At what point is enough enough?

DC announced yesterday via its Source Blog that, starting this November, a new ongoing Batman title written and drawn by David Finch, titled Batman: The Dark Knight, will be starting.  And I just have to wonder…with Batman and Detective Comics, presumably, still running, and possibly Batman and Robin, Batman: Streets of Gotham, Red Robin and Batman: Gotham City Sirens…what the hell am I supposed to do as a Batman fan?

After all, until that big podcasting check comes in the mail, I do have limited resources.

I know the answer some of you are thinking – don’t buy them all.  Only buy the ones you’re interested in.  Well, I kind of already do that.  I don’t purchase Gotham City Sirens or Detective Comics, despite liking the creative teams.  I enjoy Batman and Robin (much to the chagrin of my Funnybooks co-hosts), Batman (at times), Streets of Gotham and Red Robin (which I both love).

Now, with Bruce Wayne coming back from the dead, I’d imagine a shakeup in some of the titles.  No announcements have been made yet, but I’d presume changes/endings for some of the titles, like Red Robin (surely there will be some Robin series, though) and Batman and Robin (though Grant Morrison has hinted at continuing to write the title, post-Return of Bruce Wayne).

So just to tally, I currently purchase and read:

  • Batman
  • Batman and Robin
  • Batman: Streets of Gotham
  • Red Robin
Beautiful preview art from Batman: The Dark Knight by David Finch

Roughly an average of about $13/month.  Batman: The Dark Knight will presumably be $3.99, as are many of DC’s newer titles that are coming out.  There’s also a Knight and Squire mini-series written by Paul Cornell that seems up my alley too (love those characters).  So now, to purchase all the Batman titles I want, I’d be spending about $21/month.

But why?

I get that you don’t want to derail current storylines, but titles such as Batman and Detective Comics have been pretty aimless since Dick Grayson took over as Batman, changing creative teams every couple of issues, with no definable ongoing storyline past self-contained story arcs.  Wouldn’t Batman: The Dark Knight work well as the new ongoing status of the Batman title, maybe getting it sales like it hasn’t seen since the Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee Hush arc?  I’d imagine that, whatever they have lined up for Batman, it’s not on par with David Finch.

Batman: Streets of Gotham has its niche – Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen have their pulse on the book, but even then, the title is confusing.  Its solicitations are frequently incorrect, with storylines shuffled all over the place without any explanation to fans.  I would hate to see the title end, but, after the upcoming sequel to Heart of Hush, I think it would be great to end the series (which, honestly, doesn’t seem to have a general point, despite being a great monthly read) and moving the creative team back to Detective Comics, where they were pre-Batman Reborn.

Batman and Robin, if it’s going to continue, would be okay with me, even under Grant Morrison, as long as he writes the title like he has been for the last four months.  If he’s going to go back to sucky Grant Morrison, then I’m done with him!  After all, with his “grand Batman opus” ending soon, maybe it’s time for a fresh direction.  As for the artist…it’s hard to say – the title has changed artists every three issues, and Frank Quitely couldn’t get a book out on time if his life depended on it (seriously, his couple of pages in Batman #700 had to be completed by Scott Kolins).  Should Tony Daniel return as his regular artist?  I’d be okay with that.

I’d hate to see Red Robin end.  After the initial arc (really, once Marcus To took over on art), the title has been one of the most consistent titles on the market.  I’d imagine Tim would remain in some type of garb other than the Robin outfit, unless Damian is going to do something else.  So I say let Red Robin continue with its current creative team.

How much should it cost us to enjoy the adventures of the dynamic duo?
How much should it cost us to enjoy the adventures of the Dynamic Duo?

Batman: Gotham City Sirens can end.  As much as I like Paul Dini, the title has been very inconsistent, to the point where I dropped it, and it gets pretty scathing reviews.  If people really care about the characters, perhaps a co-feature in another title?

So we’ve got…

  • Batman: creative team – David Finch
  • Detective Comics: creative team – Paul Dini/Dustin Nguyen
  • Batman and Robin: creative team – Grant Morrison/Tony Daniel (if Grant Morrison drops, I suggest Judd Winnick or, wild card choice, Phil Hester)
  • Red Robin: creative team – Fabian Nicieza/Marcus To

And what about Dick Grayson?  He’s too big for a co-feature, so that won’t work.  What’s going to happen to him?  Well, I’ve got two ideas…

  • Nightwing: creative team: Judd Winnick(or Pete Tomasi)/Mark Bagley (get that guy off JLA)
  • Detective Comics, starring Nightwing, with the same creative team above.  Detective Comics seems like a good stomping ground for Batman supporting characters, like it was for Batwoman, or like Action Comics is now with Lex Luthor.

I know comic companies are in the business of making money, but publishing more and more monthlies starring the same characters seems, honestly, to be working harder, not smarter.  Scrooge McDuck always says to work smarter, not harder.  Publish 4 or 5 books, instead of 6 or 7.  Right now, I’m having a hard time figuring out which titles I need to drop to pick up the new Batman: The Dark Knight, and I hate to KEEP having to drop titles I enjoy, just because I don’t have enough money.  So titles that I don’t absolutely right out LOVE are getting dropped, and that hardly seems fair, because I do enjoy them.

EIGHT one-shots. Will the regular series be on hiatus during this time?

The answer to comic companies isn’t that comic fans need to make more money – it’s that they need variety, but not at the expense of readership.  You can have a couple of Bat-Universe titles and, as long as each one serves a unique purpose, and the number of titles is reasonable, I see no problem with it.  But throwing more ongoing series out there just seems silly, as it now forces fans to choose, now more than ever with rising prices, – consolidating titles means that fans that had to choose one or the other, will now combine to mean greater sales for that single book.  I’d imagine that the sales of two Batman titles wouldn’t be tremendously greater than the sales for one, consistently good, Batman book.  And one book would certainly be cheaper to produce than two.  Now, unless Batman has a stellar creative team, I’ll be dropping it in favor of The Dark Knight because I don’t see it coming up with someone on the level of Finch.

It’s tough times for a comic fan, with rising comic prices and, while people will tell you to stop buying $3.99 titles and the comic companies will stop publishing them…what other legal alternative is available for you to enjoy the newest adventures of your favorite comic character?  Does anyone remember how flooding the market with books was kind of one of the reasons for the big comic bust of the 90’s?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this – what characters do you feel you need less titles, and how could the comic company currently publishing the titles consolidate?  Or do you disagree?  Do you think that publishing more Batman books means more sales?  Talkback below.

Oh yeah … I left Batgirl off of the list.  But, seriously, that book sucks anyway.