Sunday, March 11, 2007

Batman: Black and White

I recently read that "Batman: Black and White Volume 3" is set to hit shelves in May. For those of you not familiar with the "Black and White" series, each volume is a collection of roughly 20 short Batman tales and stand-alone Batman drawings. The collections, which are printed in only black and white, hence the title, give artists and writers the chance to explore some aspect of the Batman mythology or legend without worrying about disrupting continuity or working within guidelines about what can and cannot happen in a Batman story. The stories are the ten-minute plays of Batman comics. The gloves are off, and there is 100% artistic liberty at hand.

Such collections are ideal, not just for the writers, but for the readers, as well. We seem to be at a stage in comics, not just Batman, not just DC Comics, but every comic book company and character, where large, multi-issue story lines are in vogue. However these stories rarely do anything to further the characters. Most of the time, actually, they seem to set the characters backwards, rehashing past events, bringing the dead back to life in unrealistic and undesirable ways, and undoing the great works of ten or twenty years ago. Quite frankly, the story arcs -if they can be called that, since I often feel that writers get the first part of an epic greenlit, then don't know where to go from there- are wearing thin. And old. Very old. Hackneyed. And the worst part? As long as comic book movies continue to draw people into the theaters, no matter how bad the films or comics they're based off of are, the companies that produce this material will continue to flood the market with sub-par, mediocre-at-best story lines.

So until the industry takes a breather and lets the writers cool off until they have another knockout storyline for the loyal readers, May, and with it, "Batman: Black and White Volume 3" cannot come soon enough.

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