Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Batman #93: Bye-bye, Bad Baby!

So while Robin is baby-shaming Junior...

what is Batman doing?  You know: Batman stuff.

You KNOW he was waiting for some opportunity to try that trick for MONTHS.

Just to recap, Batman jumped on a moving armored car, and with no purchase and in danger of being thrown off any minute, lassoed a branch from a passing tree, and wrapping it in cloth (somehow) ripped from his costume, fashioned a makeshift torch that stayed alight atop this speeding vehicle so he could smoke-out the driver.  Apparently the utility belt DOES run out of smoke pellets, or Batman's just showing off.

Robin's been performing ridiculous acrobatics for Junior, rather than just plopping him in a secure bed in an unused wing of the mansion til he cries himself to sleep. Why did you take him out of the Penguin's cage AT ALL?

Given your 'simple' solution to the armored car after you hung upside from a helicopter defusing a bomb, Batman, I shudder to imagine what "something more elaborate" means to you.

Holy crap, I hope these two never have kids, cuz they are SUCKERS.  At least they haven't involved sensible Golden Age Alfred in their--

--oh. My mistake.

So Batman and Robin decide to just toss their elderly butler around like a ragdoll to keep a baby amused.  If that's not enough to keep you up tonight, then riddle me this: where ARE they and exactly how can Alfred tell Cousin Jane is approaching the front door?

Actually, the baby can live to become the next Robin. It's Cousin JANE who will need to die.
"Alfred; get the Oejay IllChay Ostumcay..."

ARE THERE NO PHONES ON EARTH-1? I suppose it would explain the Bat-Signal.

"Well, that's it, Robin; you've done it again!"

Why would he do that, Cousin Jane? Because he's a BABY. They also stuff peas up their noses and poop their pants.  Why would they do THAT, huh?!

I'm pretty sure I saw this on "Frasier" once.

When you long for the innocence of old comic books stories... please remember this one and re-think.

The Day Alfred's Hair Turned White.

Gone forever, eh?  Well, at least until some writer thinks to bring back JUNIOR as the mysterious foe who threatens to expose Batman's secret identity, kind of like the brought back Jim Gordon's boy as a psychokiller....

Monday, March 16, 2020

Batman #93: the Faraday Crib

Having hijacked a cow, Batman & Robin dash back to the Bat-cave to give a baby raw, unpasteurized milk, because they are old school. 

I miss THIS version of Alfred. He was not at ALL happy to help you with anything you needed.

But then... disaster!  Even though we never actually see anyone call Bruce "Batman" in front of the baby, the baby deduces the truth:

"I don't like it," Bruce said, his hand creeping closer to the baby's nose and mouth. "Not at all." 

Alfred's no fool. He's knows perfectly well from experience that Bruce is about to kill that baby, because NOBODY gets to know Batman's secret identity and live to babble about it.

Fortunately for Junior, Batman gets called out to deal with some, you know, crooks.

How many diamonds do you have to steal to pay for a helicopter and a bomb that size?

Golden Age Batman had no point of diminishing returns.  If you lifted a pack of playing cards from the bodega, he would crawl through sewers, strap himself to a rocket, and chase you to the ends of the earth to bring you to justice. THEN give you a lecture about gambling.

"There are trains down near the shipyards, Junior. I could take you them to see them.
Really, really close-up."

That's dangerous. And this Batman has NOT had time to prepare. Meanwhile, old-school Alfred is fed up and is ready to quit. 

"Either young Tom King goes or I do!"

Naturally, Batman sacrifices Robin, the Boy Hostage, to keep Alfred from bolting. 

"Surely there were other 'children' at the circus I got you from? 
Just do... whatever they used to do for them. Off to fight crime!"

Naturally, Dick and Alfred are completely incompetent -- or cowering in a corner of the manor -- and the baby straightaway goes on walkabout... to the Batcave.

Who's the greater threat to society: diamond thieves or the people who let that baby alone to climb down those stairs?

Well, OF COURSE, Batman kept that as a souvenir; who wouldn't? 

The tot accidentally activates the Artificial Lightning Generator used by the Electric Mobsters and Robin has to circus-routine them both into another nearby trophy that can serve as a protective Faraday cage.

This is what happens when you leave babies in the care of circus folk.

"I learned it from you, Dad; I learned it from watching YOU."

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Batman #93: Adventures in Bat-BabySitting

Batman's babysitting adventure starts typically enough with a "Batman Cold Open":

Giant prop? Check.
But, no joke about giving them a taste of their own medicine?
After Batman grinds the criminals' bones to make his bread, he and Robin return to Wayne Manor only to find Bruce's flighty and inconsiderate cousin dumping a baby in their laps.

She's leaving. On a jet plane. Don't know when she'll be back again.

We learn many things from this panel.  Wayne Manor's security is crap. Alfred's an ineffectual fool.  Cousin Jane isn't going to make the midnight plane because it's 12:52AM. But the main thing we learn is that Bruce Wayne clearly had an extended family who COULD have helped take of him when his parents died and didn't, so... the hell with you, Cousin Jane, and the baby your rode in with.

Given the condition of the child's hair, Bruce, just hand it directly over to Child Services.

Cousin Jane tries to couch her demand as an honor ("I decided to LET you and your butler care for him!"), but Bruce knows the 'hot-potato' rule of baby-handling and has NO intention of touching that thing.  I mean... just LOOK at its hair.

Note that this scene is the kind of ultra-efficient core-dump of exposition that this era is famous for (remember Aqua-Jimmy?). Super-exposition is necessary not merely because of plot-speed but because of plot-stupidity; the faster you gloss over plot-holes, the less likely the audience is to notice the bump. This is literally the NEXT PANEL:

That baby is NOT happy with Alfred. 
"I'll get even with you for this, old man. Or my name's not Tom King."

In this case, those plot-holes include:
  • This woman thinks she can help her sick husband, as if she's Sonny Blandish's daughter or something. IS she? I can easily imagine the Blandishes and the Waynes have some ties of marriage.  
  • The baby has no name and never gets one.
  • Bruce could buy an orphanage and store the baby there. Doesn't he already own some orphanages? Isn't that where he gets Robins? There are only so many circuses, you know.
  • Cousin Jane clearly can access the speed force because she zipped out of there before BATMAN AND ROBIN could stop her.  I want the Snyder Cut of this story, where Bruce tries to bop her with a batarang as she escapes, but the fussing baby throws off his aim.
  • I hope the Gotham underworld never figures out the way to defeat Batman is throw a baby at him.  Penguin will be selling bootleg baby-bazookas within a week.
  • Apparently Bruce lives in a world where they are butlers but no nannies.

Please edit Wikipedia to show that "Family Affair" was based on this story.

The baby starts bawling, of course, because that's what comic relief babies do.

Poor Bruce. "This baby is broken! Just buy Jane another one!"

Fortunately, the world's greatest detective is not easily stumped by the Mystery of the Crying Baby.

"Maybe it's ... some kind of CLUE as to the baby's next crime!"

Let's unpack this, shall we?  The mother brought NO babycare stuff when she dropped the baby off.  There is NO milk in all of Wayne Manor.  All of Gotham City has NO 24-hour groceries or even convenience stores.  AND... Batman regularly patrols on Sunday mornings, when stores aren't even open. What's he looking for? Urban churchgoers who double-park? Clearly he's lying. To ALFRED.

Besides Wayne Manor ALWAYS has milk.

BUT because this is a bat-sitcom, ridiculous set-ups must lead to ridiculous situations and solutions.

Maybe if you didn't live 14 miles outside of Gotham City like an elitist suburban snob, you wouldn't have this kind of trouble getting milk.  I've always said, "If you have to drive to get milk, something is wrong with your life."

Batman and Robin reduced to chasing down milk trucks. What could be more humiliating?

I think we're about to find out what's more humiliating than chasing a milk truck in the Batmobile:


Monday, March 09, 2020

Batman #93

Like many (all?) people, I wasn't happy about how Tom King handled Batman. But you know, Batman has survived questionable handling before.  Let's spin the wheel and pick... Batman #93! No, no; not the one coming out next month. I mean the FIRST one, the one from 1955.

That's debatable.

Not debatable.

PLEASE tell me they mean Tango & Cash.

How droll!

This one's going to hurt, isn't it...?

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

A Farewell to Tom

In an interview with today on his forthcoming book Strange Adventures (where he'll tell some tale of self-disillusionment with Adam Strange and the dirty, stinking Rannies), author Tom King said,

"Hello, I'm Tom King. I make people cry for a living and it's a weird way to earn a dollar."

Doesn't that just say it all?

Tom King views making people sad AS HIS JOB.  Well, he's certainly made plenty of people miserable with his writing of Batman, so: Achievement Unlocked, Tom. Time to move on.

Look; I get it.  I was a stage performer for 25 years.  Being able to move people to tears IS one of the most intoxicating experiences an entertainer can have, and I LOVED doing it. It makes you feel as though your art has meaning and that it actually touches people.

But there are good touches and there are bad touches.  When I was a performer it was my job to make people cry. But it was also my job to make them laugh.  And smile  And exult. And ponder. And reflect. And relax.  Etc. My job as a performer was to be ABLE to do all of those and to vary which I was doing.  Singing the same note again and again and again doesn't make a song.  Or at least, not a very good one.

That's an exception. Along with One Direction's "Kiss You" and the bulk of Gregorian chant.

Tom King has a one-note song of sadness and it isn't our sadness or Batman's... it's just his and we've been paying to watch him sing it. 

Batman's fed up, too.
And he's a pretty patient guy as a rule.

I want the corpse of Julie Schwartz or Mort Weisinger (who weren't particularly pleasant WHEN STILL ALIVE) to claw out of the grave and drive Tom King and all those like him from the temple of DC:

Like that, but with more flaying and fewer pigeons.

Time to go, Tom, and inspire emotions OTHER than sadness as you do.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Meet the Vulture!

As promised yesterday, let's meet the Criminal Mastermind of All Time who's behind the plane-boomings:

Eerie mountain lair? Okay, that checks out.  

Let's hope the interior drama matches the drapes.

Who LIGHTS those torches, I wonder? Or are they just those crepe paper + fans jobs?

We learn a lot from these panels. The Vulture uses vulture-themed decor, but in moderation. He's rich enough to employ the Phantom Stranger.  He's a chemist.  But the most important thing we learn is that he appreciates and understands the value of UPLIGHTING.

Just like Firefly. The real original one, not the Heat Wave ripoff.

Also, his outfit is entirely vespertilian and not at all vulturine. 
Totally the pic that would be on his DCUwiki page if he were a DC character.

Anyway, the Vulture. who we've seen blown up planes by remote control and messing around in a chemistry lab, clearly intends to use one of these clever scientific means of kill this William Oswald.

Or just, you know, show up and stab him.

In the same way that the Shield cannot resist damaging planes, the Vulture cannot resist the opportunity for dramatic uplighting, so he shows up in person to stab his confederate.  Golden Age villains were, as a general rule, polycidal.  They didn't JUST stab, shoot, poison, explode, drown, hang. They did ALL of them.  This is because back in the day all respectable villains went to colleges for the liberal villainous arts, rather than all the tech school doctors of evil nowadays, who just throw atomic bombs at whatever little problem arises.

Meanwhile, Joe -- well, adopts is not the right word -- subsumes Dusty:

Because you're explosion-proof unlike my stupid dead dad.

And gives him the essential thing he needs to fight crime:

Actually, Shield that is literally the LAST thing Dusty needs before he can fight crime.  Also, stop calling him a 'boy detective' when YOU are the FBI agent and he's just a scrappy kid in a Charlie Brown sweater with precociously developed thighs.

Fortunately, it's Bring Your Orphan to Work Day at the FBI, so Joe takes Dusty with him to find the dead body of William Oswald.

Joe REALLY likes affirming that people are dead.

Then Dusty, earning his rep as a boy detective, finds clues that allow him to deduce that the Freighter Mary Ann and The Limited Train are the next and imminent targets of the Vulture's sabotage.

Fine; I lied.

The Shield, who is nearly indestructible, goes to stop the train while sending Dusty, who is clearly destructible, to stop a freighter from exploding.  Because there's no safer place for a sturdy fun-sized ginger boy with solid thighs and a father fixation than the docks.

Meanwhile, the Shields stops the train because it gives him the chance to run on telephone wires, which as we know he does every chance he gets.  I used to think this was some sort of metaphor for FBI agents being able to use wiretapping under the anti-racketeering laws, but then I realized it's just an excuse for the Shield to run in that pointy-toed way he does.

It's the Shield, brimming with purpose and determination,
silently hurling himself full force into a tunnel.
Just like in my dream.

The Shield stops the train right before the Vulture blows up the tunnel.

You know, Joe, given how you run, throwing around the word "nellie" seems ill-advised.

But what about our Boy Detective at the docks?

Dem thighs, tho.

SOMEHOW, Dusty manages to get his thighs through the porthole and is, completely improbably, kicking ***.

Was Dusty's mother a circus aerialist?
Was he bitten off-camera by a radioactive Jiemba Sands?
This is some circus aerialist stuff right here.

Is this something tweener orphans can do? Beat up three adult men while wearing a cape? No wonder no one adopts them.

"If not, I'd have to admit I should have sent the police, who were standing right there, or other FBI agents, or even Betty Warren and her hat, rather than just a sturdily-thighed boy without any background in circus aerialism."

Once arrived, FBI Agent Joe Higgins pioneers waterboarding:

Thought I made that up, didn't you?

The thugs having talked, the Shield takes the freighter bomb to Vulture's castle on Rose Hill and

Joe Higgins may serve Justice, but the Shield's only master is Ironic Comeuppance.

On the plus side, this being Washington DC, the Rose Hill Redevelopment Project already has plans for some luxury condos above upscale retail space.

His body isn't found, of course. But the grease-covered body of JuJu -- Joe's moronic comic relief partner at the FBI -- is found in what is Dusty's ONLY example of boy-detectiving in the whole issue (and possible the entire series):

Ha ha! It's funny because FBI agents are imbeciles!

Making JuJu seem even MORE useless than he originally was in Shield's story is truly Dusty's most impressive accomplishment (followed closely by speed-grieving and speed-circus-aerialism).

I laugh, but remember: despite its foibles THIS is the story which, with the arrival of his sidekick and archenemy, made inevitable the Shield's rise as American's favorite superhero.