Transmyscira: Mark Doyle and Putting the Family in the Bat-Family

It’s a hard year to be choosing a single outstanding person in the editor category since it’s been such an incredible breakout year for staking out the editor as an influencer, curator, and incubator of talent.

I think I really wanted to give this one to Gerard Way for his work on Young Animal because Shade the Changing Girl, Mother Panic, and his own Doom Patrol are in a league entirely of their own making, but I’m not going to do that.

I’m not going to give it to Joe Illidge for doing better justice to Dwayne McDuffie’s legacy that anyone since in launching Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime initiative. 

Or to Spike Trotman for achieving the landmark million dollars in net kickstarter funds raised for Iron Circus this year. 

Or to Shelly Bond for her anarchic matchmaking skills at Black Crown either.

Why not? For one simple reason. They’ll all be there to fight it out in 2018, along with Karen Berger’s incoming Berger Books at Dark Horse.

Instead, I’m picking outgoing Batman group editor Mark Doyle, who is returning to Vertigo to merge it with Young Animal because of the strength of the legacy he’s leaving behind, spanning from the Zero Year arc of the historic Snyder-Capullo run until now-ish.

Art by David Finch

In some respects, it’s his fault that the industry has had to put up with my meteoric rise in visibility since the fall of 2014, when I returned to comics criticism after a three-year hiatus to cover the Batgirl of Burnside, which he oversaw. So I have a vested interest in marking this occasion.

Along with Black Canary, Gotham Academy, Grayson, Genevieve Valentine’s Catwoman run, and the emergence of the Harley Quinn empire, the Stewart-Fletcher-Tarr triumvirate did even more than make up for the contraction that alienated me from DC following 2011’s New 52 shake up. They made Doyle’s Batman group the place to be in comics.

It wasn’t a 1990s style captive audience roped into buying a staggering number of titles to make sense of a single bloated story. It was a nexus of blazing hot stories and talents that fed into each other, bolstered by the fact that Brenden Fletcher was writing three of them and Chris Conroy was directly editing almost all of them.

Art by Eddy Barrows

One of the key reasons that the Batman group under Doyle sustained the heat that it established in late 2014 — and more or less held until his reassignment — is how it leveraged the Snyder-Capullo behemoth.

Aside from keeping the titles out of Bruce Wayne: Fugitive/Murderer style black holes and confining crossover events like Endgame to optional one-shot supplements to the regular titles, Batman was used to incubate characters and concepts that would spin out into lives of their own. And Snyder himself was drafted into collaborative projects like Batman Eternal and Batman and Robin Eternal designed explicitly to test out new characters and talent before launching them into their own projects.

It’s the ethos that not only returned sorely missed characters like Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, and Renee Montoya to the fold, but provided the basis for Genevieve Valentine’s Catwoman, Patrick Gleason’s Robin: Son of Batman, We Are Robin, and 2018’s Batman and the Signal, the latter of which represents the culmination of the rise of Duke Thomas, who first emerged at the moment of Doyle’s arrival at the Batman group.

Art by Cully Hamner

In a year in which the key virtue to me is the willingness to create dialogue and expand what’s possible both in form and representation, Mark Doyle’s entire tenure in Gotham lights up the sky like, well, the bat signal.

“A call to arms,” as Kate Kane once put it.

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