DC has announced that Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, the Eisner-nominated digital comic is to be printed as a graphic novel series starting in the fall of 2023. Currently available on WEBTOON, this big-hearted, and utterly loveable alternative take on the Batman universe will be published along with their other DCU webcomic hits Vixen: NYC and Zatanna and the Ripper.
WEBTOON is the world’s largest digital comics platform. It’s free to use and, with 85.6 million monthly active readers, a large percentage of that user group is the Gen Z age bracket of six- to twenty-four-year-olds.
In 2021 DC wisely set its sights on tapping into this next generation of readers with the launch of Batman: Wayne Family Adventures focusing on an all-ages-friendly look at the Bat Family as an unconventional family, largely focusing on their downtime. Each chapter of the ongoing series is a little vignette – although there are some follow-on tales – which have been slowly introducing the entire cast of the Bat Universe and show Bruce Wayne as a patriarchal figure.
Season one begins simply with Duke Thomas (better known as The Signal) moving into Wayne Manor. The sight of Damian Wayne acting surly to him is amusing but also strikes a chord, akin to the child who is resentful towards any competition for his father’s attention. The series goes on in a similar way to feature moments that would be too inconsequential to the big stories, but in this all-ages format, they present the group with a charming and relatable family dynamic.
Sometimes a chapter is all about a silly pun, at others, they present poignant life lessons, and this perfect balance no doubt got the attention of the Eisner awards committee which nominated it for best webcomic in 2021 (the winner was another WEBTOON title Lore Olympus).
Here on Dark Knight News, you can find reviews for episodes by typing Batman: Wayne Family Adventures into the search bar. Reviews for episodes 1-3 can be found here.
2022 saw WEBTOONS and DC capitalizing on the success of Batman: Wayne Family Adventures with the launch of Vixen: NYC in May. Unlike the ubiquitous Batman, Vixen is less well known so the comic tells an origin story as Mari Jiwe leaves Ghana with her grandmother’s gift – a magic totem that she knows very little about. Following Mari in her freshman year of college, once again the target audience is for all ages, but this time the chapters tell a continuous story. Chapter one sees a brief appearance of Beast Boy.
In July 2022, Zatanna and The Ripper became the third digital comic release. Also a continuous story, the focus is a little more on the adventure and intrigue in a tale that sees Zatanna sent back in time to 1888 in London. Although the style is very simple and clear once again, Zatanna’s request for “Replenishing vodka shooters” for her birthday in the first episode, gives you an indication that there’s a fraction more maturity to the storytelling.
Although essentially using the same visual language, digital comics are not only known in terms of seasons and episodes rather than issues but they’re designed to be scrolled vertically rather than with a mix of landscape and portrait layouts suited to turning pages. The first episode of Vixen: NYC has a nicely illustrated long-flowing image, so it will be interesting to see how that translates to single pages. Nevertheless, with such a vast amount of people using WEBTOONS and reading digital comics in general, it’s not surprising that DC are delighted with the success they’ve had with these three titles and keen to get them into print.
Anne DePies, DC’s senior vice president and general manager said in a statement:
Fans can’t get enough of our DC and WEBTOON content and expanding DC’s creative partnership with WEBTOON into print with books like Batman: Wayne Family Adventures reflects this demand. Each page of these new volumes is meticulously reproduced to be read seamlessly in book narrative format. DC’s continuing partnership with WEBTOON combines legendary franchises with new technologies and global fandoms, and we can’t wait to get these new print editions into your hands.
For superhero comics to survive it’s vital that new generations of potential readers get the chance to see these characters outside of movies and cartoons. Series like Batman: Wayne Family Adventures tell stories and present versions of characters that would be too much of a risk to put on screen. The news of a short mini-series adaptation of the digital comic demonstrates the importance of comics as being a sounding board for bold ideas.
It’s great that wider audiences are getting to know the names of Duke Thomas, and even better that they’re getting used to seeing the likes of Tim Drake and Harley Quinn in non-heterosexual relationships. Where else can you get to see a sequence in which the best version of Robin is decided by seeing who can claim the last of one of Alfred’s homemade cookies? Let me tell you, it gets surprisingly intense.
It’s important that these tales finally have a chance to feed back into the printed form. Digital comics may get the readership figures, but graphic novels are a mark of accessible permanence. Seeing these stories on the shelves will come with a curious sense of validation – as well as making them easier to pass on.
Batman: Wayne Family Adventures Vol. 1 (9781779523273, $14.99 US) will be published on August 1st and collects episodes 1 through 25.
Vixen: NYC Vol. 1 (9781779523280, $14.99 US) will be published on August 15th and collects episodes 1 through 9.
Zatanna & the Ripper Vol. 1 (9781779523389, $14.99 US) will be published on October 3rd and collects episodes 1 through 11.
Press release and images courtesy of DC Comics