Thursday, April 27, 2006

Robin versus Surrealism

Hi, kids! Robin the Boy Wonder here, with an important message for kids like us!

There's lots of fine art out there! Gosh, Bruce and I spend hours together appreciating neat painting and sculptures ... why, we don't even have to leave the house because we're absurdly wealthy and have famous works of art all around the manor!There's nothing wrong with enjoying pictures of beautiful people and things, or even ones that are ugly and scary. But, some art, why, it's just plain bad for you. I'm here to warn you about ... surrealism.
Good art shows normal people in normal situations; stuff you might see in the real world. But in the seedy world of surrealism, fantastical visual imagery from the subconscious mind is used with no intention of making the work logically comprehensible.
Sure, it might seem fun it first, like a dream you can see when you're awake. But think about it, kids ... it's like mixing up reality and fantasy, which is really dangerous. Why, it's almost as bad as being on drugs -- all of the time!
Every good detective--like Batman--is trying to figure out what's objective reality; so-called art like surrealism, with its subjective fantastical imagery -- gosh, that's kind of thing somebody like the Joker goes for. See, kids, it leads to a subjective view of reality and moral relativism and then to thinking it's okay to rob banks and kill people for fun. Surrealism seems like innocent fun, but it's a sure road to the Big House.

And it's all around us; that's why you kids should stick to reading comics, where you're safe from it.

That's also why Batman and I fight surrealism every chance we get.
Oh, sure, there's always been wild art, just like there's always been crime. But surrealism is a modern development, a twisted invention of the 20th century, like the kind of supervillains and costumed crooks Batman and I fight!
The original "supervillain of surrealism" was Andre Breton, sort of the "Hugo Strange" of surrealism. Weirder villains of surrealism followed: the bird-obsessed Penguin (Max Ernst); the highly intellectual and clever Riddler (Rene Magritte); the half-surrealist, half-realist Two-Face (Giorgio de Chirico); the vivacious Catwoman (Kay Sage); the underappreciated Killer Moth (Man Ray), the hypersexual Poison Ivy (Meret Oppenheim); and the overexposed, idiosyncratic, egotistical Joker (Salvador Dali).

Trust me, kids; stay away from surrealism. It's dangerous and bad for your health!


Anonymous said...

I recently read an essay on Dali by George Orwell, I think it was a review of Dali's biography. He really does seem to be the template for the Joker. Including and episode as a child where he bit into a ant covered bat corpse.

JP said...

Ah, the old superhero-as-fascist schtick.

Seriously though, that paragraph equating prominent surrealists and Bat-villains - that was special. It brought a flaming tear to my eye.

Anonymous said...

It's in moments like this that I yearn for the Brotherhood of Dada

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Green ivory bicycle brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I apologize in advance if this has been addressed elsewhere, but what do you do in your secret identity, Mr. Scipio?

Are you an art/history/philosophy/sociology student/professor, or a museum curator, or an Adrian-Veidt-slash-Terry-Sloane-class-bon-vivant-savant-who-works-at-a-video-store-or-dry-cleaners, or what?

(I ask, because I marvel at how, at the drop of a hat, you can pontificate on classics of the Ancient World, art history, the linguistic power of aptronyms...and custom Red Bee Heroclix.)


Verification Word: yecsatk

Yecsatk (noun): a member of a lesser-known subspecies of humanoid reptile beings discovered by famed documentarians, Sid and Marty Krofft

Scotus said...

Poor Robin. Smart enough to expound on the threat of surrealism, yet not smart enough to understand why it's a bad idea to fight crime in speedos.

Seriously, though, someone at DC should bring back the evil mustachioed clock moon. It's a crime that this Silver Age gem isn't currently sitting alongside Luthor, Deathstroke, etc. as one of the preeminent villains of the DCU.

naladahc said...

Back in November 05, I still held held out hope that it was actually Mr. Nobody behind the whole Infinite Crisis stuff.

In a surreal meta way, he was angry that cosmic entity John Byrne had retconned the Brotherhood of Dada out of DC continuity.

Then again, when the Perez cover to IC #7 was previewed the other day I actually thought that everybody was fighting on Danny the Transvestite Street!

Scipio said...

Although I have had some background like you mentioned, I'm now just your regular boring businessman, Thing!

Anyway, that moon represnts "The Clock", Robin's first recurring villain. Except for his appearance, he was very much like the animated "Clock King".

And, YES, he should definitely return.

Bully said...

Has there ever been a Batman villain named "Sir Real?"

Well, there should be.

Anonymous said...

Somehow this whole post made me think of a reprinted story I read somewhere, in which Robin fought a criminal named CRAZY QUILT, who fired paint at him. Does anybody else remember this story?

Jarlsberg's Chosen said...

Scipio: I haven't seen a response from you on the suggestion by a "des" that every month you buy a Marvel comic and read and review it for your loyal readers. I, for one, am completely supportive of the idea - although I recommend you start out with the Essential volumes, to avoid some sort of rupture of the brain: an inevitability when it comes to reading too much Marvel.

Tom Bondurant said...

"Man Ray" is also the name of a SpongeBob villain (voiced by John Rhys Davies). When he gives up his life of crime, he takes off his helmet, revealing that there's no head underneath. I'm no art-history expert, but I guess that's kind of surreal.

gorjus said...

This. Post. Is. Amazing.

Canton said...

...I recommend you start out with the Essential volumes, to avoid some sort of rupture of the brain: an inevitability when it comes to reading too much Marvel.

Ohh, honestly, Pastamancer. I'm sure Scipio's brain could handle the low dosage of one Marvel comic a month, especially if it's a good one. He's clearly intelligent enough to handle it.

(This is an awesome post, by the way.)

Scipio said...

"Scipio: I haven't seen a response from you on the suggestion by a "des" that every month you buy a Marvel comic and read and review it for your loyal readers"

That does not sound like an idea that would endear to either fans of DC or Marvel...!

Marc Burkhardt said...

Where did that last Robin panel come from? Robin fighting for his life in a Dali landscape is something even Steranko never attempted! It's friggin brilliant!!!

Scipio said...

The Robin Archives that almost no one owns.

Robin was the star of Star Spangled Comics; it was basically a Robin solo title. Those stories -- none of which got reprinted anywhere else -- are all in the Robin Archives

Scipio said...

Yes, Bill, many of us do remember Crazy Quilt; he's the best known recurring "Robin rogue".

He needs to come back. And fight Odd Man.

Anonymous said...

There was actually a Darkwing Duck villain named Sir Real, created by one of those whatever-you-paint-comes-to-life types. And he's almost the same thing. ``v

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Robin versus real:
Treachery of images.
Phone book on fire!

Batman's youthful ward
fights the truth behind the truth
Look out! A blue skunk!

Anonymous said...

What about Silver Age Spellbinder, a Batman villain whose costume was practically covered in surrealist art?