Let’s be fair, here: cards on the table, no lie: if my id had control of this lineup, it’d be like 20 Bat titles and everything else would be Wonder Woman and Canary team ups. So I’m pretty sure that I deserve credit for cutting myself down to six titles.
Bats are: non-metas who’s lives have been marred by tragedy, who have taken upon themselves the power to set things right. They are driven, fiercely independent, and usually value intellectualism over emotional attachments. Even though many of them come from a background of societal privilege, they represent an ideal of by-your-bootstraps make your own way.
6. BATMAN is Bruce Wayne, millionaire orphan who once made a vow to his dead parents that he would not rest until Gotham City was purged of the corruption that plagued Gotham City. Many years later (like Superman, Batman has been active for about 15 years) he has made some headway, but his quest doesn’t look like something he can achieve in his lifetime. He’s obviously in top shape for a man in his thirties, and is an excellent martial artist, but his real asset is his brain, and after so long in the field he’s coming up with more and more ways to fight crime without pushing his body too far. Beating up individual muggers is a young man’s game, now Bruce Wayne is using his intellect and his resources to root out corruption on a city-wide level. But still city-wide: his vow was for Gotham.
7. BAT GIRLS features Cassandra Cain as Black Bat and Stephanie Brown as Spoiler, with Barbara Gordon as Oracle. All three of these women have called themselves Batgirl at some point or another, but now they’re operating under their own identities, even though both Black Bat and Spoiler carry the Bat symbol on their costumes. These ladies are in the process of rebuilding their lives after abuse, tragedy and mistakes, and Steph and Cass in particular share a positive outlook that there is hope for the task they share.
This is a YOUNG READERS title, aimed at 11-14 year olds. And it doesn’t hide the tragedy in the three women’s respective history.
8. BATMAN AND ROBIN is Bruce Wayne and his son Damian, and it is mostly told from the point of view of Damian, who is struggling to break from the role his mother had laid out for him and become worthy of his father’s ideals, without losing his own identity. It involves a lot of guest stars from the rest of the bat family.
This is a YOUNG READERS title, aimed at children. Yes, including Damian’s particular history as being trained as an Assassin. Because kids love Batman, dammit.
9. BATWOMAN is Kate Kane, daughter of Jacob Kane, kicked out of the military under DADT, dating Captain Sawyer of the GCPD, aided by her cousin Bette aka Flamebird (yes she can have her awesome new costume, I just hate the name Hawkfire). This book exists. No need to touch it.
10. CRIME ALLEY is a little like Gotham Central, but in reverse. It is the tales of the criminal element of Gotham City – not so much the big name adventures of Joker, Two-Face and the Penguin, because they get enough time in the heroes’ titles, but it’s the story of the thugs-for-hire who flit between jobs for the big names. It’s the story of the Broker, who finds lairs for the themed criminal elements. It’s about the people of Gotham City who don’t make the big titles all that often: the people caught between the villains and the Bats. Batman tends to look at the criminal element of the city as irredeemable, only solvable by being punched in the face and thrown into the revolving door of Arkham. This book is about exploring the people caught in the system. And because Batman is about self improvement, it’s also about how they break out.
11. DETECTIVE COMICS is another double-sized bimonthly anthology, coming out on the months that don’t produce Action Comics. The lead story always features Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing, the first Robin and now crimefighter in Bludhaven, despite the occasional foray out into the rest of the world. The rest of the book features stories of various length by different creative teams about the rest of the Bat family: Oracle, Spoiler, Black Bat, Robin, Red Robin, Alfred. Sometimes a GCPD story. The emphasis is on detective work: mysteries and puzzles and complex rabbitholes. Nightwing gets unfairly painted as the pretty dumb one of the Bat family, it’s time to point out that he’s still a Bat.
Where are Tim and Jason, I hear you ask? They will turn up, I promise!
But not for a while, because tomorrow it’s Wonders and Lanterns.