I'm beginning to wonder if the idiot legacy children of editors and publishers who find themselves obligingly employed at Daddy's newspapers or similarly oblivious media outlets invariably end up getting shunted off to entertainment desks. That would explain two stories indicative of the media coverage of "Batman R.I.P." so far: Batman to be killed off after 70 years
and Batman Killed by Own Father in Controversial New Comic Book Storyline
From the first story, graphs two and four: There are rumours that Batman will suffer a gruesome end when his sidekick Robin goes over to "the dark side" and destroys him in a terrible betrayal. ...Others speculate that Wayne may either retire from his duties or be killed by a mystery villain known as the Black Glove.
Aside from saturation in what Wikipedia editors would gleefully label "weasel words" (rumours from where? Which others?) there's a classic misstep of advertising your innate unfamiliarity with the material you're supposed to be covering ("mystery villain?" Singular? It's a Grant Morrison book; the beginning of this storyline has been on shelves long enough to have calcified already. There's no excuse for lack of a cursory Google just to bring yourself up to speed if you're going to cash a check based on writing fifteen column inches. Don't just reiterate the press release, please.)
The second story attempts even less depth, and as such, fails less. Ordinarily it'd get points for indicating Dr. Hurt claims
to be Thomas Wayne (though in the issue he also claims to be the Devil, the fifth Beatle and a word that rhymes with "orange") and for including Morrison's quotes that indicate his goal in the storyline transcend the usual killing-off of the character. Of course the headline ignores those subtleties, and the story itself asserts Bruce Wayne as being dead three separate times, so it's hard to be charitable to this piece.
Old-media writers: here are a few ways and levels that writing about the "death" of Batman-slash-Bruce-Wayne are wastes of time and column inches.
1. DC/Warner will not kill its cash cow. Yes, Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes and wanted to make it stick, but if he couldn't resist the fan tide back in the days before slash and Mary Sues, imagine when said character is a $1 billion revenue hog. From a business standpoint, it makes no sense.
2. Batman will never consent to being dead. If Warner and DC Editorial were both under full control of the lunatics (insert Dan Didio assessment here) and they mutually decided that Bats should, indeed, become the Dirtnap Detective, that his tales had run their course, that there was no point in milking the fanbase anymore, that might stick for several years. But Batman as icon endures. He exists primarily in a medium where resurrection gets invoked now at funerals
, where the most ancillary and nondescript characters from yellow-paged archives return with nearly mundane ease. The character might be freeze-dried coffee on the sidewalk; the idea endures and will persist, if not under this regime, then the next.
3. In terms of comic-book deaths, that's a two, maybe a three. Exploding helicopters? Meh. Tom Tresser and Oliver Queen have both endured those and gotten much better since.
4. For that matter, just looking at the big guns of the Justice League -- how many of them have been dead? Superman (notably), Wonder Woman (yes), Flash (some more so than others, but yes, that's Barry Allen again), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan's fall, death and resurrection got about as much paper devoted to it as a character of his stature could justifiably warrant), Aquaman (I lose track -- is there a new one?), Hawkman (Byzantine continuity issues aside, I'm sure he's been dead *and* alive simultaneously), Green Arrow (of course), J'Onn J'Onzz is currently suffering from death but for God's sake let's just move that right along, shall we?
5. Shall we even bother looking up the Wikipedia entry on Batman R.I.P.
? "According to DC Senior Vice President and executive editor Dan DiDio, Bruce Wayne does not really die in the storyline, though it leads to his absence." Or, better still, Morrison on his still-unfolding Final Crisis
miniseries: "First it's R.I.P., and we'll see how that winds up for Batman. Then the two-parter I mentioned (#682-683) goes through Batman's whole career, in a big summing up of everything that also ties directly into Final Crisis. And Final Crisis is where we see the final fate of Batman."
It's one thing to write about subcultures and miss the boat -- hell, it's to be expected (note the lack of split hairs over "Which Robin?"). Now, to miss the boat so badly you end up throwing yourself under a train instead, that's pretty impressive. And in entertainment writing, let's face it, it's excusable. It's ephemeral, it's pointless. But the scary thing is if this is indicative of the effort and discipline that goes into the "news" you consume without
familiarity, why aren't you terrified?