The Complete Batman: 1979 thru 2011 (reviews by shaxper) Dec 9, 2019 10:53:42 GMT -5 chadwilliam likes this
Post by shaxper on Dec 9, 2019 10:53:42 GMT -5
These are mine and they're a bit scrambled, but perhaps there's something in there worth consideration...
I think if you try factoring in characterisation when determining what's in continuity and what isn't, it'll be difficult to keep from constantly revising your timeline as new writers jump aboard. Chuck Dixon's Batman for example, was a much colder character than Alan Grant's and I'd argue even Jim Starlin's.
This is certainly a slippery slope. Marv Wolfman's Batman is different than Mike W. Barr's, but not glaringly so -- nothing you couldn't chalk up to having a rough year or a better week. However, When you look at Miller's Batman, he is a completely different character from what pretty much every other Post-Crisis writer depicts. I suppose I could try to argue this extensively, but it seems self-evident to me. And (as I'll mention again later on here) Starlin's Batman is all over the place, drastically changing from issue to issue.
Starlin does attempt to reconcile his Jason Todd with Collins from I recall of Batman 428 when Batman has that little "JASON!! WHERE ARE YOU JASON!!!?! And for those of you just tuning in..." moment where he recaps his history from Batman 408 to Death in the Family and I suppose this supports your argument that here is where continuity begins to stabilize. According this issue, Jason hasn't been running around with a bunch of different personalities (punk, likable, elfin, etc) despite evidence to the contrary, but by establishing a history for the character where he started off rough, got mean when he learned that Two-Face killed his dad, took a step back from killing him, and began to settle down until being triggered by the discovery that his mom is still alive (or was it when Felipe drove that girl to suicide?) we get something that works in continuity (albeit retroactively) but it had better hold up to scrutiny which I think it does and it doesn't. It does, because by affirming that Jason Todd was always a timebomb waiting to go off and that's how he's always been despite there being times when he could hide that fact better than others, then the timeline works. However, what I think raises issues is that while that newly established history might support a post-Crisis Batman continuity, it raises a lot of questions about Batman's characterization. A consistently portrayed Jason Todd who was always concealing a chip on his shoulder shouldn't go unnoticed by someone as observant as Batman. It's weird - and certainly a very feeble counter-argument to make in a post discussing timelines - but with a sort of Choose Your Own Personality approach when looking at Jason, you can sort of fall back and say "Well, Jason was sometimes a stable kid so you can't blame Batman for not noticing that he was about to go off" which you can't with Starlin's "There was always something simmering beneath the surface which I just never noticed" approach. A stable (mostly) timeline means consistency and consistency means there should have been clues to pick up on, so the timeline works, but at the cost of Batman's reputation.
Or, more simply, it was the end of Jason's transformation for Collins, and Collins clearly depicted it that way. But Starlin wanted Jason gone, so he brought the problem back. No matter how carefully you explain it, a retcon is still a retcon. Jason was better now. That was the entire point of Collins' arc.
I guess what I'm arguing here isn't whether this timeline works so much as what the potential dangers are for a single timeline without alternate timelines (ie. Collins', Barr's) offering you plausible deniability should some uncomfortable questions arise about the new history which has been presented.
But they can all work together. I've argued how the pieces can and do fit together. But if we're looking for a definitive starting point where all the confusion and contradiction is gone, it's Batman #426. Much of the stuff before that issue can be made to work, but it doesn't jibe perfectly. In the case of Barr's run, you can chalk the whole thing up to happening in between Collins' run and Starlin's run since the Batman title does so much time hopping at that point anyway. The only part that doesn't fit is Barr's Pre-Crisis depiction of Catwoman.
As an aside, I do wonder how The Joker joining the Iranian government works in this timeline. I think it'll get referenced years later (although he'll become an ambassador for some fictional country instead) but it seems like one of those way out there ideas that either could or couldn't have happened down the road.
I'd take issue with literally any other villain treated this way, but it works for the Joker. Shouldn't all of his antics seem out there and borderline implausible?
Now, my Batman is the pre-Crisis fellow with a lot of Grant and Breyfogle tossed into the mix, so I don't necessarily have a dog in this race even though I do find all of this fascinating reading, but I will also note that some of the biggest mischaracterizations are of serious importance to continuity. For instance:
1. Jim Gordon cheated on his pregnant wife. This one doesn't sit well with me but to overlook it is to ignore his later marriage to Sarah Essen and even arguably, why he has a son he doesn't ever see (another thing I don't agree with). I think his son does reappear finally in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2, but that's about it for this side of the century I think.
At least at this point in the Batman reviews, I think the character being written in both core titles owes more to the Pre-Crisis Untold Legend of The Batman than the oft-referenced Year One. The continuity is tidied up, the more outlandish elements removed, but this Batman is unquestionably a hero with a soft side who rescues strays (both Ace the Bathound and Harold) and is mostly only dark for appearance. He's gotten past the loss of his parents and Jason but hasn't forgotten the pain.
In regard to Jim Gordon, his cheating on his wife has not been referenced outside of Year One, nor has his son. And Barbara Gordon not being his biological daughter was mentioned once in the pages of Secret Origins and never here. For most intents and purposes, this is the classic Jim Gordon, only engaged to be remarried.
2. Batman is kind of nuts and oftentimes his judgement is flawed. Established during Year One during moments when he "speaks" to his father with his little "Father, tonight I must.." bits here and there and reinforced from time to time (ie. Morrison's Arkham Asylum, A Lonely Place of Dying) this is a big reason the post-Crisis Batman isn't my Batman, but it's there and can't really be overlooked. The lousy judgement would lead to Batman playing right into Bane's hands during Knightfall and even letting Azrael take over as Batman shortly thereafter. You can't really overlook mischaracterization such as this when such big events are dependant upon it.
Thus my point about conflicting characterizations. Popular understanding is that this is the Batman of the Post-Crisis, but literally only Miller and Giffen ever wrote him this way. Starlin and Wolfman allowed him to become unhinged after Jason died, but Starlin showed a more sane Batman before that happened, and Wolfman allowed him to recover after.
There is one other thing I think you should consider before placing Death in the Family at the start of your post-Crisis Batman timeline and that is A Lonely Place of Dying/Year Three. If Lonely Place picked up immediately after Death in the Family then I think you have something consistent - Jason is dead, Batman begins to deteriorate - but Death in the Family leads right into about half a year's worth of Batman issues where Batman doesn't seem to be as affected by Jason's death as Lonely Place expects us to believe he is and has been. It's referenced in Batman 430 and 432 but aside from a quick "By the way, is Robin with you tonight?" "...no" "Something wrong?" "...no" "'Cause you can tell me if there is." "...I'm fine" "OK, I won't press the matter... Is he in school? Is that where he is?" in 430 and Batman looking at his picture in 432, it doesn't interfere with his crimefighting at all.
We definitely see evidence he is struggling with this in those in between stories. My favorite is the one where Gordon awkwardly asks him where Robin's been and gets no response. As for Batman being far worse by the time of Lonely Place of Dying, I have no trouble accepting that. Sometimes grief works like that -- you think you can handle it, and then you realize you're struggling far worse than you suspected. It's nowhere near the glaring jump in characterization we get between Miller and everyone who came after.
Starlins run is all over the place in terms of characterization. If you decide you want to accept the Felipe storyline, which has Jason transform in those pages and then seem wide-eyed and innocent again in the next issue until learning about his real mom, then you can backtrack a few issues earlier to the KGBeast and Dumpster Killer storylines that had Batman suddenly going over the line and willing to kill, which doesn't even reconcile with Miller's grim and gritty persona. Starlin was clearly making it up as he went, and Death in the Family is where he finally truly decided who he wanted these characters to be and what Jason's character arc should have looked like in retrospect.