What if Batman were a Marvel Character?

Happy new book day, everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Welcome to the beginning of the second six months of this Batman column. Awhile back I asked a popular question: is Batman a Marvel character trapped in the DC Universe? The Internet reacted favorably. This seems to be a popular line of thought, being as even Joss Whedon has joked about it during press conferences. Today, I wish to propose a few thought experiments to determine what Batman might actually be like if he were a Marvel character.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Imagine... Courtesy of DC Comics. Art by the late, great Joe Kubert.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Imagine… Courtesy of DC Comics. Art by the late, great Joe Kubert.

To begin, this doesn’t seem like a very new question in Nerd Culture. Back in 2001, DC actually thumbed its nose at Marvel by putting out a series of stories where they allowed Stan Lee to reimagine most of their major characters as he would have created them. He created a black Batman named Wayne Williams (in keeping with his alliterative naming gimmick) who had more in common with Peter Parker than the original Bruce Wayne. A far cry from a billionaire playboy, Williams was the son of a murdered police officer who swore vengeance on the criminal who took his father from him. Using his knowledge and connections, Williams was able to put together enough of a costume and gadgets to make the Batman comparison legitimate. This iteration of the character actually sounds pretty interesting. I wish DC had done more with him than simply treat him as something to dangle over Marvel’s collective heads as some sort of publishing rivalry joke.

Further, some might argue that there already are characters in the Marvel stable who seem inspired by Batman, and that is certainly a valid point. But are any of them true analogues of the Caped Crusader? Let’s look at a few.

The Internet has already had a field day making all sorts of comparisons between Batman and Tony Stark. Certainly, some things stick—they are both billionaires with very public lives, both are CEOs of their respective family companies (most of the time), both seem pushed into the superhero life, and both are non-powered superheroes who rely on their intellect, wealth, and technology to put them on even footing with godlike peers. In terms of personality, the comparisons tend to dry up; where Stark is a joker and a partier, Bruce Wayne is taciturn and pugnacious.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Knight. Courtesy of Marvel Comics. Art by Bill Sienkiewicz.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_Knight. Courtesy of Marvel Comics. Art by Bill Sienkiewicz.

Personality, methods, and appearance do make the leap when looking at Moon Knight, however. Marc Spector’s cape and cowl, gadgets, and little throwing moons reminiscent of Batarangs all beg comparison, but it is primarily a cosmetic one. Though he also calls the night home and is fairly brutal in his dealings with criminals, Moon Knight is far more mentally unstable than Batman has ever been shown to be. In fact, in recent years, he has been widely defined by his schizophrenia and the advantages granted by having his skill sets divided up among several personalities.

Personally, I believe one of the closest comparisons that can be made with Batman in the Marvel Universe lies with Danny Rand, better known as Iron Fist. Though he possesses mild supernatural powers, he is a billionaire martial arts master defined by early personal tragedy and a desire to fight crime at the street level. Further, and though a looser comparison, he is also a team player, having a rich history of working at Heroes for Hire with such fellow street vigilantes as Luke Cage and Misty Knight.

If questions persist, I may return to this topic in the future. For now, though, what do you all think of the history and comparisons I was able to put together here? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @quaintjeremy. Don’t forget to check out my personal blog, quaintjeremy’s thoughts. If you have indie comics work you’d like reviewed, I’m your guy. Feel free to drop us a line.

My numerous comic picks for this week:

Batman Eternal #13

Grayson #1 (potential review forthcoming)

Earth 2 #25

Avengers #32

Daredevil #0.1

Moon Knight #5

She-Hulk #6

Thor: God of Thunder #24

More on Batman next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. See you all then!

Top 10 Marvel Characters, part 1

by Jeremy DeFatta

Good day, everyone! Today, I want to offer all of you the first half of my top ten favorite Marvel characters. Let’s jump right in with numbers 1-5!

1. Captain America – What can I say? It’s just not the Avengers without him. He is good and kind and those are Capshieldhis greatest strengths, even beyond being a super soldier. There have been a lot of rough patches in his characterization over the years (he’s a few years shy of being as old as Superman and Batman, after all), but recent writers have made him a compassionate advocate for civil rights and all forms of justice. Regardless of your feelings about the character or even the United States in real life, Steve Rogers is now used to demonstrate what is best about us rather than focusing on negative things.

2. Thor – I’ll admit I have a soft spot for Norse myths, but there is more to it than that. It is reasonable to say that Jack Kirby likely decided to include an established pagan god in the Avengers in order to lend weight to his construction of superheroes as a modern American body of mythology. In this interconnected way, Marvel superheroes and Thor sort of endlessly make each other interesting to me. I strongly recommend checking out the current run of Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron. It is well worth it.

3. Daredevil – I’m a big fan of Matt Murdock and have read a lot of different versions of him. Frank Miller, Kevin Smith, David Mack, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Mark Waid have all left very different marks on the character but each succeeds in making him interesting and compelling. Check out my Top Marvel Stories Since 2000 post to see more of my thoughts on the character.

4. Luke Cage – Luke Cage is a fairly straightforward, but anomalous, character. His origins seem tossed together and LukeCagehis early adventures in the 70s are painfully corny. That said, Brian Michael Bendis made him a stand-out character to root for during his run on New Avengers. Bendis has a bit of a knack for making C-list characters great, and Luke Cage is now a beloved and recognizable superhero.

Doctor_Strange_Spider-Man

5. Dr. Strange – Stephen Strange was a mild-mannered, middle-aged surgeon until tragedy befell him and a career-ending injury sent him in search of new ways to heal himself. Now, Dr. Strange is the most powerful magic-using character in the Marvel Universe and has been involved in every major event of the past decade. He is currently one of the main characters in Jonathan Hickman’s run on New Avengers, which I highly recommend.

And that’s the first half of my list. What do you guys think so far? Who are some of your favorite characters from Marvel? Let me know your thoughts below. Don’t forget to support your local comic shops. I guarantee you can find a lot of stories featuring these characters and many, many others in those sacred spaces. Tweet me @quaintjeremy.

Images: Captain America Shield via Wikimedia (public domain); Luke Cage portrait by Leinil Francis Yu via Wikipedia; Doctor Strange image from the 1994 Spider Man animated series via Wikipedia.

All Marvel characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 1996 Marvel Characters, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.