Thursday, May 1, 2014: Dedicated Issue: DC Entertainment

DC Entertainment: Batman 75th Anniversary

DC Entertainment: Batman Vol 4 by Scott Snyder

DC Entertainment: Batman & Robin Vol 4 by Peter Tomasi

DC Entertainment: Batman Superman Vol 1 by Greg Pak

DC Entertainment: Nightwing by Kyle Higgins

Editors' Note

Happy 75th Birthday, Batman!

In this issue, with the support of DC Entertainment, Shelf Awareness celebrates the 75th birthday of one of the most iconic figures in popular culture around the world. The stories were written by Adan Jimenez and Alex Mutter.

DC Entertainment: Injustice by Tom Taylor

Books & Authors

Batman Day Coming in July

As Batman turns 75, DC Entertainment wants comic shops, bookstores and libraries across the U.S. and Canada to join the celebration with parties and more this July. Two Batman Days will take place during the San Diego Comic-Con International, the first on Wednesday, July 23, for bookstores and comic shops, and the second on Saturday, July 26, for libraries. Participating bookstores and libraries will be able to order special event kits that contain 75th-anniversary timeline posters, buttons, bookmarks, paper Batman masks and temporary tattoos. Each kit contains promotional items in batches of 50. Additionally, DC Entertainment will make a free comic available for order through Random House. The comic will be a special edition of Detective Comics #27, featuring a reimagining of Batman's 1939 comic book debut, designed by Chip Kidd with a script by New York Times #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer. The special free comic will also be available as a digital download through all participating digital vendors.

"We do want to drive readers into comics shops, bookstores and libraries, but our primary motivation is simply to celebrate the anniversary of one of pop culture's greatest icons," said DC Entertainment director of book trade marketing Ailen Lujo. "We don't want to leave anyone out of that celebration! So we're making the comic available everywhere, in all available formats, through all participating vendors."

DC Entertainment expects many fans and consumers to take part in the Batman Day celebrations. There's solid precedent: last year for Man of Steel Day, which was tied in to the release of the hit movie, DC Entertainment printed nearly one million free comics, and more than 10,000 bookstores, comic shops and libraries hosted parties. DC Entertainment was especially happy that more than 1,000 libraries participated in the event last year, and that Superman Day kits had to be reprinted after they initially ran out. This year, DC Entertainment expects double the number of participating organizations on Batman Day, even without a film tie-in. And they may have to cap the number of event kits this year, so they will be available only while supplies last.

Bookstores and libraries that would like to participate in Batman Day should order event kits as soon as possible by clicking on the top banner or clicking here. The Batman 75 Day Comic 2014 can be ordered through your Random House publisher's rep using the ISBN 9781401252762. Orders must be received by June 6. --Adan Jimenez

DC Entertainment: Batgirl Vol 4 by Gail Simone

Ten Essential Batman Stories

Since his first appearance in 1939, Batman has been the star of countless stories that tell the Caped Crusader's story in a variety of ways and from a range of viewpoints. We've put together a quick primer of 10 Batman stories you need to read (and stock in your stores). These have all been released in the past 30 years and, besides being great reads, have proven consistent bestsellers.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli
Bruce Wayne begins his crime-fighting career as a rookie vigilante at odds with criminals and police alike in his first year in Gotham City. This tale also reintroduces important allies and rogues, including James Gordon, Harvey Dent, Selina Kyle and Carmine Falcone.

Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Batman, Captain James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent must solve a murder mystery taking place over a year, set soon after Year One. They race against the calendar to discover the identity of the serial killer Holiday, which could be any one of Batman's rogues' gallery... or any one of his allies.

Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean
The most deranged of Gotham's super criminals have taken over the asylum in this psychological horror story. Batman goes in to restore order, but may just find out that he belongs in there with them.

Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
The Joker, Batman's greatest adversary, stars in his definitive origin story as he drives Commissioner Gordon to the edge of sanity to prove the point that all anybody needs to snap is one bad day. This is for mature readers.

Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee
Who is Hush? That's what Batman wants to know as this new and deadly villain uses his rogues to torment both Batman and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne.

Batman & Son by Grant Morrison, Andy Kubert, J.H. Williams III and Tony S. Daniel
Batman discovers that he has a son with Talia al-Ghul, and attempts to show Damian what it means to serve others. Also, new villain the Black Glove attempts to destroy the Batmen of All Nations.

Batman: The Black Mirror by Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Francavilla
The past comes back to haunt Commissioner Gordon and Batman (now Dick Grayson under the cowl). This dark murder mystery begins Scott Snyder's much lauded run as Batman writer.

Batman v1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
In the first New52 Batman story, Bruce Wayne discovers a secret society that has been running Gotham City since its beginnings, and the society is tired of Batman operating without its permission.

Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
Even the differences are familiar in this alternate reality story that features a younger, angrier Bruce Wayne and an older, grittier Alfred Pennyworth.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to take back a much darker Gotham City from much more dangerous villains, and has to fight a few friends along the way.

DC Entertainment: Damian Son of Batman by Andy Kubert and Grant Morrison

Scott Snyder and Batman Eternal

"Our run has been, on the one hand, on the surface, really bombastic and over the top, which is the type of Batman I always loved as a kid," said writer Scott Snyder, who has worked on Batman with artist Greg Capullo since September 2011. The team's first major story arc was The Court of Owls, followed by Death of the Family and then the ongoing Zero Year, a re-imagining of the caped crusader's origin. "But at its core," Snyder continued, "it's about anxieties, about mortality, about how we come to terms with our personal demons and our fears."

Snyder grew up reading and loving Batman. He learned to read, in fact, through reading comic books with his father, and as a young reader, Frank Miller's work on Batman--particularly the mini-series the Dark Knight Returns and the story arc Batman: Year One--reshaped his conception of not only Batman as a character but also of the potential of comic books as a storytelling medium. In Miller's Batman comics and in other, contemporary books like Alan Moore's Watchmen, stories were layered, sophisticated, psychologically nuanced and provocative.

"Batman is really a character who grew up alongside me," Snyder explained. As a result, writing Batman is for Snyder both a dream come true and an immense responsibility. "It's terrifying," he admitted. "He's my favorite character, and he means so much to so many people. But that's the challenge that makes it so inspiring."

From the beginning of working on Batman, Snyder's understanding of the character has continued to evolve. He was "just so terrified" at first, Snyder recalled, that it took some time to delve fully into the character and create his own, singular vision of Batman. A conversation with writer Grant Morrison, who'd had a seven-year run of his own on Batman across several titles, came as a "seminal moment": Morrison implied that every writer who has worked on Batman has his own version of the way the character is born and the way the character dies. From that point forward, Snyder felt it "really freeing" to re-imagine Batman.

With Zero Year, Snyder and Capullo are giving readers an unprecedented take on Bruce Wayne becoming Batman. Now with the main "Bat-book" firmly rooted in the past, DC Entertainment has just launched Batman Eternal, a year-long, weekly series that takes place in Gotham's present. Its story sets the groundwork for the next major Batman story arc to follow Zero Year, and Snyder is one of a group of writers working on the weekly series, including James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley, John Layman and Kyle Higgins.

The writing of Batman Eternal is a kind of a round robin structure, with each writer creating a mini-arc of three to four issues before passing the baton to the next writer. As long as each writer keeps "clicking the big wheels" of the overall story arc forward, he can go wherever he likes, Snyder explained.

"Everybody brings something different to the series," Snyder said. "It's exciting to see each one of them do their thing in Gotham. James [Tynion] really loves the world building. Tim [Seeley] loves the really big, over-the-top Batman stuff. I'm really impressed with all of them."

Crafting a story spanning more than 50 issues has given the writers a lot of room to work with. They can explore in depth any character, however minor--from a janitor at Arkham Asylum to a rookie cop in the Gotham Police Department to an associate of Oswald Cobblepot. "It allows us to make the series experiential," said Snyder. "It feels like you're living and breathing and working in Gotham."

The third issue of Batman Eternal hit stores on April 23, and so far the series has been very well received. "I was really nervous that [writing Eternal] was going to be incredibly difficult. But so far it's been really effortless," Snyder mused. "People seem very supportive of it. We're really, really grateful for all the support that the readership has given us." --Alex Mutter

Batman: A Retrospective

Batman has had a long and storied history of beating up criminals and the criminally insane and inspiring hope in the hopeless. He first appeared on a comic book cover holding a gangster by the neck as he swung across city rooftops. The copy on the cover boldly declared, "Starting this issue: the amazing and unique adventures of the Batman!" They weren't kidding. His adventures have been so amazing and so unique that he has, according to DC Entertainment co-publisher Dan DiDio, filled "a particular need at a particular time for every generation," from the uncompromising seeker of justice in the 1940s to the billionaire exerting his power in the 1980s; from the psychedelic pop emblem of the 1960s to the technological genius of the 2000s. However, "at the core Batman is always the same," DiDio said, regardless of the many changes around him. Even as an adult, he is still a child longing to avenge the death of his parents--and never able to do so.

Batman has pervaded every corner of popular culture in his 75-year history: he's appeared in one live-action series, two film serials, three radio dramas, five comic strips, eight live-action movies, 16 roller coasters, 17 animated series, 21 animated films, 37 video games and countless comic books. He has also appeared in graphic novels, academic texts, comedy sketches, and on more merchandise than anyone could possibly ever own. The character is so well-known and pervasive that it helped a young Korean boy learn English and acclimate to his new country when he first arrived in St. Louis, Mo.

Jim Lee's Batman

That boy, Jim Lee, now DC Entertainment co-publisher and artist extraordinaire, remembers that Batman "enchanted him" when he was young. "The entire world of Batman grabbed me early on," he said, especially the whimsical stories of the '50s. For a time, Lee took a break from comics, finishing his undergraduate studies in pre-med, following in his father's footsteps. He was poised to become a doctor of psychology--until he picked up Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. That book showed him what comics were capable of and inspired him to become a comics professional.

When asked if a character like Batman would have been created if he didn't exist, the co-publishers have different answers. DiDio said no, we wouldn't have created a Batman to fill the void of his non-existence. Instead, we would have created "multiple characters to fill those needs for all generations" that Batman has. On the other hand, Lee said, Batman is a mythic character that serves a mythic need. In the face of things like crime, urban decay, and corruption, he is the man in the little guy's corner, helping him fight for justice and equality. "Batman existed before he was created." --A.J.

Bob Kane and the Bat-Man

Comics legend Bob Kane was born in New York City in 1915 to Eastern European Jewish parents who had always been interested in art. He was a friend of Spirit creator Will Eisner in high school before winning a scholarship at the Commercial Art Studio to study art.

Kane started his comics work in 1936 as a freelancer on Wow, What a Magazine!, where he drew Hiram Hick. He continued on humor comics, including Ginger Snap for More Fun Comics, Professor Doolittle in New Adventure Comics and Oscar the Gumshoe in Detective Comics.

After Superman's amazing success, the editors at DC Comics were looking for the next big superhero, and they asked Kane to design a new character. It was then that Kane conceived of "the Bat-Man." (He would lose the hyphen and become "Batman" four months later.) 

Art by Bob Kane from Batman #59

Kane had his friend Bill Finger script the first Batman story, "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate." It was published in Detective Comics #27, which hit newsstands on March 30, 1939, and it was an immediate success. Much of the Batman mythos we know today was created within the next few years, including the alter ego of Bruce Wayne, the origin story of his parents being gunned down, the city of Gotham, his teenaged sidekick, Robin (spawning a rash of teen sidekicks for nearly every other hero of the time), villains the Joker, Catwoman, the Penguin, Clayface, Two-Face and the Scarecrow, along with various bat-themed vehicles and weapons. During this time, Kane had the help of many other writers and artists, including Jerry Robinson, George Roussos, Dick Sprang, Jack Burnley, Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Carmine Infantino.

Even after he left DC Comics in 1966, Bob Kane cast a long shadow as the original creator of the Batman mythos. For a very long time, he was the face of Batman, in much the same way Stan Lee is the face of Marvel Comics. He consulted on the first three Batman movies, and was recognized as a comic book giant, most notably by being inducted into both the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame.

DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee can't recall what he and Kane talked about when they met backstage on Bob Newhart's TV show Bob. He says he probably "fanboyed out" while they talked. "Oh my Gosh, oh my Gosh, I'm talking to Bob Kane" is all he can remember thinking. --A.J.

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