Friday, June 29, 2007

In Which I Speak the Name of Fear Itself

It is the name that fanboys dare not speak, and in a collective conspiracy of silence, we say it never. Perhaps it is for fear that to speak The Name is to invoke its evil, and that like the Devil or the Candyman, its mere mention would bring The Evil Itself upon us again.

We laugh blithely about the Joker, the Spectre, the Scarecrow, Neron, and Eclipso. We speak their names casually and constantly, as if these avatars of terror were old friends. For we do not fear their return. We welcome them with open arms, and, having learned of their advent, rush to share the good news with our friends.

But we do not speak the name of that which we truly fear. Which we meta-fear. The name of...

Aunt Harriet


Thanks to the new Batman Showcase edition, we get to remember that Bruce and Dick used to have an aunt living with them (does it really matter whose aunt she was?) who kept trying to uncover their secret identity.


I just love the panels above! I enjoy picturing Madge Blake toiling away in the hot sun, blacktopping an entire road by hand, by herself, in an afternoon.

"Goodness gracious! Blacktopping is such thirsty work! But I don't mind doing it, if it will help trap my beloved relatives in my web of manipulation and deceipt. Why, it's the least a citizen can do!"

I like to picture her eventually dying that way, laying some byzantine trap for her young charges, keeling over face-first from heat prostration into the still steaming pitch, which sears the flesh from her skull, and her attempts to scream as she loses consciousness are stifled by the black morass oozing down her throat. Then her corpse goes on to host some forgotten DC horror comic (Garden Shed of Mystery!), to be remembered only when aging hefty drag queens dress as her for Halloween ("What do you mean, who am I? I'm Harriet the Harridan, you nit! From Garden Shed of Mystery. Oh, for pete's sake... AUNT HARRIET!")

Or sometimes I just picture her snooping around until she tumbles down an open elevator shaft, clawing at the sides and the cable vainly, as her fingers are snapped and shredded, only to land with a wet thud on the roof of the Batcave service elevator, her broken bones piercing internal organs that will cause her to slowly hemorrhage to death over several excruciating hours of sharp pain, while a ridiculous flowered hat floats down to land squarely on her shocked face, so that her own death smells to her like VO5 and Dippity Doo. It's times like that I really wish I could draw.
Sometimes, I picture her succumbing to fates even more gruesome than those, like being slowly consumed by some hideous freak of nature...


So, if you're not afraid to speak The Name, how do you picture

Aunt Harriet


dying?


P.S. Oh, and in case you're wondering how Aunt Harriet began to suspect that Bruce and Dick were Batman and Robin...

she discovered the Batcave under Wayne Manor.

THEN she decided to prove they were Batman and Robin. Everything Morrison's ever done pales beside the craziness of that kind of Silver Age thinking.

28 comments:

Luke said...

Wow, thanks for dropping some knowledge on my ignorant butt, Scipio. I never knew Aunt Harriet was actually in the comic books, as I thought she was added only to re-assure 1966 America that Bruce and Dick weren't homosexuals. I assume that You-Know-Who was added to the comic after the television show began?

As to how she'd die, I dunno, I figure she'd be one of those old matrons who dies while holed up in their rotting antebellum mansion and then have her corpse eaten by her cats. Like William Faulkner mixed with Lucio Fulci, essentially.

totaltoyz said...

I knew she started in the comics; DC replaced Alfred with her in 1964, two years before the TV show debut, despite what Bill Dozier may or may not remember. I never knew she discovered their secret identities, though! How did that ever pan out? Did Zatanna wipe her memory? Or did Bruce and Dick convince her that it was all an Alzheimer's-induced hallucination?

And, after Alfred came back, how was she written out of the comic? Was any explanation given or did they Chuck Cunningham her?

Gyuss Baaltar said...

I'm gonna need an Ann Harriet action figure to complete my Bat Cave shelf. With tar mopping action!

Patrick said...

Hey Scipio, not sure if you saw this before, but your blog is officially rater "R":

http://mingle2.com/blog-rating

All this talk of Aunt Harriet's death must have done it.

Chance said...

The panel of Harriet looking down the elevator shaft should be followed by one of exactly the same frame, same shaft, same view, but with Harriet gone from the top, replaced by a little gloved hand, with tell-tale spikes, thrust out palm first.

And maybe - maybe - some plump little matronly legs pointing up out of the lower right corner.

Michael said...

How would Aunt Harriet die? My first guess would be felled by a vengeful sniper's bullet after Bruce and Dick reveal their secret identities on live television, in a moment of blinding stupidity. Oh. Wait. Nevermind.

Personally, I'd like to think that somewhere in the multi-verse Aunt Harriet plays bridge on Wednesday nights with Aunt May, the clone (actress?) Aunt May that passed away in ASM #400, and the evil Earth-3 Martha Kent.

rlsims said...

I'm sure she fell into some Bat-Nuclear-Reactor on a production set somewhere.

Thanks, Scipio. Your blog always makes my day a little better. A package will be heading your way next week. More Jean Loring ammo. :-)

totaltoyz said...

You know, I just had a thought that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that I've read too many Roy Thomas stories over the years.

Aunt Harriet's last name is Cooper, and she's a widow.

She must be the mother of Marcie Cooper, the evil Harlequin from Infinity Inc, and therefore the daughter of Dan Richards, the Golden-Age Manhunter (the one with the dog).

Steven said...

Well, clearly, it was she who killed Alfred in the first place, or tried to, because Alfred actually faked his death with his secret British spy skills.

Then one day while Aunt Harriet was nosing shopping, a black van with the driver's seat on the wrong side pulled up, a thin man in a ski mask pulled Harriet inside, and Alfred showed up at the mansion the next day to report for work as if nothing had happened.

Aunt Harriet was never seen again.

Anonymous said...

Like everyone in Batman's life dies...at the hands of the Joker, of course.

Scipio said...

I'm secretly hoping she'll show up again soon...

"HARRIET COOPER; you have the ability to instill great fear..."

Christa said...

You know, I've heard it said that she was added to the show to keep Bruce and Dick from looking gay.

Tallk about topsy-Turvy Silver-Age Logic. "Oh, these two young gym queens live with a elder maiden aunt. They MUST be straight!" Does that scan true for anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Josh-2 said...

I demand Aunt Harriet Heroclix!

Anonymous said...

I think the last time Aunt Harriet appeared was in one of those Robin solo stories that appeared in Batman Family, back when he was attending Hudson U.

It was a Christmas story centring aound Dick trying to corral some crooks (disguised as charity Santas) before he has to catch a flight back home to Gotham. By the time he has succeeded, the airport is snowed in. Dick goes to spend Christmas with his girlfriend and her afmily, only to find Bruce, Alfred and Aunt Harriet waiting for him. The story ends with them all gathered around a piano singing Christmas carols (no, really).

I think it was established in the comics that Harriet was Dick's aunt, but whether she was the sister of John or Mary Grayson was never stated. If it was Mary, she still could be Dan Richards daughter.

totaltoyz said...

I was half-kidding about her being Dan Richards' daughter and Marcie Cooper's mother; my own nod at Rascally Roy's propensity for making everyone with the name last name related. (Contrary to popular belief it was Roy Thomas, not James Robinson, who decided that Ted {Starman} Knight and Sandra {Phantom Lady} Knight were cousins.

MaGnUs said...

Omg, a friend of mine's granma is just like Aunt Harriet! In looks, not in evilness...

And was it Roy Thomas that decided that Roy Harper and Jim Harper were related.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Thanks for that picture of a leering Liberace. Now I won't sleep for a week, hearing that horrific voice of his rise up from the back of my mind late at night...

Brrr...

SallyP said...

Boy those are some nasty death scenes! I always assumed that she had a heart attack while making love to Alfred. They'd been having a torrid affair for YEARS, and one night, it was just too much for her.

But she died with a smile on her face.

Billy said...

Morrison will bring her back.

Bill D. said...

Not a fan, Scipio? Even after she saved Batman from getting married to Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, that one time?

will said...

I picture her collapsing on a bust Gotham street, no one noticing the faint beam of red from the heavens.
Cut to: Batman and Superman in the Batcave.

BATMAN:
Thanks Clark. Now to throw off suspicion let's pretend to hate each other for the next few years.

Scipio said...

Heh.

I like that one, Will.

I'm guessing Kenny Braverman was later found floating face down in Gotham Bay.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no.
He's in a secret, underground storage facility.
"just in case"

Phillip said...

totaltoyz- If you really want to know how far down that rabbit-hole goes, I have two words for you: Wold Newton. Roy Thomas's family tree mania has Philip José Farmer's fingerprints all over it.

totaltoyz said...

And was it Roy Thomas that decided that Roy Harper and Jim Harper were related.

Hmm, no, I think that was Bob Rozakis. RT did decide that the Earth-Two Dick Grayson was related to Chuck Grayson, lab assistant to Robert (Robotman) Crane, though, which begs the question of why the state allowed an unrelated bachelor to take the orphaned boy into his home if he had living family.

totaltoyz said...

Not a fan, Scipio? Even after she saved Batman from getting married to Marsha, Queen of Diamonds, that one time?

True, being married to Marsha Queen of Diamonds could do strange things to people. It made Gomez Addams briefly and erroneously believe he was the Riddler.

Dating said...

A friend of mine's granma is just like Aunt Harriet! In looks, not in evilness...

Christian said...

It can't really have success, I feel so.
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