Tuesday, January 03, 2012

GIANT PENNY WEEK, #1: Case of the Penny Plunderer!

We are familiar with the Giant Penny because of its prominence in the Batcave. For many decades, the Giant Penny has been constantly visible in the main area of the Batcave as one of its essential pieces of recognizable decor (along with the Robot Dinosaur and the Giant Joker Card). Indeed, the Giant Penny and its buddies are the icons by which artists let us know that we are in the Batcave. Rather than, say, the JLA Secret Sanctuary or the *snort* "Arrowcave". One wonders what trophies might be used to easily distinguish the Arrrowcave; probably a giant wooden nickel. But that's a discussion for another time.

Nowadays, we wouldn't hardly know the Batcave without the Giant Penny. But originally, the Giant Penny (along with its fellow Batman trophies) was housed in a separate, locked vaulted area within the Batcave: the Hall of Trophies. The Hall of Trophies wasn't introduced until 1950...three years after the Giant Penny first reared its head (um, so to speak) in this story:

Remember you have Bill Finger to thank for the Giant Penny. Meanwhile, do not look closely at the questionable perspective that is causing the bullets to hit the giant penny instead of Batman and Robin. I blame the artist; some guy named "Bob", apparently.

But do spend time reading that lovely Preface Box. So philosophic, so loaded with .... thoughts. I really miss Preface Boxes; they used to set the tone, they let you settle in as reader to hear the tale. They were like a warm cup of cocoa as you sit down at the fire to hear someone tell a ghost story. Through the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages, Preface Boxes were to comic books what the
Invocation of the Muses was to ancient epic poetry. Since we've lost them, comics have changed from being a slow descent in a hot tub to a sudden jump into a chilly stream; oh, sure, you warm up once you start swimming your way through it, but it's not the same experience at all.

In the gentleman days of yore, the Preface Box was a warm hug before a long conversation over a candlelit dinner. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to put the title and authorial credits for a comic book story at the END of it, which is the literary equivalent of tossing someone your name and number only after rockin' it in the back of his van in the discotheque parking lot.

And the "Penny Plunderer" Preface Box is lavish enough not only to set up the mystery of why someone would be daft enough to focus their criminal career on pennies (unlike normal people, who never think about pennies at all, let alone think about pennies while shooting at Batman) but to set up its bizarre antagonist with such poetic elan, in a haiku titled "We Handle Pennies All the Time and Never Give Them Another Thought":
But, it was not so
with Joe Coyne. He thought about

pennies all the time.

Wow; Joe Coyne, elegantly wrapped up in 17 syllable, much like... like a roll of pennies. Don't you wish your current comic book writers took that kind of interest in their craft?
Before we delve into the story proper, what kind of haiku can you compose to honor antagonist Joe Coyne, writer Bill Finger, the Giant Penny, or the late lamented Preface Box?


Gary said...

Oh! Preface box
A new Pandora to open
An old favourite?

Scipio said...

Actually, Gary, your link raises an interesting point: are Solicits the new Preface Boxes?

Gary said...

I'd say not - solicits offer up a tease or idea of the story but due to the nature of the business, how often are they out of date when the actual issue is published? When that happens, the original solicit's worthless.

Anyway - more haikus needed!

Hoosier X said...

Oh, Joe, Poor Joe Coyne.
What led to this life of crime?
Penny for your thoughts.

Bryan L said...

Dynamic Duo
Fast behind their copper shield
Avoid Joe's gunplay.

Why do they hide so?
Smack thugs down with batarangs.
Time for comeuppance.

Ah, Haikusday. How I missed thee.

Nathan Hall said...

What you need to know
In a few short paragraphs
That's the preface box

Joe Coyne thought he was
in for the pennies - Batman
gave him the poundings.

He pointed out plots
Like a hangnail - we miss you,
The late Bill Finger.

Scipio said...

"What you need to know
In a few short paragraphs
That's the preface box"

Nice one.