A black Batman operating within Africa, far from the bright lights of Gotham City, is an interesting prospect. The character, created by genius Grant Morrison in the pages of his excellent Batman Inc., was originally set up to give the African region a Bat-presence. Under the guise of Batwing, David Zavimbe was handed the mantle of the bat in order to bring Batman’s sense of order and justice to the world’s second largest, and most populated, continent.
What started as a fascinating possibility, however, has consistently under-delivered. The sales of the Batwing ongoing series, part of the DC Comics’ New 52 line-up, although initially strong, soon dropped off the deep end. Many comic book pundits felt that the title had hit a real low when, with the release of issue 13, it shifted a mere 17,166 units. It soon became evident that things could become a lot worse when it’s 16th issue managed 4,000 fewer!
Many people have wondered why DC Comics would support a comic book that has not only underachieved but sold dismally. Other titles such as Blackhawks, Mister Terrific, Static Shock, and more recently Deathstroke, Fury of Firestorm and Savage Hawkman have all felt the proverbial hangman’s noose, cancelled by the company due to exceptionally poor sales. The comic book gods are obviously watching over Batwing, at least for the time being.
Originally written by Judd Winnick, known for his past work on Green Arrow and Batman, followed by current writer for Teen Titans, Fabian Nicieza, the title has never gathered a real momentum. DC Comics have now announced that the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, the duo behind the New 52’s critically successful All-Star Western, will take the reins with issue 19. To add further intrigue, DC have proclaimed that Batwing’s current incarnation of David Zavimbe will be retired by the pair in favour of a brand new version of the character. The identity of the new costumed champion is staying firmly under wraps for the time being, though.
They have cited many reasons for their radical approach and thinking. In particular, in an interview with Comic Book Resource’s ‘Bat Signal’, Palmiotti stated:
“People who read the Batman line want a little bit more of a connection. By introducing the new Batwing, we draw him a little closer to the Batman Universe by making the series not so Africa-specific as it had been.”
Will Bat-fans see David Zavimbe in the future? Well, knowing the world of comic books, probably. But will he again take on the identity of Batwing? We’ll just have to see how popular this iteration is first, won’t we?