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The Art of Bat-Deduction…

My copy of Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin hardcover should be shipping from Amazon today. In recognition of that fact, and in acknowledgement of Grant Morrison’s description of his book as the Adam West television show filtered through the lens of David Lynch, I give you perhaps my favourite moment of 1960s Batman, from Batman: The Movie. Batman and the Boy Wonder have just been attacked by a shark, leading to the infamous “Bat Shark Repellent” scene, and the Caped Crusader (because it’s just… wrong to call Adam West’s version of the character the Dark Knight) must figure out who was behind the plot:

Batman: Pretty fishy what happened to me on that ladder.
Gordon: You mean, where there’s a fish, there could be a Penguin.
Robin: But wait! It happened at sea! See? “C” for Catwoman!
Batman: Yet — that exploding shark was pulling my leg!
Gordon: The Joker!
O’Hara: It all adds up to a sinister riddle… Riddle-er. Riddler?

And the scariest part? He’s 100% right. They don’t call him the world’s greatest detective for nothing.

On the phone? That's justice...

10 Responses

  1. Batman: Fortunately, I always carry my “Carousel Reversal Spray”.
    Clownface: Oh. What don’t you have in that belt?
    Batman: Patience! For harlequin hoodlums like yourself!

    Thanks for the tip. I’ll be asking my comic book guy for a little more background on the book.

    • I adore that Simpsons bit – even though I can’t remember the rest of the episode (I think it involved Bart and Milhouse replicating the stunt, but I have no idea where it went from there aside from the fact it involved Krusty).

      • Yeah, Marge’s boob job. A testament to how far each episode winds up jumping off from the opening scene.

  2. My favourite quote (from the series) is when Batgirl is thrown into a tub of caviar.

    Batgirl: Help, Batman! I’m drowning……………..I’m also freezing.
    Batman: Batgirl is being frozen in that caviar!

    • I like this one, from Batman in full costume, “I’ll just stay by the bar… I don’t want to appear conspicuous.”

  3. Just finished that Batman Reborn book – my comic book guy knew exactly what I meant when I said “It’s supposed to be 60s Batman seen through a David Lynch lens”. Man, I had no idea Batman was “dead”. Is that supposed to be tied in with Neil Gaiman’s Whatever Happened to the Dark Knight? Or is that just some kind of coincidence?

    Thanks for the tip! Now I have somewhere else to divert our diaper money.

    • Yep, Batman is dead. This going to get geeky, so I apologise in advance. Okay, I don’t apologise, I enjoy this stuff – but I acknowledge it’s geeky.

      01.) Writer Grant Morrison took over the main Batman title after DC’s last big crisis (okay, there was one arc written by another writer, but it has been Morrison’s since). Basically he started this big epic about “the black hand”, a sinister supervillain cabel conspiring to bring down Batman, and rewriting the character’s history to include ALL aspects of his past (including retconning his “off-world” adventures as a mind-altering psychodelic experience he underwent). Basically, this all foreshadowed the end of Bruce Wayne, with replacement Batman, and a mastermind claiming to be his father (who had faked his own death). This all reached a climax with the storyline Batman RIP (in which Batman is flown into Gotham Harbour while wrestling with his mystery opponent), which is a slightly misleading title because…

      02.) Grant Morrison also wrote the next big DC crossover event, the equally misleadingly-titled Final Crisis. Turns out Batman survived his horrible helicopter crash long enough to get abducted by an alien warlord – the Jack Kirby creation Darkseid – who decided to clone an army of Batmen to help him to conquer the world. Batman, despite being unconscious, managed to screw up this plan royally, killing all the clones. Anyway, the series ends with Batman breaking his one rule (actually his two rules), by drawing a gun and killing Darkseid with a bullet Darkseid had used to kill his own son but Batman had kept handy because… he’s Batman. Anyway, Darkseid is less than pleased about the whole being killed by Batman thing, so hits him with some eye beams. Superman recovers a decayed corpse from the aftermath wearing the iconic cowl.

      03.) But Batman’s not dead, because… well, we wouldn’t believe it if he were. Darkseid used “the omega sanction” on Bats, which basically sent his spirit back to the dawn of time as an ultimate punishment, to live and relive cycles of violence for infinity, possibly until he catches up with us. Think of it as a more brutal Quantum Leap. Anyway, Morrison will be tracking Bruce’s return to the present in a new miniseries next month.

      Yep. I’m not the biggest fan of what Morrison’s done, because I don’t think high concepts like this suit Batman. He’s not a science fiction pulpy hero like Superman or the X-men (both of whom Morrison handles better, in my opinion), so it’s not his style. Plus, when Batman is the most high profile comic book character in the world, there’s an argument to be made for making his comic book more accessible (or at least, providing an easy entry point for film fans). This isn’t really it. And then there’s the cheek of holding an event called Batman RIP and then effectively (but not actually) killing him in another event.

      I have a review of Morrison’s run on Batman here. There’s a lot to like, but also a lot to dislike. I reckon his whole Batman epic might do well to be read when it’s complete.

      Apologies about the nerdiness…

  4. The nerdiness is always welcome – especially over in Cynics land!

    I appreciate the abridged history of these story arcs. I jumped in late, as you know, but I was able to piece together from my limited Batman background that the new Robin is likely Ras Al Ghul’s grandson (my opthamologist’s name is Dr. Al Ghoul) and I’ve only read from the appearance of the Red Mask, to the defeat of The Flamingo.

    As I’m reading your comment here, something occurred to me based on your description of Morrison’s style. Turns out that I’ve been a Grant Morrison for a long time: About 10 years (or more) I got hooked on a title called Animal Man. It’s the book that brought me back to DC after practically a lifetime with Marvel.

    As far as what you’re saying for Batman not being the right kind of hero for him to be experimenting with, Animal Man was perfect: He was barely known, had powers that could be used in all kinds of ways, and it left Morrison open to break the fourth wall and all kinds of other bendings of the rules. They even had the old Animal Man meet the retcon’d one!

    Thanks a billion again for pointing me at this title. Not sure if I’m going to get the earlier issues, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for the stuff where Batman comes back… you’ve managed to get me to hold off on reading Old Man Logan for just a little bit longer.

    PS. If you’re interested, you should check out the bit we did on our show with Gareth Gaudin, my “comic book guy”. He owns his own shop around the corner from the radio station – very cool guy, and he knows everything. I’m looking forward to having an excuse to have him back on the show: http://www.thefilmcynics.com/blog/?p=3371 & http://www.thefilmcynics.com/blog/?p=3408

    • Not sure if I made the implication strong enough that it was your description of Morrison’s style that made me realize that I’d been reading Morrison years ago – not that I’d forgotten. Darren FTW. 

    • That’s strange, Old Man Logan is in the post to me at the moment. I’ve actually been waiting for DC to give Animal Man the deluxe treatment, as they’ve been doing with other high profile runs (Starman at the moment, and Morrison’s JLA). I just like hardcovers, they look better on the shelves (this is the same sort of borderline OCD stuff which led me to organise that table of movie bloggers on desert island discs).

      I’ll check that out, sounds cool.

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