… And here we are, the day after DC’s ongoing superhero line put a period on an era. Next week brings just two titles, Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, one sending off the old order and the other ushering in the new. Maybe you’re waiting for next week before starting (or coming back to) explore the superhero books. Maybe you’ve been reading since the start of Blackest Night or Infinite Crisis or even Identity Crisis. Goodness knows DC has tried hard for several years to increase its audience.
For me, though, this week closes the book (make the metaphors stop!) on some twenty-five years of Post-Crisis storytelling. Although there have been a number of reboots and relaunches during this period, it all goes back to the changes which started in earnest in the summer of 1986. I remember that summer well, both in terms of comics milestones and personal memories, because each was bound up with the others to various degrees. For me, Summer 1986 ended in a parking lot on a Friday afternoon in early September, reading John Byrne and Terry Austin’s Superman #1.
So is this what nostalgia feels like?: Re-reading my favorite Batman creative team via DC’s Retroactive project
Scottish writer Alan Grant and American artist Norm Breyfogle started working on DC’s Batman comics during what must have been a particularly fertile and exciting time to do so—1988, the just after Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns helped redefine the possibilities of comics for a new generation (as well as redefining the Batman character and milieu), and the year before the Tim Burton-directed Batman feature film would replace the 1960s TV Batman as pop culture’s default view of the character.
The pair would work with other collaborators over the next decade or so, but had a long and fruitful run as a team, starting with a three-year run on Detective Comics (at first with John Wagner as co-writer), followed by two years on Batman, the launch of their own Batman title in 1992, Shadow of the Bat (which, after Breyfogle left, became Grant’s showcase title, pairing him with different artists for different arcs). They also produced a few original graphic novels (or “prestige format” comics as they were then called) like 2000’s Batman: Dreamland, and first a miniseries than a short-lived monthly starring one of their signature creations, Batman villain Anarky.
Grant continued writing for the Bat-books into the new decade, up until around the time of one of the cross-book crossover events, “Cataclysm,” which lead into “No Man’s Land” and then a relaunch of the line.
Breyfogle’s byline popped up here and there in unexpected places, but he hasn’t drawn Batman in a while.
I think about them both a lot.