Thursday, December 25, 2008

The IGN Batman RIP Wrap Up

First, I have to say that it says a lot about the current state of comics when an interview with a DC Bat Editor is surrounded by a background made up of exclusively Marvel super-heroes.

But on to the actual wrap-up...

"IGN Comics: Were you worried at all about having to roll some of these stories out before RIP concluded, or was that a necessary evil from a publishing standpoint? Marts: It was a combination of it being a necessary evil, but it was also intentional on our parts, in that we wanted it to tell some stories that took place after #681 so readers got an indication of where things were headed, and to suggest an idea of threat or a sense of doom that might be on the horizon."

I can appreciate how Mike Marts thought it could create that sense of doom, but I don't think it really did. He spoke earlier about getting the same excitement reading Grant's planned story that he felt as a kid reading comics. I just think most of the audience is too hardened to fall back into that sense of wonder. We're too cynical about death in comics to ever really feel a sense of anything like doom from the implication of a character's passing, either.

IGN Comics: Keeping track of how the timelines of each monthly book line up in the greater scheme of things is tricky enough as a reader, and I imagine it would be even more difficult as an editor. How do you go about keeping track of how each book lines up with the others without getting a giant headache? Marts: It is a tricky job. On the one hand, you've got a group of books that are a family of titles, such as the Batman family of titles. In this event, we were trying to involve all the books and have them be a part of this major event. At the same time, you want all the books to sort of stand on their own and have their own distinct voices, and allow the creators to tell their own stories. I think the RIP tie-ins that we did this past year succeeded in maintaining that distinct voice for each title while also tying into the family feel of it.

Mission not accomplished, seeing as how the tie-ins had very little that tied them in and several pieces that contradicted RIP.

Now, I really like the books Mike Marts has been a part of putting together over the years. But this has to one of the most unintentionally funny statements I've seen an editor have to make:

As far as the precise continuity and figuring out where each story takes place, we know that almost all of our readers have been with us for a while, and all our readers are intelligent. And we don't want to really insult our readers by banging them over the head with a precise timeline of "this is when this happens, and this is when that happens." For the most part, we figure that they'll be able to situate the stories where they feel comfortable situating them in their heads. But the whole time we have a solid idea of what storyline takes place first and in what order. For the most part, if we can release them in a chronological fashion, and have them come out according to when the stories take place, great. But in the cases where that's not a possibility, we leave it up to the readers to figure out how best to fit it in.

Precise continuity wasn't given in order to avoid insulting the readers? Right. More like Grant Morrison didn't layout the precise timing for them and they're as lost trying to figure it out as the readers are.

I can't bring myself to read much more of Marts having to put a happy spin on this stuff. I look forward to future projects that Marts shepherds at DC that better reflect what he's capable of.


  1. When you factor in all the continuity issues that arise between R.I.P. and Trinity and Final Crisis, my head starts swimming. And then you add in each individual series' storylines, and it's a wonder I read DC comics at all. If you're going to have a shared universe, fine, just have someone come up with a unified direction and be sure yo have someone who polices issues like this.

    Oh wait, I think that's called an "editor". Foreign concept in comics, apparently.

  2. Hey dude, you can hate on me, but lay off the Morrison, ok?

    -Dan S.

  3. OK, as simply as possible:
    Heart of Hush (start of Batman breakdown),
    Final Crisis 1 and 2 (Batman still relatively ok),
    RIP (Batman hurt in helicopter explosion),
    FC 3-5, Last Rites(Batman captured, tortured, etc in these 4),
    FC 6 (The "Final Fate of the Dark Knight").

    Wow, that's so tough to follow...I'm really not seeing the issue there. As far as Robin and Nightwing, they're peripheral books, and they fall between the cracks/after the fact of RIP, as the Outsiders issues followed directly after RIP. Are there a couple of slightly contradictory moments? Probably, but was this really all that hard to follow for the general comic reading public? Just curious, honestly.

  4. Well, Anonymous (if that is your real name), your glibly sloughing off the "peripheral" books that are all part of the Batman family that Marts says all fit together shows that you recognize it DOESN'T all fit together as you suggest.

    The Nightwing arc has Two-Face visiting DURING R.I.P. by their statements, when that would put Nightwing in Arkham. Is that what you're calling slightly contradictory?

    The Heart of Hush was billed as a tie-in (inappropriately) and not as a prequel. Grant Morrison, himself, has stated in interviews that he didn't participate in coordinating these tie-ins. So it is safe to say that none of the "tie-ins" quite fit.

  5. Not only that, but Final Crisis 1 & 2 have both been explicitly stated to fall after RIP - the latest issue of Batman makes that pretty clear.


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