Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Black Bat at Dynamite

With the announcement of Masks, Dynamite hinted at some new characters in the works. Masks is to feature all their pulp heroes as well as a couple of pulp-ish comic heroes that they have published. But, also in the mix was the Black Bat and Miss Fury. So, it's no surprise really to see an announcement that Dynamite actually plans on publishing a Black Bat comic. Miss Fury is surely not too far behind.

This is yet another instance of Dynamite raiding another company for a character, and it's Moonstone again. The character's original stories are public domain so no problem there. But, as Moonstone featured the character and name in the titles and on the covers of several comics, there would be the trademark issue. Not like The Phantom that was a licensed property. We'll see how Moonstone responds to this.

Comicbookresources talked with the writer of the proposed series here. No artwork, the writer of the series is Brian Buccellato whose work has been well received on The Flash. I don't really have a problem with updating the character to the present day. Unlike many of his contemporaries, and despite what Buccellato seems to imply here, the Black Bat's world isn't really as defined by the times as that of the Shadow or Doc Savage.  Because he was written as more of a superhero to begin with, his milieu evolved and is just as accepted today as before. Because of the virtue that several of his elements were picked up by other characters and still presented today, the character should be able to be picked up completely whole and dropped into today's world with nary a blip. Part of the reason I think there's a resurgence in interest in the pulp characters today is that the shape of the world is very recognizable when we read those old stories: War overseas, veterans at home, gulf between the rich and the poor, corrupt business and civil leaders, racism and sexism. Some things have changed for the better, but some of those evils just resurface with new twists. Reading the pulps is seeing an allegory not only for Time Past but Time Now.

However, Buccatello talks about all the changes he's going to make. Because of the change in times and because so much of the character has been done by other characters since then. Can you imagine if he took this tact with the Flash? Let's see, there are quite a few guys now that have super-speed so let's get rid of that. Tights? Dime a dozen, so that's out. Powers from a freak scientific accident? Gee, that's almost every character at that other company. Blonde hair? How cliche.

It's funny that he sees the character being an attorney (and a blind one, at that) as being a bit too much on the money of another hero and he makes him a DEFENSE ATTORNEY? That's exactly what the other guy was. If you read the pulps, he didn't really practice Law after the accident anyways and was played as retired and being a bit of a consultant on crime.

There's an irony that DC and Thrilling reached an agreement over Batman and the Black Bat, and then DC pretty much ripped the character off any chance they got. The fins on Batman's gloves. The accident (being the origin of both Two-Face and Dr. Mid-Nite), the night-vision. I say, take the opposite tact. Embrace the similarities and recognize it's the aggregate of the character that makes him stand out. His willingness (not eagerness) to kill those that beyond the reach of the Law, his aides that help him, the loyal love interest, the cop out to expose him. The tv show ARROW works as a template of what the Black Bat should be like. At least there's no talk about making actual psychological changes to the character, to making him hearing voices and execute every crook in sight. Kill in self-defense or defense of others, yes. But, his primary goal should be to get them jailed if possible. I think it's a difference that many modern writers don't quite get when approaching the pulp characters like the Shadow and the Spider. They killed when necessary. If the cops could apprehend the crooks, that was fine. Don't mistaken the fact that the intent of the writer was to build the story so that the hero was justified in gunning down the villain with it being the intent of the hero. It's a criticism I see leveled at so many heroes of the time.

It's interesting that as Batman has evolved over the last several years, first in films and now even in the comics to more of an all-black look, he looks less like Batman and how I would've envisioned a comic version of Black Bat to look in order to differentiate him from Batman. I don't know what they are going to come up with to make him look different from Batman AND Moonstone's Black Bat. Although I imagine something like Arrow or the movie Daredevil, only in black and with a cape.

Since the article made mention of the other Black Bat, wonder if they'll bring him in as well. He struck me as an interesting if enigmatic character. Then there's the Bat, whose inspiration for becoming a masked hero is used almost verbatim for Batman's. Then there's the Mask, Thrilling's adaption of the character in comic form, or the idea for an opposite number villain, the Tiger (what was to be his name originally).

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