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Friday, July 25, 2014 

Batman may be thriving, but comic sales aren't

The Washington Post wrote a sugarcoated take on Batman's 75th anniversary, and wouldn't you know it, Brad Meltzer was the leading interviewee for this propaganda:
In a world filled with seemingly daily disasters and endless turmoil, it’s no wonder that superheroes are as popular as ever, from blockbuster movies all the way to the local toy shop. “When the world gets scary, superheroes’ sales go up,” says Brad Meltzer, the best-selling political-thriller author and comic-book creator. “What resonates today is, as we look around at this scary world, we want someone to come save us.”
Yeah, and we'd like them to save us from such awful so-called "creators" as Meltzer too! His comment is ambiguous, failing to specify that book sales are in the toilet. Last month, only two titles sold over 100,000 copies, some of which are probably languishing in the bargain bins now. And while sans-adjective Batman was one of those two, 130,000 is still a very dismal number compared to movie sales. The movie tickets may be selling, but not the pamphlets.
And to Meltzer, no superhero resonates quite like Batman. It was May of 1939, during the run-up to World War II, when Batman made his debut in the Detective Comics (later shortened to “DC”) book “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate.” The Caped Crusader immediately found an eager national audience. Now, so many thousands of crime-fighting adventures later, DC Comics is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the iconic character by declaring July 23 “Batman Day.” Comic-book outlets around the country are partnering with the publisher to offer various Bat-birthday collectibles, as well as a new comic written by Meltzer.
I find it hard to believe Batman "resonates" with him after the horrible portrayal seen in Identity Crisis. And people who want to read about Batman's beginnings would do better to seek out the Golden Age tale, and not Meltzer's pedestrian "update".
“Through these 75 years, Batman has been fine-tuned by hundreds of writers and artists into honed perfection,” Meltzer says. “He is perfectly defined and, I maintain, the most perfectly defined literary character. The odd part is, although he’s moved from camp, to dark, to self-hating, to self-confidence, you always somehow know exactly what Batman ‘would do.’ There’s a core that never changes.”
Except when people like Meltzer want it to. Interesting how he fails to mention the increasing tendency of writers in the 1990s to depict Batman as an obsessive control freak, something he exploited to make the other Justice Leaguers like Zatanna look bad. And what does he "know" Batman "would do"? Does that include opposition to altering Dr. Light's mind after the violent assault the villain launched on Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis?

Batman may be the most "perfectly" defined hero, but that only goes as far as whoever's doing the scripting, and Meltzer, still quiet as ever about the horrific content in IC, certainly didn't hone Batman to perfection. In fact, what makes Batman so perfectly defined, but not Superman, Flash, Black Canary or the Teen Titans? I don't think that's fair at all.
For Batman Day, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio asked Meltzer to create a new comic that would rightly celebrate the Caped Crusader’s entire history. “I wanted the story to stay true to that original and honor all the came after,” Meltzer says. “No pressure.”
Of course there'd be no pressure or mandates for him. Meltzer's one of the favored writers for DiDio. And how can somebody who writes Identity Crisis be honoring Batman and the rest of the DCU?
“Batman has stayed relevant,” DiDio says by phone from DC’s New York offices, “because he is constantly reinvented and reinterpreted by every generation.”
He's been reinvented alright, but under DiDio's helming, it was all for the worse. Again, no mention of the dictating personality given to him in the 1990s, something nearly every assigned writer may have to shoulder some blame for, an influence from the Dark Knight Returns.
For the new comic, Meltzer and designer Chip Kidd deconstructed Kane and Finger’s first Batman story, then weaved in a trove of character history. “We took the story apart and then rebuilt it with those original images from the first story,” Meltzer says. “It was like doing a jigsaw puzzle.”

Meltzer and Kidd’s reimagined comic echoes the theme of need for superheroes in a scary world, as it alludes not only to young Bruce Wayne becoming an orphan after a theater performance, but also to the 2012 multiplex shooting in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises,” the final installment of Nolan’s recent “Batman” trilogy.

“First and foremost, that was of course a call to his dead parents,” Meltzer says of a scene in his new Batman story. “But you better believe that those theater shootings were right there, too. For 75 years, Batman has been a cultural shield, protecting us from our deepest fears.”
As I noticed before, Meltzer speaks with a forked tongue. He says he honors the old yet takes apart and puts it together in a way that suits him. And how did he reconstruct the original debut? Two years ago in the same paper, the following came up that hints at what could be:

That line from “The Dark Knight Rises” has resonated all day with author, comic-book writer and Batman scholar Brad Meltzer (Superman/Batman, Green Arrow), who tells Comic Riffs that he is reeling from news of the shooting tragedy that occurred at a midnight screening of the film in Aurora, Colo.

“That line bears repeating,” says Meltzer, recounting a scene in which Batman dissuades cat burglar Selina Kyle from resorting to firearms to fight. Batman, Meltzer reminds us, is a symbol against gun violence.
He also gave an interview to the Arizona Republic a year and a half ago about a book he'd written called The Fifth Assassin, and at the end, he said:
Q: We’re in a culture right now where guns and gun control are obviously big issues. How does that affect your book?

Q: In a strange, odd way, it’s where this book comes from. It’s hard to say where the chicken is and where the egg is, though. I’ve clearly been obsessed with shootings. I don’t know if it’s influencing me or if I’m influencing it. I pray I’m not influencing it. But I would never want to say fiction cannot deal with certain issues; we have to be able to talk and deal with these issues.
After reading these two items, I would not put it past him to exploit that Batman issue he wrote for gun control messaging (and that line from Dark Knight Rises is decidedly very weak when guns aren't the only dangerous tool criminals can use). But it wasn't a firearm per se that took Bruce Wayne's parents from him. It was the revolting brain of a small time criminal (Joe Chill) that did. Let's recall that in a few of the early issues of Detective Comics, Batman did carry a gun, and he didn't use it for evil, in contrast to the armed criminals who were. The reason it changed since is because, from a surreal viewpoint, it can be quite enjoyable to see heroes and heroines defeat crooks without using guns per se. And Meltzer wants to make everything out to sound like gun control? If that's how he feels, what about violent crimes committed with knives? Don't they count? There's even been some stories in Batman where he and his buddies in crimefighting used sword-styled weapons, and Huntress uses a compact crossbow. Surely those don't contradict the notion that Batman is literally opposed to guns?

Fiction can deal with certain issues, but Meltzer cannot, and again, anybody who really wants to learn the origins of the Masked Manhunter would do better to find the Golden Age story. It's laughable how he tells on the surface he thinks the world needs heroes, yet his MO is anything but supportive of that. At the end of the Wash. Post article about Batman's 75th, Meltzer says:
“Batman was obsessed. Driven. Consumed by his passionate devotion. Nerds read him, and saw themselves — their inner lives — reflected in a dark mirror,” [Glen] Weldon says.

Meltzer, by contrast, finds value in the constancy within Batman’s creative malleability.

“The ears gets taller, then shorter. The costume will get darker, then lighter. The utility belt will get pouch-y, then sleeker. But Batman’s character is as stubborn as the man beneath the cowl,” Meltzer says. “He is immovable. He projects sheer will, convincing us we have a chance — even when we don’t. And. He. Will. Not. Change. We, as a people, need someone that committed to an ideal.”
How can an imaginary character change by himself? That task lies in the hands of whoever's scripting. Bruce Wayne, immovable? He seemed pretty moved in the direction of Dr. Light, the villain's rape attack on Sue Dibny notwithstanding. Batman may have been committed to certain ideals, but what about Meltzer? What ideals does he have, other than a paycheck?

Weldon, a NPR reporter also quoted in the article, was one of the same people who attacked Orson Scott Card, so I don't consider him a source worth listening to either. But that's the Wash. Post for you, where staffers are willing to pay lip service to some of the fishiest phonies and rely on their drivel for covering what's no longer possible to celebrate, thanks to all the political correctness comics are awash with.

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I hate that cabbage Meltzer but I hate DiDio even more.

Damn you Time Warner for giving him a job at DC. Damn the lot of you and stick your "corporate synergy" up the furthest corner of your asses!

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