Today marks the start of an epic journey–a journey which will span over seven decades and thousands of pages of printed material, as well as hundreds of hours of filmed entertainment and video games.
What can I say? I was bored.
Why Batman? Superheroes in general interest me, probably because they’re the injection of fantasy into reality. I’m never going to see a troll, or an elf, or a wizard; but someday I might walk down the street and see a caped figure, silhouetted against the sky, racing from rooftop to rooftop.
Batman in particular is the clearest example of this. He’s a superhero for no other reason than that he chose to be. He was born rich, but arguably money is just like muscles; most people can acquire them with sufficient amounts of dedication. The idea that standing between anyone’s life and Batman’s is the application of thought and effort is fascinating to me. And because of this, Batman is unlike all the other superheroes. He’s human. He makes mistakes; he has contradictory desires; he’s sometimes irrational; he has a sense of humor.
And of all the long-running comic heroes, Batman has had both the most success and the most extensive transformation from the beginning to the end. Today’s Superman is not far from the Superman he was back in the 30s. But Batman has gone from one range of camp (the earliest comics and the Adam West Batman) to another (Miller’s ultraviolence and Nolan’s ultraseriousness), and along the way virtually every permutation of action, crime, and vigilantism you could possibly think of has been presented and explored.
Like any other long-running character, Batman can be used as a lens to discover the ways that time and culture have shaped both the American people and the artistic mediums of comics, film, television, and video games. I come primarily from film, but I’ll try and write about the context of Batman as well as the content.
My statement of purpose, then: to experience all of Batman in comics, film, television, and video games, in the order in which they were published, and to write about them as I go. I will look at them as both artistic and cultural works, with a focus on the way Batman has changed over the years in ways that follow (and in some cases, drive) artistic and historical movements. (Also, there will be a lot of gay jokes.)
Tune in every Saturday for the next installment! I hope you enjoy this exciting, ridiculous new feature here at the Kraken.
Those interested in tracking my progress can click through to the Master List of Batman titles I’ll be working off.