Thursday, February 07, 2013

Killer Moth Week II, #4: Does a body bad

Do you know what this image is?

You do not.  But you will. And when you do the memory of it will haunt your nightmares forever.

But first, some happy business!  When last we left them, Killer Moth had just cut himself to ribbons crashing his desperately flailing limbs through a giant glass window in order to escape another Batman beatdown.

That fool!
This brings us to what I call the Golden Rule of Casual Causality. One of the characteristics of Golden Age comics is that, even though you can do “X”  a thousand times and have it produce result “Y” every time,  at some point you can do “X” and it will produce result “WTF?!”.  It's like every single thing that happens is actually one of those complex math statements where for ONE VALUE ONLY you wind up with "WTF?!" and for all other values it's just fine.    

(x3+ 4x2 +x) / (x/4-13)

Actually, this is a phenomenon in all superhero comics.  It’s just particularly egregious in Golden Age comics, because in those days child mortality was so high that writers didn’t have to concern themselves much with continuity. 
Batman and Robin, for example, break through windows pretty much daily, much to the dismay of Alfred and the delight of the Gotham glazier industry.  Honestly, I’m not sure they know any other way of entering a room.  And, of course, they are unharmed every time.

"I'd like a grande of dark roast to go!"
"Decaft or regular, sir?"
But when Killer Moth does it, it’s immediately obvious that he’ll be sliced to ribbons, even though he’s even more fully garbed than Batman (and certainly than leg-baring Robin).  Perhaps it just because, well, he’s Killer Moth.  Of course he’s going to fall miserably at something that Batman does effortlessly every day. 
Regardless, Batman reasons that at the upcoming social event for Museum Directors Who’ve Recently Lost a Fortune in Pre-Incan Moth Idols he’ll be able to spot which one is Killer Moth by looking for some sort of cuts on his person.  Because apparently these social events always end up in an ass-baring orgy, I suppose.

Tonight the part of Robin will be played by young Peter Falk.

Yes, Bruce, I agree; whenever I'm part of a group of people held personally accountable for rare and valuable historical artifacts that are stolen right from under our noses the very first thing I think is: "DINNER PARTY!"   

Stupid fop; no wonder no one ever suspects that Bruce Wayne is Batman.  It would be like finding out the Matthew McConnaughy is Batman.

Green Arrow, on the hand, I would totally believe.

Bruce, brilliant detective that he is, manages to eliminate Homer "Captain Kangaroo" Forsythe and Abel "Did someone remember to trim the crusts off my watercress sandwich?" Howe as suspects because they're not covered in cuts.  So it's down to Perry "Pickle-Ass" Winslow and Cameron "Milk, please!" Van Cleer.

"You; woman with two right hands; take my coat."
"Perry, I'm your wife!'
"Don't remind me."

Well, this being just “Frasier with more murder”,  some ridiculousness happens that causes Winslow to be covered in sharp wounds, like an attack by the non-lethal Golden Age Mr. Zsasz or an exploding quire of fine paper or hysterical empathy for DeGrassi’s Ellie Nash.

Oh, wait, no; the aforementioned ridiculousness is actually ... Killer Moth!

 "I, Killer Moth, am so clever! I cannot help admire myself, just as others do! HA! HA!"

What the hell's in those glasses? Sodium-19 on the rocks?

All those 'oops so and so is about to discover such and such's secret identity' games that Superman always played with Lois Lane?  Yeah, Batman plays those with Killer Moth.  So, Killer Moth=Lois Lane; put that in your conceptual calculator.

Once again Batman is stymied and unable to detectify whether Killer Moth is Perry Winslow or Cameron Van Cleer is Killer Moth.  Why not just punch them both in the face and see which one feels most familiar?  Anyway, all the directors sit down to have drinks after dinner and watch Winslow slowly bleed to death.

Killer Moth orders milk. M I L K.  For anyone else you'd assume that's just part of the "I'm so effete, I couldn't possibly be a caped adventurer" routine.   But Killer Moth actually IS a milksop. 

So in case you missed the implication in Howe's dialog balloon (or just nodded off while he was blathering), the PRE-INCAN MOTH IDOLS WHICH SOMEONE TRIED TO STEAL TWICE ALREADY ARE STILL NOT LOCKED UP AND THERE IS A MOTH-THEMED VILLAIN ON THE LOOSE.  No wonder there's so much crime in Gotham City; everyone there is really asking for it.  "Let's walk home from the theater through this dark alley, Mary!"  Morons.

Sure enough. while everyone is distracted because Winslow's finally bled out and keeled over, Cameron prestoes into Killer Moth to steal the remaining idols with Batman not far behind.  They catch up with him in .... the Hall of Electricity.

You did realize there would have to be giant light bulb at some point, didn't you?

By the way... one million candle power? Not as impressive as it sounds. Candles suck.

Anyway, Killer Moth shoots out the lights he can escape, and Batman has Robin turn on the giant black light bulb, just as if it's my brother's room in 1974.

"Dude; that poster looks freakin' amazing now...!"

Once again Killer Moth has escaped!  And this time without falling off or crashing through anything. 

OR HAS HE...!?!?

Because who would notice the Mothmobile in a swanky suburb?

"No, wait, the mask is attached to my eyeballs and---AAAAAIIEEEEEEE!"

Batman had already deduced who Killer Moth was! But HOW?!  

Because SCIENCE!

Science... and MILK.

Yes, folks, those are, in fact:


Sleep well tonight.

Starro's baby portrait, courtesy of Tad Williams.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Killer Moth Week II, #3: Back in action!

Museum Guard Rollins has found a x-ray of two men battling in lab, which could easily reveal the secret identity of Batman! Oh, and of Killer Moth.  Not that anyone cares about that.

Huh; looks like Winslow has his pickle set on 'vibrate'.

Quick! You are Bruce Wayne!  Which of the following things do you say to solve this problem?!

(a).  "I'm Bruce Wayne and could buy and sell each of you a hundred times over.  So every body just shut up." 
(b).  "Yes, I'm Batman. And I have a file of each one of you.  Even you, Captain Kangaroo.  Act accordingly." 
(c).  "Another robbery attempt?! Rollins, you're fired! And take that stupid x-ray with you!" 
(d).  "Yeah, Van Cleer's desperately flailing limbs bumped into the x-ray machine while we were doing the nasty together during the break.  Anybody here got a problem with that...?"

Well, if you're a real fan of Golden Age comics, you'll know immediately that none of those answers is ridiculous enough and so the real answer is:

(e).  "Shut up, Rollins, you moron.  That's obviously an x-ray Prof Perkins took of the two battling cavemen!"

Words to describe the stupidity of this assertion fail me and I am left only to flail my limbs desperately as if I were "Doing the Moth".  I assumed the 'remains' Prof Perkins had been studying were, you know, bones 'n' such.  In order for that to be an x-ray taken of the "battling cavemen" they would have had to have been live specimens flash-frozen in mid-grapple by history's most rapidly advancing Ice Age.  I can just picture Anthro, DC's notoriously gay caveman, being so intent on his *ahem* 'grappling' with another caveman so long and so hard that the glaciation just kind of snuck up on him and caught him in flagrante delicto

Anyway, after that load of malarky is launched, even Killer Moth can figure out that Bruce Wayne, lying sack of poo that he is, must be Batman.  

Apparently, the fact that Wayne is the only boardmember with a youthful ward who could be Robin doesn't factor into his thinking at all. 

But in order to be sure of his deduction, he arranges for a false alarm at a bank in Gotham, while watching Wayne Manor to see whether Bruce and Dick dash off.  Because that would surely mean that they were Batman & Robin.  Or that they were late for the opera.  Or had overdue library books.  Or any number of things.

Batman is much too clever for that, however, and ingeniously thwarts Killer Moth by means of... playing chess!  Somehow. It doesn't make any sense to me.   But THAT's how smart Batman is.

No, really; I'm positive this happened on Frasier once.

This all puts the headache-inducing secret identity shenanigans to a halt, but that's okay because Killer Moth, his street cred and confidence inexplicably buoyed by his successful theft of exactly one pre-Incan moth idol, is back in action, baby!

"You like me.  You really like me!"

NOW Killer Moth is in his element! NOW he's at the top of his game!  NOW, it will be a different story!

"Now, with the aid of my--YAAAH, *SHRIEK*!!!!!!!!!!"

Let me make this perfectly clear.  Killer Moth, the 'anti-Batman', is, by this point, so terrified that he's going to take another beating that when Batman shows up he:

  • panics:
  • bounces off a wall; and 
  • crashes his body through a gigantic window (his limbs flailing desperately the whole time, no doubt).

Oh, well; I'm sure this is only a temporary setback.  After all... this is Killer Moth we're talking about here!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Killer Moth Week II, #2: American Moth Idol!

So, when last we left Batman and Killer Moth, they were, in their civilian identities as museum boardmembers Bruce Wayne and Cameron Van Cleer, voting to purchase $200,000 of pre-Incan moth idols.

"Sure, what do I care?  It's not my money!"

For those of you who don't know, I have a degree in Classics, and ancient religion was one of my specialities.  So it was with glee and gusto that I leapt into my research to determine whether there was, in fact, pre-Incan moth worship.  Or Incan moth worship.  Or moth worship. Or even, like, religious moth symbolism.  Anywhere.  At any point.

Pictured, from left to right:
Homer Forsythe; enjoys sexytime Captain Kangaroo cos-play.
Perry Winslow; currently has a pickle in his rectum.
Cameron Van Cleer; is in a codependent relationship with the entire Gotham City underworld.
Bruce Wayne; keeps an underage boy in a cave beneath his house.

Except for some symoblism in late Ottoman poetry (which really doesn't count because those jaded sybarites would write about anything), there is NOTHING.  Because it's not just the Gotham City underworld that doesn't care about moths; apparently, in the entirety of human history no one has ever worshipped moths.  Except Killer Moth.

Because there's nothing that impresses the criminal element more than stealing wholly unfungible pre-Incan moth idols.

I'll admit; when you're a moth-themed villain and some highly unlikely moth-themed valuables turn up in place you already have the keys to, that's a hard thing to pass up.   Particularly when you're as bone-stupid and desperately needy to prove yourself as Killer Moth is. 

For someone as into branding as Killer Moth, you'd think he'd shell out some dough for a better logo.

But the ONLY people who know where the moth idols are--or even that they are at the museum-- are the five museum directors. 

Even Batman, world's densest detective, can figure out the thief is one of them.

Really, Batman? Then I think you should focus your investigation on the fat old jolly guy.

Once the theft is discovered, the museum directors have a meeting to figure out how it cover it up. Because Gotham City.  Meanwhile, the otherwise irrelevant Prof Perkins exposits to Guard Rollins that "I'VE FINISH X-RAYING THOSE REMAINS OF THE TWO BATTLING NEANDERTHAL MEN AND NOW I'M LEAVING THE STORY!"

Hmmm.  I wonder whether that's a coincidence or....?  Well, I guess we'll find out.

"Be careful of that gun, Guard Chekov!  We wouldn't want that go off in the Third Act!"

By the way, at the meeting we learn that each of the museum directors was personally responsible for the $200,000 "Moth Collection" until the museum could make the purchase.  Which means, really, that Killer Moth, instead of making a brilliant coup, just cost himself $40,000.  But I suppose that's a small (additional) price to pay for the glory of being Killer Moth.

In the middle of the meeting, Wayne and Van Cleer go off to the dark parts of the museum to put on leotards and jostle, while the others putter about characteristically.

Forsythe:  "I call my wife 'Bunny Rabbit' and my gardner "Mr. Greenjeans" *giggle*."
Winslow: "Damn.  Pickle slipping.  Must smoke this vetch to remain dour."
Howes: "Wait for me!  I'm not colorful, but I am instrumental to the plot!"

So, as Mr. Howes' dialog makes achingly clear, this museum is now a "locked room". Which means, that without a doubt, the absolutely stupidest thing that Killer Moth could do right now, during the fifteen minute break would be...

Actually, I'm just impressed that he can change into that costume in under 15 minutes.  
Or at all, really.

William F. Kirby, man, you're dumber than a dung beetle!  But at least we're now set up for an EPIC STRUGGLE between Batman and the Killer Moth... in under 15 minutes!!!

Yeah, maybe this time he'll break your arm instead of your ribs.

I like to imagine that "click" is the sound of Batman single-handedly cracking Killer Moth's wrist. 

Ah, the key to Killer Moth's survival and success: desperate flailing limbs!

Desperately flail your limbs like you just don't care...!

A close-up of Killer Moth's leggings.  Where's Lichtenstein when you need him?

No way of telling, Bruce?  Why not just punch them all in the ribs and see which one screams like a little girl?  That's what Sonny Blandish would do.

"Whuh--?! Oh, I... I thought you were Mr. Greenjeans.  *giggle*."

So, riddle me this, kids: howcum no one ever suspects Guard Rollins? Anyway, it seems the "click" we heard above was one of Killer Moth's desperately flailing limbs activating the x-ray machine in the museum lab. Which is a problem because "Identification can be made from an x-ray showing the skeleton! This might reveal the identity of Killer Moth!"  

Yeah, all they have to do is spot the broken ribs. 

How on earth will Killer Moth AND Batman get out of the corner they've (very stupidly) painted themselves into....? If only we had some clue...!

Monday, February 04, 2013

Killer Moth Week II, #1: The Subjugant Return!

As mentioned yesterday, in imitation of our anti-hero Killer Moth, I fooled you all (HA! HA!) into thinking there was no story where Batman discovers Killer Moth's secret identity.

But naturally, since the point of all Golden Age Killer Moth stories is the comic book irony of parallelism between Batman and the anti-Batman (i.e., Killer Moth), this happens: Killer Moth discovers Batman's secret identity at the same time!

 It's like a stereopticon...OF IRONY.

The story ends where the last one began: Killer Moth slipping from his own grease gun and falling from a 100-storey-tall bridge. 

"Yeow"?  What is this, an Archie comic?

For the record, that's a retcon.  What he said was "HELP!" Which is less cartoonish, but much funnier, in a pathetic sort of way. The original scene:


Naturally, he didn't die, because he was wearing four orange pieces of cloth hanging from his neck when he fell 100 stories into the Unspecified River. That's science, kids; try it sometime! 
 Actually his secret superpower is immunity to surface tension.

After this daring and spectacular escape from Batman, Killer Moth has immediately and permanently made his reputation among the underworld...

as a laughingstock.

Criminals are a belittling and derisive lot.

Whoa; one guy actually fell over laughing at Killer Moth.  And that guy with the tongue is pretty much the personification of the Gotham City underworld: armed, oddly costumed, and aggressively amused.

Once upon a time, my then-boyfriend, who was wearing a gorilla costume, broke up with me at a Halloween party to go home with a girl. I was dressed as a banana at the time (which is why I still have a secret aversion to banana costumes). Then I discovered he'd given me both pink eye and prostatitis; such is youth. 

As you can see, my hair used to be darker and I look much taller in a banana costume.
Most people do.

But as mortifying as that was, it was as nothing compared to this scene of Killer Moth in his ridiculous really-gay-owl costume climbing out a sewer drenched in muck...

 Nice shoulders, though.

... only to be greeted by wholesale mockery from the very underworld he dedicated his entire life and fortune to protect.

Obviously, any rational person at this point would say the Golden Age equivalent of 'f*ck this noise' (probably something along the lines of "Aw, nuts! This game's for mooks!").  But this has nothing to do with Killer Moth, who simply redoubles his efforts to gain respect for his lovingly crafted "Killer Moth" identity. 

"Moth Watch", by Edward Hopper, 1951.

Killer Moth basically has an unhealthy codependent relationship with his own Killer Moth identity; the worse it abuses him the harder he has to prove that he loves it and can make their relationship work.

 Oh, my god, he had a model of an armored car made just so he'd have a trophy of that time Batman broke his ribs.

But his dreary workaday life as a millionaire philanthropist and arts patron interrupts his glorious killermothing career, as he has to attend a meeting of the museum board.  You'll remember,  that's how he knows fellow boardmember Bruce Wayne.

And what is that museum board up to...?  Buying ...

wait for it...

pre-Incan moth idols.

"Pre-Incan moth idols" are the new "priceless Etruscan snoods".

Yeah, I'm gonna need a good night's rest before tackling THAT one.