This is article was inspired by Newsarama’s “Which New 52 title might be on the bubble?” It is an opinion article that does not express the site’s views, but the view of one person. It is a bit controversial. Really, the main point is that Batwing is not an identifiable character who people can relate to. Here is an outline of what each paragraph states after the first paragraph:
- Judd Winick’s difference between writing Jason Todd (Red Hood) and David Zambive (Batwing).
- Batwing being a history lesson book, then being a comic book.
- Batwing’s issues lies with the suit & David’s character portrayal.
- DC Comics issues with diversity and my opinion on how to diversify Batman & DC Comics.
In a recent article by Newsarma, “Which New 52 title might be on the bubble?” It was not surprising to see that Batwing was number 10 on the list to be one of the Batman titles to be let go. Newsarama had it right when they stated that Judd Winick (former writer of New 52’s Catwoman, New 52’s Batwing, Red Hood: The Lost Days) is the only reason why people actually sit down to read this comic book. Winick did well before The New 52’s when he did the origin of Red Hood aka Jason Todd when he made the character into an anti-hero making Jason Todd one of the most popular Robins and new hero in Batman Comics. However, the difference between Jason Todd’s character and David Zavimbe (Batwing)’s character is identification.
Now, when I say identification I do not mean who is who. No, I mean the audience. The comic readers cannot relate to Batwing at all. I do not believe that Judd Winick could identify with Batwing’s character himself. Jason Todd brought a fallen angel from grace type appeal where his vengeance was for both Batman and the Joker. This was appealing because it was a shocker to see him alive and well, but also a shocker to see that he had lost a bit of his mind in the process. Now, for Batwing who can be considered the “Black Version of Batman” has no appeal. It is not due to his race, it is due to the fact that his agenda is too far from what comic book readers can identify with such as a being a vigilante in Africa.
Yes, Africa has the same kind of problems as the United States. However, the writing for Batwing was more of a history lesson than story-telling on Winick’s part. He has even stated this in the past in other interviews. The average person may know where Africa is but could not tell you how many countries are in the continent or the history of that country to begin with. For one, we have never been there and two we know very little or next to nothing about anything that happens in Africa. Yes, we may know of the genocide and the children soldiers. However, we do not know the culture of those people such as food, clothing, or life-style. When we read Batwing, it is more of a history lesson than anything else and that bores the hell out of us!
What should grab us is the fact that Batwing has an armored suit and can definitely kick some serious ass in the process. This is another thing, without Batwing’s suit. David would die from all his injuries. This makes his character even less attractive. He’s kind of like the Bat-Iron Man, by which some DC Comics fans detest Marvel Comics for. So why do this? Is it because it gives Batwing a higher advantage over his enemies who are super natural? Maybe…or maybe they should rewrite Batwing and make him lose the suit. For each Bat-family member has their own suit that is not too technologically tweaked. Instead of having Batwing fight real supernatural foes, he should combat real people which would even the plain field. It is not just the suit that is the problem, it is also David’s character that some people cannot identify with either.
David’s character seems too much like Bruce Wayne such as he wants to right the wrongs of the world ego. This has been said and done because we have Bruce Wayne. Judd Winick never truly gave Batwing much for people to go on because Winick was so focused on making Batwing a hero that he forgot about making David an identifiable character. I described David awhile back as the Tin Man, because he has no heart. We don’t get to see the human side of him, David just fights and fights. There was never a moment where we see true care, true fear, or true anything from him. It’s all been superficial and “let’s move on forward with the storyline” ordeal. No one can identify with David, because David does not exist. Who is he without the Batwing? We always see him being Batwing and not being David with problems or struggles.
To be honest, I think people in the past have complained that the Bat-family was not very diverse and pulled Batwing out of their asses to say “Yea, we have diversity; he’s Black!” Yea…DC Comics, right. The subject of more diversity is touchy and even I’ll say it’s a hard line to walk on. If you consider the history of the United States, yea…you need a bullet proof vest, a jock strap, and a helmet because diversity discussions are that bad here. We don’t even like to talk about it. So, is there a solution to this madness? Yes, fix Batwing or develop a new diverse character whom DC Comics fans can enjoy reading about.
If you can pull from the recent DC Comics diversity line right now, it would be Suicide Squad with Amanda Waller who has assembled a team of villains to fight meta-humans. That’s a woman, I can hang with. She is bad ass and doesn’t care about protocol. Even though, the villains make her more enjoyable to read about. People can identify her along with other members of the Suicide Squad. I wouldn’t say give her own comic book in the near future, but keep her relevant with other popular characters such as Deadshot and Harley Quinn. If you really want to build diversity, bring back Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain whom have been the topic of discussions by DC Comics fans. They’re cult favorites by far. Now, one more person who would be an exception and would kill two birds with one stone is Renee Montoya. Diversity would actually be stomped down to the ground because you’re hitting two identities with her. As for her character, I would say no because she is too much about being good. I say make her an urban true grit female cop who’s personality and clothing style that is of today’s urban style. See Montoya would be more appealing that way. However, apparently she is supposed to be dead right now but make her supernatural like Deathstroke and build from there. If you want you can pull Stephanie Brown into the mix with Montoya as a young in your face girl who needs guidance from Montoya on how to be disciplined. You can even go as far as bringing in Cassandra Cain with Montoya who is found in Gotham’s China town as an assassin.
Seriously, no one has thought of this? I’m appalled! Well that’s DC Comics for ya!
So what do you think of Batwing? Have you been reading the comic book? What do you find so appealing or unappealing about the character? What do you think of diversity in DC Comics or the Bat-family in general? How would you incorporate beloved cult characters such as Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown?