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:



John C said...

Granted, I missed all of the '50s by a decade and change, but who drags their kid around in just a diaper!? Especially what kind of rich who, since I've been given to believe that babies in wealthy families are dressed in all sorts of infinitely-buttoned, absurdist frippery. And yet "Jane" (I'm guessing that she's a spy...or a hallucination) protected herself against hypothermia, but Junior is probably crying from the frostbite.

And yeah, the DCU was filthy with Waynes that should have shown up when Thomas and Martha were dropping alley-pearls. In some versions, Uncle Philip took him in, but clearly wasn't a particularly good guardian, apparently a Wayne tradition. Aunt Agatha was apparently also creaking around.

Hey, wait, was I the only one who didn't know (looking at the DC Wiki page...) that Vanderveer "Van" Wayne, snotty and vapid younger cousin to Bruce as played by Alan Tudyk on the aggressively mediocre Powerless, was a real character as of Batman #148?

Anyway, the "Bruce's trapezoidal head is about to shake apart" panel is great, especially since Dick is off in the background making sure we understand that our heroes literally just zoned out for a few minutes while she left.

But really, how is this not coming to a supermarket heist instead of #MooToo? Catwoman. She'd be all over this, thematically speaking, except for the baby. Actually, this issue is 1955 and we're (much) later told that the Huntress was born in 1957, so (a) Catwoman already probably lives at Wayne Manor and (b) is probably OK with kids. So, yeah, I'm taking a stand. It's completely indefensible not to have Catwoman heisting milk from a supermarket!

cybrid said...

In real life, a woman showing up with a baby at the door of a MILLIONAIRE PLAYBOY'S home in the middle of the night might be the prelude to an entirely different story...

BTW, I realize that you were just going for continuity snark, but:

"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"

Well, that was hardly COUSIN JANE'S fault. She was probably even younger than Bruce at the time. She might not even have been born yet.

Besides, do we actually have ANY IDEA who took care of young Bruce after Leslie Tomkins found him in Crime Alley (or whatever the deal is these days)?

How odd that it's actually never occurred to me to wonder about that until today. :-|

In, again, real-life, of course, an eight-year-old who saw his parents killed in front of him (Law & Order: SVU doesn't get that hardcore) and just sat there for God knows how long waiting to be found -- his parents's dead bodies in front of him, their screams still ringing in his ears, beset by the overwhelming stench of blood and spilled bowels -- would spend years working his way up to forming complete sentences, never mind delivering a graveside vow of collective vengeance upon all of crimedom.

Batman's not scary because he's insane (as any number of readers believe him to be). He's scary because he's sane as he is.

cybrid said...


Besides, what about Aunt Harriet? All these years and Aunt Harriet hasn't yet made the continuity jump from TV to comic books? Where are the priorities?


Scipio said...

cybrid said...

"She's alarmed by your mask and costume!"

Wait, is THAT a joke, Robin? I thought cows were one of the most imperturbable animals on Earth, right behind giraffes and camels.

"If you're a camel, you soon learn to put up with anything." -- from "The Cat's Bah" (1954)