Who is Batman afraid of?

Superhero comics : The end of the dark knight

It happens in the sixth edition of the DC Comics series "Final Crisis": After fighting the crime in Gotham City and its inner demons for 70 years, Batman breaks his moral principle never to use a gun for the first time.

The dark knight shoots Darkseid, evil personified in the DC universe. His last word couldn't be more mundane: "Gotcha."

As it dies, Darkseid roasts the bat with its omega rays. Shortly thereafter, Superman finds the battered Batman and carries the apparently dead hero from the villain's bunker. End. Out.

"Shocking Bat history is being written here," says Panini-Verlag for the "Batman R.I.P." series, which recently started in Germany and tells the story of what happened before the dark knight died.

In the United States, Batman's death was barely noticed

But what is shocking is something completely different: at least in the United States, where the death scene appeared in mid-January, the story caused almost no reaction in the mainstream media. The guest appearances of US President Barack Obama recently attracted much more attention - including in an issue of "Spider-Man". An icon of superhero history resigns and nobody is looking?

That was different in 1992. When Superman succumbed to his injuries after a battle against the mighty Doomsday and died in the arms of Lois Lane, media worldwide gratefully picked up the comic book event and "The Death of Superman" became one of the best-selling superhero comics of all time. Of course, a year later, "the steel one" flew again in the old freshness in the sky over Metropolis - and everything was as before.

Because that's how it always is. The death and resurrection of heroes have long since become one of the most common comic clich├ęs. The English edition of the Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia even has its own entry about it, which explains in detail the narrative tricks with which comic book authors temporarily let their heroes die. Basic variants are the actual and supernatural resuscitation as in the case of Superman or the assumption of the superhero role by a character with a similar disposition as in the case of Batman's sidekick Robin. The death of a comic book character is often only faked, and later it turns out that a clone or a shapeshifter was the actual victim. And if nothing else helps, some super colleagues simply travel back in time to bring the deceased back.

An old comic book saying goes: "Nobody stays dead except Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben". This refers to the sidekicks of Captain America, Batman's second Robin and Spider-Man's uncle. But even this saying has already been overtaken by events. In 2005, both Bucky and Jason Todd were revived. The death of Marvel veteran Captain America, who was shot by a sniper in New York in 2007 and has since been represented by Bucky, caused quite a stir.

The advertising scam no longer works

As a PR trick, the scam has worn out over the years. But maybe there is another reason why the death of Batman's alter ego, billionaire Bruce Wayne, caused comparatively little attention. While the Batman film "The Dark Knight" reached an audience of millions with a few basic motifs from the comic template, the makers of the comics have to call themselves back to their readers' memories with so-called "crossover events". Anyone who was enthusiastic about the film and then buys an episode of "Final Crisis" will find it difficult to follow the plot. Literally hundreds of superheroes and villains target each other here. Good and bad characters happily change sides and turn the so-called multiverse of DC comics on its head. Laypeople feel a slight dizziness after just a few pages.

How Gotham City will manage without Batman in the next few months and how his former comrades-in-arms argue about Batman's cloak - that will primarily be followed by hardcore fans. But maybe there will soon be material for casual readers: Star author Neil Gaiman ("The Sandman") dedicates himself to the bat in the two-part series "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?" a reminiscence of the Superman classic "Whatever happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" by Alan Moore in 1986.

And Bruce Wayne aka Batman? He'll be back. That much is certain. Because that's how it always is.

An interview with Batman researcher Lars Banhold on the subject can be found at this link.

Batman's death initially played an important role in three comic series published by DC. It starts with "Batman R.I.P."which has now also started in Germany. This is followed by the series that has now also started in Germany"F.inal crisis"in the course of which Batman is killed by his adversary Darkseid. In the series"Battle for the Cowl", which is about to start in the USA, finally various comrades-in-arms of Batman are fighting over his legacy.

The volumes are published in German by Panini, more on this here.

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