Thank you for all those that wished Mary Jane and I well on our wedding and honeymoon. Everything went great at the wedding, and on our honeymoon, we had a fantastic time staying in Pigeon Forge, Tenessee, a lovely tourist trap town skirting the edge of the Smoky Mountains. I apologize that I was not able to update BatWatch, but preparing for the wedding and enjoying bliss took up more time than I expected.
Sadly, I must announce that I'm ending BatWatch...at least for now. I'll explain the reasons for my departure and share some final thoughts on the current Bat books below, and you can read that if you are so inclined, but first, there are a few things I would like everybody to read. Before you go, please at least read this section.
I've known for awhile that I had to make a decision on what to do about BatWatch. I considered making BatWatch a collaborative project, and I even asked some fellow Bat fan friends to help me out. Everybody said they were willing to lend a hand, but they didn't think they could promise much since they have their own lives and own projects. I understand that, and though it was tempting to try to do BatWatch with a bunch of people contributing a little, I decided that if people were only able to offer a little time, it would still require too much from me to coordinate contributors, edit posts and fill in the gaps. I could have let people just post when they felt like it and have an even more inconsistent posting schedule, but I decided I'd rather let the site end than do something halfhearted.
That being said, I'm not necessarily saying goodbye to BatWatch forever. Perhaps in a year or two if I find more time on my hands, I might return to BatWatch, but for the moment, it needs to take a break. Alternatively if anybody is out there who wants to start a Batman blog, I'd be willing to discuss letting you use BatWatch. If you are interested, send me an e-mail at BatWatch85@yahoo.com.
If you want to stay in contact with me, I'd suggest Looking Me Up on Comic Vine. I used to be pretty active there before BatWatch ended up stealing all my time, so I might become active there once more. You can also follow my BatWatch Account on Twitter, so that if I restart BatWatch, you can know immediately. If I get any other social media accounts, like a personal Twitter, or start any other blogs, I'll be sure to mention it on @BatWatcher and my Comic Vine account. I could link you to my Facebook account, but I never use it, so what's that point?
I don't want to leave you hanging on your Batman updates, so I'm going to recommend some other sites. Over the past year, I've become very familiar with all the other games in town, and across the entire internet, there are only really three other sites worth mentioning if you want to fill that batarang shaped hole in your heart.
The best site out of the there is probably Batman-News. They are not nearly as in depth in the news department as BatWatch, but they have a professional and easy to navigate site, and they do a killer job at following Batman movie news and reviewing comics. They are light years ahead of BatWatch in terms of popularity, so they are actually getting some inside industry scoops now. They are also quick on the draw frequently posting movie related news within a couple hours of when the stories break. Their comic reviewer is Andrew Asberry whose reviews are at least as good an mine when I was being extremely in depth with them. Though Batman-News is not nearly as broad as BatWatch in the scope of its coverage, they do what they do extremely well.
DarkKnightNews takes the second place position by doing what Batman-News does not and delivering a broad swath of Batman related info. It still does not deliver quite as much as BatWatch did, but DarkKnightNews does do a great job of collecting everything from the quirky pop culture stories to interviews with comic creators and everything in between. DarkKnightNews has several contributors working with them, so it is updated frequently throughout the day.
Finally, GothamSpoilers comes in at a solid third place. It's not a bad site, but it has neither the extremely high quality of Batman-News nor the broad net of DarkKnightNews. What it does have is a nice mix of news updates and reviews from a smart Batman fan. GothamSpoilers does do a better job of finding Bat comic previews than any other site, and it has a unique feature where the blogger "spoils" or summarizes comics in his reviews, so if you ever miss an issue but want to know what happened, this site will help you out like no other.
Before I ramble further about why I'm leaving BatWatch, let me just say thank you to everybody who took the time to spend part of your day with me. I'm honored that you enjoy hearing my thoughts on Batman.
Why the Departure?
Well, time and money play a big role, but there are some more specific reasons.
1. I have bigger fish to fry.
BatWatch was an experiment from the beginning. I decided a little over a year ago that I was going to write a blog and see if I could get a following. I knew I had some talent with writing, and I knew I enjoyed it, but I didn't know if I had enough talent or enough enjoyment to pursue it further. I figured I had spent enough time licking my wounds over my disastrous teaching career and the time had come for me to try something new. I thought about starting a blog on a bunch of different topics, but eventually, I settled on writing about Batman because I love Batman, and there are surprisingly few sites out there dedicated to following Bat Family news and reviewing Bat Family comics. I saw a niche, and I decide to fill that niche.
In my own mind, I succeeded in proving myself a capable writer. BatWatch peaked at an average of about four hundred visitors a day back in May, and I was gaining more and more traffic, but then a lot of stuff changed. I ran into some major computer problems, my personal life demanded a lot of extra time as did my job, and I kind of burnt out of the non-stop Batman action. I stopped most of the extra articles on BatWatch, and I stopped promoting BatWatch across Twitter and other sites because I felt I needed to spend more time on other things. However, I have no doubt that if I had continued at that speed, I would have reached my original goal of averaging a thousand visitors a day based on the snowballing effect I was getting. As cool as that would have been, I probably would not be married at this point if I had continued at my original pace because writing BatWatch as intensely as I was doing for the first six months took about forty or fifty hours a week. I suspect I made the right decision prioritizing my personal life.
Though I discovered that I can indeed connect with people in my writing, it was even more important that I found how much I really love the process. I find myself crafting sentences and arguments for fun in my spare time. When I write something, I feel a real sense of pride about it. It takes a lot of work, but its a work that invokes my passion.
You might reasonably be thinking, "If you love writing and do well with it, then why stop this semi-successful blog?" Good question.
The first answers is money. I'm currently working as an audio/visual tech, and sadly, I'm not particularly gifted at it. I've done if for many years now, and though I hopefully do a good job with it, I am not great at it nor am I passionate about it. The work bores me and high level skills escape me. To keep it brief, I don't think this field holds a future for me. I know professional writing is not an easy field, but if I'm going to be spending twenty plus hours a week (or fifty when I was really pushing BatWatch) then I may as well be working towards something that could earn a paycheck. BatWatch could probably earn a few bucks if I pushed it hard for a couple years. If I was able to create a popular discussion board centered on Batman, I might even be able to make a living wage off of it, but that's a big gamble, and it would take many, many years before there was even a chance of that happening. I could, on the other hand, start looking for a writing job that actually exists tomorrow.
The second part of the writing issue is that I feel very burdened for my country. I feel the United States is in a very precarious position right now, and I want to make a difference. I'm not sure exactly how to make a difference, but I know I have some skills with writing, and if I can use those skills to guide the country in the right way, to help people see things in a fresh and clear way, then I want to use those skills even if it only makes a small difference.
One of the things that really opened my eyes to this need was a recent story from my hometown. Some woman stole a car from a guy, and when the guy caught up to her, he confronted her in the middle of a middle class neighborhood. He shot at her and thankfully missed, took out a knife, stabbed her a couple of times, sliced her guts open, knocked her down and continued to beat her as she lay bleeding out on the ground. A man who lived in the neighborhood called the cops, told them what was happening, and then said, "I've got a gun, and I'm going to stop this." The police operator responded that if he stepped outside with the weapon, he would be arrested, so the man stood by and watched as the woman was beat senseless in front of him for another ten minutes before the police arrived.
Clearly, the attacker's actions were abhorrent, but what struck me as equally disgusting is that a man who had the power to stop the brutalization of this woman was told that he would be punished for trying to intervene. He could have stopped the beating and the unknowable pain and horror that accompanied it, but he was told that his only option was to either rush an armed man or stand by and watch. It's sickening. Most people will agree with that old quote, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," yet somehow we convince ourselves that it is righteous for a good man to see evil happening and allow it to continue? Good people should act, and yet we punish those among us courageous enough to be heroic. Even though this is clearly wrong, these sorts of stories happen constantly, and they go overlooked because few people talk about them.
I could talk about them, and I believe I could get people to listen.
I'm not sure what exactly I'm going to do with my writing, but I know there are important things I can do. Regardless of what exact route I choose, I need time to dedicate to learning even more about the problems the world faces and to refine my words not only to be interesting but to be convincing and educating without being contentious or condescending, and that takes practice...practice that I will not really get with BatWatch. As fun as Batman is, he's ultimately trivial when compared to real world issues.
2. Too much Batman makes Jack a dull boy.
Ironically, the more involved in comics I became, the more of a chore it was to keep up on them. I love comics, but one of the things I love most about them is the surprise. Following Batman comic news as much as I have the past year takes most of the suspense out of things. Rarely do things come out of the dark. Rather, a story's development is often limited to a couple of potential scenarios, and the only surprise is which of the scenarios plays out. Also, it's kind of like eating your favorite food all the time. I love myself some pizza, but if I ate it three times a day, I probably would be ready to vomit at the sight of it within a week. I don't feel like vomiting over Batman, but it has definitely started to wear on me. I've literally found myself thinking things like, "Oh, Batman's going to punch a bad guy in the face again? That's original!" Great comics are still great comics, and I have no angst towards the great ones, but all the mediocre comics begin to kind of meld together when you consume this much Batman.
Basically, Batman is meant to be an escape, and when you work with him every day, he becomes a job. Batman is a currency, I've over inflated it, and as consequence, the Bat has become weaker in my heart.
3. The DCNU sucks!
I'd be lying if I didn't admit that the DCNU itself plays a role in my desire to leave the world of modern Batman comics.. The new universe just frustrates me. We've lost a lot, and we've gained nothing we could not have gained without the reboot. Granted, the reboot helped DC's sales, but Marvel Now did the same thing without destroying anything that came prior. I'm a continuity hound. Every time I see a character in a comic, I look them up to find out who they are and how they tie into the universe around them. It's those convoluted past interactions and developments that add so much character to the universe, but most of that's gone now...and I just don't care as much. The elimination of my favorite character, Tim Drake, as a worthwhile entity is also an unpardonable sin, and unless and until they retcon his new origin and personality, I'm just kind of ticked.
Which Series Are Worth Reading?
Now that I'm no longer obligated to read all the ongoing series, I can finally address with complete honestly what I feel is worth reading. Before, I tried to be a little more objective and see if it was a good story for the market, but now, it's all about what I like. I'm looking to shed most of these titles because I'd rather spend my money on back issues where I can buy more that I like for less money. I make a low middle class income, and it cost me $81 a month for all these comics not counting taxes or annuals, so I'll be happy to cut my comic budget. We have a lovely Books-A-Million here, and I have no problem sitting in the store and reading these tales in trades a year from now. In about five years, I can pick up the good arcs for a fraction of the price.
Arkham War - The first issue of Arkham War seemed to promise an entertaining if fluffy story of villain vs. villain. The second issue took that premise and bored me to tears. I know I read it, but I'd be darned if I could tell you what happened. There were talons, I remember. I think I saw Scarecrow at some point. Bane was definitely there doing nothing interesting. Anyway, it's an easy drop for me.
Batgirl - This series has warmed up a little recently, but it still has some serious problems. Overall, I've found Simone's run a bit subpar. Since this month's issue should be the end of the Batgirl: Wanted arc, I think I'll pick this up one more month and then drop the series.
Batman - I know what I'm about to say is anathema to a lot of people, but I'm going to drop Snyder's Batman. I've enjoyed most of what has come previously in this series, but I just can't get into Zero Year. I don't like the younger version of Bruce, I don't like the eccentric take on Batman's origin, and I don't like the big action set pieces which seem to distract from the more important intimate moments with Bruce. Unquestionably, this arc is brilliant in parts, but overall, I'm just not feeling it. This very well might be Year One bias, but I think I'll wait for a trade on this one.
Batman '66 - Batman '66 has astounded me with the way it has taken the spirit of the original series and pushed it to new levels. I didn't think it would work at first, but it has grown on me. That being said, I think it is great for people who want a campy Batman adventure, and though I'm not opposed to it, I'm not so enthralled by it that I want to spend a dollar a week. So long, Sixty-Six!
Batman and... Tomasi has done some great things with Batman and..., hasn't he? He's also done a lot of mediocre things with it. Again, we have moments of brilliance for this series, but it's accompanied with some really rough patches. If I enjoyed the first issue of this Two-Face arc, I might stay on board, but I was disappointed in it, so I'm jumping ship.
Batman Beyond 2.0 - Terry McGinnis's adventures have been surprisingly quality tales. I barely got started on 2.0 before Mary Jane broke her leg and my money dried up, but I enjoyed what I saw, so I'd like to at least see this arc through to its conclusion.
Batman/Superman - This series has been a bit disappointing, but it's not been bad. If all I had to base it on was the first arc, then I'd probably let it go, but I really enjoyed the last issue with Brett Booth's pencils adding more detail that Jae Lee's beautiful vagueness. It's doesn't look like an extremely thoughtful arc, but it does look promisingly fun, so I think I'll finish the arc before making any long term decisions.
Batwing - I know this isn't an exceptional series in most ways, but I've enjoyed every issue I've read. It's probably a breath of fresh air just because I've read so much doom and gloom in most of the Bat Family books, but whatever the reason, I don't want to let go of this series. Perhaps I'm just rooting for the underdog since Batwing looks destined for cancellation, but I'm going to stay with Luke for the moment and hope that it keeps its fun beat while adding a little more substance to its pages.
Batwoman - Batwoman has been one of my favorites since the first time I read an issue, but the team that made it so memorable has thrown up their hands in defeat and moved on to greener pastures. From what I hear, Marc Andreyko did not impress with his first issue, but it was a mandated, last minute rush job, so I don't think it's fair to throw this new creative team under the bus just yet. I'm definitely going to finish the current arc of Batwoman, and I'll probably give Andreyko an issue on the new arc to see where he wants to take Kate before I make a long term decision on the series.
Black and White - This series promises to collect the best Batman stories out there. That promise has been broken. In each issue so far, we've had one or two great stories, one or two mediocre stories and one or two bad stories. The art is almost always good, but for five dollars an issue, it's not worth it.
Birds of Prey - Birds has been, as a whole, massively disappointing. It's had moments of promise, but it just hasn't had a good run. This is an easy cut.
Catwoman - The fact that this series has ran with Nocenti at the helm for this long is a black eye for DC. I'm dropping it like it's hot...which its not...because as I've said a time or to before, it sucks...really bad.
The Dark Knight - The Dark Knight has been consistently subpar and frequently bad. I would like to see Ethan Van Sciver's art again as he returns to the series sometime soon, but I don't want to see it bad enough to stick around. Cut.
Detective Comics - This is a tough one. I loved Layman's first arc and hailed it as my favorite out of all the Bat books, but this last arc was largely a disappointment. I think I'm going to get this first issue of this new arc and see what I think of it. If I'm not a fan, I'll drop it.
Damian: Son of Batman - I know a lot of people thought this was crap, but I really enjoyed the first issue. The art was obviously great, and though the scripting erred on the side of being a little goofy, I still thought it was fun. I do admit that Kubert is butchering Damian's voice, but I can overlook that for the sake of another Damian story. I'll give this one at least one more issue.
Forever Evil - This is a tough one. Each issue has promised greatness and delivered entertainment which fell just short of expectations. They've been a good ride, but it feels like something is hindering it from rising above the crowd. Still, it's been interesting and itt will clearly be a big deal, so I think I'll give it one more issue and go from there.
Legends of the Dark Knight - This is probably the series I'm most torn over. I love Legends because you never know what you are going to get with it, but the problem is you never know what you are going to get with it. Often the stories are great. Often the stories are bad. I think I'll keep up with the series for the moment, but it might be wiser to see if they release these in trade. I'm still up in the air about it.
Li'l Gotham - Li'l Gotham is fun and funny. It would be nearly a crime to drop this series. Keep.
Nightwing - I'm loving Higgins' Chicago arc so far, but I wasn't crazy about early issues of Nightwing, and I thought the Zero Year issue was incredibly bad. I want to see how things play out with Chicago and Zucco, and it looks like there will be a natural jumping off point soon since Higgins is probably going to leave Nightwing to be replaced by James Tynion. There's also a good chance that Dick Grayson will be replaced by Calvin Rose based on the Bats Giving teaser, so I want to stick around for the end of Higgins' Nightwing run assuming the next couple issues are at least okay.
Red Hood and the Outlaws - I haven't enjoyed this arc at all. I'll gladly drop this one.
Talon- Talon has been fantastic and it's probably ending soon, so I'm going to finish this arc no matter what.
Teen Titans - I've actually enjoyed the last couple issues of Teen Titans, but I didn't enjoy them so much that I forgot that the series as a whole has sucked and serves as a constant reminder of how DC screwed over Tim Drake fans. I'll drop this with only a hint of regret that I'll have to wait until a trade arrives to see what happens with the new Superboy and Kid Flash.
Worlds' Finest - Take a couple of DC's best superheroines and defile them with a poor continuation of the legacy of Batman and Superman, and you have Worlds' Finest. This series is painfully bad, and I'll gladly drop it.
Well, that's it. One post and I end BatWatch and cut my current Bat reading in half with an eye to cutting it even further. It's a bit sad since I spent so much time with BatWatch, and given an extra twelve hours in every day, I'd love to continue it, but I feel confident this is the right move. I appreciate everybody sticking with me for a year. Hopefully, I will meet you all in a time when BatWatch will live again, but if this is the last time you hear from me, then simply let me wish you the best.