New Kid on the Block
Gotham City has a new kid on the block, the fallen talon Calvin Rose. The question is will he become a permanent addition to the DC Universe, or will he soon fall by the wayside never to be remembered. I've done some serious research and some serious guess work, and I have an answer. It may very well be the wrong answer, but I have it nonetheless.
Know Your History!
I knew I was going to do this article well over a month ago, but only once I started mentally composing did I realize the enormity of this deceptively simple question. How can you predict the success for failure of a comic title. It's not like there is some simple formula you can plug in to decide these things. If there was, the comic book companies would have discovered it and would never have a flop.
It soon became clear that to truly make a good call as to whether or not Talon would succeed or fail, I had to know what had succeeded and failed in previous Batman spin offs. Before I started that, I had to define “success.” For the purpose of this article, any series that survived 36 issues is a success. If a series can garner enough readers to stay published for three years, it has to have made at least a moderate amount of money for DC, and that is a respectable run in my book. With this in mind, I dove into the back issues of DC's successes and flops and found several things I did not expect.
If you don't want a history lesson, just skip down to the section, “The Moral of the Story.”
When Did Batman Become a Bat Family?
Any comic fan will tell you that Batman has had two ongoing comics since the beginning of time and a plethora of other books carrying his adventures over the years, but Bat Family books are a different matter altogether. Now days, we think little about having nineteen different titles that tie closely with the Batman books, but it was not always so.
The move from Batman to Bat Family took quite some time. The first step to truly expanding the Batman universe was back in 1966 with the formation of the Teen Titans. I realize that only one of the comics' five stars originated from a Batman title, but this was the first time a member of the family, Robin, truly operated separately from Batman and formed his own identity. The next attempt to build Batman into more of brand than a character came in 1975 with the release of two new titles, Joker and Bat Family. Did you know that? Joker has his own ongoing series which lasted a grand total of nine issues before going down in flames. Batman Family, which starred Robin and Batgirl, fared a little better lasting a whopping total of twenty issues before getting canceled. The wall started crumbling a little in the 1980's when Perez took hold of the Teen Titans and made them one of the most successful titles of the decade. Teen Titans actually had two titles going simultaneously at one point in the eighties, and DC finally saw the potential for profit in expanding the Bat Family titles. Batman and the Outsiders spun off in 1983 and became a regularly recurring team which always managed at least moderate success, and Huntress came out in 1989 though it was canceled after 19 issues.
Blame It on Knightfall
Love it or hate it, the boom in the Batman universe which gave Bruce a family of books stemmed from the classic nineties plotline, Knightfall. Right after Bane broke the Bat, Catwoman just happened to run into Bane herself during the same month her own series launched. This created a solid starting point for Catwoman's ongoing which lasted a very successful 94 issues after which she took a one year break before being semi-rebooted as a more anti-heroic character in another ongoing Catwoman title which lasted more or less until the present. In the plotline following Knightfall, Knightquest, Jean-Paul Valley took over Batman's role and kicked Tim Drake to the curve which was the beginning of his ongoing series as Robin, and his title essentially lasted until the Flashpoint reboot. After Batman inevitably returned, he left Dick Grayson in charge of the role of Batman. After a brief tenure as the Dark Knight, Nightwing got his own ongoing which has lasted in one form or another until present day. As if three extremely successful launches from one story arch were not enough, the crazed Batman substitute, Azrael, received his own ongoing series which lasted 100 issues before Valley's untimely demise. DC finally found a pattern that worked,and they have continued to employ it ever since.
next push came in 1999 with the introduction of two new spin off
series. On the positive side, Birds of Prey was introduced which has
lasted until present day. On the negative side, Alan Grant tried to
push the little known Robin villain Anarky into his own ongoing
series which failed to absolutely no one's surprise. Batgirl (73
issues) and Harley Quinn (38 issues) came out in 2000 from the events
of No Man's Land. Gotham Central came out in 2003 and lasted forty
issues. Gotham City Sirens and Batgirl spun
out of Batman Reborn, and though neither series reached 36 issues, I
consider both a
success since both sold relatively well before
the reboot killed their series.
The Sirens may not have had a book in the New 52, but all three of
its members were featured prominently in other titles. Stephanie, for
her part, was edited out just so Barbara could once more take the
mantle of Batgirl. On the other hand, the new Azrael which came out
around the same time only lasted 18 issues before getting the axe.
Many other new
Bat titles are currently ongoing,
but it is a bit early to determine which of them will actually last.
short, the Batman spin off wins
Catwoman, Robin, Azrael, Nightwing, Birds of Prey, Batgirl,
(Cassandra) Harley Quinn, Gotham Central, Gotham City Sirens, and
Batgirl. (Stephanie) Batman spin off fails include Joker, Batman Familhttps://batwatch.squarespace.com/commentary/https://batwatch.squarespace.com/commentary/y, Huntress, Anarky, and Azrael.
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