Thursday, March 31, 2016

Glen Weldon's "The Caped Crusade"

Glen Weldon is the author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography and the new book, The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Caped Crusade and reported the following:
Well, this worked out nicely: page 99 of The Caped Crusade, which uses the character of Batman as a lens through which to examine how and why nerd culture came to be, chronicles the brief period of time right after end of the 60s TV show.

Turns out, that's the moment when everything changed. The POW! ZAP! Batmania fad had fizzled out. Sales of Batman comics were tanking. And over at Marvel, writers had keyed into the fact that the core readership of comics was now teens and adults, not kids, as it had been just a few years before. And that readership wanted more complex storylines that put heroes through the emotional wringer. To do that, those heroes needed to have emotions -- distinct, definable personalities, unlike the cheery, anodyne cops-in-capes that had dominated comics for the previous 30 years.

So the writers of Batman resolved to remake Batman from scratch, and they did so by viscerally rejecting everything Adam West's TV Batman had been. In the book, I argue that the grim, brooding badass version of Batman that now occupies our collective consciousness was actually born at the moment, in 1970, when they started Batman over, and -- crucially -- made him an obsessive. That obsession was key, because it resonated with the the obsessive nerds who read his comics, and paved the way for every Batman who's donned the cowl since.
Learn more about the book and author at Glen Weldon's website and follow him on Twitter.

The Page 99 Test: Superman: The Unauthorized Biography.

Writers Read: Glen Weldon.

--Marshal Zeringue