problem. But what you said really resonated with me.

Graeme you should write that story. Or at least expound on it in a comment. I’d love to read it.

As would I — I have come to similar conclusions about a lot of books that are popular with the modern audience — not quite ready to give up on Amethyst yet, but I’m down to it , Dial H and Demon Knights from DC.

And I don’t see any improvement coming from Marvel either.

Greg, I hear you. I’ve given up on and came back to comics several times in the last five years. I hope you find comics worth reading. No sense in buying stuff you don’t like, though.

It’s too bad most of DC’s output is bad these days. They’ve had creatively fallow periods in the past and come back. Maybe in a few years…

Alpha Centurian

November 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I’ve been reading comics since the early ’80s. And, I felt the same way with my favorites Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, Justice League, and Star Trek. I got burned out on Spidey during the ’90s Clone Saga, but I stuck around until around 1998-2000. I felt that Bendis and Straczynski’s Spidey comics were boring. But, I did jump on the Spider-Girl (The real, May Parker version) bandwagon and read it until the bitter end. I read JLA and Wonder Woman I stuck around until around 2006 when DC started their crossover insanity (Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis, Crisis This, Crisis That) and Wonder Woman and JLA became incoherent. Star Trek… well… I loved DC’s Trek comics. Then DS9 and the other pointless spinoffs came out and a merry-go-round of publishers did short-lived Trek comics and then I tried IDW’s take on Trek and was disappointed. Thank goodness for DVDs and my DC back-issues. I guess it’s all about too much of a good thing and you stick around too long where the things you used to enjoy no longer look recognizable. Then,, the enjoyment stops. But, I’m still a comics fan. The only current things I enjoy are Dynamite’s Warlord of Mars and Vampirella comics. As for DC and Marvel, I only pick up certain Masterworks or Archives books. To me, DC and Marvel are fond memories that live in the past of the ’90s, ’80s, and before.

The only Bat-book I’m really enjoying each month is Gail Simone’s Batgirl, mostly because she’s not super-infallible and almost loses every fight, and I tend to follow Simone’s books (though I didn’t dig her Firestorm and kept waiting for her WW to start being good, and it just never did for me). I’m still reading Batman Inc. and Batwoman but each are wearing thin and the stories are taking FOREVER to resolve.

That said, I went in to my local shop last week to try to pick up the latest BG, which still wasn’t in stock because of the Death of the Family crossover story which reportedly has almost nothing to do with BG, though I did pick up her annual and it was a nice single story with extra length (and extra price), and Catwoman. But the real value from this trip were the two old issues of Marvel Team-Up from the ’80s that only cost $1.50 each and had complete stories with Spidey/Man-Thing and Spidey/Captain America, and the Spidey/Cap story was an incident referred to later in the awesome “Kraven’s Last Hunt” storyline, so it felt like an extra bonus. With comics as expensive as they are now, the back issue bin is the place to be.

Graeme, I’d be interested in reading your thoughts on that topic as well…

I’ve found myself really cutting down my DC comics. I was always a Marvel guy but I hated the direction (Fear Itself/AVX) most of their titles were going so I hitched my wagon to DC. After a year of the New 52, I’m buying very little. I just don’t enjoy most of their output. I’m going to give Marvel one last shot with Marvel Now! but I’m probably going to stick with the books I’ve already been getting (Captain America, Daredevil, and X-Factor). There’s a true possibility that in a year or so, I’ll be getting almost nothing from the Big Two.

D Eric Carpenter

November 5, 2012 at 9:33 am

I’m actually running contrary to you. No denigration, an opinion is an opinion and you’ll like what you like.

I’m 46. I’ve been reading comics for over 40 years. I’m not a Batman fan except in some extraordinary runs. My ideal Batman was the Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run in the late seventies. There have been a few other peaks, but for me, many more valleys.

That said, I’ve been greatly enjoying Scott Snyder’s run, as well as the general loopiness of Grant Morrison. I greatly enjoyed the Dick Grayson/Damian team and was probably bugged by that loss as part of the reboot more than anything.

I used to have comics inertia–buying things because I always did. That broke with the X-Men. I was there from Giant Sized on, but by the time it got passed 200, I realized it just wasn’t clicking with me any longer. It took the better part of a year, but I dropped it. Once I did that, I realized I could drop things whenever I wanted. The rule became that if a book became a chore to read, I dropped it. I’ve been happy with that ever since.

Continuity also lost it’s appeal to me. As a kid, I loved that the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man lived in the same city and would interact. But I came to appreciate stories being internally consistent much more than things having to be consistent across a universe. For me, the best version of that was Starman. It’s easily one of my favorite series of all time, but it played fast and loose with established continuity and outright contradicted some things. But within the scope of the series, the elements fit.

Taking those factors into consideration, I’ve learned to be able to enjoy a book for what it is: one individual story. The flip side is that universe-wide stories tend to be pretty drab to me. It’s not event fatigue–it’s more that those sort of things disrupt the flow of a book I’m enjoying just to shoehorn it into some event. The writer has to bend his plots around someone else’s plot–even if that’s going to contradict the storyline in the book itself.

I’m still buying a large chunk of DC’s output. Some are close calls: I very nearly dropped Superman, until Lobdell’s first issue (of all people…I’ve never been a fan). That issue felt much more like a spiritual successor to Morrison’s than anything I’d seen yet–and a lot of my favorite creators had worked on that series before him. I’ll sample a few of the Marvel NOW books because, frankly, I like the creators involved. I’m probably dropping more than I’m picking up as a result of the NOW project, but I’m intrigued by a handful.

Time’s change. I’ve gotten older. My tastes have changed over that period (Did I really like Elric THAT much when I was a kid?), but I’ve been able to find some things that have kept me intrigued enough to keep going.

I buy one monthly from each of the big guy’s Batman & DareDevil, I enjoy Hellboy waiting for that to come back, I’ve just about lost interest in Dark Horse Presents, although I was really excited about it. I pick up trades, and a hard cover here and there and usually keep two or three limited/mini series, currently, Fatale, Rachel Rising & Stuff of Legend. The thing is, I wish I had twenty titles to read monthly.

Bomb Queen!

My first Batman comics were #254 King of the Gotham Jungle and Brave and the Bold #110 A Very Special Spy. Then came Detective #439 Night of the Stalker and Brave and the Bold #111 Death Has the Last Laugh. Next up was Batman #257 Hail Emperor Penguin where Batman, Robin, and Talia (in a harem girl’s outfit no less) were tied up and dangled over an eagles nest as the mother eagle attacked them believing them to threatening her eggs I was seven when those all came out and I was hooked. That Christmas I got a Mego Batman and Robin figure in my stocking. The Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Batgirl came the next christmas. For my birthday I got the Batmobile and the Batcycle

I loved those 100 page spectaculars from 1973 and 1974 as they gave a good range of Batman stories from over the years. That was also the period that the infamous Justice League #110 The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus came out. The 60’s reprints in those reprinted the first Outsider stories as he made his presence known (BM 354 & Tec 439) and also reprinted Zatanna’s Quest (Tec 439 & JLA110). Helping to get the Bat-hook deeper into me was the book Batman: From the 30’s to the 70’s.A friend of mine lent it to me and I memorized that thing from cover to cover. It had reprints of the first Clayface story to Neal Adams Secret of the Waiting Graves, and one of my personal all time favorite stories of that era, The Demon of Gothos Mansion. To say all these left a deep deep impression on my mind would be an understatement.

I collected EVERYTHING Batman for many years including Brave and the Bold, Batman Family, and Batman and the Outsiders.

I quit being a regular buyer of Batman comics with Batman 500 unable to accept that Batman would allow Azrael to take over the mantle of the Bat over Dick Grayson.

Then the animated series premiered and finally I had the Batman cartoon I always wanted since I was a kid. I switched to buying The Batman Adventures and all the later series that followed it in the animated style. I picked up a few Batman titles here and there but nothing drew me back in to buying on a consistent basis until Grant Morrison’s run.The only bat-title I even care to look at these days is Batman Incorporated.

I hear what you’re saying Greg. I’m a decade younger, but had the benefit of an older brother’s collection – plus it spurred me on to both read his stuff as soon as I could learn to read AND start buying my own. So that Batman #308 was one of the first I remember getting.
I bailed out during the speculator boom. Already then the big 2 (but specifically Marvel) seemed to be producing stuff that I didn’t care for. Batman followed soon after, so my knowledge/experience of pretty much anything since post-Bane/Knightfall is ropey. I’m happy to keep tabs on CSBG.

I’ve resisted coming back to pick up monthlies ever since. Reason being, as Greg & many commenters point out, WHO is this stuff being made for? Not me, I wouldn’t know where to start. Like trying to follow a soap-opera after 15 years. It’s too expensive a hobby anyway: £2.50 (or whatever the equivalent import is for a $2.99/$3.99 book) for a decompressed story? No way.

I wonder this a lot too. They don’t seem interested in picking up the newly-minted movie audience for superhero stories, old coots like me are not happy despite the zillions of in-references and heavily-layered continuity…. Who are the books FOR? “Obsessive hobbyists” seems like it should be an incredibly narrow demographic.

I disagree that they don’t seem interested in picking up the newly-minted movie audience. Snyder’s latest Joker story is very heavily influenced by Ledger and Nolan’s Joker in pretty obvious ways. What I think the problem is isn’t that they dont care about winning the movie audience…it’s that they want to pander to the movie audience, the Silver Age audience, the post-Crisis audience, and the modern post 90s audience. And you know what they say about trying to please everyone, right? You end up pleasing no one.

Evolutionary biologists speculate that human beings evolved to pay more attention to things they dislike than to things they like, since avoiding displeasure and discomfort is a more biologically valuable activity than chasing pleasure. This design quirk makes us pay more attention to what we dislike in everything, even if it has no effect on our survival.

So my theory is this: DC tries to pander to everyone and have trendy, modern widescreen aspects to a Batman comic, Frank Miller post-Crisis elements, nods to the Bronze Age Bob Haney Batman (Thomas Wayne anyone?), nods to the Silver Age (Barbara Gordon Batgirl is back!), nods to the Golden Age fan (Kathy Kane Batwoman is back!), along with nods to the socially progressive modern fan (but now she’s a lesbian!). What ends up happening in my opinion is that this actually makes a bad impression on the reader because they end up downplaying the portion of the comic that caters to them and putting extra weight on the aspects of the comic that turn them off. The Silver Age fan notices Barbara Gordon or Barry Allen, but that benefit is outweighed by aspects a traditional Silver Age fan would hate, like excess gore, the fact Killing Joke is still canon, the fact that most of the history that made them a Barry Allen or Barbara Gordon fan has been rebooted, etc Meanwhile a modern fan who likes widescreen style, gore, and new characters ends up paying more attention to the parts HE dislikes like revived Silver Age characters, the old backstory aspects carried over from past continuities, etc. This is why two diametrically opposed fans can read the same comic and walk away believing that the same book was pandering to two totally different demographics.

DC needs to make up their mind and pick a demographic to pander to once and for all. That, or divide the line in half or into thirds and make each segment pander to a different type of fan. But the Geoff Johnsian schizophrenic way of pandering to different extremes within the same comic, even within the same panel, ends up alienating everyone except the “obsessive hobbyist,” who is the equivalent of a drug addict.

45 years of reading Batman every month? Definitely time for a break.Shouldn’t feel weird about it,or worry that your Bat-love will fade:I still consider myself a Spider-Man fan even though I haven’t bought a new Spider-Man comic in ages.The nice thing about living in this day and age is that it’s a golden age of movie and TV adaptations of the classic superheroes.Often their take on the Marvel and DC characters are more to my liking than the comics being published nowadays.If that doesn’t meet the need,as you say,you still have a library of Batman back issues to reread.

As I’ve said more than once, it started with Adam West; this was back when a big TV hit could actually boost sales of a comic book.




“Many people like to think that SUPERMAN and BATMAN have been of near equal stature since their debuts in the late 1930?s. But prior to the Adam West TV series, Batman was in a very distant second place to Superman. In fact, during the 1940?s, Batman was in a distant third place behind rivals Superman & Captain Marvel [accordingly, Captain Marvel had a family of titles in the 1940’s]. By the 1950?s, Superman was the star of a long running radio show and a long running newspaper strip. He also had appeared in several innovative theatrical cartoons in the early 40?s. Batman on the other hand, had only guest started in a handful of episodes of the Superman radio show, his newspaper strip only lasted a few years and he hadn’t made the jump to cartoons”.

Well, I was unable to find sales figures for BATMAN for the 50s, so let’s go to the nearest thing, 1960.

In 1960, the eponymous titles sold:

BATMAN … 502,000 (avg circulation)
SUPERMAN 810,000 (avg circulation)

So, I guess you were correct in that Batman was just not as popular as Supes.

To bolster the effect the Batman TV show had on sales, look at 1965 (pre-TV show):

BATMAN … 453,745
SUPERMAN 823,829

But in 1966 (after the first season):

BATMAN … 898,470
SUPERMAN 719,946


Suddenly BIFF! POW! ZAP! began appearing in media headlines, and the Batman craze was upon us. The TV and print news media were abruptly afloat with the word “Batmania,” which they doubtless believed they had coined. Sales of the Caped Crusader’s comics spiked. (Batman even outsold Superman for a while, something it wouldn’t do [regularly] again until the 1990s after a patch in the mid-1980’s.)


So I’m late getting to this, but it sounds like my story as well.

I can remember my first Batman comic- “The Daily Death of Terry Tremaine”. A complete story in 17 pages with death, mayhem and a sexy babe trying to manipulate Bruce Wayne and Batman.

It took a few years, but I was soon hunting down every Batman I could find, this being the pre comic shop world of the 1970’s.

I walked away during the Moench soap opera period,about the time Nocturna showed up. I so wanted to like the Moench Batman, as I had so enjoyed his run on Moon Knight. But his Batman was off character for me. 22 pages each month but too many looses ends each issue. Too many emotional love interests for Batman. My Batman was a rational man in an irrational world.

I came back at the end of the Tom Mandrake period, and stayed until Greg Rucka and Klaus Jansen took over Detective and Jim Lee came on board Batman. And that was the end. My Batman was gone and I was buying out of sheer momentum; keeping the collection complete. I realized that the continual multi part stories were never ending, and the Batman was now no longer the competent yet driven loner. Now he had a dozen people who were lesser versions of himself. It shouldn’t take 20 issues to tell a story.

I look over the trade paperbacks, but the New 52 has no appeal to me and seeing in the news what will happen after Convergence- Bah.

Comics are no longer the mass medium of my youth, but have become a niche product due to availability and convoluted story telling. The story tellers are an inbred group who loved these characters in their youth but now have become almost fan fiction in the approach to story telling. “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” is their approach to developing stories, which would be fine if the story that came out of it were based on the core principles of the character they are righting about.

Mastubatory excess that is driving away more and more readers. And new readers are not finding comics, even with the huge success of comic book movies. Look at the 1960 circulation figures above- nearly 3.4 million individual issues in a month.

Remember when the DC royalty program came out in the late 1980’s, and royalties were paid on books selling 100,000 copies in a month? What’s a bet selling comic now? 50,000? All the fancy artwork (which isn’t always good at story telling but it sure is purdy) and advanced coloring making the books look even more “realistic”.

The lines between the good guys and the bad guys is so blurred now. Part of the joy of comics for me as an adolescent is that the good guys won. Right won out in the end and people were punished for picking on the weak and the frail. Yeah it was simplistic, but it also gave this shy, introverted kid who was bullied at times hope that life would get better, that there were good people out there who would do the right thing.

I’m rambling. But it is interesting to see so many people like me, who were passionate about comics and the characters walking away. It is like a divorce. It hurt to leave Batman behind. I still check on Trade paperbacks at Barnes and Noble, but the new stuff just doesn’t work for me.

I am enjoying DC’s Showcase series and their hard cover Tales of the Batman and Legends of the Dark Knight series. Although why recent artists like J H Williams was included, I’m not sure. He draws nicely, but seems out of place with the other books in the collection.

I’d be curios to know what the hardcover books sell in comparison to the newer trade collections.

Comics are dying, as older readers walk away and the younger audience experiences the characters via movies, television and video games, if the experience them at all.

That should have been 3/4 million.

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