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Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Dark Knight through the Decades: A Prelude

Memories of the Dark Knight...

...and understanding every interpretation

The first and fondest memory I have of the Caped Crusader is getting up early Saturday morning and waiting impatiently to catch the half an hour episode of Batman: The Animated Series. 

Among the countless other superhero cartoons playing re-runs back in the late 90's and early 00's, it's Batman: TAS that got me hooked on becoming what I want to be and doing what I love; Comics, specifically drawing and writing them.

Now for decades on end, Batman has held the idea of being the brooding vigilante. Yet through these 75 years, the character not only outside of his source medium but within it; has been interpreted in many a wildly different form and tone. 

The original Batman was a crusader based upon the likes of Zorro, the comics during the early inception had a certain goth vibe to them. 

In the 60's to 70's he became a lighter character, one who took on wildly out of this world concepts head on. His flamboyance and kitschy sensibilities ringing far and wide.

But then by early 1970's Dennis O'Neil, Neal Adams and Steve Englehart brought the character to his now known form; The Detective. In true form, Batman became a superhero mixture of Goth and Realistic vigilante taking on the criminals of Gotham like a modern day Sherlock Holmes.

80's then saw much more darkness shroud Bruce Wayne. The ideas of reals masks was established, as Frank Miller painted the definitive tragic origin of Batman. He emphasized image of Batman as a vigilante on a crusade. In turn this darker Batman became a symbol for everything worth fighting for, and a champion for the oppressed against the crumbling politics of real life in Dark Knight Returns. Year One was just the cherry on that cake.

But like with many things in pop culture, the 90's took these ideas on a superficial level and to the extreme at that. Batman. Early 90's saw a new Batman (Jean Paul Valley) take over after the iconic breaking the bat segment involving Bane. All those once considered 'cool' ideas of Batman with spikes and more violent took shape, but luckily Batman's 90's plight didn't last as long as other characters.

Mid to late 90's spurred the growth of Batman and his family. While things were so and so in the adaptation front, as the Bat-Movies became too glow-y while Batman: TAS rocked the world.

Batman began a resurrection with the 00's. His status as dark brooding vigilante and often jerk was turned around by Grant Morrison to alternative hero. He became the epitome of hero, simply because unlike his counterparts; this was a man taking his early suffering and loss, and turning it into an emotion he could use to save the world. This is such that

Morrison's run (spoken at length here) took the idea of each Batman interpretation and made it canon in a form that kept in line with his most acceptable form yet honoring the legacy left by other writers. He even made Batman that much more vital, by marking Bruce Wayne's legacy through history when he was sent back in time.

Then the biggest point was the blurring lines between the faces of Batman and Bruce Wayne. With Bruce Wayne opening up the Batman INC. he became a financial backer for the Caped Crusader and a hero for Gotham in his own right.

While on the sides, Gotham City had become a bigger part of Batman's life through the decades, it now gained historical depth and fleshed out the cities character. Thus leading into the DC New 52 reboot.

Where everything was being analyzed, picked and retconned for each character; DC kept everything about Batman intact. Yet going into the 2010's Scott Snyder has added much to the Batman legend including what seems to be a terrific yet honoring and honest origin of the Batman.

Batman in Live action through the years, Ben Affleck is missing; or is he?!

As you may notice much of the latter portions are extensive, this is because these are the Batman stories I am familiar with. Beyond the cartoon, it wasn't until 2007 that I began to take a real interest in the Dark Knight.

The death of , creator of the 60's Adam West Batman show, spurred something in me. I decided to
take a gander at the campy live action fiesta and have started really enjoying the hokey plots and terrible acting. 

So much so that just after 3 episodes, I was set to write about it. Instead I decided to give a history lesson, to give context for you and a reminder for me. Going forward I will write extensively about the Adam West Batman and the high on cheese style from that era, how the show opened avenues for the Batman and how it nearly killed everything the 'real' (in my eyes; Detective Bat) stood for.

For Goth Batman, I will have to find the books or I might need to succumb to my former Pirating ways.

For the others, well in the 7 years of my Batman reading I have collected an extensive knowledge on the best parts and even some worse of the character. But I will hopefully continue to explore this, I'm not promising anything (we know what happened last time)

Holy Bye bye Batman! (Sorry I'm still trying to find my inner Burt Ward)

Aneesh Raikundalia

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