28th Jun2019

Who Should Write Batman?

by Dan Clark

BatmanThe-Long-Halloween-image2

Recently DC announced that Tom King would be leaving the main Batman title at the end of the year and continuing his story in the Batman & Catwoman book. No matter your thoughts on that news the biggest question now is who takes up the reigns as the new Batman writer? It is a big decision to make as Batman is the biggest monthly book in comics so its health is vital for the success of comics and DC in general.

With that in mind, I put together a list of candidates that could take up the job. I tried to stick to realistic choices for the most part by selecting writers actively working with DC on a regular basis.I broke it down to three sections: Most Likely, Probably but Unlikely, and finally Longshots.

MOST PROBABLE

Brian Michael Bendis

The Reasons For:

If I was a betting man and this was something you could actually bet on I would put a decent amount of money down that the person who will be writing Batman is Brian Michael Bendis. Despite what your personal opinions of his work might be there is no denying he is still one of the biggest names in comics today if not still the biggest. He is often at his best when writing street level heroes and you do not get more street level than Batman. Logically it seems like the most obvious if DC was going to bring him over you would want him on all your biggest books at one point or another.

The Reasons Against:

Despite Bendis’s name recognition, DC did not see the spike in sales for Superman they were hoping for. Batman will always sell books, but if the hope is to see that amount grow even further Bendis may be at the point in his career were people have become numb to his name. He is currently writing Batman for the Wal-Mart exclusive books and it is not like they are setting the world on fire. Also, does he even want it at this time? In addition to his Superman work, he has the Wonder line that is finding a great deal of success. Naomi is a flat out hit so it may make more sense to keep his focus there.

Notable Titles: Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias, Superman/Action Comics, Naomi, Young Justice

Tom Taylor

The Reasons For:

If the world was different and I was given the choice of who to put on Batman I would give Tom Taylor a shot. Batman is the type of book where you can make a rising star in the industry into a megastar. Brian Michael Bendis is not going to become a bigger name no matter what book you put him on. He has reached the peak of comic stardom. If you put someone who is on the precipice of becoming a major star and it works out now you have another major name to draw attention. Tom Taylor has been proving himself time and time again no matter the project. He has the ability to capture and recreate the essence of characters in ways that remind you of why they are so legendary without ever feeling redundant of what came before. That’s the exact skill you need if you are going to write Batman. If he takes over Batman and it works he could become as popular as Scott Snyder and other infamous Batman writers.

The Reasons Against:

Tom Taylor is one of the few bigger writers today that does a lot of work for both Marvel and DC. There is no way DC would let the writer of Batman do that and would need to sign whoever that is to an exclusive deal. Would Taylor do that knowing he would have to give up other projects he is working on for Marvel? The answer is most likely yes but you never know where someone’s head is at. Reading his current Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man it feels like it is coming from a very personal place due to the amount of emotional meaning that is been inside many of those issues. Walking away from that may be more difficult than we realize.

Notable Titles: Injustice, X-Men: Red, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, DCeased, The Deep

Joshua Williamson

The Reasons For:

There is one advantage Joshua Williamson has over everyone else on this list. He has recently written issues for the main Batman title for the Heroes and Crisis tie in as well as The Button storyline. He has been writing Flash since the start of Rebirth the same way Tom King has been writing Batman so if DC is looking to make major changes one would think Williamson will be leaving Flash sooner rather than later. Part of being able write Batman is being able to keep up with the grueling schedule and we know that is something Williamson can do with his work on The Flash. DC clearly has major trust in him and that goes a long way when you have to assign an employee major responsibility.

The Reasons Against:

While Williamson has been writing Flash for years now the overall quality has been inconsistent. Every time he has had to tie in elements from Metal or Justice League the book lost a bit of what made it work. Those occasions would only increase when writing a title like Batman. Part of this decision is also wanting to capture headlines and attention of fans. Williamson is a respected name but does he garner the same type of attention a more flashy name would? As unfair as that is there is no doubt it is a factor in these decisions. I could easily see him taking over the title for a bit before the next longterm writer takes over. SImilar to what DC did for Detective Comics after James Tynion IV left.

Notable Titles: The Flash, Birthrite, Ghosted, Masks and Mobsters

PROBABLE BUT UNLIKELY

G. Willow Wilson

The Reasons For:

It has long been said that Batman will sell no matter who is writing it. Over the history that has been mostly true, however, there have been times when Batman has not been a consistent Top 10 book. Also, it does not mean there is no room for Batman to grow in both sales and audience. One of the benefits of hiring someone like G. Willow Wilson is that her fanbase are comic readers that are not your typical Batman fans. If she could bring those over and maintain the normal level of Bat subscribers DC could see some healthy new sales. She has done one thing few writers have and that’s create a new character that has had a major impact on the current pop culture zeitgeist. Some may argue that her style does not translate to a title like Batman, however, books like Invisible Kingdom show her style can vary.

The Reasons Against:

Picking G. Willow Wilson for this job would have made a lot more sense if her current run on Wonder Woman had more of an impact in either comic sales of general quality. It is not that the book it awful simply that the expectation of her writing the next great Wonder Woman run has not happened quite yet. It may still happen as her run has become better over time. So it makes more sense to give her time on Wonder Woman and other DC books prior to getting a book like Batman. She could easily write Batman one day. Right now may not be the right time.

Notable Titles: Ms. Marvel, Wonder Woman, Invisible Kingdom

Joelle Jones

The Reasons For:

With Tom King writing the Batman & Catwoman series, one would think that would mean the end of the current Catwoman ongoing. If that does happen that would open up a job for Joelle Jones, who has done art for Tom King’s run on Batman including designing Catwoman’s wedding dress. There is reason to believe the writer of Batman and Tom King will be working a great deal with one another so having someone in that role that has a strong working relationship with him has its benefits. Something Jones has done working on Batman and her current Catwoman series. With the news that Batman is also going back to a monthly title, she could even write and draw the book. That would be quite an achievement for her and DC.

The Reasons Against:

Joelle Jones created an amazing series with Lady Killer that showed she was a strong writer and artist, because of that when she took over Catwoman it was a no brainer. She was a perfect fit. However, the transition to writing and drawing for a more confined publisher hindered her greatest strengths. Freedom is clearly her friend. Writing Batman there’s not a lot of freedom. You have a very limited box to play in and if it does not work you won’t be there for long. A better choice may be giving her some DC Black Label titles where she can bring what worked for Lady Killer to the DC world.

Notable Titles: Lady Killer, Catwoman

David F. Walker

The Reasons For:

There is not a more underappreciated writer in comics today than David F. Walker. He has had so many great series like Powerman and Iron Fist and Nighthawk that have been fantastic but never caught on with fans to a great extent. Then when he is on a book that is a massive hit like Naomi his name often gets left out of the equation. He is extremely versatile as a writer and a veteran of the industry. He may not have the name recognition of other writers but based on his track record of quality he deserves to be on a book like Batman, and maybe it could lead others to check out some of his earlier work that did not get the love it should have.

The Reasons Against:

Sometimes you have to make your own success which is what he is doing by creating his own comic label. Solid Comix launched with One Fall after it had a successful Kickstarter campaign. Once a ball gets rolling like that you do not want it to stop so he may not want to write Batman as doing that while keeping your own Comic Book Company alive would be nearly impossible.

Notable Titles: Bitter Root, Nighthawk, Powerman and Iron Fist

Bryan Edward Hill

The Reasons For:

Bryan Edward Hill is another major rising star in the comic book world and currently writing my personal favorite title American Carnage. He also has some experience writing Batman as well as he wrote an arc for Detective Comics as it was going through its transitional period. DC must have liked what it saw as it led to his own new title Batman and the Outsiders. Reading his work whether it be for DC, Vertigo, or Marvel he always comes with a different perspective so some of comics biggest characters. Although he has only written Batman in a limited manner so far the way he approached the character bolds well for an ongoing series.

The Reasons Against:

Recently Bryan Edward Hill has expressed interest in writing for outside the world of comics due to his love of film. Reading American Carnage you could easily see that transition to a film or TV series so he clearly has the mindset to make that work. One of the reported reasons Tom King was leaving the main Batman title was due to the other duties that were piling up including helping write the script for the New Gods movie so would they be in a similar boat if Hill took the job.

Notable Titles: Batman and the Outsiders, American Carnage, Killmonger

James Tynion IV

The Reasons For:

Similar to other writers on this list James Tynion IV has had a long history writing Batman as he took over Detective Comics for the start of Rebirth. Overall his run was well liked especially in the way worked in the Bat family. He’s still writing Batman currently as he is writing the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover. Outside of Scott Snyder and Tom King he has probably written the most Batman comics over the last few years. Also as a Tim Drake fan, there’s a good chance he will bring him back as a main character in the title based on his own noted admiration for the character.

The Reasons Against:

With all the Batman titles he has written over the years does he have much left to say about the Caped Crusader? You can tell he put his heart and soul into his Detective Comic to try to do that again is quite the task to ask. He’s also working a lot with Scott Snyder’s plans for Justice League which clearly have no plans of slowing down shortly.

Notable Titles: Detective Comics, Justice League Dark, Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Kelly Sue DeConnick

The Reasons For:

Kelly Sue DeConnick has had quite a career as a comic writer working on Warren Ellis’s website to one of the most respected names in comics. She took a character like Carol Danvers and wrote one of the best runs anyone has seen, which is especially impressive because Captain Marvel is one of those characters that no one can seemingly get right in comic form. Her recent work in Aquaman is shaping up to be something special as well as she is rebuilding Aquaman anew while maintaining what works with the character. She’s made a career of making bold choices and that is the type of mindset you need to write Batman.

The Reasons Against:

The biggest question is if she would WANT to write Batman. Prior to her Aquaman run, she indicated she wanted to write Aquaman because he is not considered a first tier character. You cannot get more first tier than Batman. Based on how her Aquaman run has started so far it seems she has major plans for the character that will take some time to develop. Considering the switch would occur next year it may be too soon.

Notable Titles: Bitch Planet, Aquaman, Captain Marvel

LONGSHOTS

Mark Russell

The Reasons For:

Mark Russell is one of my personal favorite writers in comics today. He has reached the point that if his name is on a book I am buying it. Proof being he got me to buy Lone Ranger, Red Sonja, and Judge Dredd comics. Three characters I do not typically read and three comics I thought he did a great job at infusing his style as a storyteller with the makeup of each character. With what he accomplished on The Flintstones and Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles that he could write impressive satire, and now working on those licensed books he has shown he can also work in the confides of an established character and create exciting action series.

The Reasons Against:

As much as I love Mark Russell and despite the amazing critical praise his books have had they have not sold amazing well on a monthly basis. Although many will go on and have a healthy life in the trade format. Considering when you hire someone to write Batman it needs to be a name to make a lot of people happy. Many of which are executives that probably look at nothing but numbers so someone like Russell may be a hard name to justify despite his talent. Recently DC/Vertigo cancelled the publication of his series Second Coming due to online backlash. Luckily for those who like good comis Ahoy Comics picked it up. However, DC may be hesitant that some of that rage still exists and will only increase after its release. If that were to happen based on their past actions I do not see them being comfortable having their Batman writer also be the author of a book causing controversy.

Notable Titles: The Flintstones, Red Sonja, Prez, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles

Eliot Rahal & Jorge Fornés

The Reasons For:

One of my personal biggest hopes with Batman going back to a monthly book is that we get one creative team on the title. Something that just does not exist today in mainstream books outside of The Immortal Hulk. Jorge Fornés has done a lot of work on Batman recently as his style fits Batman perfectly as he channels the spirit of David Mazzucchelli. Last year he also worked with Eliot Rahal on one of the best series of the year Hot Lunch Special. An original crime story of a family working through the sins of the past to create a better future. Their styles complimented each other well and I think they would take Batman into a brave new world with a strong mixture of humor and horror.

The Reasons Against:

The biggest thing working against them is the limited resume for a book like Batman. Despite my love for Hot Lunch Special it is not like it was this massive hit that overtook the comic book community. Jorge Fornés has worked on Batman in large part because of Tom King so who knows if the DC editors feel just as strongly about him. King mentioned how in past interviews how hesitant DC was to put Mitch Gerads on major books prior to Mister Miracle and he was further along in his career at that point that either of these two are.

Notable Titles: Hot Lunch Special

Magdalene Visaggio.

The Reasons For:

Magdalene Visaggio.is a creator I am just starting to get into due to her work Vagrant Queen, Morning in America, and Calamity Kate. With my limited experience with Visaggio’s work I have been impressed with the way she writes damaged or challenging characters. How she depicts the challenge of redemption as a struggle that sometimes you do not always win, and she will write protagonist in ways that do not make them the most likeable people. I think she would be able to tap into that part of Batman that is damaged to the point he can become approachable yet determined. Part of what makes him such an iconic hero is how he will do the things others are not able.

The Reasons Against:

Magdalene Visaggio series Vagrant Queen is set to become a Syfy series shortly so there is a good chance a lot of her attention will be placed on making sure that show is as good as it can be. Similar to other names on this list while she is a rising star in the industry going from her current work to Batman would be one massive jump. Not to mention not all creators have interest writing a book like Batman and prefer crafting their own original ideas.

Notable Titles: Eternity Girl, Vagrant Queen, Morning in America

Barry Eisler

The Reasons For:

Barry Eisler may not be a name that many comic book fans know as his work to this point has been with novels. I am personally a big fan of his John Rain novels that I think many Batman fans will enjoy. He may become a more well known name as Keanu Reeves has been set to star in an upcoming TV adaptation of his books. That series has elements of espionage, corruption, and forbidden romance all of which translate into Batman stories as well. Part of me also just enjoys the irony of Tom King being followed up by another author who was also in the C.I.A. as Eisler spent three years in a covert position with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. It would be interesting to see how their different backgrounds impact the way they write the same character. He is also highly knowledgeable in martial arts and considering Batman is supposed to be one of DC’s greatest fights he could be a lot of actual technique to back that up.

The Reasons Against:

Writing for novels and writing for comics are two very different skill sets. There have been a number of great novelists that could not transition to the medium of comics. You have to put a lot in trusts in artist, which is hard to do when you have been telling your own stories for your entire career. Taking that risk on the biggest comic in the industry could payoff or be a massive failure. Maybe if we are luckily one day we can get a Batman – John Rain crossover since the likelihood of Eiser writing Batman is extremely slim.

Notable Titles: Rain Series, The God’s Eye View, Fault Line
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So who do you think SHOULD write Batman? Or who do you think WILL write Batman? Let us know in the comments!

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One Response to “Who Should Write Batman?”

  • Jonathan

    Tom Taylor, Joshua Williamson; David F. Walker, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Mark Russel Magdalen Vissagio and Barry Eisler are all writers that I think would do great. Though, I think the great Chip Zdarsky would do amazing work on Batman, though it’s a bit of a long shot as he seems loyal to Marvel and his Daredevil run garnering well-earned praise. Also, I definitely want more Jorge Fornés and Mitch Gerads art, thought I’m not sure if Gerards is likely to come back to a Batman book without Tom King.