A Hypercriticism: Continuity Errors of the New Age (Part 2)

Don’t forget, this list contains errors that are related directly to Batman comics, not the entire New 52 line. Some of these get a bit nitpicky down the list, but hey, if you get specific with dates and times in your comics, odds are those specific things are going to bite you in the ass later. And I’m sure Jonni DC would argue that an error is an error no matter how big or small!

jonni dc

 

 

26. In Batman & Robin Vol. 2 #2 (Writer Peter Tomasi, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Harvey Richards, Mike Marts), Dick is said to have been Batman for nearly a full year. However, in order to be able to fit all of the Robins into the shortened and compressed New 52 timeline, the very longest Dick could have been Batman is only a mere NINE MONTHS!

27. Nightwing Vol. 3 #1 (Writer Kyle Higgins, Editors Katie Kubert, Bobbie Chase) also insinuates that Dick was Batman for nearly a full year. These early references to the “nearly a year” surely were the initial intention of DC editors immediately following the reboot, but as things developed over the course of 2011-2014, things clearly made it so that would prove to be impossible.

28. Batgirl Vol. 4 #1-9 and continued issues (Writer Gail Simone, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Bobbie Chase), tell us that Babs’ full recovery from paralysis occurs almost exactly three years after becoming paralyzed. This is wrong. In order to jibe with the length of Robin “internships” and the shortened and compressed New 52 timeline, the longest Babs could have been out of action is ONE YEAR and SEVEN MONTHS. This also has to be true because Babs must debut before her other various appearances that occur throughout this year. The overall contributor to this major problem is that Simone delivers specific information seemingly without regard to the fact that other writers use Batgirl (chronologically) before she does. When Simone says “three years of paralysis, 3 years ago” in Batgirl #1, she is writing from December 2012, which is exactly “2 YEARS of paralysis, 2 YEARS AGO.” Either Simone messed-up and said “3 years” instead of “2 years” OR she messed-up by not realizing that other writers would insert Batgirl into continuity prior to her use of the character.

29. Batgirl Vol. 4 #1-7 (Writer Gail Simone, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Bobbie Chase) also places Babs’ recovery and return to costume not long before a Christmas holiday. However, the Christmas setting cannot be reconciled on any correct New 52 timeline. We cannot place Batgirl #4-6 around X-Mas 2012 as it was intended by Simone et al (because that would be too late, ignoring Batgirl’s various other appearances), NOR can we even place these Batgirl issues around X-Mas 2011 either (because these issues make references to Bruce’s gentrification project, which would be premature since Bruce’s gentrification project isn’t introduced until 2012). Therefore, there is no way the first six or seven issues of Batgirl can actually happen before or near ANY X-Mas time at all.

30. Batgirl Vol. 4 #28 (Writer Gail Simone, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Mike Marts) states outright that Batgirl #1 through Batgirl #28 comprises a mere “few month” time period. This is INSANE. I’ve read the stories and done the chronological math. From Batgirl #1 through Batgirl #28, at least a FULL YEAR (minimum twelve months) pass. We’ve already been forced to ignore the bogus Christmas setting, but imagine for a second if we do regard the holidays as a canonical backdrop (as Simone and company intended). That would mean definitively that Batgirl #1 through Batgirl #28, by Simone’s OWN INTERNAL LOGIC, should span even much longer than a full calendar year, possibly even TWO YEARS! “A few months?” No way, Jose.

31. Detective Comics Vol. 2 #1 (Writer Tony Daniel, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Janelle Asselin, Mike Marts), which happens in early 2012, tells us that Joker has been responsible for various murders over the course of SIX YEARS. Of course, this should read “five years” instead of “six” since Joker doesn’t debut until 2007. UPDATE: This item is not an error. Detective Comics #1‘s “six year” reference includes Joker’s time masquerading as the Red Hood for a year prior to becoming the Clown Prince of Crime.

32. In Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #2 (Writers Paul Jenkins, David Finch, Editors Eddie Berganza, Rickey Purdin, Mike Marts) Alfred makes reference to Game 5 of the World Series, but it isn’t that time of year.

33. Hawk & Dove Vol. 3 #6 (Writer Rob Liefeld, Editors Eddie Berganza, Rickey Purdin, Rachel Gluckstern) takes place in 2012 and features the brutish hulking Blockbuster. However, Blockbuster’s New 52 origin/debut seemingly occurs in 2013—in The Savage Hawkman #19-20, which happens shortly after Justice League of America Vol. #5. (Simon Baz isn’t formally introduced to the JLA lineup until JLofA Vol. 3 #5, yet in The Savage Hawkman #20, Baz is already with the team and has been introduced to everyone).

34. The second feature from Detective Comics Vol. 2 #12 (Writer James Tynion, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Harvey Richards, Mike Marts) has the GCPD incorrectly state Joker’s kill-count, putting it at over 300 as of late 2012. Detective Comics #1-4 listed his kill count at 114 only one year prior.

35. Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #10-15 (Writer Gregg Hurwitz, Editors Eddie Berganza, Bobbie Chase, Rickey Purdin, Mike Marts) is a Christmas/New Year’s tale that runs roughly from December 22-31. However, like most holiday themed tales in the New 52, these issues contradict other stories to such a degree that we unfortunately have to completely ignore their holiday-ness. Such is the case with this arc because Dark Knight #10-15 has to take place before the following “Death of the Family” and connected Batman Incorporated Vol. 2, both of which occur at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013 in order for things down the line to make sense.

36. Red Hood & The Outlaws #26 (Writer James Tynion, Editors Bobbie Chase, Rickey Purdin, Eddie Berganza) incorrectly tells us that Jason’s resurrection and start of his training happened “one year ago.” Since RH&TO #26‘s in-story narrative occurs in 2013, that means “one year ago” has to be 2012. However, this not only leaves us zero time to fit in Jason’s All Caste/League of Assassins post-resurrection trainings, but it also directly contradicts Red Hood & The Outlaws #2 (written by Scott Lobdell), which tells us that when Jason gets resurrected as a mindless zombie, his Lazarus bath quickly follows, which is in turn quickly followed by the start of his trainings. Red Hood & The Outlaws #2 also tells us that Jason was resurrected and started his training “a year-and-a-half ago.” Since RH&TO #2‘s in-story narrative occurs in 2012, that makes “a year-and-a-half-ago” to be (correctly) in 2010—giving us plenty of time to fit in the training sessions.

37. Red Hood & The Outlaws #17 (Writer Scott Lobdell, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darrin Shan, Eddie Berganza) shows Jason reflecting upon his recent time as the Wingman of Batman Incorporated, mentioning Damian’s time as Redbird from Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #3-4. However, this is a massively huge continuity error that forces the reader to assume not only that Damian dresses in the Redbird costume before Batman Inc #3 (since it runs continuously until Damian’s death in issue #8), but also that that is what Jason is referring to. In any scenario, there is no way Jason can be referencing Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #4 (as the editor’s note specifically implies) since it takes place after this issue!

38. In a flashback from Detective Comics Vol. 2 #14 (Writer John Layman, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mike Marts, Harvey Richards, Katie Kubert), Damian specifically says something about Joker’s “recent attack on the GCPD.” The attack he mentions, of course, is definitely more than just “recent.” It was the previous night.

39. Detective Comics Vol. 2 #18 (Writer John Layman, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Mike Marts), a post-Damian death “Requiem” issue, has to go later than most of the other “Requiem” issues because the Bat-Family clearly isn’t illegal/outlawed in it. Unfortunately, ‘tec #18 is paradoxically otherwise written as if it goes right with the other “Requiem” issues.

40. All post-Damian death “Requiem” issues (Executive Editor Bobbie Chase) occur during a gap in Batman Incorporated Vol. 2. Note that Batman has a beat-up hamburger face from fighting, but Batman is not drawn with those injuries in any “Requiem” issues. Artists, not at fault, were probably not told to draw Bruce that way by editorial. Bruce does use makeup to mask his injuries (as we see him do in Batman Inc #9, Part 2), which might give an excuse for this flub, but I’m not quite buying that.

41. Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #1 (Writer Grant Morrison, Artist Chris Burnham, Editors Eddie Berganza, Rickey Purdin, Brian Smith, Mike Marts) shows the flash-forward to after Damian’s death, but fails to show Bruce’s facial injuries that will be present when the scene repeats later on. It is possible that Morrison and Burnham opted to do this purposefully in order to hide the future results of their story, but this seems unlikely.

42. The Bane section of Detective Comics Vol. 2 #19 (Writer James Tynion, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mike Marts, Katie Kubert) has a glaring continuity error. Via flashback, ‘tec #19 shows that Bane was en route to attack Gotham, but a bunch of Talons stopped him claiming that “a night of owls is about to descend.” The same flashback continues, showing Bane later fighting Batman in Dark Knight #7. This ostensibly tells us that the “Night of Owls” (including the tie-in issue of Dark Knight #9) occurs before Bane’s last fight with Batman in Dark Knight #7. This is impossible since issue #9 cannot happen before issue #7.

43. Detective Comics Vol. 2 #21 (Writer John Layman, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Mike Marts) is said to take place “one week after Batman Vol. 2 #18” and “two days before the death of Natalya in Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #20.” Two days prior to Natalya’s death seems right on the money, but “one week” after Batman #18 should be amended closer to “two weeks” in order to accommodate other stories.

44. Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #21, Epilogue (Writer Gregg Hurwitz, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mike Marts, Darren Shan) tells us that Bruce decides to hang up the Batman boots for a full month after Natalya dies. There’s no way the compressed New 52 timeline will allow for that and still work with every thing else. Batman can be out-of-action for three weeks tops.

45. A flashback from Batwing #20 (Writers Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Mike Marts, Rachel Gluckstern) supposedly occurs around one month prior to Batwing #20, but in order to accommodate other stories featuring Batman, it has to be more like three weeks.

46. The main action of Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #2, Part 1 (Writers John Layman, Joshua Williamson, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mike Marts, Katie Kubert) supposedly takes place one week after Jane Doe’s appearance in the flashback from the very same issue. However, in order to accommodate other stories, the most time that could have passed since then is a mere few days.

47. In Superman Unchained #2 (Artist Jim Lee, Editors Bobbie Chase, Matt Idelson, Chris Conroy) Lex Luthor is incorrectly drawn without his pre-Forever Evil scarred-face look.

49. Batwing #24 (Writers Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Mike Marts, Rachel Gluckstern) shows a cell phone that gives us the dates October 5-7, but it should correctly be May in order to jibe with the other stories in the Bat line.

50. Catwoman Vol. 4 #18 (Writer Ann Nocenti, Editors Bobbie Chase, Rickey Purdin, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mike Marts) is a “Requiem” issue written as if it is occurs immediately after “Death of the Family.” This issue takes place both a few days before Batman and… #22 (“Batman & Catwoman”) and right before the debut of the JLA, which therefore actually places it around five-and-a-half months after “Death of the Family.”

51. Batman/Superman Annual #1 (Writer Greg Pak, Editors Bobbie Chase, Rickey Purdin, Eddie Berganza) incorrectly mentions the death of Superboy, which if true, would have made it officially post-Forever Evil, during which Kon-El dies and becomes briefly reincarnated as the cosmic Herald of Oracle (in the Forever Evil Teen Titans tie-ins). However, Batman/Superman Annual #1 acts as a direct follow-up to the previous Batman/Superman #7 AND goes before the equally problematic Superman/Wonder Woman #3-7 arc that features Warworld in the Phantom Zone (where Warworld winds up in this very issue). So, the premature reference to Superboy’s death is WRONG!

52. Superman/Wonder Woman #3-5 (Writer Charles Soule, Editors Bobbie Chase, Eddie Berganza, Rickey Purdin) uses an incorrect topical reference—stores are dressed for Christmas and Wonder Woman gives Superman an “early” X-mas present. Unfortunately, in order for other stories to fit in 2013, these issues can be set in early July at the latest.

53. Superman/Wonder Woman #3 (Writer Charles Soule, Editors Bobbie Chase, Eddie Berganza, Rickey Purdin) contains an editor’s note that supposedly places it “before the Justice League learns of the ARGUS Counter Strike Team.” Since “the ARGUS Counter Strike Team” simply means “the Justice League of America before its public debut,” we must ignore this note. The JLA has already publicly debuted at this point.

54. In the “Trinity War” prelude issue of Justice League Vol. 2 #19 (Writer Geoff Johns, Editors Bobbie Chase, Kate Durré, Brian Cunningham), Batman surprises the Superman and Wonder Woman by revealing that he knows about their developing sexual relationship. Because of the internal narrative of Superman/Wonder Woman #3-5, “Trinity War” must happen after Superman/Wonder Woman #1-7 (not including the Superman: Doomed prelude that forms the second half of issue #7), during which the entire world learns about Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship. There would be NO surprising the Big Two with anything. This is a HUGE error.

55. Nightwing Vol. 3 #29 (Writer Kyle Higgins, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mike Marts) occurs right before Forever Evil. Dick’s cell phone says November 9, but it must actually be in EARLY JULY.

56. There is a flashback splash page in Justice League of America Vol. 3 #14 (Writer Matt Kindt, Editors Bobbie Chase, Rickey Purdin, Eddie Berganza) that depicts an image that never happened during Forever Evil. It shows a ton of heroes and villains engaged in battle, but it is riddled with continuity impossibilities. This scene could represent the horrible digital world that ensnared Stargirl and the rest of the heroes stuck inside Firestorm’s matrix during the crisis. But that is a bit of a stretch. We could also regard it as Stargirl’s imagination of what Forever Evil must have looked like based upon Steve Trevor’s estimated version of events, but that would also be a stretch as well.

57. Detective Comics Vol. 2 Annual #3 (Writer Brian Buccellato, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mark Doyle, Rachel Gluckstern, Matt Humphreys) tells us that the date is supposedly October 9-10, which is totally incorrect. In order for other items to fit neatly later on, we must be in summertime, specifically around mid July.

58. Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 #26-27 (Writer Gregg Hurwitz, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mike Marts, Darren Shan) has an incorrect Christmastime setting. I’ve moved it back two years so that it can keep that setting—(this was possible because the story is very one-shotty and can literally go just about anywhere). However, this use of topical reference counts as an error because it was likely not the author/editor’s intention to have these issue occur years prior.

59. Batman Eternal #14-20 (Writers James Tynion, Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Kyle Higgins, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mark Doyle, Katie Kubert, Matt Humphreys, Chris Conroy, Dave Wielgosz) has a side-arc involving Jim Corrigan and Batwing investigating Arkham, which simply IS NOT AT PACE with the rest of the Eternal arcs. They enter Arkham in Batman Eternal #6. Four days pass until we see them again in Batman Eternal #14. By Batman Eternal #18, a storyline three days later, the duo is still trapped underneath Arkham and Batman still hasn’t followed-up on or assisted with their investigation despite having ventured to the Underground with Bard and Croc himself! Even now, having gotten to issue #29 of the weekly series, the whole Corrigan/Batwing arc seems to have gotten lost in the messy shuffle. This pacing is so shitty it reeks of continuity error.

60. In Batman Eternal #21 (Writers James Tynion, Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mark Doyle, Matt Humphreys), Harvey Bullock inexplicably says that Jim Gordon and Jack Forbes both went to jail within a span of “some months,” which makes absolutely no sense and cannot be reconciled in any way given that the whole of Batman Eternal‘s in-story narrative has only occurred in one single month and has only taken up just over three weeks at the point where Bullock says this line.

61. Also in Batman Eternal #21 (Writers James Tynion, Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mark Doyle, Matt Humphreys), Batman says that his associates have “just found” Falcone’s knife, a scene that actually occurred two weeks prior (in Batman Eternal #20) based upon information given in this very same issue #21.

62. In Forever Evil #1 (Writer Geoff Johns, Artist David Finch, Editors Bobbie Chase, Brian Cunningham, Kate Durré), Glider is shown among the mass of super-villains that attend the large Crime Syndicate meeting. Glider could not possibly have attended due to happenings in other comics. Other sites have noted that Clayface (who is also shown) could not have attended either (as per events that unfold in Clayface #1). This is true about Clayface Basil Karlo, but the Clayface shown in the gathering scene is not Basil Karlo—this is Clayface II, the “Clayface of Japan!” Glider, however, must still be an error.

63. The timing of Batgirl Vol. 4 #24-33 (Writer Gail Simone, Editors Bobbie Chase, Mike Marts, Katie Kubert, Mark Doyle, Matt Humphreys) is way way off and cannot be reconciled. This is linked to previous Batgirl errors on our list, but merits its own notation. Here’s what’s up. Batgirl #33 specifically takes place after James Junior meets with dad in Blackgate in Batman Eternal #13. However, Batgirl #33 takes place right after Batgirl #32. The problem here is that Simone and her editors tell us that the linked Batgirl #32-33 occurs roughly TEN DAYS after Batgirl #24, in which Jim Gordon shoots Ricky Gutierrez. This is nuts. Batgirl #24 is a part of the “Wanted Arc” that is linked to Batgirl #23, which occurs at the latest way back months prior. Specifically, this means Batgirl #32-33 must be at minimum AROUND THREE-AND-A-HALF MONTHS after Ricky gets shot. Definitely NOT ten days.

 

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So, who are the overall worst offenders in regard to continuity in the New 52 (Batman line only)? Again, DiDio, Lee, and Harras bear the burden of every listed number based upon their positions with the company. But it’s Bobbie Chase, Mike Marts, Eddie Berganza, and Katie Kubert that seem to have had the most problems. Bear in mind this is not necessarily indicative of poor editing. Some of these things are minor gaffes barely worth mentioning—but others are big big ones that probably should have and could have been prevented. Who is to say if these teams are doing the best job they can do when dealing with such a large amount of published material week to week? Chase et al basically executive edited the past three years of the entire Bat-line. That’s no easy task. Could Chase and company have done better? Maybe they could have done a lot worse! I’ll just let the statistics speak for themselves below. (The number next to the listed names below equals the number of continuity crimes that person has committed or been involved with. Obviously, the higher numbers are frowned upon.)

In regard to writers that have committed the most authorial no-nos, James Tynion, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, and Grant Morrison have erred the most. Despite this, their errors don’t usually seem to be that huge (with some exceptions, of course). On the other hand, Gail Simone, Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, and Scott Snyder err less, but I find that their errors are much more glaring and egregious.

Naturally, the editors, writers, and artists that have worked on less issues have much fewer errors.

 

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Jim Lee 63
Dan DiDio 62
Bob Harras 62
Bobbie Chase 50
Mike Marts 30
Eddie Berganza 23
Katie Kubert 22
Darren Shan 16
Rickey Purdin 15
Rachel Gluckstern 12
Mark Doyle 9
James Tynion 9
John Layman 9
Harvey Richards 6
Brian Cunningham 6
Matt Humphreys 5
Grant Morrison 5
Scott Snyder 5
Ray Fawkes 5
Kyle Higgins 5
Brian Smith 4
Gail Simone 4
Geoff Johns 4
Justin Gray 4
Jimmy Palmiotti 4
Tim Seeley 4
Scott Lobdell 3
Peter Tomasi 3
Chris Burnham 3
Gregg Hurwitz 3
Chris Conroy 2
Dave Stewart 2
Wil Moss 2
Brian Buccellato 2
Matt Idelson 2
Kate Durré 2
J.H. Williams 2
W. Haden Blackman 2
Charles Soule 2
David Finch 2
Dave Wielgosz
Mike Cotton
Kate Stewart
Janelle Asselin
Sterling Gates
Ann Nocenti
Greg Pak
Eduardo Pansica
Julio Ferreira
Matt Kindt
Paul Mounts
Francis Manapul
Rob Liefeld
Chris Sprouse
Jason Fabok
Anthony Marquez
Joshua Williamson
Ardian Syaf
Vicente Cifuentes
Ulises Arreola
Paul Jenkins

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A Hypercriticism: Continuity Errors of the New Age (Part 1)

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It may seem like I quibble too much about silly things such as plot or continuity, especially when there are so many other things to chat about when it comes to comics. I do! It’s true. And it may also seem as though I don’t often enough review/criticize storytelling or art either, instead preferring to carp about minor continuity muffs. But I figure there is so much damn plain old comic book criticism on the WWW that I might as well leave the complaining to the complainers. That being said, this “hypercriticism” is not about calling-out bad storytelling or bad editing (although narrative flaws might be exposed via the following hypercritical list)—it is more about simply showing the hiccups that have caused me great vexation while assembling my timeline of the New 52 thus far. If the list seems like I am caviling too much, it is only because this list is comprehensive and compendious.

Without further adieu I present to you a list of every continuity error that I have discovered in the New 52 that directly relates to Batman (the character as opposed to the specific title). Explanations will follow each listed item. When I began compiling notes for this list a few weeks ago, I thought there would be way more problems than there actually were. Although, that’s still not a great pull-quote for the New 52 is it? I do wonder, though, which reboot had more flubs in its first three years—the Modern Age or the New Age? I wonder which editorial team cared more?

1. Secret Origins Vol. 3 #2 (Writer Ray Fawkes, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Mark Doyle) erroneously lists the Wayne murders as taking place eleven years prior to Year Zero. This contradicts Batman #24, which tells us that the murders took place “fifteen years” prior to Year Zero when Bruce was ten-years-old. Secret Origins‘ time-frame would make Bruce fourteen-years-old at the time of his parents deaths, which is just plain wrong.

2. Detective Comics Vol. 2 #21 (Writer John Layman, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Mike Marts) has a flashback showing Mio returning to Ra’s Al Ghul after her fight with Bruce in the Himalayas. This flashback takes place immediately after ‘tec #0, Part 4, which happens roughly in April 2004. However, in March 2013’s ‘tec #21, Bruce thinks back and says it happened “ten years ago.” More precisely, the event happened closer to eleven years ago. I’m niggling here and could probably let it slide, but it is worth noting anyway.

3. The second feature of Detective Comics Vol. 2 #0 (Writer James Tynion, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Harvey Richards, Mike Marts) details Bruce’s return to Gotham after training. This second feature has an editorial note that incorrectly says “SEVEN YEARS AGO.” “Seven years ago” would place Bruce’s return somewhere in the tail end of 2006, but it actually takes place in late March of 2007. HERE IS THE LONG REASON WHY! A flashback from Batman #21 takes place “six weeks” after Bruce’s return (according to Alfred). Batman #21, which has an editorial tag of FIVE MONTHS later, also shows the Caped Crusader on his steam-bike returning from a coma to fight Riddler. We know that Batman defeats the Red Hood on the anniversary of his parents’ deaths, which, according to Peter Tomasi, is in September. Scott Snyder tells us in Batman #30 that Bruce goes into his coma after warring against Riddler in the summertime. This all means that the anniversary of the Wayne deaths must happen in September and summertime. This means the Waynes died definitively in EARLY SEPTEMBER. Early September also jibes well because of the following chain of uninterrupted events that occur: Bruce defeats Red Hood (Wayne death anniversary in early September), a week passes and Riddler blacks out the city, the super-storm ravages Gotham for another week, the Riddler takes over and puts Batman into a coma (still SUMMERTIME at this point i.e. mid September), Bruce wakes up a little less than a month later (presumably no longer summertime at this point i.e. mid October), Batman returns (FIVE MONTHS after the flashback from Batman #21 at which time Bruce had only been back in Gotham for a mere SIX WEEKS). Therefore, the flashback from Batman #21 is FIVE MONTHS before Batman’s mid October post-coma steam-bike return, meaning mid May. Furthermore, the second feature of Detective Comics #0, which details Bruce’s return to Gotham after training abroad, takes place FIVE MONTHS + SIX WEEKS before Batman’s mid October post-coma steam-bike return, which equals Late March of 2007—NOT the end of 2006. Phew.

4. Batwing #25 (Writers Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Artists Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Paul Mounts, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mike Marts) has a “Zero Year” editorial note that says “Riddler has shut off Gotham’s electric power days before a giant super-storm strikes Gotham,” yet the electricity is clearly flowing, so this has to take place shortly before Riddler’s strike.

5. In Batwing #25 (Writers Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mike Marts), which takes place in 2007 during “Zero Year,” the term 99%ers is bandied about. Unfortunately, the term “1%er” and the inverse “99%er” were not invented terms until around 2011, hence the 99%er’s anachronistic quality in this flashback. One could, of course, argue that the Occupy Movement started earlier in the fictional DCU, but I don’t think that was the intention of Gray and Palmiotti.

6. Flash Vol. 4 #25 (Writers Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato, Artists Francis Manpul, Chris Sprouse, Editors Bobbie Chase, Brian Cunningham, Harvey Richards, Wil Moss) shows a “Zero Year” Harvey Bullock, but this version of Bullock is incorrectly quite svelte as compared to the hefty Snyder/Capullo version from Batman Vol. 2.

7. Detective Comics Vol. 2 #25 (Writer John Layman, Artist Jason Fabok, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Mike Marts) shows a “Zero Year” Harvey Bullock that is heavier than the one shown in Flash #25, but still not bulky enough to match the “official” Snyder/Capullo version.

8. Batman Eternal #2-3 and continued issues (Writer Scott Snyder, James Tynion, Ray Fawkes, John Layman, Tim Seeley, Editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert, Mark Doyle) state specifically that Jim Gordon became Gotham’s police commissioner “five years ago.” Batman Eternal occurs in 2013, which would mean “five years ago” would be 2008, yet in order to jibe with everything else, Jim must have become commish in 2007—(he is promoted at the end of “Zero Year”). Therefore, “Six years ago” would have been correct.

9. Batman Vol. 2 Annual #1 (Writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Mike Marts) takes place in 2012. In it there is a flashback showing the “Zero Year” debut of Victor Fries, which has a “six years ago” editorial tagline. This tagline incorrectly places the debut in 2006 instead of 2007. Therefore, as dumb as it sounds, this item must occur “six years ago” in the same sense as the “Zero Year” version of “six years ago” despite that fact that it is flashing-back from 2012.

10. Justice League Vol. 2 #3 (Writer Geoff Johns, Editors Eddie Berganza, Darren Shan, Brian Cunningham) has supplemental material at the end that shows an excerpt from a book by David Graves. In this excerpt, the publisher, Historical Publishing, has added a note that says Graves’ book about the debut of the JL, called Gods Among Us, is released in 2006. This would lead one to believe that the Justice League debuts in 2006. This is WRONG. The JL debuts in 2008.

11. Justice League Vol. 2 #3‘s (Writer Geoff Johns, Editors Eddie Berganza, Darren Shan, Brian Cunningham) supplemental material also shows that the Secret History of Atlantis book was checked out of the library in November 2011, which incorrectly implies that the debut of the JL takes place in 2006 as well.

12. Secret Origins Vol. 3 #1 (Writer Kyle Higgins, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mark Doyle) retcons/alters the time Dick goes into the Batcave for the first time, which was originally detailed in Nightwing Vol. 3 #0. In Nightwing #0, Dick is led into the Batcave and drops a bombshell, revealing that he has already correctly deduced Batman’s secret identity. However, in the later-published Secret Origins #1, Dick has no idea and Batman dramatically reveals the information TO HIM. So, Secret Origins #1, despite functioning as a valid retcon while trumping Nightwing #0, technically qualifies as a continuity contradiction/error as well.

13. Secret Origins Vol. 3 #1 (Writer Kyle Higgins, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mark Doyle) also violates the whole “not enough time for all these Robins in five years conundrum” by showing a training montage for Dick that occurs, at one point, during a snow storm. Yet, in order for the Robins to have enough room on the shortened New 52 timeline, the latest Dick’s mid-training can be is September.

14. Batman & Robin Vol. 2 Annual #2 (Writer Peter Tomasi, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mike Marts) incorrectly has Batman refer to Commissioner Gordon as “Lieutenant Gordon.” Of course, he should be commish.

15. In a flashback from Batgirl Vol. 4 #6 (Artists Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, Ulises Arreola, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Bobbie Chase), Batgirl is colored in her all black ensemble. However, at the point in her career the flashback depicts, she would have been wearing her original grey outfit.

16. In Action Comics Vol. 2 #7 (Writer Grant Morrison, Editors Eddie Berganza, Wil Moss, Matt Idelson) Jimmy Olsen anachronistically remarks that their situation is like “Under the Dome by Stephen King.” Action Comics Vol. 2 #1-16 is a run that’s set entirely around 2007-2008. Under the Dome wasn’t released until 2009. This is a small and inconsequential continuity gaffe, but worth noting. Otherwise, we simply have to imagine a world where Under the Dome was released in the 70s like Stephen King originally wanted it to be.

17. In a flashback from Batwoman #0 (Artists J.H. Williams, W. Haden Blackman, Dave Stewart, Editors Bobbie Chase, Rickey Purdin, Harvey Richards, Mike Marts) Batman is drawn with his yellow-oval costume, which is incorrect since Batman never wore a yellow-oval in the New 52.

18. Forever Evil: ARGUS #1 (Writer Sterling Gates, Editors Bobbie Chase, Kate Stewart, Brian Cunningham) has a flashback to Barack Obama creating ARGUS with Steve Trevor a couple months into his presidency, which places said flashback in 2009. However, the “five years ago” note attached to this Obama/ARGUS creation scene supposedly means “five years before Forever Evil,” which would mean 2008 and therefore doesn’t make sense.

19. Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #3‘s (Writer Grant Morrison, Artist Chris Burnham, Editors Eddie Berganza, Rickey Purdin, Brian Smith, Mike Marts) splashy “Leviathan web display” shows images scanned right off the pages of Morrison’s run from the Modern Age. Most of them are okay for the New 52, but Dick’s Robin costume is an obsolete one and should have been changed.

20. In a flashback from Batman and… #25-26 aka “Batman & Two-Face” (Writer Peter Tomasi, Editors Bobbie Chase, Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern, Mike Marts) Erin McKillen’s break-out and disfigurement of Harvey Dent is said to occur three years into the McKillen Sisters’ prison term. This is a straight-up continuity error. We know Two-Face encountered Robin Dick Grayson, which places his debut, at the latest, 2009. Even if we ignored Dick’s fight with Two-Face, Robin Jason Todd also fights Two-Face, which means the continuity error would still exist a year later in 2010. The earliest the McKillen Sisters could have gone to prison is in December of 2007 (where I have placed that occurrence). There’s no way in hell the McKillens could serve a three year jail term. Only seventeen months at the most.

21. In Red Hood & The Outlaws #2 (Writer Scott Lobdell, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Bobbie Chase), Jason Todd says he was Robin for “years.” There isn’t enough room on this timeline for him to have been Robin for multiple years (or even two years). The longest amount of time he could have been Robin is around one year—and even that includes six months of training.

22. Secret Origins Vol. 3 #3 (Writer Scott Lobdell, Editors Bobbie Chase, Anthony Marquez, Mike Cotton, Eddie Berganza) retells the origin story of Tim Drake, which was first fleshed-out in Teen Titans Vol. 4 #0. The two stories are very similar, but there are notable dialogue and scenery changes for really no damn reason. The newer Secret Origins issue canonically trumps the older Teen Titans issue as an official retcon, but for the purposes of our list, the former retcon-issue bears the burden of error for having made the change.

23. Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #2 (Writer Grant Morrison, Editors Eddie Berganza, Rickey Purdin, Brian Smith, Mike Marts) has a flashback that shows Talia Al Ghul forming a team consisting of the DCU’s top villains, including Lex Luthor, Dr. Psycho, The Calculator, and Deathstroke. The panel that shows this team formation also INCORRECTLY includes Black Adam, who wouldn’t have debuted yet at that point.

24. Batwoman #2 (Artist/Writer J.H. Williams, Writer W. Haden Blackman, Artist Dave Stewart, Editors Eddie Berganza, Katie Kubert, Janelle Asselin, Mike Marts) has a background mural that shows the members of Batman Incorporated. It INCORRECTLY includes Renee Montoya, Black Canary, Huntress, Catwoman, Katana, Black Lightning, Batman Japan, and Gaucho. Montoya is pictured in the Batwoman mural dressed in her Modern Age Question garb. Renee was not a superhero in the New Age. Batman Japan’s debut, in the New Age, happens after Batwoman #2. Plus, he never wears the “Mr. Unknown” costume as a Batman Inc member anyway. Gaucho’s activation as a Batman Inc agent, like Batman Japan’s, comes later. The others simply are never Batman Inc members in the New Age. For example, Huntress would not have even met Batman at this point. Also, Black Canary would know absolutely nothing about Batman’s operations at this point (as made clear in Batgirl Vol. 4 #7). Similarly, despite being former Outsiders, Black Lightning and Katana would be in the same boat as Black Canary—totally out of the loop.

25. Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0 (Writers Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Editors Bobbie Chase, Rickey Purdin, Brian Smith, Mike Marts) features Batman telling Ravil that Damian is eleven-years-old. WRONG! He’s ten!

__________________________________________________________________

More to come in PART TWO…

Until then, here are the worst offenders (by number of continuity errors directly involved with or editorially overseen). DiDio, Lee, and Harras have the dubious honor of being linked to each error on our list as publisher, co-publisher, and editor-in-chief, respectively.

Dan DiDio 25
Jim Lee 25
Bob Harras 25
Bobbie Chase 18
Mike Marts 12
Eddie Berganza 10
Darren Shan 9
Katie Kubert 8
Rachel Gluckstern 6
Grant Morrison 4
Mark Doyle 4
Rickey Purdin 4
Brian Cunningham 4
John Layman 3
James Tynion 3
Brian Smith 3
Harvey Richards 3
Chris Burnham 2
Scott Snyder 2
Ray Fawkes 2
Kyle Higgins 2
J.H. Williams 2
W. Haden Blackman 2
Dave Stewart 2
Geoff Johns 2
Justin Gray 2
Jimmy Palmiotti 2
Wil Moss 2
Scott Lobdell 2
Peter Tomasi 2
Sterling Gates
Kate Stewart
Eduardo Pansica
Julio Ferreira
Paul Mounts
Francis Manapul
Brian Buccellato
Chris Sprouse
Matt Idelson
Jason Fabok
Anthony Marquez
Mike Cotton
Janelle Asselin
Tim Seeley
Ardian Syaf
Vicente Cifuentes
Ulises Arreola

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Editing for Dummies: Every Day is X-Mas in the New 52!

Right now the timeline of the New 52 is currently still in 2013. Read my site and you’ll see clearly that Six Years Ago (aka ZERO YEAR) is 2007. Batman Eternal has hammered in the fact that Carmine Falcone’s fall from grace, Gordon’s promotion to Commissioner, and other seminal events happened in the year following ZERO YEAR, which was “five years ago.” This, along with a many other facts, tells us Eternal and other arcs (like Superman: Doomed and Robin Rising) all are currently happening in 2013, which we have been routinely told is the same year in which Damian died and Joker struck during “Death of the Family.”

Now, I certainly don’t mind the compression and the type of editing that packs in every little detail and which takes advantage of literally every day on the calendar, narratively speaking. But, even reading every single issue in which Batman has appeared over the last couple years (which I have done)—and then compiling the minimum number of days it would take Batman to complete the stories written about in the comics in which he appears—the Dark Knight, according to my calculations and vast notes, should have been finally nearing if not treading into 2014 by now. (And that’s if you literally count the minimum number of days Batman is active by scouring each appearance he makes and seeing how long each issue and arc lasts based solely upon information given in the books—I have a VERY detailed calendar that I’ve compiled, which I may or may not share in the future.)

But a few references in very recent releases have stymied me. And they don’t seem like coincidences.

GRAYSON #3 features the beginning of the school year, giving us an assumed early September date.
GOTHAM ACADEMY #1 also gives us a post-summer start-of-the-school-year setting, meaning it should likely take place in early September.
BATMAN ETERNAL #24, with its direct reference to an upcoming Labor Day, seems to imply that it is very late August, nearing September.
DETECTIVE COMICS #35 definitively takes place in autumn, as Batman himself states outright in the narrative.

And here I was ready to finally push things into 2014. Believe me, I really wanted to, especially since we are practically in 2015 IRL! But if we take these recent occurrences as gospel, then we actually are still three to three-and-a-half months away from an in-story New Year’s Day 2014.

“But, Collin!” I’m sure you are all saying, “You tell us to ignore topical references, holidays, weather, and in-story dates all the time to better serve your chronology building! Why not just do it now and stick a big fat asterisk on these issues? What’s the BIG DEAL this time?” The big difference here is that a lot of those asterisk items that I do have on my timeline are stand-alone happenings. A date on a cell phone in a single issue of Batwing. A time-stamp attached to a cell phone text message in Nightwing. A date on a newspaper in Superman: Doomed. These are really linked to nothing outside of their own single issues. These more recent references to September seem to be hinting at something deeper—a line-wide streamlining, possibly. I mean, after all, everything is eventually going to link-up in 2015 when the three big weeklies end and converge.

Batwing #22. What is the point of having this story occur on the weekend of October 5th? There isn't one. CONTINUITY ERROR.

Batwing #22. What is the point of having this story occur on the weekend of October 5th? There isn’t one. CONTINUITY ERROR.


Nightwing #29. Same deal.

Nightwing #29. Same deal.

But beyond what I’ve already said, and probably most importantly, the September references of late are a super big deal because they will mess with holidays that have been referenced/used by various writers and editors so far in the New 52. It’s a huge and painful undertaking to accommodate, essentially sliding everything three-and-a-half months from on-the-verge-of-January back to September. If done, this literally means that every Christmas holiday shown in the New 52 Bat books will have to be disregarded. Batman: The Dark Knight #10-15, for example, is an X-mas/New Year’s tale that, if moved from its current spot, won’t actually take place during X-mas/New Year’s. Batgirl #4-6‘s Christmas setting already doesn’t fit anywhere without huge continuity errors no matter how you spin it. More still, Superman/Wonder Woman #3-5 is set in a Christmastime that shouldn’t yet be Christmastime. Go further and you’ll see that yet ANOTHER Dark Knight (#26-27) arc takes place on yet ANOTHER Christmas! Not to mention, “Gothtopia” crammed in a bit of the old holly jollies as well (although you can easily argue that the whole thing is a product of Scarecrow’s weird hallucination). So having four or five Christmas-related arcs that have no place for a couple of in-story Decembers in a row is essentially what we have to deal with.

Batgirl #4. Not actually Christmas.

Batgirl #4. Not actually Christmas.


The Dark Knight #27. Not actually Christmas.

The Dark Knight #27. Not actually Christmas.


The Dark Knight #16. Not actually Christmas.

The Dark Knight #16. Not actually Christmas.


Superman/Wonder Woman #3. Not actually Christmas.

Superman/Wonder Woman #3. Not actually Christmas.

Let me also be very frank when stating that NOT A SINGLE ONE of these arcs that take place during Christmastime USE CHRISTMASTIME AS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE NARRATIVE. They all just happen in or around Christmas. And really for no good damn reason. Why firmly stamp your story to a very specific time, knowing full-well that doing so will only serve to make your story impossible to mesh with the rest of the world’s overarching narrative that you are writing your story to be a part of? Was it more heartwarming and touching that Batman saved Hispanic sweat shop workers from a CHRISTMAS sweatshop instead of a REGULAR sweatshop? Was Bruce’s connection that he made with girlfriend Natalya that much deeper because it was on NEW YEAR’S EVE? Oh, and did it make us mourn harder when she was unceremoniously dumped into the fridge a mere six issues later? Is it more intense when a deadbeat mom finally shows up after years of neglect ON CHRISTMAS EVE? Does Wonder Woman’s struggle to come up with the perfect holiday gift for her man (for only a few panels of a multi-issue arc) make us relate to her yearning desire to be the best partner she can be in the most important season of the year?

It may seem like I’m being nitpicky about dates and times, but when DC is compressing things so tightly, these things DO MATTER. X-mas implies the passage of time into a new year, which directly effects narrative in the biggest way imaginable. This effects how we see and read developing arcs in other comic books. When mere days or weeks pass in-between major crossover arcs that are clearly occurring in summertime, some schlub writing fourth-tier litter box liner shouldn’t be including the A list character for a single panel cameo walking by a Salvation Army Santa Claus. Unless Saint Nick is the villain and he has evil magickal powers that only come but once a December day each year, having the X-mas setting as a background is totally unnecessary. To boot, it fucks up the ongoing stories of everyone else! So, having an X-mas setting to your arc for no apparent reason is not something we should just gloss over. Nor is including a specific date on a cell phone for no apparent reason either. Applying an X-mas setting to your arc or sneaking in a date reference are both a great ways to commit continuity suicide as a writer or editor.

BAH HUMBUG.

The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special #1. Santa gets fragged by the Main Man.

The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special #1. Santa gets fragged by the Main Man.

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Gotham’s Mayors of the Modern Age (Part 2)

Despite a shaky few years in charge, Armand Krol runs a big-money campaign to get re-elected as Gotham’s mayor. The Krol campaign needs a scapegoat, so it pins most of the blame for bad things that happened during Krol’s tenure directly on Jim Gordon. After demoting Gordon and replacing him with Gordon’s separated wife Sarah Essen, Gordon resigns in disgust. Shortly thereafter, a still pissed-off Gordon decides that the best way to get back at Krol is to run against him in the election. But that proves to be a tough task, especially since Gotham’s DA Marion Grange is already running with the endorsement and funding of Bruce Wayne. Eventually, Grange wins the election, becoming the first female mayor on our list! One of her campaign promises was to re-instate Jim Gordon as commissioner—so when Sarah steps down to take a special position working directly as a liaison between the mayor and the GCPD, the public assumes that lame-duck Krol will re-appoint Jim. However, Krol’s last bit of revenge is to appoint his mega-corrupt buddy, Andy Howe as the new commish. When the Clench virus strikes Gotham (as seen in “Legacy”), Krol is forcibly removed from office early due to severe mishandling of the crisis. Grange is inaugurated, boots Howe, and reinstates Jim.

But tragically, one of the first genuine, legitimate, and honorable leaders of the city (in typical DC fashion) has to deal with the worst shit so far, notably an earthquake and the start of “No Man’s Land.” Not only that, the first mayor that Bruce truly believes in (similarly to how he believes in the Gordons), succumbs to an assassin’s bullet. This makes Marion Grange the second mayor to get killed while on Batman’s watch. What makes this one sting even more is that the bullet that kills Grange (shot by Nicolas Scratch’s cult zealots) was actually meant for Bruce. It’s also worth noting that we don’t see much action for Grange in the comics—the usual for a DC politico that isn’t “evil.” Seems like DC writers prefer writing sad, grim, and gritty stuff more than nice-nice stuff.

Batman #562: One of the few good ones, Marion Grange, goes out rough.

Batman #562: One of the few good ones, Marion Grange, goes out rough.

So, naturally, DC, being bored with nice good-guy mayors, returns to form with the next post-No Man’s Land mayor: Daniel Dickerson, another super corrupt one-dimensional politician that resembles the devious conniving ones we’ve seen before. Some of Dickerson’s scumbag highlights: He has a sorta-kinda extramarital affair with super-villain Whisper A’Daire, incites and illegally goes after opposition groups, and constantly fucks with the GCPD’s funding (akin to what goes down in HBO’s The Wire). Dickerson becomes the THIRD mayor to get assassinated during Batman’s career, this time at the hands of a sniper-rifle-wielding Joker.

Detective Comics #743: Bruce Wayne introduces his wine glass to Daniel Dickerson's lapel.

Detective Comics #743: Bruce Wayne introduces his wine glass to Daniel Dickerson’s lapel.

Gotham Central #12: Daniel Dickerson. Two mayors in a row fall to the sniper while under Batman's watch.

Gotham Central #12: Daniel Dickerson. Two mayors in a row fall to the sniper while under Batman’s watch.

The equally corrupt but less often seen David Hull replaces Dickerson as Gotham’s next mayor. Aside from continuing where Dickerson left off in regard to the GCPD (mostly in Gotham Central), Hull doesn’t do many noteworthy things. Something worth noting, however, is that David Lapham’s very weird “City of Crime” arc saw a mass hallucination that caused the entire populace of Gotham to believe that the maybe real/maybe fake ghoulish Seamus McGreevy was briefly mayor during the middle of Hull’s run.

Gotham Central #14: David Hull. Dickerson lite.

Gotham Central #14: David Hull. Dickerson lite.

Up next is the unnamed lady from 52. Issue #26, to be specific, is the first time she is mentioned. And that’s really about it. We never see her even once. I wonder if there was supposed to be something with her but editorial changed gears?

In any case, the final mayor of the Modern Age (and only mayor in the New 52 so far) is Sebastian Hady. Hady is a mash-up of all the worst characteristics of the previous evil mayors of Gotham, but maybe even worse. In the Ragman backup in Batman: Streets of Gotham, Hady hires Firefly to clear some land via arson so his construction/real estate venture can build. Red Robin #22 showed that Hady had blackmailed his opponent to win the election seat and also that he cheats on his wife. Like Krol, Hady hates Commissioner Gordon, but unlike Krol, Hady actually targets the Commish using the awful Internal Affairs-man Jack Forbes (as seen in The Dark Knight Vol. 1). In one of his final send-offs (from Batman Incorporated), Mayor Hady even goes so far as to attempt to frame Gordon for murder.

Streets of Gotham #18: Mayor Sebastian Hady. The Ultimate Evil. Perfect for the New 52!

Streets of Gotham #18: Mayor Sebastian Hady. The Ultimate Evil. Perfect for the New 52!

Of course, the trend for the New 52 was to ramp-up the “grim and gritty,” so Hady stays on board as mayor, but he only becomes even more criminal. I’ve no doubt that Hady would have gone in that direction anyway even if the reboot didn’t happen. But that’s all! Hope you learned something. Until next time, ta ta!

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Gotham’s Mayors of the Modern Age (Part 1)

Politics in the DCU have always fascinated me. But instead of a sociopolitical examination of superhero comics, I thought I’d take a more direct look at a specific aspect of politics in direct relation to chronological narrative. In other words, I wanted to crack open some back issues and take a simple gander at who hung their hat on the mayoral hatrack for the city of Gotham. Once upon a time, before the New 52, there was the glorious Modern Age of Comic Books. Gotham City of that era was quite a different place with quite a different history. The highest elected official of the most corrupt city in America always had it rough. Let’s look at these much-maligned mayors of Gotham.

The first mayor of Gotham (when Batman debuts) is Wilson Klass, who we first see in the amazing “none of you are safe” speech from Batman #405 (Frank Miller’s “Year One”), which takes place in his palatial tax-fraud mansion. Klass isn’t actually mentioned by name until “Prey” by Doug Moench/Paul Gulacy (Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #11), which overlaps with Miller’s “Year One” in November.

LOTDK #11: Mayor Wilson Klass. This klassy guy thinks Batman is bad for business, but Hugo Strange is totally dope.

Mayor Wilson Klass. This klassy guy thinks Batman is bad for business, but Hugo Strange is totally dope.


Following “Prey” and “Year One,” Klass is removed from office, having been outed as a corrupt politician in league with the gangsta Falcones and clown-connoisseur Gillian Loeb.

Next up is Mayor Gill (first name unspoken), who believe it or not only is mentioned once by name in a lone Legends of the Dark Knight issue—LOTDK #170, part of the 2003 “Irresistible” arc by Tom Peyer/Tony Harris. Harris models Gill after Richard Nixon and Peyer pens him as the winner of a recent election (obviously the one to replace Klass). The exact placement of the whole “Irresistible” arc is tricky, but it seems to begin towards the end of Miller’s “Year One” and end somewhere in Year Two, thus linking the election that occurs directly to the aftermath of Klass’s fall from grace.

LOTDK #170: Mayor Gill. The only ever mention of his name in comicbookland.

LOTDK #170: Mayor Gill. The only ever mention of his name in comicbookland.


Throughout the first ten years of Batman’s career, following Klass’ removal, Gotham’s mayor either appears or gets mentioned multiple times in various different Bat-books. However, as noted, the only time a specific name is mentioned in this “Year One Era” in conjunction with the mayor is in LOTDK #170 when Batman says rescues the tied-up politico and exclaims, “Mayor Gill! Who did this?” One could easily presume that Gill is the mayor for the whole “Year One Era” after Klass except for the fact that 2003’s Gotham After Midnight #7 by Steve Niles/Kelley Jones, which also takes place in the middle of the “Year One Era” (roughly Year Six), shows the assassination of Gotham’s mayor (who, of course, goes unnamed in the issue). This means explicitly that TWO men act as Gotham’s “Year One Era” mayors in-between Klass and Skowcroft (who is the mayor by Year Eleven).

So, if one of these two gentlemen has to be Gill and the other has no name, it has to be assumed that the other is Hamilton Hill. (I know, I know, Gill and Hill sound way too similar, but what can you do?) But why Hamilton Hill? Who is this fella and where does he come from? Hamilton Hill is one of the most famous Batman mayors and was the final mayor of the Silver Age (or Bronze Age, if you prefer), appearing as a corrupt puppet of super-crime boss Rupert Thorne from 1981 through 1985. Hill’s popularity as a shrewd and conniving character was so great (partly due to the fact that he was neatly shaped by Gerry Conway) he even later appeared as the mayor for the entirety of the original Batman the Animated Series TV show and also as Gotham’s mayor in just about every DC animated continuity and video game universe thereafter. (His character was much nicer in these versions, but oh well.) The animated Under the Hood film specifically placed Hamilton Hill as the “Year One Era” mayor of Gotham as well.

Even though Hamilton Hill is never once definitively shown, mentioned, or referenced as having ever existed in the Modern Age proper, since we know 100% that there have to be two mayors in-between Klass and Skowcroft, Hill seems like a logical choice to fit as one of them. Hill was the final Bronze Age mayor, so logic follows that the unnamed final Bronze-portion-of-the-“Year One Era” mayor should be Hill too. Although, we should note that, in the Bronze Age, Hill debuted years after Rupert Thorne’s debut in Englehart’s “Dark Detective” arc (also known as “Strange Apparitions”), which is quasi-canonical in the Modern Age (Year Nine) thanks in part to a bunch of winks, nods, and mini-flashbacks in various Bat-books. Therefore, in the Modern Age, Hill has to debut before Thorne—in Year Six after Gill is assassinated by Midnight. Remember when I said Hamilton Hill is never shown or referenced in the Modern Age… well, in Year Six’s Huntress: Year One, we meet and are actually shown (!) a corrupt mayor of Gotham. While he goes unnamed, I think this is our first and only look at Hamilton Hill in the Modern Age! Of course, there is no way to prove this, but I’m sticking to it.

Huntress: Year One #5: Mayor Hamilton Hill. Is this the one and only appearance of Ham Hill in the Modern Age? I think it is! But we'll never truly know.

Huntress: Year One #5: Mayor Hamilton Hill. Is this the one and only appearance of Ham Hill in the Modern Age? I think it is! But we’ll never truly know.

Mayor Skowcroft follows in Year Eleven, fully-named “George P. Skowcroft” on the DC wikia page for Swamp Thing #53. I don’t actually recall his full name being given in the comics, but I guess it was. Skowcroft is most only famous for having to wage war against Swamp Thing when the latter’s wife is arrested for bestiality (for having sex with a swamp monster).

Swamp Thing #53: Mayor George Skowcroft. Batman tells his honor to be cool with LGBTQSwamp relationships.

Swamp Thing #53: Mayor George Skowcroft. Batman tells his honor to be cool with LGBTQSwamp relationships.

Julius Lieberman was mayor a quick two years later, appearing in a very few number of comics, some canon, some not. Most notably, he appeared in Run, Riddler, Run where he ineptly hired a team of thugs decked out in Iron Man suits to forcibly eject minorities from their homes in an effort to expedite the gentrification process for big real estate firms. This scandal is likely why, within less than a year, we see a replacement for him in Armand Krol. Are you noticing a trend of Gotham’s mayors being very, very terrible?

Batman - Run, Riddler, Run!: Mayor Julius Lieberman. This really speaks for itself.

Batman – Run, Riddler, Run!: Mayor Julius Lieberman. This really speaks for itself.

Krol is no different than his predecessors. He’s rich, White, male, fear-mongering, reactionary, Right-wing, soul-selling, asshole. The only difference is maybe his hatred of Batman, which is a predominant part of his character—that is until Batman saves his life during “Knightfall.” Krol, despite then becoming super-pro-Batman and extremely anti-Jim Gordon, then becomes the center of screw-up after screw-up after screw-up, blaming Jimbo for all of his messes and ultimately promoting Sarah Essen-Gordon (Gordon’s wife) to commissioner. Krol ends up shamed and voted out of office before succumbing to a fitting gruesome death at the hands of the “Clench” virus.

For editors at DC in the 1990s, the invention of Krol marked a decidedly hard narrative turn for the overall Batman line—going from including Gotham’s mayor as a passive secondary character to an active central character in the overall serialized mythos. Krol sets the tone for what will become a very important figure for the world of the Dark Knight—a leader of the city with a character ranging from scummy to hypocritical to promise-breaking to naive to corrupt to flip-floppy to many more attributes that have come to define the idea of the elected official in the current state of American politics today. While Krol may have represented the dark side of the spectrum, his character paved the path for even more introspective and complex mayoral figures down the road, including both other dark figures and new positive candidates that actually will shine a little brighter and even function altruistically.

Batman #524: Mayor Armand Krol. The dawn of a new era—a politician that feels as slimy as the real thing.

Batman #524: Mayor Armand Krol. The dawn of a new era—a politician that feels as slimy as the real thing.

One final note to end. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the only other mayor shown in the Modern Age: Charles “Chubby” Chesterfield, who is only shown ONTE TIME (in the Black & White Second Feature from Batman: Gotham Knights #19, in which he dies). This B&W second feature, however, is non-canon, as is Chubby’s reign as mayor.

__________________________________________________________________

Coming soon in Part Two… Marion Grange! Daniel Dickerson! David Hull! An unnamed female that was referenced only once in 52! And Sebastian Hady!

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“Futures End”: An Arc That Matters (?)

There’s been a lot of mumbling and grumbling about the Internet in regard to The New 52: Futures End and how it will ultimately affect the greater DC multiverse. Many have been complaining about how it is yet another in a long line of “What If”/”Elseworld”-type possible future stories that doesn’t really matter. However, in the narrative of Futures End, let’s not forget that the main premise (outside of myriad other mini-divergences) is that Terry McGinnis is sent back from a dystopia forty years in the future where Brother Eye has taken over the horrible stinkin’ world. Terry goes mistakenly to 2018 (“5 years later”) instead of earlier in order to stop Brother Eye and prevent his horrible future from happening. The world of “5 years later” that Terry winds up in shows a post Earth 2 War scenario where things are very different from 2013/2014—and dystopian in many ways as well. But let’s not forget that the REAL dystopia in question–the possible future that must be avoided and the one that Terry will likely erase is NOT the “world of 5 years later” but the “world of 40 years later.” The “world of 40 years later” exists because Brother Eye (obviously with Brainiac’s help or stolen tech) took over the world AFTER everything that led up to “5 years later” HAD ALREADY HAPPENED. In fact, we will supposedly see what specifically leads to the “world of 5 years later” in the upcoming weekly Earth 2 mega-saga.

Futures End #12. THIS is the possible future that Terry McGinnis wants to/will erase. Fine by me.

Futures End #12. THIS is the possible future that Terry McGinnis wants to/will erase. Fine by me.

Batwing: Futures End. On the other hand, Terry McGinnis doesn't have ANY problem with a future where Batman Inc building an underground prison on Dinosaur Island is a possibility. And neither do I!

Batwing: Futures End. On the other hand, Terry McGinnis doesn’t have ANY problem with a future where Batman Inc building an underground prison on Dinosaur Island is a possibility. And neither do I!

So, to reiterate, Futures End doesn’t seem like the one-off “What If” alternate/possible future arc throwaway. Why would DC devote over 100 issues of material to something that was throwaway? (I know, I know, we’ve heard it ad nauseum that DiDio is crazy and doesn’t share the same vision as the fans, etc… etc…, but seriously, folks, I won’t believe that this is throwaway garbage until I see it morph into throwaway garbage before my very own eyes.) The throwaway future that is chopping block fodder for a superhero narrative of this nature is the cyborg Brother Eye dystopia 40 years later, NOT the Futures End 5 years later. Terry has no aims to undo the Earth 2 War or anything that has occurred in the blank time between 2013/2014 and 2018. Unless this really is utter bullshit on the behalf of DC’s gimmicky editorial team, then “5 years later” is canon. I hope the “5 year later” we’ve been shown in Futures End really is canon because it’s also a fairly bold vision, decently written, well-illustrated, and quite structurally cohesive as far as weekly comics go. (In fact, I find it much more sensical and enjoyable than its other weekly competitor Batman Eternal.)

There has also been a lot of Web hubbub made about the fact that DC’s three weekly mega-arcs (Futures End, Earth 2, and Batman Eternal) all will wrap-up conveniently at the exact same time next year. The publishing of Multiversity and the Anti-Monitor’s appearance in Justice League both getting thrown into the mix recently also seem to hint at something major coming up in regard to continuity and the overall line. I won’t speculate, especially since the last thing I want to do is enter the deep dark minds of the DC brain-trust—what a scary place that must be. But I will end by saying that if all of these items aligning together here-and-now hint at something big coming up in 2015, then my immediate questions, and the whole reason for this post, are: What is Futures End leading up to? And, bluntly, what IS Futures End?

In conclusion, many fans are clearly fed up with the direction of DC Comics lately. (Just read any comments section on CBR or Newsarama these days.) The New 52 reboot started off pretty ugly in the first two years or so, so folks still reading (out of loyalty, addiction, or whatever) are either ready to jump-off or desperately ready to be satiated with something good. With a brilliant wrap-up on All Star Western and brand new titles coming out like Gotham Academy, the new costumed Batgirl, and even what should be Gail Simone’s triumphant redemptive return in Secret Six, DC is in a prime position to deliver on the promise of what the New 52 was supposed to have been in the first place—something fresh, thrilling, positive, and truly game-changing. But even my patience is wearing thin too. One of the reasons I love DC Comics so much is because I’ve always felt that it, as opposed to other companies, has the most POTENTIAL as far as characters, universes, and history. Right now, that potential is at a level it hasn’t been at in a while and it’s ready to either crash or crest. Not to mix metaphors, but here’s to hoping that the creative think-tank in the executive offices in Burbank know how to take the ball and punch it into the end-zone.

I WANT 2 LIKE YU SO DONT FUK UP. <3

I WANT 2 LIKE YU SO DONT FUK UP. <3

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Is There a New 52 Editorial Mandate Against Batcave Trophies?

Forever Evil #4: The Bachelor Pad

Forever Evil #4: The Bachelor Pad


Just a bit of speculation on my part, but have you all noticed that the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the giant penny are no longer being shown in any comics? Across the board—whether it is Batman Eternal, Detective Comics, Batman/Superman, Batman and Robin, Batman: The Dark Knight, or Justice League—the classic dinosaur and penny trophies haven’t been shown in months. Despite multiple artists renditions of the Batcave in each of these titles, the dino and the penny haven’t been drawn in the Batcave since Forever Evil and the immediate Forever Evil follow-up Nightwing #30—in an issue where the large dice trophy and giant question mark are both curiously destroyed during a sparring session between Bruce and Dick.
Nightwing Vol. 3 #30. Gratuitous trophy smashing. For graphic effect? Or an actual editorial sign that these trophies are being done away with?

Nightwing Vol. 3 #30. Gratuitous trophy smashing. For graphic effect? Or an actual editorial sign that these trophies are being done away with?

And in the most recent issue of Superman Unchained (issue #7), Scott Snyder has the villain WRAITH attack Batman in the Batcave. Almost symbolically, during the epic movie-like battle, the penny, dinosaur, and giant playing card are destroyed! I’m not sure where exactly Snyder’s Superman Unchained arc fits into continuity yet—I was thinking well before Forever Evil, but maybe that isn’t the case? Maybe this is Snyder wiping the slate clean so to speak.

Superman Unchained #7. Will Superman straighten out that penny in issue #8? Or is the tragic loss of a rare Phil Kane sculpture?

Superman Unchained #7. Will Superman straighten out that penny in issue #8? Or is this the tragic loss of a rare Phil Kane sculpture?


Superman Unchained #7. The T. Rex goes extinct? Or will we see his snarling robot face again? Superman Unchained #7. The T. Rex goes extinct? Or will we see his snarling robot face again?[/caption]

In all previous continuities, Batman had hundreds (if not thousands) of trophies littering the Batcave. In the more-serious era of the New 52, Batman’s only trophies have been the giant penny, the T. Rex, the giant question mark, the giant dice, the giant playing card (which Batman actually made himself), and some weird alien things in aquarium tubes (but the latter is minor compared to the main five). That’s it. So, if you combine Superman Unchained and Nightwing #30, ALL MAIN FIVE of the New 52 Batcave trophies are done away with. (One slight caveat: Worlds’ Finest #19 does show the T. Rex and likely goes after Forever Evil. However, it was released well before the publication of Forever Evil‘s conclusion, Nightwing #30, and Superman Unchained #7.)

Could there have been an editorial mandate to eliminate the colorful trophies from the Batcave? I’m not saying that the elimination of the iconic items like the T. Rex or the penny is necessarily bad or good. I’m sure purists would hate the idea. Those playing Devil’s Advocate would probably say that the items have little to no bearing on what is currently going on in Batman canon. Others, still, will say that these missing items could reappear anytime (just like dead heroes and villains)—either simply just by reappearing without a word addressing that they were absent in the first place OR with the offscreen “retcon” that they were repaired and re-displayed. My interest lies mainly in the fact that no one seems to have noticed these disappearing trophies. (Or no one cared enough to notice.) But if it is true—that a mandate was made to get rid of ‘em—I’m more curious as to why? Do you guys and gals think that we’ve entered a new phase in the history of Batman comics where trophies aren’t a part of the mythos? Does a Batcave sans throwback cornball-era T. Rex and penny make more sense for 2014? In either case, how do you feel about it? Or is this a conspiracy theory that is incorrect or not even worth discussion? Shout at me!

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Meet the Guardians and see the movie critics are calling the “Best Marvel Movie Ever.”

 
Meet the Guardians and see the movie critics are calling the “Best Marvel Movie Ever.”

 

 

Get tickets to see it starting August 1st!

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Gail Simone’s Batgirl: The Curious Case of Continuity Criminality

COMING THIS FALL... Batgirl New 52 2.0. A welcome change brought to you by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. Here is why I am especially excited for this lovely new direction...

COMING THIS FALL… Batgirl New 52 2.0. A welcome change brought to you by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. Here is why I am especially excited for this lovely new direction…

Gail Simone is a living legend. Arguably, it is on her shoulders alone that women have been able to stand up, shout out, and be recognized in the superhero comics industry. Without Simone’s unique writing talent and energetic feminist activism, superhero comics would have been stuck in the dark sexist doldrums of yesteryear. That being said, I’m over-the-moon with excitement for the new Batgirl creative team that will be replacing Simone in the Fall. Brenden Fletcher says that the new team will inject a bit of Veronica Mars and Sherlock into the title! Can’t wait. But I’m not just excited about the narrative and visual shift. I’m also excited about the CONTINUITY SHIFT! In case you haven’t been following my project or closely reading the entire DC New 52 line like I have, you might not have known that Gail Simone’s run thus far on Batgirl has been a continuity nightmare the likes of which I haven’t seen in decades. To be fair, editors Bobbie Chase, Katie Kubert and Mike Marts (and Mark Doyle) are just as much to blame, if not more than Simone. And it’s not like there has been a massive number of errors—it’s just that the few errors made are colossal ones. No one really seems to care about the errors, though, and this is probably likely due to the fact that no one is really reading Simone’s book anymore. And this is unfortunate both because Batgirl is a great character (when handled well) and because Gail Simone is an excellent writer (when at the top of her game).

Let’s break down how Simone, Kubert, et al have exactly erred. First off, Simone has now scribed 33 issues of Batgirl, the entire run of the fourth volume so far, all except for issue #25. This is a run that began in September 2011 and continues on into the present. We are going on three years real time and, according to the entire DC line, nearly two-and-a-half years in-story time (narratively speaking).

Batgirl #28

Batgirl #28

In Batgirl #28 (published April 2014), Simone states outright that Batgirl #1 through Batgirl #28 comprises a mere “few month” time period. This is INSANE. Twenty-eight issues equaling a “few months”? I’ve read the stories and done the chronological math. And no matter what, Batgirl #1 has to take place a month or so before X-Mas 2012—(Christmas is a big part of the narrative in Batgirl #4-6). That means Simone was trying to retroactively compress her entire #1-28 run from a FULL CALENDAR YEAR into a “few months.” No way, Jose. Even if we were to place Batgirl #4-6 around X-Mas 2011 (where I originally incorrectly had it on my timeline), it still makes references to Bruce’s gentrification project from Batman #1, which would be premature by nearly a year. (Bruce’s gentrification project isn’t fully fleshed out until either late 2012 or early 2013, in-story time.)

Batgirl #32. Also, have you noticed how Fernando Pasarin's disgustingly rendered facial expressions all look exactly the same on each character? Seriously, it looks like everyone's face is getting sucked into a vortex that starts at the tip of the nose. But I digress...

Batgirl #32. Also, have you noticed how Fernando Pasarin’s disgustingly rendered facial expressions all look exactly the same on each character? Seriously, it looks like everyone face is getting sucked into a vortex that starts at the tip of the nose. But I digress…

And guess what? Simone, Chase, Kubert, Marts, and Doyle keep on committing continuity crimes! In the most recent issues of Batgirl, issues #32-33, there are some heinous continuity errors. Batgirl #33 specifically takes place after James Junior meets with his dad in Blackgate in Batman Eternal #13. However, Batgirl #33 takes place right after Batgirl #32. The problem here is that Simone tells us that the linked Batgirl #32-33 occurs roughly TEN DAYS after Batgirl #24, in which Jim Gordon shoots Ricky Gutierrez. This is nuts. Batgirl #24 is a part of the “Wanted Arc” that is linked to Batgirl #23, which occurs at the latest way back in September (in-story time). This means Batgirl #32-33 must be at minimum THREE to THREE-AND-A-HALF MONTHS after Ricky gets shot. TEN DAYS, Gail! TEN DAYS!?!?

With this added flub, Simone has made it so that her arc comprising issues #1-34 supposedly only spans about four months tops. However, because Batgirl is interacting in a shared universe (Simone herself even references other titles quite frequently!) the actual amount of time that passes between issue #1 and issue #34 has to be minimum over ONE FULL YEAR. Let’s look at this another way and if it’s not clear by now, it certainly will be. Batgirl #1 takes place around November 2012. According to Simone, Batgirl #34 takes place around March 2013. This already seems totally fucked. This means Simone wants us to believe that the following all occur in three months’ time: the entire “Court of Owls Saga,” “Death of the Family” arc, Batman Incorporated Vol. 2, “Throne of Atlantis” arc, “Natalya Trusevich death” arc, Superman Unchained, multiple Detective Comics arcs, multiple Batman/Superman arcs, multiple Batwing arcs, multiple Birds of Prey arcs, “Gothtopia,” multiple Justice League arcs, “Trinity War,” Forever Evil, Forever Evil aftermath arcs, “First Contact,” and the first 13 issues of Batman Eternal. I’ve made a timeline. This is easily (and specifically) over a year’s worth of narrative. And every arc and title seems to accommodate and work with the other stories accompanying it in the overall timeline. That is, every arc and title EXCEPT for Gail Simone’s Batgirl.

Batgirl #1

Batgirl #1

But that’s not all, folks. Even before issue #1 we’ve got problems. Simone gives us the history of Batgirl’s paralysis and recovery and things ain’t right either. As stated in Batgirl Vol. 4 #1 and Batgirl Vol. 4 #14, Barbara Gordon miraculously recovers from her paralysis (only weeks after receiving a radical mystery treatment in a special South African clinic). Simone goes further, telling us that Babs’ full recovery happens almost exactly three years after becoming paralyzed. This, howver, cannot be true. The most amount of time there could have possibly been is just shy of TWO YEARS. The New 52 timeline is greatly shortened. Four Robins in five years, plus a Batgirl squeezed in for good measure. If Babs was Batgirl for a year, as Simone also tells us (in issue #0), and then quits for an indeterminate amount of time and then gets paralyzed for three years, we are talking nearly five years’ worth of time before her return! The only way that works is if Batgirl debuts before the first Robin, which is ludicrous!

When Simone says “three years of paralysis, 3 years ago” in Batgirl #1, she is writing from December 2012 (in-story time), which is “2 YEARS of paralysis, 2 YEARS AGO.” Either Simone messed-up and said “3 years” instead of “2 years” OR she messed-up by not realizing that other writers would insert Batgirl into continuity prior to her use of the character. The problem here, again, is that Simone delivers specific information without regard to the fact that other writers use Batgirl (chronologically) before she does. To extrapolate upon this even further, we can look at the fact that Batgirl appears in Batman: The Dark Knight, Detective Comics, and I Vampire definitively MONTHS BEFORE her supposed re-debut shortly before X-Mas time 2012, as Simone implies directly states.

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Simone’s Batgirl is a worse violator of continuity than any other New 52 book thus far. And this includes the works of Tomasi, Morrison, Tynion, et al—who simply refuse to play by the rules but are vague enough that things tend to work out anyway. Simone, on the other hand, not only definitively ignores all the events of the DCU that are going on around her own title, but even frustratingly violates her own internal narrative time and time again.

Batgirl #32. You SHOULD be sorry!

Batgirl #32. You SHOULD be sorry!

For the life of me, I just can’t understand it. Simone has written some really cohesive and brilliant work in the past—Secret Six and Birds of Prey come to mind. I’ve never known Simone (and editors) to stray so far from the collaborative effort. Not only that, but the overall feel/energy of the title has been unimpressive and lackluster—but that is the subject of a wholly different article. I know that Simone has stated that it was difficult to work with Kubert and Marts, but the last couple issues have been under new editor Doyle. While the positive energy has lifted a little bit, the continuity errors continue. This entry might’ve seemed like a pointless rant, but since my project deals primarily with issues of continuity, this stuff has great bearing upon what I do and how I do it. Managing TIME is fundamental to the artistic craft of storytelling. Time and a clear delivery of the way time flows within your narrative allows for your characters to grow, to learn, to reflect, to feel joy, to feel loss, to build relationships, and to DEVELOP. Without a clear sense of time or an order for time (whether it is straightforward, backwards, or nonlinear), the story itself begins to lose credibility and impact. How time and order (i.e. continuity) are handled by a creator will ultimately determine the strength of a story and the strength of the characters populating the story world in which they live. It is because of these constant problems, ever since Simone rebooted in September 2011, that Batgirl has been a failure both critically and in regard to how it jibes with the rest of the company line. Hopefully with the new creative team, Batgirl will get the shot in the arm that she deserves.

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On “Batman Eternal #11″ and Feminism in Superhero Comics

"Batman Eternal #11" by Tim Seeley (et al) & Ian Bertram, 2014.

“Batman Eternal #11″ by Tim Seeley (et al) & Ian Bertram, 2014.

I don’t usually write reviews, and if I do it is more of a commentary or analysis. I am also generally down on reviewing single issues, especially since they are taken out of the context of the whole arc. After all, we don’t judge a whole season of television based upon one or two episodes. (Although I do understand that we don’t mainly because TV seasons function much differently than continuously ongoing comic book narratives.) However, I was so delighted by Batman Eternal #11, I thought I would do a short write-up about it.

Overall, the narrative is well-paced and the framing cemetery scene works like a charm as a lead-in and a lead-out. The details in this issue go a long way to continue hooking me into the ongoing arc, despite the fact that several major plot points are put on hold.

But Batman Eternal #11 isn’t perfect by any means. Having the “fathers” theme permeate an issue all about female characters is a tough one-shot to write, especially for a team of male writers. Twenty pages about female characters having “daddy issues?” Hmmm—that sounds problematic already. It’s hard to script a version of events that don’t ostensibly take some agency away from the female protagonists if they are dealing with emotional paternal issues that seem to either outweigh or drive the physical actions they take. That does happen in this story to a certain extent. What also complicates things is that Gail Simone has already re-written a Batgirl that is very involved-with and bound-to her father in the New 52. Similarly, this has always been Stephanie Brown’s lot. Having Jason and company put a leash on Batgirl doesn’t help matters for her characterization as a competent female hero either. For Catwoman, her ties to daddy Falcone have long been hinted at in the old continuity, but this issue seems to cement it in the New 52. (Although, there could always be a swerve coming and Falcone might be a bit of misdirection—the letter is simply signed “Your Father.”) No matter who Catwoman’s pop might be, I’d argue that Catwoman walks away from this issue the strongest though—with her “I don’t need a daddy” line seemingly giving her agency back (if we decide to read that line as truly empowering).

But guess what? I’m not here to trash this title. In spite of these aforementioned pitfalls, I would argue that the overall narrative is actually a gallant effort at writing a legitimate feminist piece of superhero literature. Whether it succeeds or not is up for debate, but the idea of the hunky Brazilian TV star Gonzolo Dominguez as the object of the “female gaze” certainly speaks to the idea that the writers were attempting to say something in a cheeky feminist vein.

Gonzolo Dominguez, the sex object.

Gonzolo Dominguez, the sex object.

Furthermore, while some things in the text don’t work as well as others, the idea that comes through resoundingly to me is the idea to show strong humanized female characters who poorly relate to their fathers. There will always be complex ways to read superhero comics that have female characters powering through a male-dominated world. I’m not sure if the written parts of Batman Eternal #11 truly showcase the women of the Batverse in the shiniest of possible light. BUT, I’d argue that the written parts mostly do. A feminist portrayal that falls flat is still leagues better than the usual outright sexist trash that we normally see in comics today. As part of my defense, I challenge you to recall all of Laurie’s “daddy issue” stuff from the always mega-praised and regarded-as-flawless Watchmen. I think Batman Eternal #11 handles the idea of father-and-daughter relationships much more gracefully. But even if Batman Eternal #11‘s attempts at feminist commentary still don’t live up to our/your standards, Batman Eternal #11 DOES undoubtedly serve as a perfect case-study for a positive feminist statement through IAN BERTRAM’s ART.

This is what a REAL woman looks like.

Scorpiana in the flesh.

Man, oh man. This brilliant art. Ian Bertram. Where do I even begin? Before going into its feminist qualities, let’s examine the style. Some have called it a mash-up of Chris Burnham and Frank Quitely. I think that is the highest compliment, but also a disservice. I can seriously see this guy ascending the ranks and becoming a legend like those two are, but in his OWN right. Beyond the kinetic style, squishy consistency, and gloriously exaggerated expressions—the old school detail reminds me of Moebius or Italian superstars like Vittorio Giardino, Guido Crepax, or Milo Manara—Bertram really nails it. The always illuminating Matt Santori-Griffith even compares Bertram to Edward Gorey!!! After seeing this masterpiece, I’m dying for him to get an opportunity to draw more DC characters. In many ways, this is the art of Underground Comix finally breaking through into the mainstream.

Beyond his amazing style and mastery of the pencil in regard to superhero illustration, Bertram has also fully grasped the right way to visualize feminist art via the female form. This rarely, if ever, is done in superhero comics. And when it is attempted it is usually done very poorly. But this is not the case for Bertram. In superhero comics, when is the last time you saw women—gloriously ALIVE women—drawn with curves and drawn to be realistic and NOT solely for the purposes of male gaze or objectification? One of my favorite reviewers, Martin Gray, compares Bertram’s women to those painted by Peter Paul Rubens! Each woman that Bertram pencils, from Batgirl to Julia to Stephanie to the art models to Leganza to the librarian to Scorpiana to Starfire to Selina, has a unique body type. Thus, you really get the feel that these are unique characters. This isn’t Jim Lee or Rob Liefeld or Kenneth Rocafort plugging a random head onto a 90s Wonder Woman or Jean Grey body. And these aren’t Barbie dolls with anatomically incorrect structures—tits so big they’d topple over if they tried to walk. Don’t get me wrong, Bertram’s Scorpiana and Starfire are two of the sexiest superhero illustrations I’ve seen in ages. This is only a testament to Bertram’s greatness. He can capture sexiness without objectification. Bertram sees Scorpiana as a, for lack of a more appropriate term, big-breasted woman, so naturally, he gives her the curves to match.

This IS what a REAL woman looks like. I've been reading comic books so long I'd almost forgotten!

This IS what a REAL woman looks like. I’ve been reading comic books so long I’d almost forgotten!

Take a look at Starfire. This is the first Starfire that looks legit, anatomically speaking. She is runway model thin, ribs showing, small-breasted. Think about that, folks. When has Starfire EVER been drawn with small breasts. When has Batgirl ever been drawn that way either? These are teenage girls and Bertram is the FIRST person in the last DECADE-plus to draw them (in main continuity) correctly looking like goddamn teenage girls!!

Teenage girl. Check. Anatomically correct. Check. Sexy. Check.

Teenage girl. Check. Anatomically correct. Check. Sexy. Check.

And now THE EXACT SAME CHARACTER HOW WE USUALLY SEE HER. Teenage girl. Check. Anatomically Correct. Not even close. Sexy?

And now THE EXACT SAME CHARACTER HOW WE USUALLY SEE HER. Teenage girl. Check. Anatomically Correct. Not even close. Sexy?

Artistically, this is a hallmark issue for so many reasons and I don’t think people are giving Bertram enough credit for treating the female form with RESPECT. Sadly, the cover does just the opposite and looks like an awkward lesbian porn scene featuring a sexist Barbie version of Scorp and a sexist ass-up Barbie version of Batgirl scissoring each other. Notice the difference between Bertram’s Scorpiana and the usual version of Scorpiana we’ve seen in the past? It’s akin to a  touch-up artist on a bad glamor mag going crazy and chiseling the cover model’s legs into hotdogs using Photoshop.

This is an offensively sexist jacket camouflaging a brilliant feminist comic underneath. Don't judge a book by its cover. Sigh.

This is an offensively sexist jacket camouflaging a brilliant feminist comic underneath. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Sigh.

 

Not to mention, when has Red Hood’s costume ever looked cool? This is Bertram doing straight-up old-school Batman the Animated Series action. (Although, he does make a rookie mistake in the vein of a “talking is a free action” error with the middle two panels, having Red Hood deliver a monologue’s worth of dialog in the time it takes Batgirl to turn her head and say “You?!” It is possible that Seeley was partly to blame for this as well. Reviewer Drew Baumgartner mentions Jason’s awkward stance here as well. Again, a rookie mistake that should be overlooked.)

More please.

More please.

This, IMO, is a landmark issue and one of the best New 52 issues that has been released thus far. No matter how you receive the narrative, the REAL story lies in the artwork—a vibrant tapestry of what hopefully is a trend that continues.

Nuff said.

Nuff said.

 

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