DC Announces The New Batman Family of Titles! [Updated]

Today, on the Source Blog, DC announced the post-Flashpoint Batman titles as well as their new creative teams. Many of the existing titles are returning (Batman, Batman and Robin, Detective, Birds of Prey), some lapsed and M.I.A. titles are coming back (Catwoman, Batwoman), and one is mysteriously missing (Batman, Inc.).

As with so many of the big Flashpoint-related announcements, this invites more questions than anything else. Check out the new (and returning) series along with a couple of thoughts about them below:

The highly-anticipated new series from the multiple award-winning creative team of J.H. Williams III, Haden Blackman and Amy Reeder begins in BATWOMAN #1.

For me, this is one of the most anticipated titles Flashpoint-related or otherwise. Williams and Rucka’s work on the last batch of stories featuring the new Batwoman were incredibly strong. There were so many interesting threads being laid out by the duo that haven’t really been followed up anywhere, but the lack of stories since (with the exception of appearances in Batman, Inc. and Batman and Robin) have actually had the effect of adding to the mystique of the character. So, well played, I guess, DC?

I’m curious how the plotting will change now that Rucka is no longer on the book, with Williams joining David Finch and Tony Daniel among the list of DC’s art talent making the shift to full-time writing.

Batgirl’s going to have to face the city’s most horrifying new villains as well as dark secrets from her past in BATGIRL #1, the stunning debut issue from fan-favorite writer Gail Simone and artists Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes.

I have to imagine for some fans this is a good news/bad news/what the what kind of moments as most-excellent Gail Simone takes on writing duties for the apparently fully mobile Barbara Gordon-as-Batgirl. For some readers, the crippling of Barbara Gordon was a huge misstep for DC 25+ years ago* and in recent years there have been indications that she would get the ability to walk back. But going from slowly regaining the ability to walk to swinging around the rooftops of Gotham has to involve some kind of large narrative leap, no?

And then there’s the $20 question: where’s Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, aka Batgirl? It was thanks to almost constant fan agitation that she was returned to the Bat-family of books so I have to imagine there’s a small amount of panic going on out there.

Meet Catwoman. She’s addicted to the night. Addicted to shiny objects. Addicted to Batman. Most of all, Catwoman is addicted to danger. She can’t help herself, and the truth is – she doesn’t want to. She’s good at being bad, and very bad at being good. Find out more about what makes Catwoman tick in CATWOMAN #1, written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Guillem March.

Nothing much to add here. Just happy to see that DC’s giving the character another chance. Right offhand I don’t recall the last time Winick wrote Selina Kyle (was it during the story where Hush cut her heart out–that was… odd), but from the solicit it seems like he’s approaching the character as a compulsive criminal.

The Birds of Prey are Gotham City’s covert ops team, taking down the villains other heroes can’t touch. Mystery novelist ands comics writer Duane Swierczynski teams up with Jesus Saiz for BIRDS OF PREY #1, the first issue of the hard-hitting new series.

I really dig those costume redesigns, particularly Poison Ivy there in the back. From the looks of it, Jesus Saiz has gone for a more uniform/armor-style of design, but without overly-complicating them, keeping the lines fairly practical. It kind of fits the idea of a team of highly-capable women punching things while retaining iconic elements of the previous costumes.

In BATMAN AND ROBIN #1, the acclaimed creative team of Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason will explore the family dynamic of the Caped Crusader as Bruce Wayne battles the Gotham underworld with the help of his son, Damian, in the role of Robin.

Tomasi’s a strong writer so I’m happy with his taking the gig here.

Where’s Dick Grayson? So Dick Grayson’s Nightwing again? And where’s Tim Drake? Don’t misunderstand, you can count me among those readers who loves the addition of Damian Wayne to the cast of the Bat-family of books. The pint-size potential villain has been a great foil for the regular characters and I’m happy that DC is treating the son of Bruce Wayne as a character that’s going to stick around.

At the same time, I was also really enjoying Dick Grayson as Batman. It was cool having two types of Batman in between the various Bat-titles, with Dick being the carefree action-Bat while Bruce remained the ultra-competent strategist. But, concessions must always be made for the cyclical nature of comics, right? Dick Grayson wasn’t going to stay Batman forever–it’s just weird that there’s no mention of the character or a place for him in the solicits.

After a tenure as the Batman of Gotham, Dick Grayson resumes his mantle as Nightwing! As Dick embraces his identity, Haley’s Circus, the big top where he once performed with his family, returns to Gotham – bringing with it a history of murder, mystery and superhuman evil. Nightwing must confront friends and enemies from his past as he searches for the source of an even greater evil.

NIGHTWING will be written by Kyle Higgins with art duties handled by fan-favorite Eddy Barrows.

That’s a mean-looking redesign on Dick, there. Curiously, it looks like the new direction will be almost a 180 from the personality established by Morrison for Dick over in Batman and Robin, edging the character towards more grim mysterious and away from crazed, high-flying adventure. I should caveat that last bit by acknowledging that during Morrison’s run, things got pretty dire for Dick but the whole point of the stories was that this character was a different man from Bruce, not defined by his angst.

As for Higgins, I’m not familiar with his work outside of the ongoing Gates of Gotham mini, but I’m curious what his take on the character will be.

In the wake of our announcement of a historic line of new #1’s within the Batman family, many of you noticed that while several of the titles and characters spun out of the Batman, Inc. storyline, there was no mention of that series itself – but there’s a reason for that: Grant Morrison’s BATMAN, INCORPORATED series will return with a new issue #1 in early 2012.

Grant Morrison had this to say about Batman, Incorporated:

“Batman, Incorporated will continue through to Issue #10 and August’s shocking season finale that changes the Batman status quo yet again. The series will take a brief hiatus while I work on a major new project to be announced shortly. Batman, Incorporated returns next year with me, Chris Burnham and Batman: Leviathan, the epic 12 part conclusion to my 6 year Batman saga. Don’t miss it!”

Was this always the intent with Batman Incorporated? Because this is a seriously weird disruption in the middle of the overall long-form story Morrison was telling. What this reads as to me is that editorial put something in front of the writer he couldn’t resist (that All-Star Wonder Woman pitch finally?) and–alongside the presumably major shakeups to the overall DCU, he decided to take a little break. The biggest bummer though, comes at the end when he announces that he’ll be wrapping up his run on Batman. I’m always excited when creators move on to big, new interesting things, but I have to credit Morrison with thoroughly reinvigorating the line, and his absence will be felt in the long run, I’m sure.

Batman’s former sidekick had put his past as The Red Hood behind him, when the reclusive Jason Todd finds himself unwillingly elected as the leader of an all-new team of outlaw vigilantes.

As The Red Hood once again, Jason Todd will lead this new team of antiheroes, including Green Arrow’s rejected sidekick Arsenal and Starfire, a former prisoner of intergalactic war.

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS will be written by Scott Lobdell and illustrated by rising superstar artist Kenneth Rocafort.

I love that DC keeps trying to find an interesting use for Jason Todd/Red Hood. I say this with no irony. He’s such a crazy, weird character who doesn’t work more often than not, but on occasion when he does it’s interesting.

I wonder if his origin has been rejiggered thanks to Flashpoint, given the way it frames the other two characters in the image–Arsenal and Starfire–as a rejected sidekick and a POW respectively. Also, Arsenal appears to have his arm back so that’s something.

This September, join with us in this historic moment when the first black character to wear the Batman mantle will be the first to star in his own ongoing series. BATWING will be written by Judd Winick and illustrated by Ben Oliver.

Gonna bulletpoint this one, because I have a couple of thoughts:

  • He’s the Batman of Africa. The whole continent. Please don’t be weird and make this a thing where we all have to have the conversation about Africa being a whole continent and not just one big interchangeable mass.
  • The pyramids in the background make me wish there was a Batman of Egypt.
  • I’m on the fence about the purple/turquoise color scheme on the costume. They seem like weird colors to see in the harsh light of day.
  • Banging the same drum again, I’m hoping Winick gets specific with regard to the “Batman of Africa:” where’s he from? What defines him? Don’t fall into the trap of having him sound like every other noble black guy from Africa in fiction. A smart take on similar material was Vertigo’s recently-cancelled Unknown Soldier revamp.
  • Besides Gorilla Grodd, what other villains are there in the DCU Africa? It’s a great opportunity to create more characters, but I’m just wondering who else there is.

Finally, a whole lotta solo Batman titles:

In BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT, superstar artist David Finch writes and draws a twisted adventure that pulls Bruce Wayne deep into the halls of the famed Arkham Asylum, a jail for Gotham City’s most dangerous and criminally deranged. Finch will team up with collaborator Jay Fabok on pencils.

DC Comics’ flagship title is relaunched for the first time ever in DETECTIVE COMICS #1 by acclaimed writer/artist Tony Daniel. Marking the first time Batman will appear in a debut issue of Detective Comics, the series will find Bruce Wayne on the trail of a dangerous serial killer known only as the Gotham Ripper.

In the first BATMAN #1 since 1930, New York Times bestselling writer Scott Snyder teams up with superstar artist Greg Capullo in his DC Comics debut! In the series, Bruce Wayne once again becomes the only character taking on the Batman name.

*Not this particular fan. In the time since, so many writers have done a great job of evolving Barbara Gordon beyond simply “the character the Joker crippled.”

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