Sunday, December 4, 2016


Wherein Bloggy Tony digs into the pile of notes he’s jotted down as possible bloggy thing columns and tries to discuss them clearly and concisely. There may be spoilers in the mix. It’s anyone’s guess how well this will go.

Bruce Wayne will never be Batman.

Yes, of course, Bruce Wayne is Batman in the comic books and in a number of cartoon series, movie series, movie serials and a 1960s TV show that I have grown rather fond of in my dotage. But, in this case, I speak of Gotham, the TV series that airs Monday nights on Fox. The good Fox. Not the bad Fox News.

In Gotham, Bruce Wayne has been trying to uncover why his parents were murdered. He found the actual trigger man. He figured how the hit was ordered by the Court of Owls. He doesn’t know exactly why the Court of Owls ordered it, but he’s now attempting to bring them down. He’s been doing all the above as a young teenager who’s kind of sort of dating the future Catwoman.

Several classic villains have been introduced in Gotham. Penguin. Riddler. Azrael. Mr. Freeze. Hugo Strange. Mad Hatter. Someone who appears to be the Joker. All of them are a decade or so older than Bruce. By the time he becomes Batman, if he becomes Batman, some of them will be collecting Social Security...unless the Republicans of the Gotham Universe have managed to destroy that.

Gotham doesn’t need Bruce Wayne to become Batman. The show already has its conflicted and slightly crazy hero in James Gordon. Who has  committed murder and many lesser crimes in his quest to, depending on the day, protect the people of Gotham, bring villains to justice or take revenge on those who have particularly irked him.

Gotham is not a show about white-hat heroes. I’m okay with that as I have never felt every hero has to be The Lone Ranger or Superman back when Superman had a code of conduct. The acting and writing on Gotham keeps me coming back week after week.

Bruce Wayne will never be Batman in Gotham because Gotham doesn’t need him to become Batman. It has Jim Gordon filling the key role of grim bringer of justice. Personally, I’d like to see Bruce take down the Court of Owls - never been a fan of them in the comics - and then go off to college. Maybe in England or somewhere else far from Gotham. Maybe with Selina tagging along to distract him from his studies and add some adventure to his life. It’d be wonderful to see a happy Bruce Wayne for a change. Boy and man, he’s suffered enough for a dozen heroes.

As for Gordon...I think he’ll have to settle for small victories. I don’t see Lee, the woman he loves, getting over what she saw in the last episode of 2016. I could actually see an alliance of sorts with his crazy ex-fiancé on account of that could be fun in a Will Eisner’s The Spirit kind of way.

The best thing about Bruce not becoming Batman in Gotham. He won’t start endangering children by dressing them up in bright costumes. It’s like he’s telling the villains to shoot them first.

Creators conundrums

Who created (fill in name of character here)? Current practice in the comic-book industry is to credit the writer and the artist who first wrote and drew a character as said character’s creators. As standard practices goes, it’s not terrible. But, in a many cases, it’s simply not accurate.

Aquaman is credited to Paul Norris, who did, indeed, draw the very first Aquaman story. But Mort Weisinger wrote that first story as he also wrote the first stories for Green Arrow, Johnny Quick and the original Vigilante. Weisinger does not receive credit on those heroes.

When folks ask me who created Black Lightning, my answer is “I did” and, indeed, that’s how the creator credit was listed during Black Lightning’s entire first series. Now Trevor Von Eeden drew all of those first series issues, but I have always contended every vital element was created before I ever brought my creation to DC Comics. On the other hand, Trevor did visualize other characters, including Tobias Whale, from my brief descriptions in the scripts. The first and no longer used Black Lightning costume was the work of several people, including myself and Trevor.

These days, the Black Lightning creator credit is supposed to read “Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden.” I’m okay with that.

When folks ask me who created Misty Knight, the character who was such a sensation in the Luke Cage series on Netflix, my answer is “Me and Arvell Jones.” Because Arvell and I saw Black Belt Jones together. Because we were both impressed by the heroine played by Gloria Hendry. Because we both thought the Iron Fist series we were doing for Marvel needed a character like that.

What about when an editor creates a character and then hands that character off to a writer and artist? Should he or she get a share of the creator credit? I would say “Yes.”

The point I want to make is this. If the comics industry is going to standardize the creator credits for the sake of character equity payments and the like, those credits are not necessarily accurate except in a legal sense. Which is fine if the creators accept this going into any agreements. However...

Comics history demands a greater accuracy. Which, of course, will spur healthy and sometimes unhealthy debates about who did what for any given character. Which debates will not always lead to results everyone will accept on account of, in many and perhaps most such cases, the debaters were not in the room when the act of creation was taking place. It can be frustrating, but that’s often the way of things in both art and life.

Comics history will never be absolute in every instance. But all of the involved parties - fans, historians, professionals - should at all times strive for the greatest possible accuracy. While allowing and accepting that certainty might forever elude us.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella


  1. I recently saw "Hulk: n Where Monsters Dwell" animated feature. It acctually should have been called "Hulk & Doctor Strange: Where Monsters Dwell", since the esteemed Doctor was even more prominent than the Hulk.

    Unfortunately, Steve Ditko received no credit at all. Just "based on creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby". Very sad the the creator of Doctor Strange was comletely ignored.

    Harry Tzvi Keusch

  2. Did you check the end credits? Generally, only the creators of the title character (Hulk) would have received credit at the beginning of the feature with other creators being given "special thanks" at the end of the feature. I realize fans have been conditioned to always think the worst of Marvel, but check the end credits and get back to me.

    1. Rechecked the end credits, and as I wrote previously - no credit for Steve Ditko.

      Harry Tzvi Keusch

  3. I first thought of the creator problem when I saw the creator credits on the Daredevil movie as "Stan Lee and Bill Everett." Everett only drew the first issue and designed a costume only a blind man would wear. Wally Wood gave us the classic DD costume that was in the movie and got no credit at all. Don't mean to demean Submariner creator Everett, but Wood should be credited, too.

  4. "What about when an editor creates a character and then hands that character off to a writer and artist? Should he or she get a share of the creator credit? I would say “Yes.”"

    I agree with most of what you said, but not sure about this one. I guess it depends on how much of the "creation" the editor does before the "hand-off". Just a name, probably not enough. Detailed character design, personality, back-story, explanation of powers (for super-hero books), maybe. But then if the editor is doing all that, maybe she should just be writing the book. Maybe I've heard too many "bad editor" stories, but overall it seems a bit too open to abuse.