Amassing more than 200,000 subscribers on the day of its debut, Webtoon’s Batman: Wayne Family Adventures has had more eyes on it than most monthly print series published by DC Comics ever do. And evidenced by a near perfect rating, readers like what they see so far.
Batman: Wayne Family Adventures #1, #2, and #3
Jean Kim (flatter), Maria Li (storyboards), Lan Ma (backgrounds and rendering), CRC Payne (writer), Kielamel Sibal (letterer), StarBite (artist)
September 8, 2021
The Webtoon doesn’t ask those readers to know 80 years of Batman canon. It doesn’t even presuppose that they know Batman is Bruce Wayne or that his son, Damian, is the current Robin. Instead, it aligns them with a newer (New 52) superhero and, in this canon, “Gotham’s Newest Vigilante” Duke Thomas and introduces him and other members of the Batfamily with captions. Paired with the vertical scroll, the Webtoon’s use of more traditional comics forms (including but not limited to captions, speech balloons, sound effects, and discrete panels) provides ample middle ground for print and digital readers to meet.
Damian introduces “the family,” which includes him, his father, Dick Grayson (Nightwing), Jason Todd (Red Hood), Tim Drake (Red Robin), Cassandra “Cass” Cain (Orphan), Barbara “Babs” Gordon (Oracle), Stephanie “Steph” Brown (Spoiler), Luke Fox (Batwing), Kate Kane (Batwoman), and now Duke Thomas (The Signal). Duke, Bruce, Jason, Tim, Cass, and Damian suit up at the top of the second episode, which features a (food) fight as the still costumed crime fighters duke it out over the last cookie following a successful patrol.
They’re superheroes but they’re not above fighting with each other, which is as delightful as Bruce’s “World Okayest Father” mug. They banter like superheroes and bicker like siblings. There’s a dynamic present in this Webtoon that readers have often sought out in and/or written for fanfiction (CRC Payne please drop your AO3 handle): these people dress up and fight supervillains, but they’re still human. They have personalities and relationships apart from their personas, and their (semi-)civilian lives can be just as compelling as typical cape comic book content, if not more. Batman: Wayne Family Adventures proves as much.
It does so while letting Damian, Tim, and Steph be kids and make mistakes. It does so without putting Steph, Cass, or Babs in costumes that look more like second skins than battle ready uniforms. It does so, maybe most importantly, by recognizing that Batman may be the head of the family but he isn’t its heart. This Webtoon could be what so many of us have wanted for the Batfam since we met our first Robin or read our first issue of Detective Comics: a look past the Batcave and into the personal lives of people who do good.