Friday, October 05, 2007

All Star Goddamn Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder

Please forgive the profanity in the title. Trust me, it's appropriate. Frank Miller and Jim Lee make Batman look like a bad joke in this "monthly" series, entitled All Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. I say "monthly" because issue #7 just came out and I bought the first issue at Crescent City Comics in New Orleans two months before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I still remember bringing the comic back out to the car, reading it, and promptly tearing it in half. I didn't even let Magi read it. She looked at me, aghast, as if I had just turned my head around 360 degrees. I never mistreat a comic book, but this time it was warranted. In this book, yet another retelling of the Batman legend, Batman takes a newly-orphaned Dick Grayson and shows him how sympathetic he is by lifting the terrorized boy by the shirt with one arm.

By issue #2 the infamous line came (see right). Showing such compassion for a boy who has just seen his parents murdered in front of him, Batman takes Dick Grayson on a ride to the Batcave that lasts, let's see, three issues?

Issue #6 came out a few months ago and it featured an opening page with Wonder Woman telling a man, "Out of my way, sperm bank." This is pretty typical characterization from Frank Miller, but it pales in comparison to issue #7.

When issue #7 came out this week, I read a few reviews and then I knew I had to read it for myself. Here's the best word balloon ever attributed to Batman, which he says right after he and Black Canary have sex on the ground in the rain under his cape. No, I'm not kidding: "Not one word. I've taken enough grief about calling my Goddamn car the Goddamn Batmobile. I'm the Goddamn Batman and I can call my car whatever the Hell I want to call it." Those aren't even the only times he's called the "Goddamn Batman" in this issue. Black Canary and Dick Grayson both refer to him this way.

What amazes me is that there are people who think this is the definitive Batman. There are people who don't understand that Frank Miller is laughing at them. He is writing this stuff just to prove that he can blow his nose into a script and people will buy it. He has taken a character whose sole purpose was to avenge his parents and to make sure that nothing happens to anyone else as it happened to him as a boy, and turned him into some kind of sociopath who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Everything this Batman does is to promote more violence, and the more vicious, the better. "They're shooting scared. They're shooting stupid. Killing their own. Life is good."

Black Canary is an admirer. "You know you're a fine man, Mister Batman. A right hero you are..."

I don't know what All Star Batman is, but he isn't that.


Martin said...

Jim, thank you for helping me avoid garbage like that. This is a total bastardization of what the character is and represents.

Jeff said...

Yeah, I know I'm real late on this one--and I never thought I'd say this--but look at what comics are competing with. The word goddamn is about as shocking to the mainstream world today as the word "grass". I know you've heard a rap song or three at school; heard any clean ones?

We all have that vision of what our heroes are and are not; every generation has that, as you know. For example, my Superman doesn't get beaten to death by a non-flying monster. My Superman would have the brains not to confront raw fury with raw fury; he would use his wits (like with the Elite). My Superman would have thrown that ridiculous Hulk ripoff into the sun before he destroyed more than one town. Ah, but then you say to yourself--he would be killing him, right? Ok, I'll give you that (though it would be justified), so what about the phantom zone?? The point is, each generation has a different version of that hero that reflects society of that era. Remember when "the" Batman carried a gun? How would that go over today? Every generation also doesn't care for the new generation's incarnation of their heroes. I worked with a guy who was a big Superman fan, but he didn't know who Christopher Reeve was (he was born after those movies came out--holy frak, how old am I?). We talked, and his idea of Superman was not mine. He talked about the Death of Superman fiasco as though it was the event that defined Superman.

Anyway, more to the point, who would buy comic books today that had the kind of stories we grew up on? I think they would appear backward, almost simple, in the context of today's society; whether that is really a good thing or not. One of the most popular video games ever created (God of War) features a common move that allows you as the hero to rip enemies in half, blood, gore, and all. Growing up, that would have been shocking to us; now it is almost expected.
'Nuff said? (I couldn't resist)