Friday, January 04, 2008

Even a Batman Who Is Pure at Heart

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Alfred looks downright terrified in this panel, and I can't blame him. His arm looks to have totally detached from his body and started fondling Batman's feverish form with a mind of its own. Or maybe Alfred is just a germaphobic nutcase, and he carries around a fake, telescoping arm with which to touch his fellow humans. Or perhaps there's a second butler in this panel. Alfred can see him, but Batman cannot. This mysterious figure exists on a vibrational plane that only manservants can detect. You and I would only notice a faint buzzing sound, and the odor of silver polish. Or -- and I like this explanation the best -- that's Batman's own arm, and he's sweating because he was bitten by a savage were-butler during the last full moon, and now he's transforming into a were-butler himself! Alfred's evenings will be filled with unremitting horror, as Batman and he trade dryly amusing passive-aggressive insults, and tangle over the proper way to launder a cummerbund or prepare a watercress sandwich.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Why is Batman Sweating?

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There's something the modern Batman never does: perspire.

"But that's absurd," you scoff. "Batman doesn't sweat! He's the rootin'ist, tootin'ist hombre east of the Pecos!" And then I realize that I have my transchronobloggacommunicamator set for "Ye Olde Weste" instead of "2008" (a.k.a. "the Dawn of the Apocalyptic Era") and I adjust its various dials and levers accordingly. There. Can you hear me now?

So as I was saying -- and the older, even-shlubbier comics fans will back me up on this -- Batman did, indeed, previously possess the ability to sweat. But the question remains: why is he sweating? Why here? Why now? If I may float some (kick-ass) theories...
  1. He's watching a shirtless Robin clean the giant penny with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water.
  2. He's getting a sensuous foot massage from Dr. Phosphorus.
  3. He's got "twenty big ones" riding on the Gotham Knights in the big game tonight, but Poison Ivy is dating their star quarterback, and she's always showin' up at games and shit, screwing things up.
  4. He's quietly riding out, like, his fourteenth consecutive heart attack.
  5. The lava dome that comprises the floor of the Batcave is cracking open.
  6. The Joker surreptitiously dosed him with his latest toxin, or, more likely, senile old Alfred undercooked the fucking porkchops again.
Well, I'm spent. How's about you guys? Do you have any idea why Batman is sweating?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gray Nightmare

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"Aunt Harriet had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually four years old but also a bat." -- humorist Bruce Wayne, in his pseudo-biography "In God We Trust (All Others Pay in Blood)"
There are fans out there who deplore super-hero costumes that are drawn with wrinkles, as though they were actual garments. These same fans otherwise require their comics to be drawn with photo-realistic detail. (And yet they believe that women are perfectly capable of contorting themselves so that their tits and asses are pointing in the same direction.) What I wonder is this: how do they feel about Batman's (and Superman's) costumes being drawn with thick, knitted-looking collars and cuffs? It used to be the norm. It's Pre-Crisis chic! Old-school! Probably, Brad Meltzer owns a pair. Still, it made those outfits look more like footie pajamas than crime-fighting attire. Say, does Batman's costume have a convenient flap on the posterior? I really need to know this. Why? That's personal. And I'll ask the questions around here, thank you very much.

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Lost in Don Newton's Viewmaster-inspired panel layouts, a teensy, flaccid caption box vainly begs for your attention. Its cries unheeded, it develops a heroin habit, is reduced to homelessness and prostitution, and perishes of an overdose while giving a blowjob to a jagged edge explosion balloon.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"The Plainly-Seen Playmate", by Robert Louis Stevenson

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When heroes are fighting to make Gotham clean,
Out goes the playmate who plainly was seen.
When heroes are scrapping and kicking some ass,
Out goes the playmate face-first through the glass.

Somebody heard him, and somebody saw,
His is a wound that is bloody and raw,
And his mouth gives a warning, with whispers and squeaks,
To outlaws who hole up in shops for antiques.

He lies in the alley, he rests in the grime,
He cries when you kick him the seventeenth time,
Whene'er you are angry and cannot tell why,
The hero's best Whipping Boy is sure to be by!

He loves to be cold-cocked, he hates to give in,
'T is he whose left knee-cap is set with a pin,
'T is he whose right ear is a roseate clump,
And he walks with a limp (his right leg is a stump).

'T is he, when at night you drive by in your car,
Bids you to jump him and add a new scar,
For whoever he is, be it henchman or thief,
'T is he assuages your feelings of grief!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Don't Lose That Humber

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Sorry, but my outrage is rather disjointed today.
  • Welcome to Gotham City, where the moon is not only full every night of the year, but also careens about the sky like a freaking pinball, in order to keep Batman's big, chunky head in silhouette. Sure, the constant earthquakes and tidal waves are a bitch, but at least the city's number one hero can look way cool!
  • I can't believe "Humber" is an actual brand. And yet it is. I'm still pissed off about it, though.
  • "Blasting away like an Apollo Missile"? Huh. Do they even make those anymore? The name itself takes me back to my time traveling days, when the Cold War gave every romance an undercurrent of existential doom. Kind of like a Hemingway novel, but with synthetic fibers. Wow. I have nostalgia for a nuclear warhead!
  • That poor, desperate dope in the foreground? No, it's not the baddie who got punched through a window. It's just the last dude who tried to make sense out of Don Newton's page layouts. All y'all, do yourself a favor: give up on that shit now. Before it destroys you.

Out You Pixies Go!

Okay! So it turns out the whole "you've always smelled peculiar" thing was just an office joke, engineered by Storm Boy. And I had unknowingly turned the tables on them by showing up with Ox's musk still in full effect. Haw! Storm Boy was gonna tell me right away, but I sort of didn't let him. (When I told him to shut his goddamn pie hole. Er, oops.) At any rate, things are cool between Storm Boy and me now. I've even arranged a date for him, with this Bismollian Bear I know. Former child actor, named Darzil Hek. Maybe you've heard of him! But probably not, because he never got any starring roles. Alright, enough of this jabber. Let's hop back into the story of "The Perfect Fighting Machine!"

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FREEZCH! The sound effect that dares you to pronounce it!

But of course, this isn't a sound effect at all. It's a cleverly-hidden political statement.

A forgotten scandal of the 1970's involved the Carter Administration's secret arrest and imprisonment of 5th Dimensional imps. The feds worried that an America that was already suffering from "stagflation" might be further destabilized by wish-granting djinns, leprechauns, and fairy princesses. By the closing months of 1977, a steady stream of imps was flowing into the government's containment facility (Lamport Detention Center, called "the Lamp" by its prisoners). This spurred the formation of a resistance group: the Multi-dimensional Imp Liberation Force, or MILF for short. MILF's efforts started with a simple letter-writing campaign, but soon escalated to spectacular acts of tomfoolery, such as levitating the Pentagon, the replacement of several thousand gallons of "regular coffee" with Folger's Crystals, and the production of the movie version of "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The FBI raided the imps' main hideout -- the Haunted Shack at Knott's Berry Farm -- and the ensuing showdown ended with the deaths of nearly all involved. Most of the imps were reasoned out of existence, using the controversial (yet amazing) Randi Method. The FBI agents were, nearly to a man, either tickled to death, or inflicted with critical pie-to-the-face injuries. At the end of the day, a lone lawman staggered out of that house of death, dragging with him a single imp. The prisoner's name was Zch.

In-depth coverage of the case by Rolling Stone and the Village Voice turned Zch's plight into a cause celebre. Vanessa Redgrave funded and narrated a documentary about him. Country Joe and the Fish announced plans to record an entire album dedicated to Zch, but music producers declined to work with them, on the grounds that they actually sound pretty crappy once the acid wears off. It's rumored that Jim Henson attempted to smuggle Zch out of his cell, by concealing the imp within his own beard. And, of course, Denny O'Neil mischievously wrote the message "Free Zch" into an issue of Detective Comics. (O'Neil hadn't counted on Don Newton's overwrought panel compositions requiring the "hidden" message to be broken back down into its component words.)

By 1979, however, the world had forgotten about Zch. Other than a few retro-vintage Gap t-shirts and a brief mention on VH1's "I Love the '70s", Zch has disappeared from the national zeitgeist. But Zch is still here. Not in our hearts, perhaps, but in a soundproofed cell somewhere in the Mojave desert.