Book Club / That We’ve Already Heard a Thousand Times Before

Batman Year 100Batman: Year 100
By Paul Pope

How far can you stretch the idea of Batman and yet keep him the same? 

For me that’s the idea that animates Batman: Year 100 and I’ve gotta admit – it’s a pretty exciting one. Paul Pope takes Batman and basically removes a whole bunch of aspects and installs several new ideas just to see if it still works and yeah – well – it actually purrs like a dream. Like a car with a brand new engine. 

Admittingly tho I can easily imagine a die-hard Batman picking up Year 100 and wrinkling up their nose in disgust. “What the hell is this nonsense? Where’s the Batmobile? Where’s Wayne Manor? Where’s the Batcave? And what’s with the teeth?” 

But then for me this is at the heart of the major war of 21st Century entertainment. On the one side you have people who just want exactly the same thing slightly regurgitated. Maybe with a new lick of paint on it – but still very much the same thing. And then there’s those of us who are desperate for something that isn’t just another iteration of something from the same franchise that we’ve already heard a thousand times before. 

Of course (ha!) it’s worth pointing out that Batman: Year 100 is still – yes – a Batman book. He’s still got the cape and the cowl. He’s still fighting the bad guys. Commissioner Gordon is there. Robin and Oracle too. So really it’s placed in that same awkward intersection between the two opposing poles of people who just want the same thing and people who want something different – this is the compromise: something with the same ingredients but prepared in a way that you haven’t experienced before. It’s like if Batman got spliced with Akira. Batman goes electric. 

(In fact it’s interesting comparing Year 100 with another piece of corporate content which tried the same thing – The Last Jedi. Although the big difference here is that Year 100 goes a lot further. Imagine a Star Wars movie set 100 years after A New Hope and there’s some guy called Luke Skywalker only he’s using light nunchucks and people are describing his as a terrorist? I mean – i think that sounds pretty cool lol).

Also well yeah – it’s a comic book so I guess I should write a few words about how it looks because it looks amazing. There’s something about Paul Pope’s work which makes it feel like you’re looking at something which is actually moving. Light splotches across the page like ink dripping off a pen. Everything feels so kinetic that it’s almost like looking at a hologram and you get the feeling that if you go back and look at the same page again you’ll get a totally different view or see it in a whole different way. 

The thing I don’t get is why this didn’t become it’s own series? I mean the whole thing reads like a pilot and even tho it’s all pretty self-contained for once it’s a comic that makes me wish that there were more books to come. For once it’s a superhero book that doesn’t just feel like a headache but instead feels more like a… beginning. 

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