“The Dark Knight” is a juggernaut at the box office -- no doubt about that -- but what does that mean for the comics? Especially considering this Batman film drew from the comics (such as “Long Halloween,” “Killing Joke”) more than ever before?
After all, the idea that Batgirl was actually Jim Gordon’s daughter, Barbara, was introduced in the ‘60s (after a previous Batgirl appeared in the comics in the ‘50s) came from the Batman TV show. “Suddenly the Commissioner had a daughter, and she was brought into the comics,” pointed out Ed Brubaker (“Batman: The Man Who Laughs,” “Gotham Central”). "And the character of Renee Montoya was created for “Batman: The Animated Series” (although she appeared in the comics first because of production issues). “She was created for the cartoon,” Brubaker said. “The influence just goes back and forth.”
So could there be a similar give-and-take from “The Dark Knight” back into the comics world, and if so, what might that look like? And is the movie already inspiring those who write Bats -- perhaps another “Fugitive” storyline?
Steve Niles (“30 Days of Night”): “I can’t help but think it would have an effect. And if you look at the comics, they draw him more like the movie version now, with the armor. Little things start to seep back and forth on both sides. It’s like with Spider-Man, when he first came out, he didn’t have the webshooters automatically, he invented those. But in the movie, he shot the web right from his body. Marvel then told the writers that’s the way it’s supposed to be done in the comics from now on. DC hasn’t done that. They let it happen more organically.”
Paul Levitz (DC President): “You’re building on everything that’s been done before, so when you’re coming to Batman, you’re standing on the shoulders of Frank Miller, Grant Morrison, Jeph Loeb, and the list goes on and on. Chris Nolan did an extraordinary job, and the guys doing the monthly comics are doing the same thing, in their own fashion. The essence of Batman doesn’t change in the process, but it’s the version that works for the medium you’re in. What Heath did to the Joker, you couldn’t do in print -- the facial expressions, the body language, how his body twitched. That was the magic of film. Will it influence how it’s done in the comics? I’m sure in some fashion. Will it be replicated? No.”
Brubaker (“Batman: Bruce Wayne - Fugitive”): “It reminded me of the first ‘Batman: Murderer’ story by Len Wein, when they smashed the Bat signal and he goes on the run, because he’s framed for murder. Mine [was] more like Bruce Wayne himself is framed. What’s Batman like when he can’t be Bruce Wayne? I always did like the idea that he’s against the law. The Bat signal is a great idea, but the cops constantly calling on Batman? Come on, he’s a vigilante. It makes more sense that the cops would be after him. People died when he was stopping crimes.”
Mark Waid (“Kingdom Come”): “‘Batman: Fugitive’ has been done, but as a short story. [But] to set it up as his status quo? No one’s ever done that before. The sense of responsibility, ‘I have to do this for Gotham, because they need that.’ That’s almost a Spider-Man thing, except now it’s for Harvey’s legacy to endure, he has to step into this role. Why have they never thought to do that before? And you explore, ‘Why does he run?’ Because we have to chase him. It really does make me want to write ‘Batman: Fugitive.’ How do you not see that movie and want to write Batman now?”
Brad Meltzer (“Identity Crisis”): “You can’t take Batman and say, ‘Batman’s going to do a tap dance and eat a ham and cheese.’ Batman doesn’t say, ‘Hey, everybody, let’s go have a picnic.’ That’s not what Batman does. The author’s job isn’t to show what’s there, but you’ve always known was there but never thought about. I never liked the fugitive part. If the Joker is killing people left and right, blame the murders on him. In this case, I felt the author’s presence. It was there because it was setting something up. It made no sense, but I accepted it because the movie was cool.”
Grant Morrison (“Arkham Asylum”): “I like the idea of Batman being taken down by someone. Someone really targeting him, now that he’s vulnerable. It would be good to see them work with that.”
Jeph Loeb (“Batman: The Long Halloween”): “It makes me want to write a third part of the story that I did with ‘Long Halloween’ and ‘Dark Victory.’ If I had any control over it, I would go back and rename ‘Dark Victory’ ‘The Long Halloween II,’ like how George Lucas made ‘Star Wars’ the fourth one, for ‘A New Hope.’ So this would be ‘The Long Halloween III.’ If the first story was about the transition between when the freaks took over from the crime families, and the second was about the destruction of that family, ending when they’re completely in power, the third would be whether or not organized crime could rise up again, and what that would cost Batman’s city. It puts Batman in a really interesting place. Which is more in the interest of the public good? So the third story would be more one of hope. He may not ever be able to complete his task, but if he inspires someone to do the job, he does. And that’s a good thing. Batman stories can get really bleak when you get down to it, so this would make sense of it all.”
Would you like to see Batman as a fugitive in the comics? Or do you think the Bat books are fine as is? Let us know in the comments.