I read an article the other day about comic book gimmicks. The article circled around the release of Batman #13. Well, more specifically around the cut-out covers that grace the front of the issue. You know, the one with the Joker’s detached face covering Batman’s face. Although the writer didn’t say that Batman #13 was horrible or that all gimmicks were bad, I took the comment way too personally.
It wasn’t the author’s fault for using that word, though. To be honest, it is an accurate word to describe the tactics that comic book companies will us to sell books. Ever see a foil cover on a book? Variant covers? Trading cards? I’d even go as far to say that a typical cover itself is a gimmick. Ever see the artwork inside an All Star Western or Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe? It doesn’t match up.
Back when I first read Batman: Earth One, written by Geoff Johns, I said that I wanted Johns to write my life. But, once I came to finish Scott Snyder’s “Night of the Owls” story arc, I revised that statement. I now want Scott Snyder to write my life, and I know he could do it with style and grace. In my short time as a comic book reader, I don’t see anything that says “gimmick” about what Scott Snyder is doing with Batman.
Over the years, we’ve seen our beloved Bats in many different and silly situations. He was once a vampire, a detective on assignment from President Lincoln, a vigilante on the trail of Jack the Ripper and on assignment in Russia. But, I’ve loved no Batman story line more than I’ve loved The Night of the Owls. In that story, there was always the possibility that Batman could lose his battle with the Court of the Owls, and that uncertainty kept my heart beating quickly.
If Batman would have died, I would have died — emotionally.
When I read through issue #13 for the first time, I found it very interesting, but I had no idea what all the hubbub was about. That was until I talked about it with our book nerd, Shilo. I told her about how the jail heist was awesome and then she said something that I never thought about, and it floored me. She said, “Isn’t it nuts that The Joker now knows who Batman is?”
That blew my mind. For whatever reason, I had assumed that The Joker always knew Batman’s true identity. They are the closest of enemies, and have been from the beginning. Batman knows who the Joker was, so I thought the feeling was mutual. But, thanks to Scott Snyder, I had to throw that notion to the wind.
So, when it comes to gimmicks, there is nothing cheap about what Scott Snyder is doing with Batman. Like many great writers before him, Snyder has essentially redefined Batman for a new age. Where once Batman fought hokey villains and himself, now Batman is fighting a cast of characters that have the best chance to overthrow him. And, since the Joker was crazy enough to cut off his own face and then tack it back on, Batman may be too sane to survive this time around.