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Monday, August 04, 2014 

No clear sales data for Batbooks in article about hero's 75th anniversary

The Killeen Daily Herald recently published a fluff-coated article about Batman's 75th anniversary. One that rather predictably won't tell an honest story about how well the pamphlets are doing today:
[...] Not only are Batman comic books generally best-sellers, but the character is undoubtedly the most successful superhero in other media, like movies and video games.
But no sales figures to back that up, I see. The current output's been selling poorly, and while one title recently sold above 100,000 copies, that's still faint success.

As for success in other mediums, I wonder if that's because DC and Time Warner have spectacularly failed to make a serious effort to promote other heroes with the same clout they do with the Masked Manhunter. That's why we're not bound to see Metamorpho turn up in a lot of mediums Batman already has. Indeed, what do they care about a guy who can transform himself into different elements?

Further down the article, they also quote Scott Snyder telling what he thinks makes Batman popular:
Scott Snyder, the head writer of the Batman books, put it this way: “That really interesting mix of … heroism and completely twisted, self-destructive impulse is what’s endlessly fascinating to me. Because it also makes him heroic, in that he’s flawed that way.”
Isn't that nice. He's warping the picture to see Batman only as he wants to. Batman's been depicted as a determined combatant against crime, both physically and mentally, but to say he's somehow crazy is perpetuating an idea that could actually alienate people. Why would they want to read about a guy whose humanity is depicted questionably? In the past, Bruce Wayne was given good characterization, with Denny O'Neil's scripting some of the best for modern times. But in the 1990s, following the Dark Knight Returns, that's when they began to fumble with a personality where he acts controlling and disrespectful towards his partners in crimefighting. That kind of depiction reached a nadir at the time Spoiler was originally wiped out. Such characterization isn't helping, and it could take ages till anyone telling Bat-tales moves away from it successfully.

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The Batman titles may well be "best sellers" by today's standards, but that just makes them some of the biggest fish in a very small (and evaporating) pond.

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