Welcome to the first installment of a series of columns where I share my soul with you, the reader, about the comic books I have long bought and read that I have decided I no longer need to buy. In this inaugural entry I will explore "Why I'm quitting Batman"...
I feel that in today's current "react" before "reading" culture I should point out at the beginning, my quitting Batman has nothing to do with the current status of the BATMAN ongoing series. I have bought every issues through #70, along with a number of variant covers along the way. Tom King did not kill my enjoyment of reading Batman stories. I fear I may have waiting too long to say this and I probably should have stated this as subheading, but I did not. So, let's begin...
In order to understand the decline of my interest of Batman we need to go back to the beginning of my interest and build (and fall) from there. I feel anyone that was born in the 1970s understands the love that a majority of the comic book fans who are our age fell in love with Batman through watching Super Friends by Hanna-Barbera. I say most, because there's always that small minority that didn't get hooked on Batman until Bruce Timm and Batman Adventures. My love for the character and the mythos only grew stronger by watching Batman Adventures.
Super Friends launched in 1973, but my debut wasn't until 1974. It wasn't until the the late 70s and early 80s that I paid attention to the Super Friends, but I was hooked once I saw them. While Marvel was my introduction to comic books, it was DC Comics that really got me interested in their characters way before I ever picked up a comic book. Batman and Robin were my favorites. When I got in to comics, I didn't even consider picking up a Batman comic book. Why? I can't explain it. It would be three years after I picked up my first comic book before I'd ever consider picking up a Batman comic book, and I didn't even pick it up because it was BATMAN.
My first Batman comic book was BATMAN #415, a Millennium tie-in issue. I bought the issue ONLY because it was part of the crossover. I didn't buy another issue of BATMAN for another year during the "Death in the Family" storyline thanks to a friend of mine convincing me I should be reading this story arc. I stayed on BATMAN through "Prodigal" and felt that I had read all I wanted to read with Batman as a character. I was deep into reading X-Men comics and picking up an insane amount of books from Image Comics, plus this was the time I was leaving college and looking for a job, so cash wasn't as ready as it had been in the past and I had to make a cut. BATMAN, and most of DC Comics, was that cut.
I would eventually return to read BATMAN when "Cataclysm" started because I couldn't believe what they were doing to Gotham. I loved reading Batman family comics then and stayed with them as my core group of books I read up until the end of Volume 1 of the series. I felt it had been a great run, and my thought was I wouldn't enjoy Batman as much as I had for that stretch of time. That may have been a prophetic insight on my part, or possible subconscious sabotage. Either way, reading BATMAN or DETECTIVE COMICS never felt the same. When "New52" launched and Scott Snyder came on board to write BATMAN I was excited, but it was more the idea of what he was doing excited me. The execution and reading of that execution just didn't entertain me as much as I wanted it to and I walked away from the series around "Death of the Family", which was a little ironic but it was what it was. I would eventually come back to the book to read "Endgame", but I never read it. I bought issues and flipped through them, but I didn't enjoy them. It wasn't Snyder's fault. Other people reading the series really were enjoying what they were reading, but I had stopped enjoying BATMAN a while back, I was just buying the comics because that's what I had always done. I would keep doing that until recently.
Let's not discuss the cost of buying a comic book because that's what you've done for years. The idea of a "reading pile" that is taller than you are is not "cool" it is stupid. That's where I am with comics. I've been buying BATMAN for over 70 issues since "Rebirth" started and probably the last 20+ issues of the "New52" series because I felt I'd eventually get to them and read them in the "near future". I didn't, and I finally learned my lesson. At a bare minimum, and I know I said let's not discuss cost but, I spent nearly $300 on BATMAN issues that I'll never read, or even want to read. If you follow me on Twitter you'll have read where I say I need to cut my pull list - I never cut BATMAN. Yes. I'm insane.
What happened? Why did I stop enjoying BATMAN and why stop now?
The easy answer would be that no one could top what Grant Morrison did with Batman. But I feel that the easiest answer might be the right answer with some bullet points. I don't feel DC Comics, currently owned by AT&T would allow Grant Morrison to do with Batman, let alone the entire DC Universe via Infinite Crisis, what DC Comics allowed him to do back in 2010. I don't feel Morrison did anything crazy with the character. Even the killing Batman and sending him through the time stream wasn't that crazy. It fit within the context of the character at the time it happened. Nine years later I feel there's a growing need to be "safe" with the property. I felt it when I started reading Snyder's BATMAN. The "Court of Owls" was a great idea, and remains one of the concepts I wish would still be in the front of the Batman storytelling. I don't feel that "Death of the Family" was all that interesting. I never felt the faceless Joker concept was interesting, and any time I saw it on the pages of the comic I rolled my eyes. It felt like an idea that was thrown together at the last minute for shock value with no real story behind it. A story was developed, but I felt like I was told the punchline before the joke was written.
Is Scott Snyder to blame for my lack of interest in BATMAN as a comic? No. Snyder's an extremely talented writer with an obvious love for DC Comics, much like Geoff Johns. Johns I enjoyed most of the time despite his talent. He made me fall in love with characters I never had any interest in like the Justice Society. Snyder did the same with introducing the Court of Owls. New characters that had a rich history that felt like a real threat to Batman only to lose their bite after their initial storyline. After that I felt pretty bored with the series, and like I said before, dropped the book after "Death of the Family" but always hoped I was wrong. Once I came back it was only because I felt I was supposed to be reading BATMAN because he was a favorite character. I told people all the time that I loved his series, but knowing I loved the idea of the series and not the execution of the series. I was definitely in denial.
Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, Tom King, and everyone else that wrote BATMAN post Grant Morrison's run did amazing work, but they had lost me before they even started. I feel bad because I wanted to like their work, I really did. So, $300 later and a lot of missed comics that I could have bought and possibly enjoyed I will finally quit reading BATMAN. Not only have I quit reading BATMAN, I've started to sell off my back issues of "New52" and "Rebirth". I will eventually go back and buy back issues of the first volume of BATMAN, probably starting with "Knightfall" and working my way through "RIP". I'm in no rush, but having them in my collection again will be nice.
I appreciate you taking the time to read through this piece. I know the headline isn't something that draws in the crowd because no one really wants, or cares, why people stop reading the comics they stop, but I felt it was something I needed to get out there. There's probably a lot more detail I could go into, breaking down storylines into more detail why I enjoyed some and why I felt disappointed by some. There are other titles that will suffer the fate of BATMAN in my pull list. Some have already been cut. Some are just waiting for the day. We should not waste our time and money on comics we're buying because "I've always bought it".