O Say Can You See: The Greatest Patriotic Super Heroes of All-Time
For months speculation had raged about what DC Comics would do to mitigate the logistics of its West Coast move. This week the publisher made it official: Convergence is a two-month, 89-issue event starting April 1. It involves a central weekly miniseries and an array of two-issue micro-series combining various versions of venerable DC folk. Basically, if you’ve ever wondered whether Blackhawk could beat Kamandi, or wanted to see the Superman of 2010 square off against the Green Lantern of 1944, next April and May are going to be pretty fun for you.
I’ve been writing about this for so long that I’m not sure what else to say. (And yet, here we are.) Last week I wrote about DC’s various narrative delays and deferrals. Now I’m even more certain we’ll have to wait until June for the next significant DCU development. Still, the fact that Convergence is happening is … I don’t want to say “encouraging,” but it does seem like progress toward an ultimate — no pun intended — resolution. (Note: This presumes that DC does in fact have specific plans for the superhero line.)
Therefore, today let’s survey the Multiversal landscape, with an eye toward determining Convergence’s role in the grand scheme of things.
… 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.
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.