Comic book fan fiction – or any other form of fan fiction, for that matter – has a decent amount of audience, but it’s usually not very good. It’s often unimaginative and not that high-quality, but there are exceptions that prove the rule. One of those exceptions is the 2013 fan-made comic called ‘Batman: The Deal’. So, what is ‘Batman: The Deal,’ and why is it so special?
‘Batman: The Deal’ is a fan-made short story about Batman’s last duel with his arch-nemesis, the Joker. In merely 14 pages, writer Gerardo Preciado and artist Daniel Bayliss managed to create a deep, philosophical short story with a unique take on the Batman-Joker dynamic.
The originality behind ‘The Deal’ is what made it so special, placing it among the best pieces of fan fiction in recent memory. When it dropped on the author’s blog, it was read and shared over a million times in only a matter of weeks, making it more popular than many official DC Comics issues. If you want to hear more about ‘Batman: The Deal’ – you’re in the right place.
What is ‘Batman: The Deal’?
‘Batman: The Deal,’ obviously, is a story about the Dark Knight. However, despite reaching many fans, ‘The Deal’ isn’t an official DC Comics storyline. In fact, it’s a fan-made comic written by Gerardo Preciado and illustrated by Daniel Bayliss. The duo published their piece on their blog, Moonhead Press, which was naturally free and available to everyone.
Soon after, their take on Batman quickly attracted quite an audience and has been reshared on social media thousands of times. Before you knew it, ‘The Deal’ had millions of readers, and it was quickly dubbed as one of the best pieces of fan fiction ever.
Preciado and Bayliss spoke with Comicbook.com in 2013, shortly after their comic picked up steam, stating they never thought ‘The Deal’ would blow up like that so quickly. Preciado said:
“I had an idea for a Batman story, Daniel liked it, and we just did it for ourselves, really. Had I known that so many people would see it, I may have changed a little bit here and there, but in the end, art is never finished; you have to let go. Otherwise, you can never move on to the next thing.”
Bayliss joined and jokingly confirmed:
“Oh! If we knew that, I would spend a lot more time on those lips for sure; they need way more wrinkles.”
The entire story is still available on their blog and still intrigues readers a decade later. The fact is, ‘The Deal’ was a polarizing comic book. As the writer reiterated:
“It’s being translated to German, French, Spanish, and Portuguese as we speak. We’ve been surprised by the overwhelming positive response, even the people who hate it share it!”
So, what made it so cool and special that some people comment how it’s better than most official Batman stories?
What is ‘Batman: The Deal’ about?
As I’ve mentioned, ‘The Deal’ is quite a controversial tale from the standpoint of the message it’s trying to convey – as well as from the standpoint of interpreting the relationship between Batman and the Joker in a unique way.
The issue depicts the final confrontation between Batman and his arch-nemesis and describes a ‘deal’ that the two allegedly have since their previous lives. The issue is only 14 pages long, but it has a profound depth to it and really gives the reader something to think about.
The fan-made comic starts with Batman opening a package and finding chopped-up pieces of Alfred in it, including his severed head and limbs. Meanwhile, we get to see the Joker’s zeppelin, filled with poison gas, hovering over Gotham City as he maniacally laughs.
As it turned out, Batman was seemingly held captive on the aircraft when the Clown Prince of Chaos handed him the package. Enraged, Batman literally breaks his chains and brutally mauls the Joker, repeatedly asking him ‘Why?’. The Joker, banged up from the massive beating, answers: ‘That was the deal.’
The issue plays with the idea of the Joker and Batman not being just counterparts – but actually, soulmates who love each other in every life. In fact, the Joker claims he was Batman’s wife once and that Bruce always asked him to push him to improve.
The gist of it was – they didn’t want each other dead. Not really – they love each other and have changed roles numerous times before. The Joker says he’s tired and ‘wants to be light again, get rid of this body.’ He says this life is, but an illusion, and finally, Bruce answers: ‘I know’, before letting go and having both of them fall into their deaths – together.
As they are falling, we get an entire monologue from Bill Hicks cited, speaking of life as if it were a ride. It gets philosophical, and it makes little sense for me to try and break it down – it’s better if you read it for yourself in the issue.
As for the writer, he revealed why he chose to include the monologue in the issue:
“That came at the very end. I didn’t want to explain anything, so originally, there was no dialogue on those final pages, but there was something missing. That whole monologue has been a favorite of mine for a long time, and it was weird that it dawned on me that it was perfect for the story so late in the process I didn’t edit anything out because that man is a genius.
In the end, the whole idea was that it should work on many levels; I wouldn’t like to give my point of view on what it means because I think that whatever the reader thinks it means, that’s it. The Bill Hicks quote added a whole new dimension to the story.”
What makes ‘Batman: The Deal’ so special?
If you just quickly search the internet, you’ll find hundreds of fan fiction published online daily. So, what made ‘The Deal’ so special that we’re still talking about it a decade later?
Well, first, it was very simple yet effectively written. The dialogues are concrete yet ambiguous and left for interpretation. The artwork is simply captivating, though at moments sloppy (as the artist himself mentioned, around the lips of the characters, for instance). In simpler terms, it was done at a very unusual level of quality for fan fiction comics.
Secondly, what makes ‘The Deal’ so special is that it’s so polarizing. Like, some people read it and love it, and some people hate it. Whichever side you’re on, as the writer said, you still share and react.
The topic is quite interesting and philosophical, so the issue ignites a reaction depending on how you interpret the story.
Overall, ‘Batman: The Deal’ is creative beautifully crafted, and unlike tons of other fan fiction, it has depth. I personally loved it and have read it numerous times to try and get something new out of it every time, despite its actual conciseness. I suggest everyone take five minutes and read it yourself – you’ll be blown away, one way or another.
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