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Madness In Gotham

By Vaughan in Media
Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 09:58:32 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Since their earliest years, the stories of the Batman comics have been intensely psychological. Over the years plotlines have explored the motivations, drives and significant experiences of Batman, as well as the major criminal characters who variously populate the halls of Arkham Asylum and the streets of Gotham City. Batman is one of the most successful and enduring of modern myths, read and watched by millions. As a genre with the concept of mental illness at its core, it is perhaps one of our most popular and enduring representations of madness.

Intended as a loose parody of New York City, DC Comic's Gotham City is a mixture of the dark and the ridiculous. The word 'Gotham' was first used as a nickname for NYC by Washington Irvine as a satirical reference to Gotham, England, where the wise men acted as fools in order to avoid paying the king's taxes. Batman's Gotham maintains both the element of fraudulence and foolery as it exists as a playground for spandex-clad criminals who have invariably escaped from, or are destined for the City's sanatorium, Arkham Asylum.

In the Batman series, madness is more than a convenient and commercial plot-device to explain-away the motivations of Gotham's flamboyant offenders. Since Frank Miller's groundbreaking comic book series The Dark Knight Returns, Batman has been firmly rooted in the gritty aesthetic and psychological realism of film-noir, and now aims for a more sophisticated and adult audience. Here, madness is no mere excuse for the telling of fantastical tales, it is an important pivot on which rest layers of plot and counterplot.

Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane is the physical presence of that pivot in Gotham City. Many stories in the Batman series start, end or take place within Arkham's walls. Externally, it is uniformly depicted as an imposing gothic castle, often replete with driving rain and forked lightning. Internally, the depiction of Arkham varies; typically it is a cross between the eighteenth century Bedlam depicted in the likes of Hogarth's A Rake's Progress and the cliché'd environment of The Shawshank Redemption's prison movie genre. On its blackest days (undoubtedly created by Dave McKean's hallucinatory artwork in the acclaimed graphic novel Arkham Asylum) it is truly a house of horrors, more dungeon than hospital, emphasising its sinister past rather than its supposed therapeutic function.

The portrayal of madness in the Batman series is equally as dark and often as gothic as the portrayal of Gotham's main criminal psychiatric facility. Although it is clear that Arkham is intended to depict a special facility for a subset of the mad (the criminally insane), not as a general facility for the treatment for mental illness, madness and badness are often linked in Gotham. Batman is perhaps the exception, and is often troubled by concerns about his sanity. Miller depicts Batman as positively unhinged in places, and in Arkham Asylum Morrison has Batman declaiming "I'm afraid that when I walk through those asylum gates... It'll be just like coming home". But while the struggle with madness is part of Batman's heroism, even with the heroic Dark Knight, madness is often a metaphor for human nature's darker side.

It is perhaps the female villains in the Batman series to which madness causes the least moral disintegration. Harley Quinn, The Joker's occasional side-kick, was driven to madness and crime by her misplaced love for The Joker and regularly wavers in her commitment to both the object of her affections and the cruelty of criminal life. Poison Ivy, a friend of Harley and regular inmate of Arkham, is as much as an advocate for feminism and the environment as she as a felon. Catwoman however, who leads a double-life as a sophisticated society lady by day and cat-burglar by night, is rarely portrayed as mad, and largely eschews killing for carefully executed thefts. Indeed, on many occasions she has helped Batman fight more dangerous and callous criminals.

As the Batman series is so concerned with psychological explanation, the fictional explanations of what causes madness tend to be particularly detailed. The writers of the Batman series go to some lengths to explain the origins of the characters from the series and it is clear that two main themes explain the presence of madness in the series' main protagonists: the influence of traumatic experience and pursuit of 'forbidden knowledge'.

The personas of both Batman and The Joker were forged in the crucible of trauma; Bruce Wayne created Batman as a reaction to seeing his parents shot as a child and as we learn in The Killing Joke, The Joker was fashioned after he learnt his wife and unborn child had died before an intended petty crime. His forced compliance by the mobsters and his accidental fall into a vat of chemicals during the caper finally led to his madness. This is not an uncommon theme in the Batman series. Regular villains Two-Face and Mr Freeze have had similar destabilising traumas; Two-face, originally a lawyer for Gotham City, was scarred by acid during a trial in which he was prosecuting a mob boss and Mr Freeze was caught in a blast of ultra-cooling cryogenic fluid whilst trying to save the life of a dying girl he loved. Both experienced criminal insanity as a result.

However, in Gotham, some things are even more dangerous for the mind than psychological trauma. Indeed, a remarkable number of Arkham inmates have been driven to madness as a result of their work as investigators of the human mind. Several are psychiatrists; Harley Quinn, originally Dr. Harleen Quinzel, is portrayed as an ex-Arkham psychiatric intern who fell in love with The Joker. The influence of her patient caused a folie à deux reaction causing her to abandon her previous life and personality. The fictional creator of Gotham's forensic psychiatry centre, Amadeus Arkham, fared little better. He was originally a psychiatrist who converted his gothic childhood home into Arkham Asylum out of a desire to help the criminally insane and lost his mind as a result. An enduring character from Batman's early years is Professor Hugo Strange, a psychiatrist who became obsessed with Batman to the point of insanity and now seeks to destroy him. A more recent example was given in the 2003 series Arkham Asylum: Living Hell (a title that speaks for itself) where the initially sympathetic psychiatrist turns out to be shape changing psychopathic criminal in disguise! Psychiatry it seems, is not a profession that produces pleasant thoughts for the writers of Batman.

Other cognitive scientists fare little better. Another of Batman's early foes was The Scarecrow, a one-time professor of psychology at Gotham University. Crane is depicted as having troubled school and college years, bullied by his peers for his awkward appearance. As a psychology student, and later as Professor Crane, he specialised in the study of fear but was driven to madness by his work and his desire to get revenge those who tormented him. Notably, he first appeared in 1941, when behaviourism was at the peak of its influence in psychology. Fear conditioning of lab animals was one of the dominant methods of research and The Scarecrow is likely both a satire of psychology's methods of the time, and a projection of the public's mistrust in the style of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. An updated version is perhaps characterised by The Mad Hatter, a embittered neuroscientist who used his scientific skills to develop mind control technology. This takes the form of small microchips hidden in cards (resembling the price ticket tucked in the hat band of Lewis Carroll's character of the same name), which when placed near the brain of the victim, allows their thoughts and actions to be controlled. Unsurprisingly, The Mad Hatter's insanity takes the form of an concurrent obsession with the world of 'Alice in Wonderland'.

It is notable that the histories of these characters not only suggest to the reader that those who seek to understand the human mind become unbalanced, but also that it is personal inadequacies which bring such people to their professions. Both The Scarecrow and The Mad Hatter entered their fields to gain influence over people in an attempt to manipulate a society that had previously bullied or rejected them. Rarely in Gotham are psychiatrists, psychologists or neuroscientists portrayed as anything except figures of fear. There is however, the occasional exception. In an otherwise bleak portrayal of madness and psychiatry in Morrison's Arkham Asylum, the psychotherapist Ruth Adams seems genuinely committed to the compassionate reform of her clients. The rest of her psychological colleagues however, remain satirised as troubled inadequates. Like the staff in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, they often seem a lot less sane than the people they are supposed to be helping.

Perhaps our best hope, as always, lies with Batman himself. Rather than a simple cliché of madness as a descent into evil, his struggles with his psyche make him ultimately a better person. Madness is no simple taint to the Dark Knight, but a way of experiencing dark times without succumbing to them. The streets are undeniably safer because Batman has learnt to be mentally strong through mental adversity. Whilst psychiatry and psychology are mercilessly (and perhaps a touch unfairly) lampooned, Batman remains flawed, but ultimately he is still Gotham's best hope.


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Madness In Gotham | 91 comments (84 topical, 7 editorial, 1 hidden)
Top work (2.00 / 5) (#2)
by AtADeadRun on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 07:52:11 PM EST

I used to live with a guy who was a comic book fiend. I've no more than a passing interest in the form, but he and I used to get into long discussions of the Dark Knight and his antagonists. This sounds much like what we used to discuss. +1 FP from me.

Pain heals. Glory is forever. Keep running.

We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
+1FP, Different and Interesting. (2.44 / 9) (#3)
by cribcage on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 08:02:54 PM EST

Great job. This is the best of K5: People writing passionately about their various interests.

I'd love to read similar articles from a Superman fan. I love reading Batman, but I wonder why no other comic book character's mythos is ever mined for psychological interpretation. Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman... These characters have been around for decades, written and revised by various artists. There are volumes of material, and I wonder whether much of it isn't every bit as interesting as Batman: Year One or the No Man's Land saga.

BTW: You can read my own opinion about Batman here.


Please don't read my journal.

why batman? (none / 2) (#76)
by ckaminski on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 01:01:57 PM EST

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that batman ISN'T a superhero.  He's just a vigilante who's out for justice.  He can be killed, he doesn't have super strength, he is just a mortal human being.

That I think, is the driving appeal of the Dark Knight.

[ Parent ]

Earliest years (2.28 / 7) (#4)
by Tatarigami on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 08:20:56 PM EST

During his early years, Batman was wholesome and community-spirited to the point of blandness. He smiled all the time. Reading back through the early issues, it's almost creepy! It was only in the 70s and after they started to reinvent Batman as a dark hero rather than a boyscout dressed in dark blue and grey.

That's not true. (3.00 / 7) (#17)
by ffrinch on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 05:27:32 AM EST

I just had a quick read of Batman #1 (spring of 1940) and I don't think he smiles once. The story opens with Bruce Wayne's parents being shot, and within three pages already has more death than, say, the first 30 issues of the 60's "Amazing Spider-Man".

It was always far darker than "Superman", the real boy scout of DC's lineup. From the very beginning it's accepted that Batman is fighting to avenge his parents, rather than from any sense of altruism. If anything, some of the later Batman incarnations are more light-hearted -- Adam West, anyone?

He didn't become really dark until later though, as you say, when his quest for revenge was painted as a driving obsesssion. The writers started to focus on the psychological aspects of the characters, and that continued to today.

"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick
[ Parent ]

I think Tatarigami thinks (none / 2) (#34)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 01:06:51 PM EST

"the early days" were the 1970's.

I remember loathing DC comics during that time because the heros were just soooooooooo bland.

I never cared for Batman at all until The Dark Knight Returns.

"the internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and c
[ Parent ]

Nah, late 30s is what I was referring to (none / 2) (#35)
by Tatarigami on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 01:20:10 PM EST

Batman was created just before WWII started.

Have you read any Batman: Year 1? I think you'd like it.

[ Parent ]

Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other..... (3.00 / 4) (#43)
by Wildfire Darkstar on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 04:02:03 PM EST

Yeah, but that early darkness disappeared very quickly, indeed. By the time Robin was introduced shortly thereafter, Batman was already well on his way to becoming the sort of generic superhero figure being talked about here. The "original" Batman, cut from the figure of 1930s pulp heroes like the Shadow, didn't really last more than two years or so, and didn't really begin to emerge again until Denny O'Neil got his hands on the character in the early 1970s, after the TV show had taken the series about as far as one can possibly go in the opposite direction....

-- Sean Daugherty "I have walked in Eternity -- and Eternity weeps."
[ Parent ]
wrong (2.66 / 6) (#19)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 07:29:06 AM EST

Er, no, originally Batman was a sadistic criminal killer with a club and a gun, more akin to the Punisher than to Superman. I think that was in the 1930's or so.

Then people started getting stupid and politically correct, and that went right out the door, because parents didn't like all that violence. That might have been a result of one of the wars, who knows.

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
[ Parent ]

gdggfsdgssdf (1.00 / 14) (#30)
by tkatchev on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 11:58:42 AM EST

worst comment evar

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

+1FP, I love comics (2.60 / 5) (#5)
by Dphitz on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 08:46:33 PM EST

I've never been in to Batman much except when Frank Miller or Dave McKean got hold of him.  Hopefully the film studios will follow Miller's lead (again) and get back to what makes the Dark Knight so appealing when they make the next movie.  Joel Schumacher should be taken out and shot for what he did to that franchise.

P.S. Very good article

God, please save me . . . from your followers

Joel Schumacher (none / 2) (#48)
by JahToasted on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 06:13:19 PM EST

Reminds me of this comic: Batman: Fabulous
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
As far as movies go... (none / 1) (#57)
by Vesperto on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 07:30:17 AM EST

...the only Batman movies i liked were the first two, both directed by Tim Burton and both starring Michael Keaton (who had also starred in another Burton movie Beetlegeuse). The others weren't... Bat-ish. But that's just me, i've never even read the comics.

If you disagree post, don't moderate.
[ Parent ]
Comics make no sense (2.77 / 9) (#8)
by MonkeyMan on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 11:31:30 PM EST

Once in graduate school while studying human planning and text I decided to do a motivational analysis of some literature. I figured that since comic books are readable by the fairly young and don't have much text that an analysis should be straightforward - noting where characters recognize problems, devise tasks and subtasks to overcome those problems, and how they re-plan when they are thwarted.

So I bought a Batman comic book and one other that I can't remember now.

I started writing down elements (phrases said or the actions depicted) and tried to assign some motivation as to why these elements were in the story - e.g. goal directed planning, surprise events to tweak the plot line, or just stereotypical actions from stereotypes.

I gave up on this project because I could find little reason to assign linkage. It seemed that most of the elements were there just because that is what the stereotypes do.

Sometimes They Do, Sometimes They Don't. (2.42 / 7) (#10)
by cribcage on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 11:58:40 PM EST

I started writing down elements (phrases said or the actions depicted) and tried to assign some motivation as to why these elements were in the story... I gave up on this project because I could find little reason to assign linkage. It seemed that most of the elements were there just because that is what the stereotypes do.
Obviously, what you're describing is simply bad writing. And the rebuttal (to the extent that you've offered criticism) is one of the great things about the Batman character: Over the course of several decades, hundreds of artist/writer teams have interpreted the character and his mythos. As you discovered, some of those people lacked talent (or even competence)...but others have performed brilliantly.

BTW, you should watch the "Editorial/Topical" switch when you post. If/when this story is posted to the front page, your comment is going to be lost...and that's a shame, because you've hit upon a point worthy of discussion. FYI.


Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

Try this: (2.50 / 6) (#11)
by MMcP on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 01:06:54 AM EST

Perform the exercise on comics written by Alan Moore.

[ Parent ]
You went with the wrong approach. (3.00 / 4) (#80)
by LeoDV on Fri Jan 30, 2004 at 12:18:24 PM EST

Since one comicbook is small, the story of a comic arches over hundreds of comicbooks. If you buy one (even if it's the first one) you only get parcellar info on the characters, their actions, their motivations, and the context of all that. If you buy one comic, you may just see the good guy going after the bad guy and saving the girl, but if you read the fifty or hundred ones behind it you would understand why the good guy really does it, who the bad guy is, and that the girl has a love/hate relationship with the good guy. (I'm just making examples up, not referencing to any particular comic).

And to be honest, you did a really bad work. You were alien to comicbooks in general and you thought you could have a good point of view on them by just picking two at random at a store? Show some sense, research your subject before making harsh assumptions.

[ Parent ]
+1 FP, Great Article (1.28 / 7) (#9)
by cosmokramer on Mon Jan 26, 2004 at 11:47:58 PM EST

Move to vote soon eh :). Too bad I know so little of Batman so I can't provide much input.

An overlooked point (2.77 / 9) (#21)
by big fat idiot on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 08:33:09 AM EST

Batman is supposedly highly trained in psychology. In Gotham by Gaslight this was portrayed by Bruce Wayne studying under Sigmund Freud. The modern Bruce Wayne, having studied criminology, is also heavily influenced by psychologists.

Freud (2.28 / 7) (#32)
by tkatchev on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 12:00:39 PM EST


Something is wrong with this picture.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Batman: TAS (2.91 / 12) (#26)
by bugmaster on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 10:08:53 AM EST

The Animated Series was wonderful, too -- and I mean the second one, not the campy first one with "Boffo!" video/sound effects.

That show used about 16 colors, and 10 of them were shades of gray. What they did with light and shadow was just too sweet; it is as though Gotham itself became a character in the story. And of course, watching Batman drop down from the elevator's ceiling, blotting out the warm yellow light like a clot of living shadow, plunging the corridor into total darkness where the only light is coming from his blazing white eyes, narrowed in anger... Ah, those were the moments.

Communist Superman?? (2.60 / 5) (#27)
by tap dancing lenin puppet on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 10:29:40 AM EST


Off-topic, but... I felt I should mention that there is now a comic out there portraying a universe in which Superman is a Communist, and the Russians win the Cold War.  Lex Luthor plays an all-American hero!


I just figured, what with all the pinko commie bastards on K5 and all... :)

Of course, I suppose it will leave equal discussion ground for conservatives who wish to chide the author for destroying an icon of the Great American Culture (TM).

Sweet! (none / 3) (#33)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 01:02:20 PM EST

Nice link!

"the internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and c
[ Parent ]

Yeah, no kidding. (none / 1) (#54)
by kmcrober on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 02:04:32 AM EST

I never really buy graphic novels, because they don't seem to have enough replay value to warrant the cost, but I think I might pick this one up.  Just a neat idea, and I like the art samples.

[ Parent ]
Very Weird (none / 2) (#60)
by jameth on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 09:01:21 AM EST

Since Superman is such an un-communist character. He totally breaks the idea of equality. Every time I read some communist propoganda, it emphasizes how everyone is on the same level and should work as a group, while capitalist propoganda tends to have a single do-all character such as superman.

Now, have a justice-league for communism would work very well. You could even work in have others aid in the fight, having victories where the common men unite to save the world. The justice league works well even without the idea of equality. Everyone does there part, and then receives equal praise. Although superman may be the strongest and fastest of the justic league, he receives no special priveliges and they are all praised and respected equally by the people.

Personally, both types of propoganda piss me off as stupid extremes.

[ Parent ]

How does Tim Burton fare? (2.83 / 6) (#28)
by gidds on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 10:34:07 AM EST

I'm eminently unqualified to comment here, since my only experience with Batman has been through the films. But this fascinating article intrigues me.

So: can anyone tell me how close the films come to the tone and content of the original?

Of course, I'm talking of the Tim Burton films here: I assume that the earlier film counts largely as parody, and that the post-Burton films descend into mere merchandising-vehicle territory.

But from reading the article, maybe Burton's dark, hallucinatory style, his moral ambiguity and obsession, his nightmarish visuals and traumatic events might not be as far from the original as I'd thought. Is that a fair assessment?


One Fellow's Thoughts... (2.75 / 12) (#29)
by cribcage on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 11:55:45 AM EST

There was a lot of bitching from comic book fans about those movies, and their inconsistencies with the established mythos. Personally, I thought Burton made two excellent movies. But some of the criticism was on-target.

Burton's major flaw was depicting the Joker as the mugger who had killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. He did this to elevate the conflict between his movie's two main characters; he established a very 'Hollywood' battle between good and evil.

In doing so, however, he missed one of the most important aspects of Batman's psychology. In the comic mythos, the mugger is never identified.* Batman's struggle is truly against a faceless, nameless enemy: criminals. He doesn't have a singular adversary, and he can never exact revenge for his parents' murder. He goes out every night, to battle back the wave of crime, knowing full well that it will return the next night.

Many fans objected to Harvey Dent (the character who later becomes Two-Face) being played by a black man. I think it's worth noting that Burton, despite obvious indifference to remaining consistent with the comics, made two films which are relatively successful at portraying Batman as a dark, conflicted character; whereas the two later films borrowed heavily from the comics, yet ended up in the parody box alongside the Adam West TV series.

All in all, Burton's movies were good Hollywood fare. I think they missed some crucial points about the character, but I take them for what they were: One perspective on the Batman. Artists come and go, and offer their various views on the character. That's part of what makes following him so fun.

* There was a storyline in the comic books that identified the mugger as "Joe Chill." That storyline was revised and abandoned by later writers. Again: Different people contribute different things. The Joe Chill storyline is published as a collected paperback titled Batman: Year Two.


Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

Joe Chill (none / 2) (#74)
by MrAcheson on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 11:02:35 AM EST

I believe Joe Chill was written out of the storyline during DCs Crisis of Infinite Earths. His actual origins in the Batman mythos reach back into the original darker Batman periods.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
The Evolution of the Bat (3.00 / 21) (#42)
by Wildfire Darkstar on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 03:57:53 PM EST

The thing about Batman is that the mood of the series has probably changed more than any comic ever published, so discussing whether or not Burton's films were "accurate" really depends on what particular era we're looking at.

When originally introduced in the late 1930s, Batman was very much a vigilante, in the same vein as the Shadow or Doc Savage. He was ocassionally brutal, would sometimes carry a gun (although this didn't really happen that often, despite some revisionist claims to the contrary), and didn't have the chummy relationship with law enforcement he would later have.

But this style very quickly began to evolve. Within two years or so, much of these early dark elements had given way to a lighter tone. A lot of Batman's rogues gallery really came into their own during this time, which accounts for a lot of the goofier of the bunch. Robin made his debut, and Batman became less of the shadowy vigilante, and more of a sort of friendly civic guardian. This was certainly much lighter than before, but we're not talking the sheer camp that the character would descend into in later years.

In the 1950s, as increasing public scrutiny came to bear on comics, the series increasingly turned away from whatever realism remained with it. Several stories took place in outer space, and it's here that we really begin see the roots of the campiness that defined the 1960s TV show begin to emerge. In the late-1950s and early-1960s, there was an abortive attempt to reinject some sense of seriousness to the title in the face of flagging sales. This was more of a return to the 1940s sensibilities than the 1930s (i.e., Batman himself was still a basically lighthearted figure, but the threats began to come back down to earth, both figuratively and literally), and it didn't really manage to take full effect: before long, the TV show premiered, and the comic was basically retooled to reflect the campiness of the show.

The TV show era did have some lasting effect, though. It reintroduced a lot of older villains and supporting cast members (in particular figures like Alfred the butler and the Riddler), as well as introducing for the first time characters like Batgirl. But after the TV show ended, sales figures began to sink again very quickly, and the books found themselves in the hands of writers like Denny O'Neil, who made probably the most distinct break from the past since the early 1940s.

O'Neil's Batman began to take on a much, much darker tone. While Batman himself was still basically a dependable, stable guy, more focus was placed on his personal trauma and the horrors of the situations his faced. There was a deliberate return to a sort of film noir style, and the threats became less and less outrageous. Even the garish supervillains of before began to take on a darker hue, and the stories in general began to take on the sort of twisted feeling that would come into fruition later on. The emphasis during this period was on Batman the detective, rather than Batman the superhero, and therefore things began to take on a more human perspective.

This continued up through the mid-1980s, when Frank Miller basically completely reinvented the character in his "Dark Knight Returns" miniseries. This series, ironically, was set outside of normal Batman continuity, and remains there today, but its mood and style sent shockwaves through the regular ongoing series. Though Miller claimed he was going back to the origins of the character, I personally am not convinced that's really true: the DKR Batman seems very much something new and different. It's a logical progression of O'Neil's 1970s Batman, and the mood is, if anything, darker and more twisted, but Miller's unique contribution is his focus on Batman's own mental state. Batman, here, is not really the responsible hero he's always been previously. At best, his mental state is unreliable, and at worst he's as nutty as most of his foes. He's a man driven to extremes, who will, if necessary, operate outside the law.

This interpretation of the character was made canon through the late 1980s, and, as a result, numerous elements of the mythos began to take a back seat. Robin was increasingly removed from events, and, through the late 1980s and early 1990s, Robin was basically entirely absent. Also, and perhaps a little ironically, O'Neil's emphasis on the detective aspects of the story began to slip away: this Batman had neither the temperament, or, really, the need to resort to the sort of detective work he had previously taken to. This was the root of what later became referred to disdainfully as the "Bat-God": an unstoppable force-of-nature with no real grounding in the real world. Lots of other changes to the overall mythos, too: several 1930s and 1940s villains returned, departing from the campy elements that had lingered from the 1950s and 1960s, and changes in backstory which served to seperate Batman from other elements in DC Comic's ongoing mythology. Batman himself was reduced to the status of urban legend which not many people seriously believed in (which was an improbable twist, and still doesn't really seem to hold up to any kind of serious scrutiny).

Tim Burton's films were drawn from this stock, though they did make some changes to the formula, at times almost coming out as parody of the source material (particularly in Batman Returns, which took the elements of psychodrama to levels which the comics couldn't match even at the height of this period). Similarly, while the mood was analogous, the storyline was radically altered, particularly with regards to the backstory of the villains (in the comics, the Joker has no connection to Batman's origins, the Penguin is more of a Godfather-style crime lord, and one of Batman's few sane and mentally stable adversaries, etc.). The 1990s animated series actually comes closer to approximating the feel of the comics from this period, and showcases the best elements of the approach, while the movies, while I do enjoy them, kind of show it's worst extremes.

That's basically where things stand today, although things have changed subtly in recent years. The overall outline of the Frank Miller approach (the moral ambiguity, the shades of gray, etc.) remains, but to a lessened degree: Batman has come out of his shell to an extent, and the sort of darkness that typified the comic in the early 1990s, while still present, has increasingly been matched by a more human Batman who may still be haunted by his own demons, but isn't necessarily victimized by them as he once was.

-- Sean Daugherty "I have walked in Eternity -- and Eternity weeps."
[ Parent ]

Arkham Asylum a nod to Lovecraft? (2.90 / 11) (#31)
by NetRodent on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 11:59:40 AM EST

Arkham, Massachusetts is a fictional city from the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. Insanity and darkness was a common themes of Lovecraft. It seems a little more than coincidental that the dark and forboding sanitorium from Gotham shares this name. http://www.locksley.com/cthulhu/arkham.htm

Question to Comics fans (2.75 / 3) (#36)
by TheOnlyCoolTim on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 01:51:59 PM EST

Does Batman EVER use a (bullet firing) gun? I'm just asking because I've never seen him use a firearm, but I'm not very well-versed in the mythology.

"We are trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death."

Yes/No/Maybe (2.80 / 5) (#38)
by cribcage on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 02:14:57 PM EST

Does Batman EVER use a (bullet firing) gun? I'm just asking because I've never seen him use a firearm, but I'm not very well-versed in the mythology.
Easy Answer: No.

More Complicated Answer: DC occasionally publishes comics under the heading "Elseworlds." These comics take familiar characters from the DC universe and apply drastic changes -- such as portraying Wonder Woman as Cleopatra, Superman as a knight from King Arthur's court, or Batman as a Gothic-era detective. Because the purpose of these stories is to remove most traces of familiarity from the characters, authors have done some wild things. I believe several do involve Batman using guns. There's even one titled The Last Angel, which includes a possessed Batman committing murder!

Middle-of-the-Road Answer: Even outside the Elseworlds titles, different authors have brought different approaches to Batman. In the Batman: Year Two storyline, Batman does carry a gun for a time, although he never fires it. The gun is the same one that killed his parents. Most of that storyline has been abandoned by writers in the years since, but it's there to be read if you're curious.


Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

Batman Beyond (none / 2) (#52)
by stonegod on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 11:56:31 PM EST

In the WB animated spin-off Batman Beyond, the aging Bat used a gun he pick up from a perp to defend himself when his body wouldn't take it anymore. He was so disgusted with himself that he promply "hung up the cape." Not exactly comic book canon, but there it is.

[ Parent ]
Well... (none / 2) (#40)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 03:03:04 PM EST

IIRC, he had one back in the 30's, but it didn't really last long.

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Doesn't he shoot superman? (none / 1) (#56)
by Gully Foyle on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 06:35:34 AM EST

In the Dark Knight Returns?

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Not with a gun, per se (none / 1) (#61)
by big fat idiot on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 09:05:11 AM EST

IIRC, Batman does launch a rocket or two from a tank and hit Superman with a sonic pulse. What really saves the day (for Batman) is having the Green Arrow shoot Superman with a kryptonite arrow.

In one of the plot runs with the Reaper, Batman carries around (and uses) the gun that was used to murder his parents.

In the plot run with the Cult, Batman and Robin both use autmatic rifles to help clear Gotham's sewers of the new menace. However, the rifles are filled with tranquilizer darts and not bullets.

There's likely to be more use of firearms by Batman, unless the my teeanaged years in the late eighties had the sole instances of such.

[ Parent ]

Yes... (none / 2) (#72)
by joto on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 02:24:47 AM EST

He used one as a mechanism for triggering an explosion in the Dark Night Returns. In the same series, he also had a tank (the improved batmobile), which he used to fire rubber bullets at the mutants (the villains in the story called themselves mutants).

There are probably lots of other cases, but probably not where batman fires at other people, unless he knows they can take it (e.g. in the same series again, batman fires a couple of surface-to-air missiles at superman, but superman is tough, and can take it).

This is in stark contrast to e.g. the phantom, which fires his guns towards villains all the time. On the other hand, the phantom only shoots the guns out of the villains hands, and maybe batman isn't that good with guns. There is also likely that there is a psychological reason against the use of guns, since batmans parents were killed by guns.

[ Parent ]

Yes. (none / 1) (#78)
by invdaic on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 09:09:20 PM EST

In The Dark Knight Returns1 we clearly see Batman on page 64 with a large gun, finger on the trigger and a firing noise ("Brakkk"). In the next frame (following page) his opponent is slumped down, and there is what appears to be a bullet hole in the wall.


1Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn VarleyBatman: The Dark Knight Returns, Tenth Anniversary Ed. (New York: DC Comics, 1996), 64,65

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation [and] is but a reflection of human frailty." --Albert Einstein
[ Parent ]

Other Gun Cases (none / 0) (#89)
by FarMcKon on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 10:51:16 AM EST

In a few comics Batman also has a gun with kryptonite bullets, which Superman gave him*. He uses this gun at one point to stop Superman after Brainaic takes over Supermans mind.

*Superman gave Batman the gun, becuse it can be used to stun or kill him, and Superman understands that Batman is the only JLA memeber that would be able to pull the trigger if the time ever came. I think this may be the bullet origonally from Metallo, but I'm not enough of a fanboy to be sure.

[ Parent ]
Guilt and mental illness (2.71 / 7) (#37)
by waxmop on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 01:57:05 PM EST

Being good and evil are not really choices in the Batman universe. All the heroes and villains are compelled to their destinies because of forces like trauma, or some physical disfigurement, or the need for vengeance. The bad guys end up in a hospital at the end of each story, not at a prison. There's no free will in the Batman universe; just one big deterministic battle royale.
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
Inaccurate Generalization (3.00 / 3) (#39)
by cribcage on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 02:26:01 PM EST

Being good and evil are not really choices in the Batman universe. All the heroes and villains are compelled to their destinies because of forces like trauma, or some physical disfigurement, or the need for vengeance.
That's not true at all. As has been said, Batman has attracted both skilled writers, and incompetent hacks. Yes, there are stories which portray every character as being one-dimensional. But the majority of Batman stories offer great psychological depth, in each and every character.

I suspect you're trolling, so I won't bother with a detailed analysis. But for the interest of perusing readers, I'll return to the previous question about Tim Burton's movies and mention that in addition to heroes and villains sharing complex motivations, the populace of Gotham City is fleshed out as a character. Some believe in Batman, others don't. Some approve of Batman, others don't. A few authors have written storylines discarding major characters entirely, and focusing simply on the effects that the existence of Batman, etc. has on the lives of common folk.

Burton's movies portray the Gotham populace as little more than a reactionary mob. Again, that's fine for a Hollywood flick, which Burton achieved quite well; but it sidesteps some of the depth of the Batman mythos.


Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

You can be "deep" and still be destined. (none / 2) (#44)
by waxmop on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 04:06:37 PM EST

I'm not criticising the quality of writing or the richness of the characters. I mean that there's a theme that all of the players have somehow been compelled to their destinies. Batman's chilhood forced him to become a vigilante; the Penguin was born disfigured and evil. Everybody is following their predetermined destiny rather than choosing a path. The Joker can't possibly be anything but a villain.
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]
That's Not Characteristic. (none / 2) (#45)
by cribcage on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 04:31:37 PM EST

Batman's chilhood forced him to become a vigilante; the Penguin was born disfigured and evil. Everybody is following their predetermined destiny rather than choosing a path. The Joker can't possibly be anything but a villain.
I understand your point. And again, I concede that bad writers have fallen into the trap you describe. But again, your generalization is not characteristic of the Batman mythos as a whole. To the extent that you're offering a stereotype, you're wrong.

The Penguin, for example, is only "disfigured" in Tim Burton's Batman Returns. In the comics, there's nothing uncommon about his appearance, besides being a bit short. He turns to crime essentially as a defense against the bullies of his youth. He was the short, fat kid, picked on by the jocks; so he uses his brains to amass wealth and power, which compensate for the issues of his childhood. His background is similar to that of Scarecrow, although their motivations differ.

One of the better, lesser-known Batman storylines was a four-issue run where the Joker lost his memory and lived, for a while, as a law-abiding citizen. It was beautifully written, and really mined the depths of the Joker's madness. Of course, you're right, eventually the Joker returns to villainy; but the point was that he could live a normal life, "if only..." Destiny didn't exist.

I assure you, many talented writers have put their stamp on the Batman. And in the majority of those stories, there is no "destiny" at work. Villains choose their paths as do the heroes, and they are rarely black-and-white. This is what has made Batman great, and I'll offer a final point of contrast to prove that.

You may remember the stunts that DC pulled several years back: They killed Superman (briefly), and they broke Batman's back (briefly). Now, contrast those storylines. On one hand, Superman was killed by Doomsday, an alien who crashed to Earth and simply began demolishing things without explanation. On the other hand, Batman was attacked by Bane, a character who has been fleshed out to startling degree: He has been used to address themes like "survival of the fittest" and "the sins of the father," and he exists in a nebulous region between good and evil. Indeed, you cannot say Bane is evil; you can only say he is selfish.


Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

You miss the point. (none / 1) (#50)
by rmg on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 10:53:06 PM EST

waxmop makes an important point that ought to be discussed rather than denied. If the article is to be believed, fate certainly plays a central role in Batman. The criminals themselves and even Batman are somehow destined to be what they are. Your counterexamples are unimpressive and ultimately beside the point.

This sort of direct assault on free will is virtually non-existent in popular fiction. If anything, it makes Batman more interesting. Attempting to downplay it as symptomatic of "bad writing" is idiotic. Much of the finest literature we have has fate at its core -- certainly most of that which pre-dates Christianity.

I would take the view that to the extent that Batman attempts to break away from this concept of fate, it is merely pandering to an unsophisticated public -- one obsessed with melodrama and the concept of choice, one eager to deal with characters in moral terms, good and evil, a public left scratching their heads: "So was that Bane guy good or bad?"

Perhaps it would be to best to address the actual point rather than complain that it's "an over-generalization." Most things worth saying involve generalizations and most things not worth saying involve quibbling over them.

_____ intellectual tiddlywinks
[ Parent ]

Quite Contraire (3.00 / 3) (#62)
by jameth on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 09:06:08 AM EST

I must disagree. Most villains have some defining moment for them, something which twists them and makes them a villain. However, Batman went through an identical experience and chose not to be a villain. He is represented as traumatized, but it drove him to good.

I would more strongly argue that the Batman comics rely excessively on have 'defining moments'. And, as there must be more villains than heroes in such a comic, more defining moments turn out bad.

[ Parent ]

They are MADE into villains (3.00 / 2) (#65)
by waxmop on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 11:18:34 AM EST

Yeah, the villains might not be born villains, but they were made into villains by outside forces, often paired with some physical transformation. Their evil comes from a malady -- not just a character trait -- and that's why the villains go to a hospital, not a prison. The villains can't help what they do, so there's no point in punishing them.

This contrasts with Lex Luthor, the other DC villain archetype who has a Nietzchie-like will to power and Superman is the defender of the status quo. Lex Luthor isn't insane; he just wants to fulfill his destiny. The Joker? well, he's just bonkers.
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]

I agree with Jameth (3.00 / 3) (#69)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 04:00:42 PM EST

One of the basic points of the series is the small but defining difference between Batman and his foes; I even remember reading a graphic novel where the bat and the joker allude to how they both know this, and the joker says, basically, that it's too late for him to change.

(God, I can't think of the name of the book - the climax comes with Batman offering to help the Joker, and the Joker telling a story about two inmates trying to escape the asylum. The punchline is that only one of the inmates makes it.)

"the internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and c
[ Parent ]

Hm (none / 1) (#83)
by mkro on Fri Jan 30, 2004 at 04:14:35 PM EST

Could it be "The killing joke"?

[ Parent ]
I think that's the one. (none / 0) (#85)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Jan 31, 2004 at 02:21:11 PM EST

The name rings a bell.

"the internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and c
[ Parent ]

Never been heavily into the Batman books (2.80 / 5) (#41)
by IHCOYC on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 03:36:42 PM EST

This is somewhat odd, I guess, since I still enjoy superhero books. Moreover, I've always been much more heavily into the DC heroes than the Marvel heroes.

I suspect I believe that there's a place for dark atmospheres, brooding characters, and mental torment in many art forms, I don't think superheroes are one of them. Someone once said that the classic Marvel characters and their world took their inspiration from monster comics, while the DC universe and characters were inspired by science fiction comics. And that's more or less the sort of entertainment I want from superheroes: a campy, brightly lit, square-jawed World-of-Tomorrow type atmosphere like the kind you get from 1950s rocket science fiction.

So Superman and that side of the DC universe is what I look to, rather than the current version of Batman. I will admit that I much prefer the Adam West Batman TV show from the 1960s to Frank Miller's take on the character. Batman's true fans no doubt consider this proof of an egregious lack of taste. I simply prefer my superheroes to be brightly lit and more than a little bit corny.
Fashion is the sister of Death
     --- Giacomo Leopardi

na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na... dark knight! (2.25 / 4) (#46)
by zedumfore on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 05:29:19 PM EST

yes yes, we know this... what's your point?
:) well said.

I have a collection going from the death of the second Robin to the bringing in of the third. The Batman books were also groundbreaking in killing off a main character - and not only that, but also putting to a telephone vote whether he lives or dies in the 4th installment!
- all under the expert editiorship of Denny O'Neil.

The extentions of the mythos over the past decade or so have definately led down darker deeper paths of plotline. All the better for aging comic book fans to enjoy it! ... I collected when I was 12, and am now 26, but still find myself picking up the odd book. The art in comics in general has vastly improved since the late 90s, and in many cases so has the writing. There is a more diverse selection, more for the intelligent adult reader.
~Johnny J. Zedumfore

American Pantheon (2.80 / 5) (#47)
by Tatarigami on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 05:42:56 PM EST

The God of the Month Club has an interesting article which equates the popular figures of urban folklore with the iconic figures of ancient religions. It mentions Superman, Captain America and Wonder Woman, but skips over Batman (although I think he'd be covered by the archetype of the 'dark man').

My favorite is the Great God Science (none / 1) (#82)
by Fon2d2 on Fri Jan 30, 2004 at 12:45:44 PM EST

Who amongst us didn't grow up worshipping this God, marveling amongst a world of magnets and miracles? It lifts the spirit to think about what this God has truly done for us... how far we've come. In a world full of plastic and plexiglass and microchips and beakers and space shuttles and NASA and science it really is a white, blank bright shining white template of a brave new world. And I mean just look at him. So dashing. So cavalier. How can this not be the perfect model for my life? Hail Newton! Hail Einstein! Hail the professor on Gilligan's Island! Hail the Great God Science!

[ Parent ]
Small Nit (3.00 / 6) (#49)
by Aemeth on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 10:13:08 PM EST

Although Gotham City derives its name from an old nickname for New York City, Gotham is meant to be Boston (hence the proximity of the borrowed Arkham Asylum, in H. P. Lovecraft's work Arkham also shared many charateristics with Boston). The NYC analogue in the universe is Superman's home town, Metropolis.
Hence Gotham is dark and old, and Metropolis is shining steel and glass.
In fact, the name Gotham comes from Gottam, which was the archetypal `town of fools' in European folk lore. This is why the name was chosen for Batman's haunt.

Nice article though.

...mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
Bertrand Russell

Pseudo-Agreement (none / 2) (#51)
by cribcage on Tue Jan 27, 2004 at 11:08:17 PM EST

Although Gotham City derives its name from an old nickname for New York City, Gotham is meant to be Boston (hence the proximity of the borrowed Arkham Asylum, in H. P. Lovecraft's work Arkham also shared many charateristics with Boston). The NYC analogue in the universe is Superman's home town, Metropolis.
Y'know, the above may sound ridiculous to a lot of readers, but I'll vouch for this opinion. I've read the same thing, from reputable sources: There was at least some period in the DC universe when editors intended Gotham City to parallel Boston, and Metropolis to parallel New York City.

However, things change. In recent years, it's difficult to argue that editors clearly intend Gotham City to parallel New York City -- and Metropolis, interestingly, to parallel Toronto. The evidence for this is extensive, but perhaps none more compelling than the map which accompanies the Batman No Man's Land TPB. These days, Gotham City is definitely "The Big Apple."

Still, an interesting bit of DC history. I've even read strong cases that various writers have put their slant on Metropolis by plotting it as Cleveland or Chicago. As has been written elsewhere: The different views of strong-willed artists contributes to the rich history that makes the Batman mythos great.


Please don't read my journal.
[ Parent ]

And... (none / 2) (#53)
by Aemeth on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 12:04:43 AM EST

... Tim Burton's vision of it certainly evoked New York, which is probably what a lot of people (especially those unfamiliar with the comics) would first associate with Gotham.

...mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true.
Bertrand Russell

[ Parent ]
Interesting stuff you guys (none / 1) (#59)
by nebbish on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 08:00:12 AM EST

You learn something every day!

Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
[ Parent ]

Also as an aside (none / 1) (#67)
by nutate on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 02:29:08 PM EST

In DK2 (which I liked), Boston and New York are both referenced by name alongside Metropolis and Gotham. IIRC it was clear that all 4 were separate in that conception.

[ Parent ]

Re: Small Nit (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by Weembles on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 10:18:24 AM EST

I've never seen anything that indicated that either Gotham or Metropolis (or any other city in the DC universe) was supposed to literaly stand for a city. Even what the two cities can be considered to be a metaphore for can drift as different writers and artists give their impression of the place.

But I guess we all have an idea in our own heads what they stand for. My own personal favorite is that Metropolis is a metaphore for New York City by day and Gotham is one New York by night.

[ Parent ]

Arkham (3.00 / 3) (#75)
by C Montgomery Burns on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 12:25:21 PM EST

in Lovecraft's work is a stand-in for Providence, RI.
Intelligent design
[ Parent ]
Anyone get the "Hush" series of Batman? (none / 2) (#55)
by bigchris on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 05:14:39 AM EST

My first foray into DC comics - awesome!

I Hate Jesus: -1: Bible thumper
kpaul: YAAT. YHL. HAND. btw, YAHWEH wins ;) [mt]
Yeah, those were interesting... (none / 2) (#77)
by BlueGlass on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 08:47:06 PM EST

Myself, I hadn't read any comics since I was about ten. Last fall, I was handed a few, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The Hush series was one of those, and got me digging around a bit.

Compared to what I was used to, the writing quality of comics now is, well, good. Very strange (to me). It's odd to read a comic and realize it was clever and insightful, equal in many respects to some of the better novels. My brain still doesn't quite accept that concept. The artwork seems to have undergone a similar improvement.

I suppose they're trying to snag more readers; I seem to have heard that the comic industry has been suffering a decline for some time now. Mind you, there are still a lot of pretty crummy titles, but most of the Batman-related ones seem to be pretty good.

A similar (but unique) comic is "Fallen Angel", another DC title. It took reading a couple of issues to get the hang of it, but I'm really enjoying it now, as is my SO. Clever writing, amusing nods to film noire and 40's pulp writing, but mainly it's a character examination of the nearly amoral protagonist.

That is, she's attempting to be amoral, presumably to insulate herself psychologically from the unsavoury things/people she deals with. There's a cameo by Batman (actually a Batman-like character) early on, and even he isn't sure what to make of her.

Anyway, I'm wondering if the general improvement in writing and whatnot can reverse the industry's sales decline; there also seems to be a social stigma attached to reading "funny books" that presents an obstacle, maybe other causes for the decline as well.

[ Parent ]

Quality and decline (none / 0) (#86)
by ffrinch on Sun Feb 01, 2004 at 07:05:33 AM EST

There's been a lot of well-written comics around for more than a decade, and I don't know how much of a positive effect they've had on sales.

Last I heard, the comic-selling industry was benefiting somewhat from an influx of anime fans: Tokyopop only sells translated Japanese and Korean comics, and they already have higher market share than DC or Marvel. The American/British comic-making industry isn't benefiting too much; their titles are getting crowded off store shelves.

Unfortunately, there's still a lot of crap: almost everything from Image, for instance.

"I learned the hard way that rock music ... is a powerful demonic force controlled by Satan." — Jack Chick
[ Parent ]

Comic selling industry (none / 0) (#88)
by thetenken47 on Mon Feb 09, 2004 at 04:54:47 PM EST

I don't quite know what you mean by "higher market share." According to Diamond Entertainment, in orders from Preview (the pre-ordering book that most comic stores use) the market share is: http://www.diamondcomics.com/market_share.html PUBLISHER MARKET SHARE MARVEL COMICS 36.19% DC COMICS 30.92% IMAGE COMICS 5.26% DARK HORSE COMICS 4.42% CROSSGEN ENTERTAINMENT 2.71% DREAMWAVE PRODUCTIONS 2.24% WIZARD ENTERTAINMENT 2.15% TOKYOPOP 2.06% VIZ LLC 1.41% Of course, you'll have to get figures from carriers who do not order from Previews. Do you have an alternate source?

[ Parent ]
New Batman Rocks (2.75 / 3) (#58)
by Cackmobile on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 07:57:20 AM EST

They have resently started showing the cartoon at 7.30am on sky here in the UK. Its responsible for me being late to work most days. It rocks. Dark and moody. Its modern day set but the city looks 20-30s. I recently watched the adam west series. My god, how bad is it. I much prefer the creepy dark version. THats the way I generally think of him. I wouldn't mind seeing him back as a vigilante. btw the new Rolls Royce and the Bentley both look like they are straight out of that series. The first 2 movies were pretty good. Casting Jack Nicolsohn as the joker was pure genius. Keaton was a much better bat man. Batman Forever was passable but Batman and Robin...aaarrrgggghhhh my eyez, the goggles, zeh do nuffing!!

The Adam West one was a parody (2.50 / 3) (#66)
by p3d0 on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 12:30:40 PM EST

If you criticise the Adam West version, I hope you criticise it from the point of view of being a bad parody.
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
[ Parent ]
Adam West Batman (3.00 / 3) (#68)
by IHCOYC on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 02:45:17 PM EST

The Adam West Batman was in fact fairly faithful to the comics as they were being written in the early to mid-1960s.

Of course, the Golden Age Batman as created by Bob Kane was more a pulp hero like the Shadow than a superhero. The stuff that used to be part of his pulp-derived detective world went out the window with the 1950s Comics Code. During this time, comics were supposed to be children's entertainment; a code of asinine rules sought to eliminate traces of real crime, suspense, or death.

So it came to pass that, just as Superman had Mr Mxyzptlk and Krypto, Batman acquired Bat-Mite and the Bat-Hound. It was this Batman that was seen in the early 1960s and turned into the Batman series, which was more a comedy series for adults than children's entertainment. Still, the TV series was not far from the way the character was being written in 1963. This was a far cry from the pulp detective in tights of the 1940s, or the post-Frank Miller Batman.
Fashion is the sister of Death
     --- Giacomo Leopardi
[ Parent ]

No way (1.00 / 9) (#70)
by Digit0 on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 04:28:00 PM EST

Yakies get a life! British/French/Jap comics are a milion miles ahead of yours. Of the top of my head... 2000 AD, Heavy Metal (mostly French), and of course all mangas AKIRA anyone =P?

I've always preferred the Batman tv show (2.50 / 4) (#71)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed Jan 28, 2004 at 06:50:25 PM EST

from the 60's.

Unlike the comic book which is aimed squarely at children, the tv show is rich with campy humor and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

Batman graphic novels are not for children (3.00 / 3) (#73)
by John Asscroft on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 04:35:20 AM EST

Start with Frank Miller's work. Dark, violent, definitely NOT for children.
We must destroy freedom to save it from the terrorists who want to destroy freedom. Else the terrorists have won.
[ Parent ]
Not really (none / 0) (#90)
by Belgand on Fri Apr 02, 2004 at 11:33:09 AM EST

Comics have that problem in which you have 30 year-old guys writing stories that will be read by other 30 year-old guys while having to work (sometimes at least) under the idea that children will read it.

More realistically though not many comics are written for children and very few children read comics. It's been a major push in recent years to try to get kids interested in them again.

Among most of the really, really, really mainstream comics (i.e. the names you'd probably recognize off the top of your head) Batman is one that is the least for kids suffused with a dark, gritty atmosphere and with an emphasis on detective work and crime rather than superheroics.

[ Parent ]

made me want to read the batman comics (none / 2) (#79)
by suntzu on Thu Jan 29, 2004 at 10:44:03 PM EST

so good article.

question: i don't really know much about buying comics. if i was looking on ebay for a copy of "the killing joke" (condition's not a huge deal as long as it's complete and readable) how much should i expect to pay?

Killing Joke (none / 0) (#87)
by thetenken47 on Mon Feb 09, 2004 at 04:48:40 PM EST

Not too much, probably around $5 or less...

[ Parent ]
In any thread about comics... (none / 1) (#81)
by danbov on Fri Jan 30, 2004 at 12:32:55 PM EST

this has to get a mention.
Admittedly not Batman, but in my view one of the greatest graphic novels ever written.

---- blah
Any thread about comics... (1.25 / 4) (#84)
by James A C Joyce on Fri Jan 30, 2004 at 05:45:54 PM EST

...needs a link to TRUCKER FAGS IN DENIAL!

I bought this account on eBay

Quite interesting (none / 0) (#91)
by drquick on Sun Aug 08, 2004 at 06:53:23 AM EST

Really quite interesting. One question arises to my mind. Where goes the line between spam and information? I liked reading this but aren't we on a slippery slope towards spam?

Madness In Gotham | 91 comments (84 topical, 7 editorial, 1 hidden)
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