Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Man Who Replaced Batman (Part 4): A Fight at the Opera

You'd think that once Batman knows Deadshot's real identity, the jig would be up, and the story would be over.  But, no; that would make too much sense. Nothing is ever direct or straightforward in a Golden Age story.  The plots are always off-center enough and roundabout that the outcome will (it is hoped) be a surprise.  Why, it's the literary equivalent of one of Deadshot's trick shots!

It explains the popularity of Golden Age Green Arrow;
it came as surprise every time he survived to the end of the story.

Now knowing Deadshot's 411, Batman does the Batman-thing and skulks about the shadows around Floyd's house, looking for more dirt on him--which Floyd presently provides:

Well, who could have seen that coming?

Turns out Floyd's not only a liar, he's a crook. Floyd is another-- nay, perhaps the first -- in the breed of Anti-Batmans that comic writers have thrown at us for decades.  Which ignores the fact that you can't sensibly invert the concept of Batman. Bruce Wayne was able to become a crimefighter because he happened to be rich.  But people don't become criminals because they happen to be rich; they become criminals IN ORDER to become rich.  

This same nonsensical inverted Batman concept would be used again only eight months later when Cameron "Killer Moth" Van Cleer is introduced.  

Except even Killer Moth wasn't dumb enough to rely on mere guns to defeat Batman.  He wielded the power of cross-media branding.

What on earth does a millionaire gun hobbyist like Floyd Lawton have to gain by becoming a crime lord? What's that going to get him, better seats at the opera? It's just like the Kim Possible villain, Señor Senior, Sr., who became a supervillain as a hobby because he was bored with just being rich.  

GOD, I love that guy: "World-class villains are defined by disproportionate revenge."

This discovery makes Batman & Robin angry enough to take a run at the fourth wall, to no avail.

Pictured: a direct frontal attack.

So, rather than going to Commissioner Gordon (or the press!), Batman confronts Deadshot directly. Where? At the opera, of course.  

I told you they needed an Operatic Crimes Division, but you didn't believe me, did you?

You have to love the erudition of Gotham City's underworld. In what other city, real or fictional, would an escaped convict make a beeline for the operahouse?  "Massenet's Grisélidis may not be performed again in my lifetime, and even if means I am caught and get the chair, at least I shall not have died uncultured! Haw!"  It's like an entire demimonde of Sideshow Bobs.

Deadshot, to his credit, calls Batman's bluff with one of literature's most glorious "SO WHAT?"s.  

DeGrassi: The Gotham Years

That's some pretty serious 'tec-blocking by Deadshot.  Poor Batman detected his little butt off, only to be undone by a haughty 'nyah, nyah-nyah, nyah nyah' from Floyd.  I must confess, it's delightfully refreshing.

So, far, this has all been just a verbal slapfight between Batman and Deadshot, like two teen debs fighting over who gets to take dreamy debate team captain Jimmy Gordon to Homecoming.  

And who can blame them?!

But now it gets SERIOUS. 

"Yes, sir; Operatic Crimes Division;
we're here about the incident you reported.  Did your wall have any enemies?"

Deadshot is a criminal genius; I guess no one's ever thought of just SHOOTING Batman before.  Although since he's Batman's competition and a crackshot, I should rather imagine that EVERYONE would suspect.  Besides, Deadshot already had his 'one miss' when he stupidly shot a hole in his own pocket.

Setting aside Deadshot's sudden extreme threat, let's consider his sudden eXXXtreme shooting.  It's important to note (as we have not before) that, even though it's 1950 not 1850, Deadshot uses REVOLVERS, not automatics.  As a practical matter, this makes no sense at all, of course; one can only assume that's just what 'a gun' looks like in the artist's mind.  

Now, it takes about 16 seconds (maybe as much as 19, if you are being particularly dramatic) to say the words Deadshot is saying in that panel.  During which he shoots approximately 135 bullets into the wall, which (given the need to reload his six-shooter while wearing opera gloves) would take, oh, 8 minutes, minimum.  

Trust me on this.

I bet that made for a pretty awkward 7 minutes or so, where Batman just stood there having to wait for Deadshot to finish his little LiteBrite project.  

Deadshot would have been a great Green Arrow foe.  For the one story it would take for him to kill Ollie. Because 135 bullets beat 35 arrows.

Batman, stymied by Deadshot's "so what" of existential invalidation, vows to stalk Deadshot as if his life depended on it, because it does.

Note again: fear of being supplanted in the affection of others.

Now it gets REALLY weird...


John C said...

Doesn't "become criminals because they happen to be rich" describe a not-insignificant chunk of Silicon Valley? I mean, they generally want the laws eventually changed so that what they do isn't illegal, but Floyd could easily found Uber, here...

Maybe the skull and crossbones had already been mostly shot out by prior diabolical opera enthusiasts. I assume that most issues of GCPD:OCD are small-timers trying to finish the last crossbone, hoping it would unlock Karl Kyle's map to the original draft of Rossini's Duetto buffo di due gatti, after all, which makes me want to read that series all the more.

Anonymous said...

Glad you follow "Kim Possible"! You have good taste, but then again you always have.

Nathan Hall said...

We need proof - something
concrete! Meanwhile, I'll try
to force the issue