I am issuing fair warning to DC's writers; stop using Classical references inaccurately or I will crucify you verbally, expose your inerudition, and call yo' mama names. You don't have to be a Classics jock to keep from screwing up Classical references. A little effort, common sense, and internet access will do, but apparently that's too much for some writers.... and that makes me VERY SNARKY.
Is this a prelude to excoriating the Return of Donna Troy that came out this week? Sorry, don't have the stomach for that. Still haven't recovered from throwing up when I read the name "Athyns". No, this is about the recent Batman 640, wherein Judd Winick (who's given to pretentious narration blocks) describes Batman as the "Cerberus" of his city.
Judd is using the "Cerberus" metaphor to liken Batman to a guardian because Cerberus is "the guardian of the underworld". Dark and creepy Gotham = Underworld, therefore Batman = Cerberus. Problem with the metaphor is, Cerberus's job wasn't to protect the people in the underworld; his job was to keep outsiders from getting in, and insiders from getting out. That's exactly not what Batman does; the metaphor is strongly inapt. Wrong, basically.
It may seem like I'm being pointlessly pedantic. Pedantic, sure, but I hope not pointlessly. Western literary tradition is the basis for comic books; it's our "cultural continuity", if you will. Every time we're sloppy in our literary references, we weaken our ability to use our cultural tradition as an efficient "common language" for communicating ideas. It's like when a bad writer writes Superman or Batman out of character; bristling, we object to the damage to our idea of what the character is. If any character can behave in any old way, then they all cease to have any meaning. What's true for comic book characters is true for mythic characters as well, and when you refer to Cerberus but ignore his "character" you rob it of meaning and weakening the power of our cultural continuity.
Please don't do that, DC writers; you wouldn't like me when I get snarky.