Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

The Goggler Pull List #25: Batman: Wayne Family Adventures and America’s Got Powers

Dept. of Comic Book Compulsions

On this week’s edition of The Goggler Pull List, we review and recommend CRC Payne and StarBite’s Batman: Wayne Family Adventures and Jonathan Ross’ America’s Got Powers.

Let’s go…

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures (CRC Payne and StarBite)

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

This series is everything. I didn’t know how much joy I would get seeing the psychologically scarred and emotionally broken Jason Todd fight Damian Wayne for the last of Alfred’s award winning cookies. Or listening to Barbara Gordon evasively explain her night spent mothering her Bat-team while having brunch with her dad. All of it is utterly delightful. Batman: Wayne Family Adventures is the wholesome, family friendly take on Batman that I didn’t know I so desperately needed in my life.

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

The “family,” as featured in Batman and Detective Comics, is messy, complicated, and melodramatic. All of them are brooding and uncommunicative and could do with a lot of therapy.

(Now, there’s an idea. An ongoing series in which Batman, Alfred, the Robins, Cassandra, Barbara, Stephanie, Kate, Luke, and Jean-Paul Valley go to a psychiatrist. Every issue would play out like an episode of HBO’s In Treatment. I’d call it Batman on the Couch. DC… call me…)

This webcomic (which you can read for free on Webtoon) gives us a look at superheroes in their down time. It’s a slice of life strip that takes us into those in between moments when they’re not saving lives. It’s brunching with Barb. It’s that beautiful discovery that while they’re out there fighting crime, Alfred is slaving away in the kitchen making them glorious baked treats as a reward for everything they do. Being a superhero may be a thankless job, but at least there are cookies.

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

The series begins with Duke Thomas, aka The Signal, Gotham’s newest vigilante, moving into Wayne Manor. The first episode, which has Damian Wayne giving Duke a tour of the mansion and the Batcave, serves as this wonderful little overview of the Bat family. Damian, who isn’t at all thrilled with the idea of playing tour guide, uses the opportunity to have some fun at Duke’s expense. The whole thing is funny and well observed, and very quickly sets up the tone of what this series is going to be.

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

If you’re unfamiliar with Webtoon, it is a publishing platform that was designed with digital reading in mind, and especially on mobile devices. Unlike something like Comixology or DC Universe Infinite, the comics on Webtoon are designed and drawn vertically. They’re simple, uncomplicated panels, with minimal dialogue, making them really easy to read and digest on the go.

I am always in awe of writers and artists (and the writer/artists) who work on webcomics. Their ability to capture a moment, to convey humour, and drama, and emotion, within the creative confines they’ve set for themselves is nothing short of amazing. And both CRC Payne and StarBite are among some of the best. What they’ve done with Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, the way they’ve crafted these shorts, the way they’ve captured the crazy, unruly, dysfunction of the Bat family, demonstrates a thorough understanding of the characters and their quirks. (Which is a lot more than I can say for a lot of creators who’ve worked on The Dark Knight.)

Taking an established property like Batman (or Superman, or Wonder Woman, or Green Lantern) and trying to make it comedic is no mean task. (We’re two seasons in, and Star Trek: Lower Decks is still trying to find that right balance.) I think we can all agree that there is something inherently funny about grown men and women, each one mentally and emotionally damaged in their own way, running around in tights and fighting bad guys. But Batman: Wayne Family Adventures never goes for the easy joke. This isn’t Family Guy or American Dad. It isn’t just a barrage of one-liners and punchlines that are shoehorned onto characters. This series derives its humour from the ridiculousness that comes with being a part of a family of superheroes.

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

The average superhero comic is built around action. And while I do love catching up with my favourite heroes on a monthly basis as they deal with the complications of living that vigilante life, I have always felt that there is so much great narrative fodder in exploring some quieter moments. My favourite stories have always been the ones in which we see the consequences that their night jobs have on their lives and relationships. What does Alfred do on his days off? How does Jim Gordon unwind? What makes Orphan smile? At least with Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, I finally know that Jason Todd REALLY loves cookies.

I mean, is there anything quite as wonderful as this panel in which Bruce has a “World’s Okayest Father” mug?

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures

CRC Payne and StarBite, if you’re reading this, I’d love an episode where Batman is out fighting the Joker gang, but desperately needs the toilet. Hook me up.

America’s Got Powers (Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch)

The idea of a superhero styled reality competition may sound far fetched, but if an entire generation of Americans were to suddenly be born with super powers and abilities, such a show feels like something that would definitely happen. And for it to be backed by the American military complex would be a no-brainer.

This is exactly the premise of Jonathan Ross and Bryan Hitch’s 2014 comic series America’s Got Powers. A mysterious alien crystal, “the Stone,” lands in San Francisco, immediately making any pregnant woman within a five mile radius of it immediately give birth. This entire generation, derogatorily referred to as “Stoners,” are also imbued with inhuman powers.

Ross and Hitch could have easily taken the X-Men route – a group of young, super powered individuals are hunted by the powers that be and the rest of humanity, out of fear and/or a need to control the next big super weapon on the planet. But what Ross and Hitch have done is to marry show business, politics, the military, and science, into one neat package. And that package is the yearly American Gladiators-style reality show where powered individuals compete in challenges to win a spot on Power Generation, the only super hero team in the world.

Which brings us to Tommy Watts, a member of that generation, who strangely enough, has no powers. Born as twins, Bobby Watts got the super strength, while Tommy, got nothing. That is until he does. And what Tommy has will change the course of the Power Generation.

America’s Got Powers takes its directions from the X-Men but drives down a different highway. You can try and hide your mutant abilities when you were randomly born with powers, but when something as public as an alien crystal lands in the middle of your town, running and hiding becomes less of an option. So what do you do if you’re the government? What do you do if you’re a high ranking general in the military and an entire generation has just been born with super powers? You try and control it. And how best to do that in the early 2000s? You do a reality competition on TV. Entertainment is, after all, the opiate of the masses.

Tommy Watts’ story doesn’t really deviate very far from the tried and true tale of the reluctant hero. His new found superpower obviously makes him a target, he gets kidnapped by other super powered people, and then taken back by the military who want to study him, he does a thing that changes the dynamics of the people involved, the American President gets involved, the military threatens to blow up San Francisco, and so on and so forth until Tommy gets his happy ending. Maybe.

America’s Got Powers is a fairly run of the mill story about super individuals. What makes it unique, however, is how it uses reality TV as a vehicle to tell the story of his transformation from a normal human to a super one.

We get our comics either from our local comic book store, The Last Comic Shop, or on Comixology. Are you interested in checking out Batman: Wayne Family Adventures or America’s Got Powers? Have you already read these comics? Let us know by getting in touch with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Check out our previous installments of The Goggler Pull List here.

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