Thursday, November 19, 2009

I'm Perplexio and....

I'm a comic book geek. When I first saw Michael Keaton as the Batman in 1988 I rushed out and bought the trade paperback of Batman: A Death In the Family. I quickly learned that this "Robin" whom had been killed off was not the Dick Grayson I was familiar with from reruns of the cheesy 60s TV show, but a new fellow-- Jason Todd.

My curiousity compelled me to find out what ever happened to Dick. The Robin I knew and was more familiar with... Oh he was still very very much alive. Sick of living in the Batman's shadow he'd quit as Robin and become Nightwing. More on that later.

Anyway, for about a year or two I collected the various different Batman comics with some intensity. But I noticed my interest was waning. There was something that was just a little TOO dark about the Batman. I watched as he took on yet another new ward. A rather insightful youth that had been smart enough to figure out the real identity of not only Batman, but also BOTH of the Robins. This young lad, Timothy Drake, knew that the Batman needed a Robin. Robin was more than just a sidekick. He gave Batman balance. So he tried to talk Dick Grayson into re-joining Batman as a sidekick... rather unsuccessfully. Instead, Bruce Wayne-- impressed with Master Timothy's superlative detective skills-- decided to start training Tim to be the new Robin.

Around this time, CBS started airing a TV series based on the exploits of The Flash. I was hooked. The acting was atrocious, but the special effects were awesome and I was hooked. There was a lightness to The Flash that I'd been missing with Batman. But again, I was taken aback. On the TV series we had police forensic scientist, Barry Allen, as The Flash. But in the comics was some young upstart named Wally West. That being said the Barry from the TV series did exhibit some of the traits of Wally in the comics... But it left me wondering what the heck had happened to Barry.

Apparently, I'd missed the boat... by about 5 years!

Barry was dead. I felt like I'd missed all the best parts. But over time the more I read The Flash, the more this young upstart, Wally West, won me over. To the point where, as far as I was concerned, he was the Flash. He'd more than filled his mentor's shoes.

But the thing with comics is-- no one ever stays dead:

Not Jason Todd

And not even Barry Allen.

Over the past few years DC has been making a lot of changes. As a result the DC Universe has gotten a bit more crowded. There are 3 Flashes and 3 Robins. To clean things up with Robin... Bruce Wayne was "apparently" killed. So there was a bit of a battle between Dick Grayson (the original Robin), Jason Todd (the resurrected 2nd Robin), Tim Drake (the 3rd Robin), and even 10 year old Damian Wayne (son of Bruce Wayne) to determine who would become the new Batman. In the end Dick Grayson became Batman and started training Damian Wayne to become Robin. He conceded that he considered Tim Drake to be too much his equal to ever be his sidekick. And Jason Todd. Well he's pissed off and has gone a bit rogue. He's very much like Bruce Wayne in every way but one... He's willing to kill criminals. Which makes him very dangerous indeed. Tim is the only member of the Batman "family" to believe Bruce Wayne is still alive.

So he's become "Red Robin" and taken it upon himself to find Bruce Wayne.

The Flash is a little different. He's always been more of a legacy character. Even as fast as the Flash is-- whether it's Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, or Wally West. He's not fast enough to be in multiple places at once. There's enough room for more than one Flash... But what about those pesky costumes. Barry's and Wally's costumes were just too similar which could lead to confusion over how to tell the two apart....

Problem solved-- new costume for Wally! For those who are curious (From L to R: Jesse Quick/Liberty Belle II, Max Mercury, Bart Allen/Kid Flash II, Barry Allen/Flash II, Wally West/Flash III, Impulse II/Iris West, and Jay Garrick/Flash I) .

The funny thing about comics is that the largest demographic of comic readers is 18-35 year old males. It's those of us who grew up with a lot of these characters. The artwork and writing have gotten considerably better over the years so the comics have held our interest when previous generations likely would have grown out of the hobby long before now.


drewzepmeister said...

Perplexo, you and I are in the same boat! I LOVE comic books, especially The Legion of the Super Heroes. It's amazing how the stories and the characters evolve over years.I admit things got a little crazy after the Zero Hour Sagas.

Perplexio said...

Drew: Did you pick up Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds? That was an interesting little mini. Bart Allen/Kid Flash & Kon-El/Connor Kent were both resurrected by the Legion.

Have you checked out Red Robin at all? It's got kind of a Kung-Fu vibe (David Carradine on a quest to find his long lost brother/Tim Drake on a quest to find his mentor whom almost everyone else presumes is dead) to it. I also like the twist of having Dick Grayson as Batman instead of Bruce Wayne. He's a bit less dark and certainly not as brooding as Bruce Wayne was.

drewzepmeister said...

No, I didn't, but I do have Legion comics featuring Impulse and XS (Jenni Ognats-The Flash's granddaughter)

I'll definitely check out the Red Robin stuff out. Thanks!

Perplexio said...

Drew: I think Red Robin is one of the cooler "new" characters in the DC Universe. Initially Jason Todd was Red Robin. He "tarnished" the costume with his willingness to murder. Tim Drake decided to become Red Robin because he wanted to do things in a bit more "morally ambiguous" way without tarnishing Batman or anything tied to Batman. He didn't want to sully what Robin or Batman or even Nightwing stood for so that's why he chose to become Red Robin. Incidentally, his ex-girlfriend, The Spoiler/Stephanie Brown is now Batgirl.