Friday, July 13, 2007

Hysteron Proteron


In Classics, my specialty was poetry, in the analysis of which we use lots of terms to describe the tricks of the literary trade. Many are still used to describe modern poetry and literature as well.

Today, while reading The Most Sexist Story Ever Told in the Batgirl Showcase, I came upon a stunning example of hysteron proteron.

Hysteron proteron is saying something in reverse chronological order. The classic example would be, "I am dead (or "I die"); you wound me." Obviously, the wounding comes first and then the dying. But by saying them in the other order, special emphasis and poetic effect is achieved (dying, after all, is more important than being wounded).

Well, that's not exactly what happens in Detective 371, but I've got no other term for it (other than, perhaps, "reversed priorities"). Observe.

Batman and Robin, disguised as beatniks, enter the domicile of one of their stoolies.

Why are they disguised as beatniks, you ask?
Because it's 1968, about 5 years after the end of the beatnik generation. Duh.



So, naturally, the first thing they do is check to see whether he's alive and call for an ambulance.

And, yes, I know he said, "Dick--in his hands!"
That one's too easy for me to bother with, folks.



I said, "the first thing they do is check to see whether he's alive and call for an ambulance."

I actually skipped at panel of Scooby Doo cluifying, by the way.


I hope Batman never finds me wounded and unconscious; I'd die while he was still trying to decipher what message I was sending him with the Heroclix clutched in my hands.


Whether Stuffy's alive or not isn't important to the story; he's a plot device. But the clue is important. So the normal sequence of events ("check to see whether victim is alive, then get medical help") is reversed for sake of emphasis. Note, in fact, that Batman actually SAYS that Stuffy "passed out" before checking for a pulse.

It must be comforting for the citizens of Gotham to know that Batman is more interesting in chasing people who rob from sawmill factories than in saving lives.

10 comments:

Christa said...

Appearently, Bat-First-Aid is so awesome that Bats can detect a pulse from the side of an arm where, like.... there is no pulse.

totaltoyz said...

And all these years I thought "Hysteron Proteron" was the member of the Green Lantern Corps who looked like a glass doorknob.

theron said...

The HeroClix world now cries out for a Beatnik Batman, or as I prefer to think of him "Beatman" figure. Perhaps a custom job is in order.

David Lawson said...

It must be comforting for the citizens of Gotham to know that Batman is more interesting in chasing people who rob from sawmill factories than in saving lives.

Five year-old Bruce Wayne saw his sawmill factory robbed before his very eyes. From that day forward he dedicated his life to making sure no one else would suffer that same fate.

Three years later when his parents were killed, Bruce found a better alibi for dressing up like a bat and punching people.

H said...

I think you're on to something.

You need a weekly feature consisting of pictures of you passed out and holding Heroclix figures in a manner that requires the reader to decipher the day's message.

totaltoyz said...

Hmmm....too bad they don't make Heroclix of Jason Bard and Howard the Duck. The message would be George W. Bush. (Get it?)

Jon said...

"Dick--in his hands!"
Reading that was amusing, but then several hours later while eating dinner, it popped into my head and was suddenly the funniest thing ever. Laughing and eating is not easy.

MaGnUs said...

Beatman and Robnik!

And I too, concurr that comic creators mirror real-world fashions 5 years later. Check out Marvel, where the 70s lasted til 1987!

Rich said...

Sawmill...factory? That would be a factory that makes sawmills, then?

I wouldn't have thought there'd be enough demand to keep a place like that in operation, much less to make it profitable as a target for armed robbery.

verification word - wownop

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