In Which I Get Far Too Verbose About Batman's Duds...
...and no, the title of the post isn't a reference to Knightfall. (HAR!) Belated thanks for the support for the Marvel Writer's Meeting I posted a couple of days ago. Thanks go out especially to Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Steven Grant, and Aaron Albert for driving waves of traffic my way!Today's topic: I have a problem with the way Batman looks, which ties directly in to a maudlin point I make at the end of this post. Also, because I won't post again till Monday, I wanted everyone to see this before the weekend so they get a good running start at my first attempted meme.
But first, a bit about Batman's costume, with apologies to Blockade Boy.
We'll start from the top down. First, the ears. In my mind, Batman needs long ears. Short stubby bat-ears a la Adam West just do NOT look cool. Batman's ears should say, "Hey! Not only can I probably hear very well, if necessary I could impale you with a head butt, and don't go thinking you can just sit on my head without feeling some pain, either!" Now, they shouldn't be lawn darts either, but relatively long proportionately.
Next big point of contention for me: the cape. I likes me some long, flowing Batman capes. Because with all the roof-jumping, ledge-diving, and grapple-climbing the man does, let's face it: without a big-ass cape waving stylistically around in the air all menacingly, those panels are just as boring as your average junior high track meet. (Memo to self: prepare for the onslaught of track fan hate-mail.) Also, short capes are unequivocally for sidekicks and weenies. Batman, dear reader, is no weenie.
Color-wise --- and I warn you, this is going to sound like blasphemy --- I need the blue-and-gray Batman outfit back. I just do. I know that the original costume was black and gray. I know it's probably more frightening to criminals that way. I. Don't. Care. The black is boring and depressing. And not much fun. If you don't think the blue/gray outfit is cool, take it up with Jim Aparo, Neal Adams, Norm Breyfogle and company.
(Side note: DAMN, Jim Aparo was good.)
(Additional side note: Neal Adams is no slouch, either.)
(Son of Additional side note: Why doesn't Breyfogle ever get mentioned in the "Top Batman Artists Ever" discussion? Explain.)
Which brings us to the chest symbol. The chest symbol, classic though it may be, just isn't cutting it. We need the yellow oval with a bat in it back. Stat. Superman has the "S". Green Lantern has the, erm, "Lantern". Flash has the "Lightning Bolt", you get the picture. Easily recognizable symbols, contained within defined borders so as to be usable as computer icons, seat designations, signatures, or shorthand code for a particular character.
(And before you laugh, I will remind you that in the past year DC has used them for ALL of the purposes I've just mentioned.)
So why, God, why, do we have the freeform bat on Bruce's chest instead of the black-on-yellow symbol? It's just dull, and I don't care who's drawing it, I don't like it. Besides, DC knows this: if you look on the sleeping bags and lunch boxes and pencils and all the other licensed materials, you see the oval! So why the hell isn't in the comic? This bothers me to no end.
All of which leads me to a schmaltzy, corn-laden point: everything you just read was an adult rationale for a childish point. It's what I (and, I think, a lot of us grown comic readers) do for fun: rationalize the irrational.
I started reading comics in 1982. I wasn't sure when exactly in 1982, until I tracked down the first comic I ever read. I know it was the first comic I ever read, because the cover image has been burned into my head since I was 6 years old.
(I'll give you a moment to compute my age, as is the natural instinct with those kinds of sentences. If you answered "30 or 31", then you probably aren't on the Marvel Editorial staff.)
I tracked the cover down thanks to the GCD. I found out then that the first comic I ever read, I mean really READ, was Detective Comics #513. Here's the cover that's been in my head for 23 years, and immediately springs to mind whenever I hear the word "comic".
That is one kickass cover, my friends, and you can't convince me otherwise.
I remember seeing the cover on the spinner rack in the gas station my Mom and I had stopped at and thinking, "Holy shit! Two-Face finally got Batman! If he got Batman, who's to stop him from getting ME? Quick, back in the car, Mom, and step on it!" She bought me the comic, and it was the gateway drug in to a life of superheroes and four-color adventures.
And that's the way I want Batman to look like. Because no matter how ass-hatty he gets written, no matter who this week's Robin is, no matter how much stubble Jim Lee gives him, the Batman on the cover of Detective Comics #513 will always be "my" Batman.
Here's the kicker: I can't remember a single thing that happened in that issue. Not a one. But that cover's always stayed with me. I haven't been able to track down a copy in a bin or box, and someone always outsnipes me on eBay any time I manage to find it there. F#$%ers.
It's completely irrational. It's devoid of objective, qualitative evidence. It's a pure, wanton selfish desire to wallow in nostalgia and the carefree days of an overly-romanticized past.
But then again, isn't that what comics are all about?
Out of sheer curiosity (ooh! I'm giddy! I've never done this before!) : I hereby anoint next week "First Comic Week"! I'm interested to know: what was YOUR first comic? (Even if, like me, you don't remember much of it.) Also, because I'm a lazy bastard I'm tagging anyone reading this post to join in the fun! I want to come back next week to the comicsblogoweb and see what everyone else's gateway drug was!
Oh, and if anyone 's got an extra copy of Detective Comics #513, let me know. :-)