Tag Archives: #robin

The Bat-Intervention

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A meeting is called to order in the Justice League conference room.  

S: Bruce, we need to talk.

WW: It’s about your… methods.

(There are a few uncomfortable glances.) 

B: I’m listening.

S: There isn’t an easy way to say this.  You have to stop dragging children into the line of fire.

B: Excuse me?

S: You’ve been assembling an army of children.  Minors.  You’ve been making them prowl the streets and fight criminals.  Most of which are clinically insane.

WW: We overlooked the first one.  He was an exceptional case that was raised as an acrobat.  We never even noticed that the second one replaced him, until we figured out that the first one became Nightwing.  Then this second Robin turned up dead.

F: We’ve heard rumors that there was a young blonde girl acting as Robin for a short time, and that she died, too.  Can you confirm if this is true?

B:

S: We are also aware of a red-haired Batgirl, and two more Robins.

WW: It’s safe to assume that this newest Robin is Damien Wayne, your long, lost son that just returned from boarding school, despite the fact that there is no record of his existence before last year.

B:

S: Is it also true that he just recently died in battle?

B:

WW: Bruce.

S: Can you see why we have a problem with this?

WW: You wear black and grey.  They wear red and green, with a bright yellow cape.  It’s almost as if you’re using these “Robins” as decoys.

F: Is that your intent?

B: I don’t think this is any of your business.

S: We have a strict “no kill” policy in the JLA.

B: I don’t appreciate the implication.  All of you know I hold that standard in the highest esteem.  I’ve never killed anyone.

S: How old was Damien?  Eight?  Ten?

B: He was born into the League of Assassins.  He’s been trained to kill since birth.  Taking him into Gotham was the only way to give him an outlet; to put a muzzle on him.  To teach him restraint; not to kill.

WW: Eight or ten, Bruce?

B: Nine.

(Uncomfortable silence.)

S: Bruce?  No more children in the line of fire.  Don’t make us tell you again.

 

I’ve often wondered about sidekicks in comic books.  From a writer’s point of view, they allow escapism for young readers.  But from within the story, it’s actually kind of disturbing to think about.  Some sidekicks are nearly invulnerable like the Kryptonian Supergirl, or Superman’s clone, Superboy.  Wondergirl is an Amazon.  Aqualad is Atlantean.  Kid Flash has a dangerous power that he must be taught to harness and control.  Their strength and gifts make them the exception.  In fact, it might be the best way to teach them the responsibility to wield their power wisely.  But what about ordinary, mortal children, clad in brightly colored uniforms, leaping across rooftops while fighting super-powered madmen?

What is the point of the Justice League if they don’t hold their members accountable when their actions are questionable?  Have they never discussed how their darkest, broodiest, most unapproachable member surrounds himself with children and trains them to become vigilantes in the most crime-ridden city in the country?  What about when he loses one of them?  Or the next one?

Rick Veitch’s “Bratpack” mini-series (published by King Hell Press) is a parody of the Teen Titans.  This story addresses a fair share of disturbing situations that a so-called “sidekick” could find themselves in.  It’s disturbing, and a little schlocky, but I still consider it to be required reading for any mature comic book fan.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of the Teen Titans, and Robin(s) in particular.  Tim Drake is a long-time favorite, and Damien Wayne is my favorite new character to debut in years.  The Batman titles are stronger books with them in it.  But don’t look at this as a reader.  Look at it from within the story.  It’s a little messed up.  And I can’t help but wonder why the Justice League has never called Batman out on it.

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Kitbash Corner: The Bat-Man

The following is inspired by the works
of writer Bill Finger
and cartoonist Bob Kane.

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Its the year 1919. The Constitution has just been amended for the eighteenth time. Prohibition. The Crime rate steadily begins to clime. In October someone manages to fix the World Series. A piece of America dies.
A little over a year later its opening night for The Mark Of Zorro. A ten-year-old boy is sitting in the crowded movie theater between his parents. Mom and Dad exchange glances at their little prince and smile at one another. The child stares fixated on the swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks cloaked in black with a mask that hides his true identity.

 Afterward as the theater clears Mom and Dad gather their coats and gently coax their awestruck son out of his chair. Outside he dances and twirls about, his arm extended and index finger pointing straight out as he waves his make believe cutlass in the cold night air. Arm in arm his parents walk steadily behind him trying to keep up with the energy that is their son. They kiss softly in the moonlight as the future of their great city gallivants a few steps ahead of them. In an uncertain world they all have each other.

“Bruce. Not so far.”, Dad calls out. The boy returns to his parents and takes a hand of each, swinging them merrily as they walk. His youthful excitement will run out soon. Its time to get him home. Dad knows a shortcut through the alley. Mom beckons him to stay on the street. But Thomas Wayne has lived in this city all his life, and he’s not afraid of shadows. The family continues on through a back alley.

The sudden shrill of a siren a couple blocks over causes alarm for a second. Bruce squeezes his father’s hand. Thomas squeezes back for a second and then looks down to assure his son everything is okay. When he looks back up something is moving closer toward them brandishing a revolver. The Waynes freeze. The streetlight beaming down over the man’s newsboy cap causes a shadow down his face. He sneers. Thomas Wayne’s hand tightens around his son’s as he steps forward. His other hand raises steadily as his wife’s trembling fingers slowly move to hand the man her purse. Police sirens scream through the streets again. For a second the goon is distracted. Thomas Wayne shoves his son behind himself and moves for the gun. BLAM! Martha Wayne screams as the gunshot echoes through the alley. BLAM! Bruce Wayne’s entire world collapses in front of him. A purse hits the pavement. The sound of heavy footsteps trails off in the night. Young Bruce Wayne sinks to the wet ground where he feels pain for the last time.

Nineteen years later…..

Batman Serial
The Making:

I’ve always had a fascination with the original Bat-Man design.  From the first time I saw it in a magazine I was drawn to it.  Its very different from every other version out there, and yet it bears all the same elements.  There’s a grittiness to it being a Pulp era detective, but it also draws on elements of the super hero.  I’ve wanted to bring it to life in my preferred medium for a long while now.  It was just a matter of how.
I knew right away that unlike Miller Bats from DKR I didn’t want something that was just a 3D realization of Kane’s drawing style. Oh I still wanted the costume in all its glory, but a realistic looking representation of his original duds.  But where to start?  Its not a costume that could be easily sourced from existing parts.  Or could it…

The suit.

The suit was the hardest part to sort out, and it was also the most crucial.  It couldn’t have a nylon or spandex appearance to it.  That was much too modern.  So finding a proper bodysuit for this version was imperative. Then one night while surfing through the remnants of a 1/6 retailers latest parts breakdown I happened upon a white unitard from a Star Wars figure. What stood out to me immediately was the texture of it. It had a long johns vibe and was perfect for what I needed. A quick dye bath later and Bat’s had his costume.   The trunks are modified from a Barbie outfit and the emblem is scrap leather.

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The belt.

On the cover of Dectective Comics #27 the belt features a round disc that serves as the buckle. Its a one of the defining characteristics of the early design and will also set him that much further apart from other versions I intend to do. The buckle itself is a medium-sized button with a small bead in the center. The capsules are styrene rods. As for the color of the belt yellow was immediately ruled out. It didn’t work. Not for this version at least. Gold is much more subtle to eye here. In my mind its a leather weight belt he’s converted and lined with smoke capsules. Afterall this isn’t a gadget-heavy Batman.  He’s more Sherlock Homes and less James Bond.

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Boots and Gloves

The gloves were a sort of happy accident. I’d purchased a set of hands belonging to a Captain America figure and with them came a pair of gripping hands perfect for holding a shield…. or a cape. The Cap hands came intended for an additional gauntlet piece so I added cuffs to them from another set of gloves. The boots were similarly altered and extended to have long sharp points over the knees.

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Cape and Cowl.

The cape was the one piece that was already in place as I’d been holding onto it for years. It comes from the same DC Direct 13” Batman that most of Miller Bats’ parts are from. The only thing I did was paint the inside of his wings blue. The cowl was a much different story. There were several iterations to say the least. At first it started out with a very sinister brow and long pointed beak of a nose. And while I dug that for a bit it was much more Brian Bolland, and not at all what I was going for. So off went the nose and down went the brow until the whole cowl was softer and less defined. After I was happy with the sculpt the whole thing was textured to resemble the leather of the cape.

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The completed piece:

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Why So Serious? Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love a Bomb

(Spoilers for the Nolan Batman films and maybe others.)
With the dust settling over the casting of Ben Affleck as the next Batman, I thought I’d finally dig into my feelings on the recently-completed Batman trilogy and its predecessor. I enjoyed Batman Begins greatly. It was a return to the serious world of the Batman and promised a first cinematic exploration of the relationship between R’as al Ghul and Bruce. That relationship, while naturally not slavishly true to the comic canon, was at least partially addressed and, as we know now, would be a large part of the trilogy’s payoff. The Dark Knight was…well, it was pretty damn great, wasn’t it? Not much to criticize, really, even if the R’as angle was pretty much forgotten for the duration of the film.
Then, Dark Knight Rises happened. I’ve asked euphemistically how does one make a mainstream hugely-successful Batman action movie? Easy—remove the Batman…and most of the action. Without checking the clock on it, it seemed to me that Bruce Wayne and James Gordon spent 80% of their time in the movie on their backs, either in the hospital, recovering, in prison or something. (Ok, that one scene with Bruce on his back had a little more action, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss.) Relatively dull fight scenes, car chases we’ve seen before—the only truly exciting parts were when the Bat appeared, which were not coincidentally about the only time Batman seemed to be doing anything. Yeah, he fought Bane hand-to-hand and beat up a bunch of thugs with Catwoman. Yawn. We know the name of the movie, and any longtime comic fan knows there won’t be a Batman movie where Batman dies, at least until Frank Miller produces one.
I hear the complaints—this isn’t Transformers, this was a thinking Batman movie. That’s why they got Christopher Nolan. I’ve read a review comparing TDKR to Inception. Guess what? I don’t go to a Batman movie looking for Inception. I’m not after mindless action, but I don’t expect any movie, even a three-hour movie, to prod me to reconsider my role in the universe through the lens of the Batman. I’m not incapable of being moved to deep thought by movies, but I don’t think Batman is the proper vehicle for that. Nothing against Batman; I don’t want to see a Superman movie created by Darren Aronofsky or Thor by Ingmar Bergman.
I understand that this is the Batman of record for a generation. Good thing he didn’t die, then, right? (Or maybe it would have been better, given the New 52, but that’s another story.) It doesn’t really surprise me that this is the Batman movie we got for the new century. Let’s think: the first Batman movie was the serial that came from the almost-pulp stories of the 1940s. Then we had the ’66 Batman and that movie, putting the topper on the Silver Age, before Tim Burton returned us to the serious side. That made sense in 1989, after the comics had turned more serious thanks to The Dark Knight Returns, Year One, and stories by writers like Doug Moench and Dennis O’Neill. Joel Schumaker began to turn the corner with Batman Forever, a huge commercial success and toy-mover that returned Batman to the kids while still appealing to adults.

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Then came Batman and Robin, and we’ll be coming back to that.
In the comics, Batman was getting more and more…intense. Humorless and grim, pathologically dedicated to ridding Gotham of its poisonous criminal element, a mission roundly acknowledged as impossible and actually symptomatic of a death wish on Bruce’s part, to kill himself (or actually, to be killed) while pursuing an impossible goal, finally atoning in his mind for surviving the assault that killed his parents. The mind of this broken bat would prove to be, among other things, the means of at least two major overhauls of the DC Universe: the OMAC Project and its fallout; and the rise of Prometheus, whose theft of Batman’s “protocols” for dealing with a Justice League turned rogue. That established Prometheus as a major DC villain and set up a number of significant (and reprehensible) deaths, including Prometheus’ own at the hands of Green Arrow. (All this, of course, pre-Flashpoint, so no one cares anyway.) Additionally, Batman’s role in the events leading to Identity Crisis, including his mind-wipe by Zatanna, also led to his increasingly paranoid, megalomaniacal…well, let’s just say psychotic behavior.
As far as the thinking comics fan, it’s been a matter of fact for a while that Batman, arguably DC’s most recognizable hero, is also crazy as a football bat. In the fabled “real world,” no one would want to work with him. The dead sidekicks pile up, his illegitimate son is raised by the leader of the tellingly-named League of Assassins, he cavorts around Gotham and the universe fighting godlike beings and mass murderers in sweatpants with a Tupperware liner…he had to quit visiting Arkham because they were locking the door behind him.
The rest of the world, though, only saw this as being “serious.” Batman is a good guy, he takes no crap from anyone, and “he could defeat anyone with enough prep time.” Whatever. Nuts is as nuts does. The thing is, as far as the Batman Protocols, let’s remember Chekov: if there are methods to defeat the Justice League on the mantel in the first act, the League better be defeated by the third act, and so they were. That should have served as enough reason to confront the Bat about the state of his belfry.
Instead, we saw the outgrowth of all this seriousness in the comics (and a very successful darker cartoon series) in the Nolan films. And that’s fine. No one wants too much reality in their fantasy, I know. That’s why the movie-going audience can make Iron Man movies wild successes while they laugh along at essentially the same character as Bruce Wayne doing what makes sense (build a form-fitting jet fighter plane and beat on the bad guys) while taking the billionaire-karate-detective seriously. I’ve been told by more than one filmgoer that the Nolan incarnation will be their Batman because it came out at the proper time. Why the Burton movies or the TV series can’t be I don’t know.
But whither George Clooney?

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I saw Batman and Robin in a theater, early in its release but not before bad word-of-mouth was circulating. I didn’t care; I just attributed it to comic haters. The credits rolled and it was pretty cool. Then we see Clooney in the cowl, right off the bat. A screen pops up in the Batmobile (a new one!) and Commissioner Gordon (who looks more like Chief O’Hara) tells our hero there’s trouble at the museum. “I’m on my way.” And he drives the Batmobile over the building’s skyline. Ok, it’s gonna be that kind of movie. More butter, please.
Is it perfect? Of course not. The Poison Ivy number is about three times too long. Bane is utterly wasted and can’t even be compared to the character in Rises. So much of the bile directed at the movie, though—Batnipples and codpieces? Ugh!—just seems like piling on once it was decided that the movie should be shunned, excised from the catalog. I’d much prefer to see DC/Warner disavow Superman Returns; that movie, in my opinion, deserves to be forgotten. B&R is still entertaining. It’s bright and colorful; even the movie poster made it clear what we were going to get. It was reminiscent of Dick Tracy in its use of color…and, for that matter, of the ’66 series, which I consider its actual spiritual ancestor. Batman ’66 is now considered a camp classic; when I watched it the first time, all I knew was Batman, Robin, Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, and all these cool, crazy characters who didn’t exist anywhere else—King Tut! Bookworm! Louie the Lilac!—would crop up with mad missions and wacky weapons, diabolical deathtraps and hilarious henchmen. It was cool. Ten-year-old cool. So is Batman and Robin. The Dark Knight Rises is ten-year-old dull.

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