Huh! While I was out taking care of my sick ma, it seems that one of the Q&A’s I sent to ComicsAlliance got answered when I wasn’t looking. It was answered by the venerable Chris Sims (author of the recently reviewed Awesome Hospital). Here was my question:
Q: There have been some theories that Azrael was a parody of the X-tremeness of Image Comics heroes at the time. I’m not sure, since at the time it looked like DC Comics was committed to putting out a new generation of heroes to catch on with younger readers at the time (a la Kyle Rayner). So what do you think? Was AzBats a parody, or was he a legit Batman replacement that never really caught on? — Larry, via email
That “Larry” would be me, if y’all were wondering. Finding it published in the “Ask Chris” article made me feel as giddy as Geoff Johns did when he was but a young nerd spinning far-too-elaborate theories about the Green Lantern.
So what was the verdict on AzBats? The answer may surprise you.
However, it is incredibly in depth and for that I thank Mr. Sims for taking the time to answer it to the fullest extent of his abilities. It’s not just about AzBats, but an exploration of the superhero phenomenon of the 90’s. Here’s an excerpt:
After all, the whole story of Knightfall and Azrael kicked off in 1992, during a time when comics were absolutely dominated by characters of the Badass Killer variety. Wolverine, Cable, the original bunch over at Image, hell, the Punisher was supporting three ongoing monthly comics, and as much as I love that guy, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t his compelling origin or character development that made him so popular. It was the fact that he was a ruthless killer. Same goes for Wolverine: Claremont, Byrne, Cockrum and Miller may have made him a surprisingly rich, deceptively complex character, but the reason most people were reading those comics was because he had knives sticking out of his hands that he used to stab ninjas. Believe me, as a kid who was ten years old in 1992, I can totally confirm that this is a premise with huge appeal.
And comics fans being what they were, they wanted everything to be like that. Well, I say “comics fans,” but that’s not really fair — fans of all media tend to be like that. Doom’s great and becomes a huge success, so we get a ton of first-person shooters that are variations and improvements. Street Fighter has kids lining up around the block, so Tekken and Mortal Kombat and Virtua Fighter become the main attraction at the arcades. Grand Theft Auto 3 is revolutionary and phenomenal, so suddenly everything’s got to have an open world sandbox.
It’s required reading for fans of comics history and people wondering why ever hero in the 90’s had those friggin’ pouches.
(On another side note, I’m halfway to finishing my next review, so The Webcomic Overlook should be back in business some time soon.)