September 26th was “Batman Day” and online there were offers galore for every type of Bat-merchandise you can get your hands on.
Uh, didn’t we just celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary last year? Weren’t there events and activities throughout 2014 to celebrate the milestone and tons of merchandise to boot? I have nothing against the Dark Knight. I love the 1966-68 Batman show. I love Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I like Batman: The Animated Series. Batgirl, Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are some of my all-time favorite characters. But this Bat-worship is getting tiresome. You’d think that Batman was the only hero in DC’s roster. It’s like how fans have been accusing Marvel for recently “avoiding” X-Men and The Fantastic Four simply because the characters are owned by Fox.
In 2013 Superman had his 75th anniversary. Nothing much was made to commemorate it except for this awesome animated short. There was no “Superman Day” at Barnes and Noble, where you could buy one Supes comic and get one free of your choice. Or participate in a Superman trivia competition or buy from a huge display of Superman merchandise that was half-off (or less). The Flash reached his 75th anniversary milestone this year. Raise your hand if you knew that. At Hot Topic, the percentage of Bat-merchandise is higher than that of the other DC heroes.
I could pin the blame for all this bat-obsession on DC alone but I wonder if the fans are just as much to blame for voting with their wallets. DC is still a business and they’re not willing to go out on a limb for a superhero that doesn’t sell. If DC is reluctant to shine the spotlight on Wonder Woman when she hits the big 7-5 next year, it’ll make me really sad.
I know that many people are drawn to Batman because he has no superpowers and he seems more “relatable”, but what is relatable anyway? What may seem relatable to one person may not be the case with another. I relate to Wonder Woman because she comes from a matriarchal society and she has a sisterly attitude towards other women. I’m drawn to Superman because he looks like someone you could give a big bear hug and share a bag of popcorn with. I like Captain Marvel because he’s goofy. I like the Birds of Prey because they’re women (both with and without superpowers) from different walks of life working together as a team. But Batman feels too aloof and distant to me and his rogues gallery often overshadows him. Gotham City is too dark and dreary and sometimes reading a Batman comic can be leave me feeling disturbed.
When I read superhero comics, I never think: “how do I relate to these characters”. I’m drawn to superheroes because they’re not like everyone else. I didn’t want to be like everyone else when I was a teenager, so I guess that’s why I’ve always been drawn to DC: they’re fine with being different from everyone else as long as they can still get along with the rest of humanity.
I’m not asking that we toss the Caped Crusader into oblivion, never to be seen again. I’m just saying let’s shine a spotlight on the other DC heroes when it comes to merchandise and media – especially some of the obscure ones (some Vixen, Blue Beetle and Black Canary merchandise please) so that all fans can feel included.