Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Whatever Happened to the Batman & Robin Creative Team?

The series Batman & Robin started out as part of Grant Morrison’s long term plan in the Batman family of titles (he has gone on since then to launch the Batman, Inc. title). Once Morrison left, the title was supposed to be taken over by a completely different ongoing creative team: Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, known for their collaboration on the Green Lantern Corps title. However, this high profile and much publicized creative team wouldn’t last long. Hit the jump to continue reading.




Where's the Dynamic Duo?

According to the solicits at the time, the creative team of Tomasi and Gleason was supposed to take over the Batman & Robin title in November with issue #17. I went back and checked, and they were indeed heralded as the new “regular team” for the title. Interviews at the time indicated that Morrison himself had pointed to Tomasi as his successor, and fan reaction seemed to be mostly positive. Let’s be honest, Morrison is a tough act to follow, but at least by hand picking his follow-up, and with a creative team that was beloved for their previous work together, it probably eased a lot of people’s mind knowing he chose his successor.

However, some time after the solicitations hit, DC sent a note to retailers that issue #17, and the following two, would not be written by Tomasi or illustrated by Gleason. Instead, the creative team of Paul Cornell and Scott McDaniel were going to do a short three-issue arc in between Morrison’s and the upcoming Tomasi run. Putting “filler” arcs in between longer runs is quite a common thing to do, as it allows artists and writers to get ahead and prevent future delays. Fans were perhaps a bit annoyed by the unceremonious switch-up, but for the most part understanding. This is how things work, and if it meant that the sailings would be smoother later on, fans were willing to weather this change.

Finally, with Batman & Robin #20, the creative team of Tomasi and Gleason started telling their tale. Surely, with months of preparation and hype behind it, it would be a long run by the two of them.

As it turns out, this isn’t the case at all. Issue #22 is going to be their last for at least three other months. Why? Because according to solicitations, the next three issues will be by writer Judd Winick and artist Guillem March, in a (what honestly feels like another filler) arc dealing with Jason Todd as the Red Hood. What happened to the regular team?

Who's the Culprit?

Your guess is probably as good as mine, but some factors to keep in mind. During the past year, both writer and artist have been collaborating on the year-long DC event Brightest Day. Tomasi is co-plotting it alongside Geoff Johns, while Gleason is part of the ensemble that handles the art (usually, issues are divided into sections and each artist handles a part). It is possible that this has created unpredictable delays for the duo, and conflicted with the commitments behind Batman & Robin. Tomasi has continued writing the Green Lantern: Emerald Warrior title in the mean time, and the Brightest Day series is coming  to an end soon, so it might be possible that Gleason will be freed up soon.

Something else that is worth remembering is that the Batman office has suffered a string of very public delays. Last year, The Return of Bruce Wayne suffered heavy delays while the two new ongoing titles, Batman, Inc. and Batman: The Dark Knight, are already behind schedule despite only being a couple of issues in, and this is on top of the Batman: Europa cancellation and numerous Batwoman ongoing resolicitations. It’s not hard to make a connection there, but as I mentioned above, in the case of Batman & Robin, it might be because of previous commitments with another office.

What I do find completely strange is that DC would announce (and pretty loudly, I might add) Tomasi and Gleason as the new ongoing creative team, only for them to only do three issues, and then add arcs by other people before and quickly after a short stint. This is not meant as a slight against the other creators, but Batman & Robin had a very strong auteurist voice under Morrison, and the promise of another strong voice is what might have kept some fans reading the title. If they want to turn the Batman & Robin title into an anthology-like series with revolving creative teams every arc (in the vein of the now canceled Batman Confidential title), that is entirely within their right to do, but promising readers one thing and then delivering another is a practice that should be frowned upon.

Are you or were you reading Batman & Robin? What do you think of the creative team changes? Let us know in the comments section below.


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22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been a huge fan of Batman & Robin. That being said I had to drop the title because I could not get behind a story where the villain/ anit-hero had a hole in her head.

Kirk Warren said...

Issue 5 of Batman Inc is supposed to be delayed too. Morrison just passed in 12 pages of script to the artist who has a deadline of one week to finish all the art. That ain't happening.

Anonymous said...

Im liking tomasis run but I do agree I dont like reading different creative teams after every story arc

Scott Roberts said...

Great post. Hearing that Tomasi and Gleason were coming onto the book made me keep this on my pull-list, because I loved Tomasi's Nightwing and loved the duo's GLC run. But after suffering through Cornell's run, not enjoying Tomasi and Gleason's first two issues, and then seeing a new creative team on the next arc, I dropped this book. Its sad because I love the Dick and Damien dynamic but I can't stick with this series any longer.

Dean said...

I didn't know Europa was cancelled. I was really looking forward to that.

I wasn't a been fan of Grant Morrison's take on Jason Todd so hopfully Winick can retcon a few of Morrison's retcons which were, themselves, retcons.

Anonymous said...

i was excited about tomasi and gleason but now im thinking of dropping this book after their run

Brandon Whaley said...

This title was great right up until Morrison left. With news of Winick writing, there is no way I'm buying more crap with Jason Todd. I'm just not a fan of the character.

Anonymous said...

i really love the two issues of tomasi/gleason and i am sad that they will be off for another three issues but, i still gonna buy the tittle even the cornell arc was a little fun, but i would really love to see that long run of tomasi/gleason

btownlegend said...

Winick can't do stories without Jason Todd? I felt that this should be given to Cornell to write. He ended his arc with enough style that I wanted him to stay. This is the premiere Dick and Damian title...ramp it up!

TonyJazzz said...

I got a mail notice that my mail subscription to Jonah Hex was being cancelled and that they were going to send me Batman & Robin instead. I called and asked for another publication, since Batman & Robin has become an ordinary series with not-so-interesting stories....

Matt Duarte said...

@Tony: Woah, they canceled your subscription to Jonah Hex? That's probably a sign that the series is canceled.

Ivan said...

Winick gets a lot of shit flinged his direction, but I like him. Under the Red Hood was pretty good, so I know he can write Todd. I also enjoyed his Batman run more than Tony Daniel's.

By the way, how's David Finch's book going? Is it any good story-wise? Anyone?

krakkaboom said...

I'm just glad I didn't add the title to my pull list. I love Gleason and Tomasi together, but I don't want to read/collect a disjointed run such as this.

Maxy Barnard said...

@ivan Finch's series is a little above-average on story, but really just a totally great showcase for his art.

Anyway, on the topic of B&R:

Liked Cornell's fill-ins,
Hate how Tomasi writes Damien Wayne,
Really glad that Winick is coming in to do something I care about.

Yeah those are self-serving opinions but what opinions aren't as such?

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