Q: Batman RIP: What's going on in this book? I like Morrison, but I do not follow the plot. -- @daingercomics
A: My friend, you have come to the right place. I generally think Grant Morrison gets a bad rap for writing superhero stories that are too complex --- a complaint that you see about almost everything he writes going all the way back to "Rock of Ages" in JLA, and probably back to Animal Man if you go looking for it --- but R.I.P. is a story with a whole lot of moving parts that can be pretty hard to keep track of unless you're the kind of person who has been obsessing over the details of 75 years of Batman comics for their entire life.
Fortunately for you, that's exactly what I am, which is one of the reasons that Batman R.I.P. is probably my favorite Batman story of all time.
Many of comics’ most popular heroes have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.
With this new feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most beloved characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at Batman.
Chip Kidd is a one of American publishing's foremost graphic designers, a respected novelist and author in his own right, and a life-long comic book fan. He's worked with DC Comics on a number of different projects over the years, writing histories, creating logos, designing books, and even authoring stories like 2012's Batman: Death By Design graphic novel with Dave Taylor. Recently, he produced a "remix" of the first-ever Batman story (which was originally slated to be published in DC's "Detective Comics #27 Special Edition" giveaway, but ended up as a feature in the deluxe hardcover Batman: A Celebration Of 75 Years instead).
While at San Diego Comic-Con last month, we got a few minutes to drop by DC's booth and talk with Kidd about Batman, his design work, and his current (and upcoming) projects.
As one might suspect, the major thrust of Thursday's "Spotlight on Bill Finger, Co-Cceator of Batman" panel was that Bill Finger never got the credit he deserved.
Comic-Con's organizers made one big gesture to make up for that, presenting Finger's granddaughter, Athena Finger, with a posthumous Inkpot Award just as the panel got started. The panelists tried their best to heap credit on Finger, too.
As much as I love Batman, and I think the record will show that I love Batman a whole heck of a lot, I haven't really been looking forward to sitting down and cracking open the new Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years hardcover. Last year's Superman anniversary hardcover was a disaster of revisionist history, 300 pages that would have you believe that one of the world's greatest superheroes did nothing for seven and a half decades but cry. With that in mind, I had no idea what DC Comics was going to do with Batman. If you'd asked me to bet on it, I would've put good money on a prediction that they'd craft a narrative that acknowledged Batman only as a scowling vigilante, consumed with vengeance and every bit as crazy as the villains he fought.
But it turns out I didn't have to worry. The Batman hardcover is exactly what it says it is -- a celebration of Batman across different eras, with a roster of stories that highlights one of the character's true strengths: How well he works across different kinds of stories.
With more than 200 panels to choose from at San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday alone, the programming at the show can be completely overwhelming -- and it's far too easy to miss a panel you know you might have loved, or to find yourself on the wrong side of the con floor five minutes before a great panel is about to start!
Take heart, brave reader. ComicsAlliance has sifted through the schedule to offer up our pick of the best panels, screenings, and events, starting with programming for Thursday 24th July -- with an emphasis, of course, on comics programming.
Here's some fun news that'll ruin your weekend: The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has released the names of 30 people who are set to receive stars on the Walk of Fame for their contributions to the entertainment industry next year, and among them is Bob Kane, the man DC Entertainment is contractually obliged to credit as the sole creator of Batman.
In case you don't mark your calendar solely by events related to Batman -- which is increasingly difficult since Year One was 22 years before Zero Year, with Zero Hour somewhere in between -- you might need a friendly reminder that DC has declared July 23 to be Batman Day, part of its celebration of 75 years of the Dark Knight. To mark the occasion, the publisher's putting out a free special edition of Detective Comics #27, containing material from both the 1939 original and the New 52 offering from earlier this year.
What makes this issue really significant, however, is that to my knowledge, it's the first time Batman's co-creator, Bill Finger, has received a cover credit for the original Batman story.
At a Wondercon panel last month celebrating Batman's 75th anniversary, DC Comics' Larry Ganem answered an audience member's question about why Bill Finger isn't credited as the co-creator of Batman by saying, "we're all good with Finger and his family."
According to a press release issued by the Comic Arts Council, Finger's family disagrees. Athena Finger, Bill Finger's granddaughter, is quoted in the release as saying it's time to speak up after "75 years of exploitation of my grandfather." Take a look at her full quote after the jump.
If you've been paying attention over the past few months, you've undoubtedly noticed that we here at ComicsAlliance are pretty passionate about Batman's uncredited co-creator, Bill Finger, and we're far from the only ones. There's been a surge in recent years of people trying make the public aware of the truth behind Batman's creation and that the legally mandated "Created By Bob Kane" tag on every Batman comic book, film and television episode doesn't tell even half the story.
The latest effort on that front: A Kickstarter-funded "tribute film" from the Comic Arts Council called The Cape Creator that not only looks back at Finger's considerable contributions to Batman, but also features interviews with his surviving descendants.
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