The comics industry has barely begun shipping again, and already the Comics Teletype is overheating. Here are a few top stories:
The Dark Mr. Mom Returns? A lot of comics sites have had a lot of happy talk lately about Michael Keaton possibly coming back to play Batman in the “Flash” movie scheduled for 2022. Before this, the word was that “The Flash” had been canceled, due to alleged misbehavior by its star, Ezra Miller. But this movie has been killed and revived more times than Dracula, so anything’s possible. And one thing that seems more than possible is that “The Flash” (should it happen) will lean heavily on the multiverse.
The idea being bruited about is that Keaton would be a Batman from a parallel universe — let’s call it Earth-1989 for Tim Burton’s “Batman” — who is, obviously, much older and more experienced than the usual version, and could appear in multiple DC Extended Universe movies as a sort of connective tissue.
If Keaton signs a contract, he would likely be some sort of adviser figure. But maybe not, as “old Batman” is a major player in at least two famous DC Comics parallel-world stories:
In the 1986 “Dark Knight Returns,” Frank Miller (“300,” “Sin City”) envisions a more brutal, cynical, 60-something Dark Knight for a future Gotham City that has spiraled out of control. A fight scene against Superman in “DKR” was more or less adapted for “Batman v Superman.” And the evil, aged Bruce Wayne seen on the CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” (played by Kevin Conroy) is thought to be the “Dark Knight Returns” version.
In the 2011 “Flashpoint,” Barry Allen goes back in time to prevent Reverse-Flash from murdering his mother. This idea was explored superficially in “The Flash” TV show, but in comics Allen’s action creates a new timeline, one where — among other things — Bruce Wayne dies in Crime Alley and his father becomes Batman instead. Note: In this story, Thomas Wayne is not a nice guy.
So while Keaton’s Gotham Guardian could become a wise mentor for younger heroes in the DCEU, it’s also possible he will become a threat.
Denny O’Neil’s legacy
Famed comics writer Denny O’Neil died at home June 11 of natural causes. He was 81.
O’Neil got his start at Marvel Comics in the 1960s, but it was in 1970 that he made his indelible mark on the industry. Moving to DC and assigned the poor-selling “Green Lantern,” he added Green Arrow (whom he had just revamped in “Justice League of America”) to play a liberal Greek chorus to force the Emerald Gladiator to start asking questions about a number of social issues. These Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories, sometimes referred to as “Hard-Traveling Heroes,” were shocking in an era when DC’s superheroes were almost uniformly apolitical and personality-free.
O’Neil is also credited with taking Batman back to his creature-of-the-night roots, a critically acclaimed run on “The Question” and the creation or co-creation of a host of characters, including Ra’s al Ghul.
O’Neil has inspired generations of readers and writers. He will be missed.
But he will not be forgotten. Especially since virtually every Batman TV show or movie works in “O’Neil” and Denny’s frequent collaborator (Neal) “Adams” as street names. It’s practically a tradition, so keep an ear out for it.