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Batman: Why We're Excited For The Justice Buster Manga (& Why We're Worried) – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Western superheroes–Batman included–have seen some interpretation in manga, but none have made particularly-notable splashes, but fans are hopeful.
Japanese media through manga and anime can often be seen as being at odds with western comics. However, signs of the two acknowledging the other’s cultural impact are showing, with comic book giants Marvel and DC striking collaboration deals with Japanese publishers to have original manga series based on their characters. Deadpool: Samurai has recently been publishing with Marvel’s deal with Shueisha on their Shonen Jump+ digital magazine.
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DC’s reached a deal with one of their most beloved properties, Batman, by partnering with Kodansha Comics for a manga titled Batman Justice Buster (plus a Joker series) on their Morning manga magazine. Western superheroes–Batman included–have seen some interpretation in manga, but none have made particularly-notable splashes, but fans of both will hope for a change. Here’s why we’re excited for Justice Buster and why we’re worried.
Batman Justice Buster being confirmed a serialization is promising. It’s good to know that DC and Kodansha are at least taking this partnership deep enough to make it an ongoing series. How long it’ll be isn’t certain, but getting an actual Batman series through the lens of Japanese creators in the form of manga is an exciting, relatively fresh territory to explore, considering previous ones were few and far in between.
Seeing the Dark Knight have a story told with a different cultural style of storytelling and illustration could prove to be a great complement to the native western interpretations of Batman, so hopefully the series is successful and runs for long enough to provide a satisfying story.
As exciting as it is to hear that two major publishing companies are teaming up to blend the beloved superhero with different artistic flairs, this could prove to be a half-hearted endeavor. Manga is largely focused on adapting and creating Japanese properties, meaning that’s where most of the resources go and not necessarily into creating a series based on outside characters to compete with the likes of One Piece, My Hero Academia, etc.
Likewise, DC likely aren’t going too far into ensuring Batman gets a superb manga series when it has its native DC Comics titles to focus on. In which case, Batman Justice Buster may prove to be a low-effort cash grab quality-wise, where neither party will be too incentivized or concerned if the final product isn’t good.
One thing that could inspire confidence in this panning out well is DC’s choice in partnership for the series. They’ve collaborated before, but Kodansha Comics is a major publishing company in Japan, so perhaps this could relieve the concerns of necessary resources being put into this project to create something of good quality.
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Morning magazine isn’t nearly as much a household name as Weekly Shonen Jump, but it’s an important one for their own series. Given that Batman Justice Buster will be a serialization, Kodansha could be giving it the attention it and Tomohiro Shimoguchi and Eiichi Shimizu need to give fans something worthy of the property and the superhero’s vast mythos and rogues.
With this being a rare collaboration between two distinct publishers, it’s fair to assume that Batman Justice Buster won’t be too long of a series. This is also in part due to the fact that Shimoguchi and Shimizu are attached to the ongoing Ultraman manga, so it’s not hard to think that’s where their long-term focus is.
It’s been publishing since 2011, and with that surely being their biggest concern, Batman Justice Buster could end up cutting too short to do the series enough or any good. As mentioned, it’s unclear how long it’ll run for, but previous Batman manga ran for a couple of volumes tops. No one’s expecting 20-plus volumes, but one or two volumes/five to 10 chapters may not cut it to tell a satisfying story arc.
Kodansha’s Morning magazine is targeting the seinen demographic, which could make for an interesting platform for a Batman manga to be serialized in. While being catered more toward adults by no means guarantees a good final product, as writers can tell great shonen-centric stories, it’s a demographic that a Batman series could effectively target if handled tastefully.
While to expect quality near or of the same caliber is extremely wishful thinking, Takehiko Inoue’s superb Vagabond published in Morning before it’s unfortunate, indefinite hiatus, meaning there’s a chance that this platform could be good for Justice Buster in terms of creative liberties granted.
Since Batman is a western property, part of this endeavor is to be able to sell more of the character across different demographics with different and/or overlapping tastes. But if this Batman project doesn’t gain enough interest in the west where the superhero’s at home, then the manga may just stay stuck in however many chapters are released within Japan and not get translated and localized elsewhere.
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And, as mentioned, Justice Buster is surely nowhere near DC’s biggest focus for the Dark Knight, especially with Infinite Frontier‘s Batman titles and Future State that is the catalyst for them launching early next year, so there won’t be too much promotion for this manga in comparison.
Batman’s dabbled in past anime projects, with 2008’s anthology anime movie Gotham KnightIt didn’t make a huge critical splash with fans, but the concept was interesting by being a collection of short stories told by different anime creators with unique art styles. Batman: Ninja is the more recent, but fared mediocre among fans.
Should Justice Buster make enough of a positive critical and commercial impact, anime might be something to delve deeper into next. It could be an adaptation, or be another original story as a limited/miniseries or movie. With HBO Max becoming the home of DC media like Disney+ for Marvel, it could be a great opportunity to expand on the fan base.
On the other hand, Batman Justice Buster is a manga, meaning this is also meant to lure in more Japanese readers to western comic book characters by portraying them in a familiar format. One way any potential success could stop dead in the water is if this fails to gain enough popularity and success domestically in Japan, as that’d likely result in outright cancelation and DC may not even bother localizing part or all of it.
At the end of the day, the profits will be what talks, and not resonating with fans in Japan may have DC decide not to bother with this market in the future.
Elaborating on how potentially exciting it can be to have another original Batman story told on this fresher platform for the character is in who the potential rouge(s) will be. The Caped Crusader is revered for, among other things, having one of the best rogues galleries in comic books. Aside from Joker, there’s the likes of Two-Face, Riddler, Bane, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Ra’s al Ghul, etc.
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Shimizu has quite the sandbox of supervillains to play with, and seeing any of these rogues through a different cultural perspective could be enticing. Plus there’s the chance of an original supervillain just for this series.
Something to possibly undo the prospect of the previous point is if Justice Buster ends up just using the Joker as the central antagonist again. The Clown Prince of Crime’s a legendary supervillain with a plethora of great stories, but bolder choices should be made more often.
The sandbox of villains at Shimizu’s disposal shouldn’t go to waste, especially since DC and Kodansha are planning an original Joker manga, too. He has more than enough exposure in the west, so a rare opportunity to dive into Japanese storytelling shouldn’t take the easy way out, plus run the further risk of not even being another good story with Joker as the villain.
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Guillermo Kurten is a journalism major at the University of Houston. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he now resides in Houston. He is a fan of pretty much anything involving nerd culture. Video games, comics, movies, TV, anime, manga, you name it. He also has experience writing about soccer, specifically, the German team Bayern Munich.

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