With Further Ado #303: Guest Columnist – Too Much Batman?

This week, I’m proud to present another student winner for our With Further Ado column: Aleks Maksymyshyn. Aleks is a powerhouse worker and a passionate fan. He is the type that always overdelivers – both academically and in planning/managing an effort like ITHACON.  And he knows his stuff too. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his article.

Step Aside Batman: DC’s Reliance on the Dark Knight to Sell Comics

By Aleks Maksymyshyn

If there is one thing DC Comics is known for, it’s being the publisher of Superman, Wonder Woman, Booster Gold, and a little-known character called Batman. Now, this phenomenon called Batman has caught on and had a lengthy run in TV, movies, and comics. Easily eclipsing all of the heroes above. “Wink.”

However, how much is too much? How much Batman can we have? Many of the most popular things to come out of DC are Batman related while other characters like The Question, Huntress, and The Doom Patrol seem to get side lined most of the time in favor of something more reliable. It seems like at this point, the entirety of the DC Universe revolves around Gotham City. Not a multitude of cities like Keystone, Metropolis, or Opal City. Gotham is the city getting all the major events, the newest villains, and the most attention by new writers and artists. It’s Batmania from the Summer of 1989 over at DC, and it seems to never end. We understand that Batman is DC’s most popular character. In fact, I grew up loving the character myself. Batman and Spider-Man were my favorites growing up, along with a bit of Scooby-Doo for good fun, but the overabundance of him feels like it’s hitting a saturation point. Marvel has promoted all their characters so much that everyone knows who Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, The X-Men, Spider-Man are. The diversity of their catalog is immense. So is DC’s, but they don’t seem to utilize it well.

Looking at the solicitations for DC Comics in June 2024. There are 44 titles coming out in the month of June. Some of them are reprints like Gotham by Gaslight Facsimile Edition. Others are new chapters of long ongoing titles. Of these titles, Batman takes up approximately 5/11th of all of these titles. This includes the main Batman title, Detective Comics, The Outsiders, and even The Scooby Doo/Batman Mysteries. All titles feature Batman or a Batman related character. To be fair, it’s a little less than half. But the rest of DC’s catalog consists of six Superman titles, one Wonder Woman title, one Hellblazer miniseries, and a Zatanna young adult graphic novel. Once put in perspective, it’s clear Batman takes up a large majority of DC’s publishing and it’s suffocating other characters who can really break into the mainstream. Guy Gardner is set to be played by Nathan Fillion in James Gunn’s upcoming film Superman. He has yet to receive a title since the 1990’s.

Same goes with other characters like The Doom Patrol or Zatanna. Both have received recent attention with a short-lived mini-series for Doom Patrol and Zatanna getting her own book, but it’s nothing concrete. Nothing to really boost their popularity or make them a mainstay for DC. Instead, they make appearances in Batman related titles such as the Doom Patrol popping up in World’s Finest by Mark Waid.

If a solution were to ever be offered, it would have to be promoting these B and C-listers by giving them fresh talent. Getting writers to create new titles to create interest in them and bring them into the public eye. Much like DC’s success in the 1980’s with titles like Animal Man, Justice League International, or Green Arrow, take these characters and present them in a new way.

Take us on new adventures away from Gotham and towards a new horizon. Any place that is less gloomy them Gotham and its many crowded streets.