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Friday, 17 April 2009

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Martin Wisse

"isn't that exactly what post-Killing Joke iterations of Batman have addressed: is Batman a disguise for Wayne or is Wayne a disguise for Batman?"

The core of the character has always been that it's Bruce Wayne who has translated his anger, hurt and grief over the murder of his parents into a desire to punish those responsible; he started preparing for his crusade long before the Batman came on the scene. His playboy act is as much a disguise, but it is to hide that child show in the story discussed here, not so much to hide the Batman. It always annoys me when people get this wrong. It's Superman who created his civilian identity as a disguise, not Batman.

nk

Puhhhlease! With those tights? They are both closeted, frustrated homosexuals, channeling their self-hatred.

SEK

My favorite Batman was actually the version in Superman: Red Son, the anarchist in black who inspires other anarchists. That seemed to me to be an unusually truthful retelling of the story. Batman would inevitably come into conflict with the powers that be at the largest scale, because all of the petty injustice that happens happens within a system that they create.

If only the book hadn't ended on an epic fail! I agree, though, that if you write someone who possesses the Wayne/Batman personality, the odds that he'll unfailingly cooperate with authority are awful. Granted, there's more than a little samurai in recent iterations of the character---it's no shock that Miller followed The Dark Knight Returns with Ronin.

I appreciated that with "No Country For Old Men", for one example. The book made the movie better, and the movie made the book better, for me. Of course, McCarthy and the Coens are superlative masters of their respective crafts and each took the little electrical impulses in McCarthy's brain and converted them into little electrical impulses in their audience's brain as good as anybody could.

nk, I can't read McCarthy---it reads too much like bad Faulkner to me---but the film was excellent. I have, however, read the shooting script for the film, and what amazes me is how much they did in post-production. That is, they read the book, interpreted it, shot the film, edited it, got it wrong, re-shot scenes, edited those, integrated them in, got them wrong too, &c. One of the reason the film works as well as it does is because they constantly cycled between what they thought McCarthy intended and what they'd shot until the two corresponded to their satisfaction . . . which is, writ large, what happens whenever you read a comic. The words and images complement each other, or don't, so the interpretation never settles on one or the other so much as the interplay between them.

Sure, right, I just wasn't seeing much of that in the post itself.

Admittedly, that's because they're going to do that work on their on. (They should be working on it this very minute.)

Lemmy Caution, that video's incredible. Wasn't there another animated short in which a couple of kids telling stories about their encounters with Batman served as a frame narrative, or am I just dreaming?

The core of the character has always been that it's Bruce Wayne who has translated his anger, hurt and grief over the murder of his parents into a desire to punish those responsible; he started preparing for his crusade long before the Batman came on the scene.

Depends on whether you believe cores are malleable, doesn't it? Most of the modern takes acknowledge that Wayne became the Batman, they simply emphasize the "became" there. Lost in his costume and what-not. (The recent films make this point explicitly.)

NickS

Short time reader, first time commenter, I just wanted to thank you for a great post, and comments.

There's a bunch of interesting stuff, and I love the idea of using comic books as an entry point to this idea:

"One of the most difficult things to do is get students to realize the situatedness of the now: just because you're so steeped in contemporary culture it's invisible to you doesn't mean it's not there. "

SEK

Nice to meet you, Nick, and welcome aboard!

NickS

(my comment appears to have eaten, so hopefully by posting it again I can correct a type, and not have a double post)

(Those seeking an impossibly thick-chested character can click here. Just remember those are the only eyes God gave you and some images can't be stabbed out of them no matter how hard you try.)

I wonder if that could be used for satiric purposes by juxtaposing an image of a female superhero with absurdly hyper-extended breasts such that their respective chests had equally (ridiculous) extension.

NickS

Nice to meet you, Nick, and welcome aboard!

Thanks. I've certainly seen your name around (and read selected posts) for a while, but I started reading regularly after your posts on Watchmen

JPool

I, for one, enjoyed seeing Tom of Finland's take on Captain America.

SEK

I wonder if that could be used for satiric purposes by juxtaposing an image of a female superhero with absurdly hyper-extended breasts such that their respective chests had equally (ridiculous) extension.

I think it could, but I don't think that's what Rob Liefeld intended. He simply has no concept of what human --- especially female human --- and I mean especially female human --- bodies. (From here, which is worth reading all the way through.)

I, for one, enjoyed seeing Tom of Finland's take on Captain America.

I'd never heard of Tom of Finland before. For a second I thought that was where I'd found that image---linked to in some thread at John & Belle years ago---but which I was unable to relocate.

NickS

(From here, which is worth reading all the way through.)

Oh my . . .

Parts of that had me laughing out loud, and parts were just creepy. But it is well done. I thought the escalating levels of criticism were good -- from "this is clearly not good art" to "he is insane" to "even knowing that he is insane, it's hard to make sense of this decision."

Ahistoricality

Unfortunately the only Liefeld link that worked was the last one, but that's OK: I haven't laughed that hard since the first time I stumbled on Photoshop Disasters. I can totally see how Liefeld could be mistaken for Tom of Finland, too, but without the talent or charm or erotic potential.

Martin Wisse


it's no shock that Miller followed The Dark Knight Returns with Ronin.

Obnitpick: other way around.

Doug M.

Coming late to this, but:

The Justice League cartoon had a surprisingly sophisticated take on this. (Second season. You want JL Season Two and JL Unlimited Season One. First season they were finding their voice; final one, falling into a rut.) That's the one where the Justice League comes into conflict with an alternate universe version of themselves, the Justice Lords. But the JL aren't evil per se -- they still try to keep peace and fight villainy. They've just lost patience with endlessly locking the bad guys up in Arkham. Now they vaporize them with heat vision or give them lobotomies.

The core of the episode is a fight/debate between the two versions of Batman. It's... way better than it should be. It's a fight sequence set in the Batcave, with much acrobatics, shadow-skulking, and hurling of Batarangs; but at the same time both Batmans are talking, each trying to convince the other. And at one point Justice Lord Batman says, "We've created a world where no eight-year-old boy will have to lose his parents to some punk with a gun!" And 'our' Batman pauses to think about this -- and then /steps out of the shadows and surrenders/.

The eventual resolution is, alas, more cartoon-y... but it's still well worth 22 minutes of your time. It's a two-parter; if you haven't seen it already you can get both episodes on YouTube for $1.99 each. Highly recommended.

cheers,


Doug M.

Doug M.

[an hour later]

If you're going to download stuff, might as well blow another $4 and pick up the 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' alternate-universe two-parter from last month: _Deep Cover for Batman_ and _Game Over for Owlman_.

These are somewhat silly -- the BB&B cartoon draws heavily from the 1966 live-action show, as well as from the crazy-ass Jim Aparo years -- but let's say there's a short clip from near the end that would fit very nicely into your lecture.

(There's a monograph to be written about how comic books have conversed with themselves in other media: Jimmy Olsen, Batgirl, X-23, Harley Quinn, and then back again. The Timiverse quite deliberately set out to skim the best of the last 50 years of DC; BB&B is trying to do the same thing, but for different values of "best". Their parallel but different treatments of alt-Justice Leagues are a nice illustrative case in point.)

cheers,


Doug M.

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