Tag Archives: Mike W. Barr

Today’s Super Comic — Batman: Son of the Demon (1987)

One of the challenges with Batman is he’s so skilled and experienced that it can be difficult to put him in a situation where he learns something new.

But the Son of the Demon graphic novel places him in roles entirely new to him—marriage and impending fatherhood. And, it so happens, this is the one situation that can compel the stubbornly dedicated Batman to rethink his life’s priorities.

Batman and old enemy Ra’s al Ghul join forces against a common threat, during which Batman stops denying his attraction to Ra’s’ daughter, Talia. This isn’t a quick mission; Batman spends many weeks away from Gotham helping to train and lead Ra’s’ people against this terrorist plot—long enough to conceive a child.

Given Batman’s origins, it makes perfect sense that this would change him. He doesn’t want his child to ever suffer through losing his parents like he did.

Of course, being a comic book starring one of the most popular characters of all time, there can be only so much change by the end. But this book does a better than most of presenting at least the illusion of character growth. Within the context of just this graphic novel, Batman journeys far from home, has new experiences, and returns home sadder and wiser.

The pace is maybe a little too fast due to page-count constraints, but it’s a great arc that fits the character well.

Writer: Mike W. Barr

Artist: Jerry Bingham

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: Comixology; Batman: Son of the Demon graphic novel

Appropriate For: ages 15 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Batman and the Outsiders #1-2 (1983)

batman_and_the_outsiders_vol_1_1The early ‘80s was a golden age for team books. Uncanny X-Men, The New Teen Titans, The Avengers, and Justice League of America were all putting out excellent stuff at the time. But that clearly wasn’t enough, so along came Batman and the Outsiders.

The series was built in the same mold as New Teen Titans, but with mostly adults. It took a few established characters (Batman, Black Lightning, and Metamorpho) and teamed them up with a few newcomers (Halo, Katana, and Geo-Force), and the stories drew inspiration from the characters’ diverse backgrounds while the reader had fun watching these distinct personalities interact. The main difference was that one character got top billing, and of course he did, because he’s Batman.

The team forms in the first two issues, and it comes together organically, with each character drawn to the conflict for his or her own reason. Batman has a nice little mini-arc, as he swiftly progresses from team member to loner to team leader.

Batman’s resignation from the Justice League is particularly well done. Bruce Wayne’s right-hand man, Lucius Fox, gets kidnapped in the war-torn country of Markovia while on business, so naturally Batman wants to gather his JLA teammates and stage a rescue. But the JLA’s hands are tied—the State Department fears the Markovian situation would escalate if troops or superheroes got involved, so Superman promised the JLA wouldn’t intervene. But Batman has a friend to save, so if the JLA’s rules get in the way, then it’s time to quit the JLA and go save his friend.

The scene illustrates how Batman’s morality is either more complex or more simplistic than the rest of the League’s, depending on your point of view…which in turn demonstrates how comics were beginning to tackle more mature themes at this point (while remaining appropriate for and still largely aimed at kids).

If you’ve enjoyed other ‘80s team books, this one’s well worth tracking down, too.

Writer: Mike W. Barr

Artist: Jim Aparo

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders vol. 1 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up