I am so sick of Batman.
Now, don’t get me wrong, because I really love Batman as a character. He’s got a great rogues gallery, some amazing films, and more fantastic stories under his belt than probably any other character in comics today, but still…
I’m sick of Batman.
I think the core of the issue is that Batman has become what people always complain Superman is, namely, he’s too perfect. Batman never loses. Batman can’t die. Batman always wins the day, and any losses he might suffer are quickly swept under the rug and never discussed again.
One of the central features of Batman is that he is supposed to just be a normal man, albeit a normal man with a genius intellect and an unrivaled fortune, but a man nonetheless.
But we don’t get to see that anymore. Oh sure, DC has no problem going dark with Batman, but we never really see him fail. We never see him unable to win the day. Batman always has to win, and we get series after series that are about how awesome Batman is, and how high the stakes really are, but there is never really any doubt about how things are going to end. Batman will save the day, the toys will go back in the box, rinse and repeat.
In addition to this, every deconstruction of Batman, and oh boy have there been a lot recently, all have the same focus, namely to take Batman to the darkest place they can as quickly as they can. Batman can never have moments of joy, or humanity. Batman must be the night. Batman must be the dark. Batman must be VENGENCE! Heck, it’s such a trope anymore that the most radical thing the latest Batman movie did was actually have Batman realize that, hey, maybe being a grimdark lunatic who stalks the night ISN”T ACTUALLY HELPING THINGS!
It’s a moment of genuine self awareness that sadly I doubt we’ll see translated into the comics anytime soon. Darkness sells, apparently, and so as the number one book on their roster, Batman must stay dark. Batman cannot lose. Batman must be unto a god.
Which takes us to today’s book, a gleeful, amazing book that slaps this idea right in the face and gives us yet another entry in the ongoing saga of the best independent superhero in comics today, The Dragonfly!
The first Ahoy comic I read was issue one of The Wrong Earth. Here’s the blurb:
On one world, Dragonflyman and his sidekick Stinger enjoy a life of adventure. On another Earth, the Dragonfly hunts criminal parasites like a lethal exterminator. But what happens when these two heroes change places?
Both versions of the hero in The Wrong Earth serve as Batman analogues, with DragonflyMan and Stinger as the Adam West and Burt Ward dynamic duo, while The Dragonfly is a grimdark Batman that would make Zach Snyder weep. The book was dark, sinister, ridiculous, and hilarious all at the same time.
It was also one of the best comics I had read in a long time, and a lot of other people seem to agree with me, because that first miniseries has gone on to spawn a number of follow-ups, from a prequel series that filled in gaps in our hero’s backgrounds, to a sequel series that sees them seemingly trapped forever in their new realities.
Last week Ahoy Comics released the first in a series of five one shot comics following the events of the last miniseries (which was also excellent and you need to check it out ASAP).
Titled The Wrong Earth: Trapped on Teen Planet, Ahoy Comics has once again given us an amazing story set in this bizarre, ever expanding multiverse, and I am here for it. So let’s dive into the book properly, and see if I can explain just what it is that makes this book so good!
Here’s the blurb:
The first of five unique one-shots building and expanding on the world of AHOY’s The Wrong Earth, by some of the biggest names in comics! First off: superstar writer Gail Simone contributes an extra-long story as grim and gritty vigilante Dragonfly is whisked to an alternate Earth of teen-agers, malt shops, love triangles, and school dances! Will this innocent world soften him? Or will his violent methods poison it? Featuring variant covers by Dan Parent (Archie) and Gene Ha (Top Ten, Mae).
Alright, let me start off by backing up a bit. Be warned, spoilers ahead.
In the first miniseries, a couple of magic mirrors caused our heroes to swap Earths, along with their Joker style counterparts, known as #1. The mirrors were seemingly destroyed after a variety of hijinks, leaving The Dragonfly trapped in his counterparts’ world, along with Stinger (who is oblivious to his real origins) and #2, an amalgamation of classic Batman ‘66 style gun molls mixed with a dash of Harley Quinn. #2 is, in classic Harley Quinn fashion, the brightest person in the room, and quickly deduces that The Dragonfly is not who he says he is, but also decides it’s better to throw in with him than to return to a life of crime.
Now, I’m leaving out a lot of details and trust me, this is a series you’re going to want to read on your own, so rest assured that I am skimming over a lot to not spoil too much. The long and short of it is that The Dragonfly has suddenly found himself in the role of caretaker to a young boy that reminds him a great deal of his own former sidekick, with whom things did not end well. As such, he has vowed to keep him safe, and do everything in his power to keep from learning his true identity.
As The Wrong Earth: Trapped on Teen Planet opens, our intrepid trio is looking at the shattered remains of the portal mirror, when suddenly they are attacked, and forced into the multiverse once again. This time, rather than falling into a dark version of their own world, the three emerge into a world that, well, let’s not mince words here: it’s Riverdale
Yes, Teen Planet is Riverdale, and I mean the good one, not the weirdly dark one on TV that everyone was really into for like five minutes and now no-one seems to remember.
You’d expect our grim and gritty hero to hate this land of malt shops and fluff, but to the surprise of everyone, The Dragonfly loves this new world, and we soon discover the horrible secret behind why that is.
I won’t give anything else away, only to say that somehow The Wrong Earth: Trapped on Teen Planet that started as a funny take on Batmen changing places has become one of the most thoughtful and unique books on the shelves today. Guest author Gail Simone has jumped headfirst into this title and the results are, as usual with her work, fantastic.
I’ve long sang the praise of Ahoy Comics, and books like The Wrong Earth: Trapped on Teen Planet are exactly the reason why. These are comics for people who love comics, and if you have not jumped on this series yet, well, I don’t know what more I can do to convince you.
Run to your LCS and ask them to order you a copy of The Wrong Earth: Trapped on Teen Planet, and while you’re at it pick up the previous trades to catch up on the story so far. If you love comics, Batman, and darn good storytelling, this is the book for you.
Until next time, stay safe.