The Dark Knight Retires...?

Let’s face it: Batman’s 1st appearance was in 1939. If he’d only appeared in one comic a month since his initial publication, he’d only have appeared in 800+ comics. But that wasn’t the case. A (very) conservative estimate would be 5000 comics appearances. If one issue only equaled one day out of his life, then he’d have 13.7 years of his life documented on paper. But that’s not the case. Some issues take place in a single night, some over a couple of days, some over weeks. Let’s be (extremely) conservative again and say that, on average, an issue is representative of 2.5 days of Batty’s life. Where does that leave us? 34.25 years of comics, published. Not counting the days we didn’t see...

So how old IS Batty, anyway? Let’s assume that his entire life past age 21 was actually shown in those comics, as represented in those (conservative) figures. He’d be 55 years old (21+34=55.) Conservatively. The formula for retirement in many corporations is this: Age + Years of service = 80. This puts Ol’ Bruce Wayne at (very conservatively) 9 years past his full retirement eligibility, and about 35 years of that time he's spent getting his body crushed and cut and battered. It's time for him to get some rest.

Now, I can hear my fellow fanboys screaming through the interwebs... “What about relaunches?” they shout, flecks of spittle flinging from the corners of their mouths whilst they roll their eyes in angry derision. “What about the alternate universes and timelines? The one-shot stories that take place out of continuity? Huh?”

And I can't argue. Technically, while the character is old as hell, the company “relaunches” him every so often (as they do with all their flagship characters, so they can keep milking the cash cow) so 'Bruce Wayne' never ages that much (unless Frank Miller touches him. Or--sometimes--Alex Ross.) And so we get to the crux of my complaint...

I'm tired of Batman. I know that's heresy amongst geeks, but how many times can the comics industry retread the same old ground with this guy? Or “re-envision“ him? Honestly, writers... If your take on the Batman is so significantly different from every other previous writer's take on the Batman, then why aren't you just writing a new character? I'll tell you why: cause fanboys don't wanna let go, comics companies are afraid to create, and you want the paycheck. So we get to hear, “But my parents are dead” for another seventy years? I hope not.

Truthfully, it's not just Batman. It's most, if not all, of the flagship characters out there from the Big Boys of the comics industry, DC and Marvel.. And I'm not even really dogging the relaunches, some of them are quite good (and some of them are John Byrne's Superman relaunch.) It's just that comics used to be the most creative medium in the world. Now, with a few exceptions, they're almost trite. Do something new, comics industry. Inspire us again. So, whether you ship Batman out to the Gotham Acres Shady Rest Retirement Home or not, make something new for us—that audience you want to keep and grow.

We keep hearing about the downturn of the comics industry, about declining sales and such. You need new readers in order for your business to survive—and I want to see it survive. But the same old characters and stories haven't been saving THAT particular day, now have they?