January 29th, 2010
An interesting aspect in the reading and long-term appreciation of superhero-comics, one of few nearly unique to the genre-medium, is the impact that a single image of a single character can have. Few sights are more potent and electric than the basic dramatis-persona mugshot of the steroidal spandexophile (popular in the early Image-era which took the dynamic far beyond the realms of mere absurdity), poised four square to the camera, and his name. Plot, narrative, dialogue even, can all to a greater or lesser degree be shed, and the key meaning of the superhero, the immortal appeal, remains undiminished. All that is required is a strong image and a strong name.
The enduring popularity of the A-Z Handbook of the X?X Universe books are a testament to this – the costume, the name, the paraphernalia, the ‘vital statistics’ (so porno), and the stripped-back plot recaps that the Handbook-style entries offer are the pure flavour, the total hot- drug effect, of the strongman funnybook. The superhero, a figure without a background, exists perfectly well, separate to the superfluous storytelling and other dimensions the comicbook medium affords. After all, if it’s all about wish fulfilment and fantasy-projection, the other stuff just gets in the way – just show me, in crazy colours and moody lighting, the bare (oo-er) image of the proud superthing, standing erect, and let me do the rest of the work myself (stop!) All that you need is a cool, tight image and a few terse syllables of context (of which the name, both descriptive and directive in its ideal form, is the concentrate). and you can have that uncanny charge the trueborn superhero fanman is always chasing.
Which is to say…
In honour of the Dark Knight Detective’s visit to our fair isle, and directly inspired by the following line from this interview -
‘a bunch of new British villains we haven’t seen before, all with ridiculous regional dialects‘
These words are basically manna to us Mindless Ones, and so we thought that we would have a competition in celebration of #7, the most spunkworthy Batman & Robin comic yet dreamt (I haven’t read it yet, btw, but y’know, I have faith.)
The way to play is so easy even an X-Men fan could understand it. Simply write in, either via the comments below, or to firstname.lastname@example.org you’re the private type, with your idea for a new British Batman villain we haven’t seen before, with a ridiculous regional accent. Points will be awarded for originality, silliness, scariness and humour, and extra magick bonus points if your villain somehow ends up bearing a passing resemblance to one of the ones that actually appears in B&R issues 7, 8 or 9. Provide a visual reference if you can, along with a name, catchphrase, a neat summation of the character’s powers anbd high-concept. Try to supply some dialogue, written in phonetic accent-ish. Reach deep into those stereotypes. Make us believe in them. Make us want to read stories of them punching, and in turn being punched, through a drystone wall.
We were bored and excited earlier, so we came up with a few of our own, to give you an idea of the special kind of nonsense that we’re looking for, and because it pleased us greatly so to do:
He’s from round my way. That’s all you need to know.
Like the Scots-Man’s wife from Samurai Jack. Deadlier than a deep-fried Mars bar addiction, her poisonous ways incurable even by the marvellous restorative powers of Buckfast’s famnous Tonic Wine.
The Dobber, and his sidekicks, Jakey and Ned
More above-the-border maniacs. Ever wondered what’s slowing Quitely down? This says it all:
Clad in jute, the most terrifying person on earth. Impossibly ancient, she claims to be responsible for the Jack the Ripper murders and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.
The bad boy of Bow. The real John Constantine.
Liam Gallagher gone Killer Croc.
We’ve shown you ours – now show us yours!
Oh yeah, THE PRIZE! We’re not quite sure about this to be honest, though we do know that it will be two-fold: 1) We will send you a Grant Morrison bit of tat rarity that only the very hippest nerdotrons would have in their collections; and 2) Our very own Zom will, based on no more than your prompt, bang out a few-hundred word Rogue’s Review of your new pet, detailing just why your brilliant idea is quite so awesome, how he fits into the Bat mythos, and why we are so lucky to have this new addition to the greatest Rogue’s Gallery in all comicdom.
Is that it? Oh yeah, closing date – get your entries to us by the Sunday after the Wednesday that Batman & Robin #9 comes out. Though bear in mind that earlier entries successfully predicting the stereotypes that will appear in the story arc will, of course, stand a better chance of winning.
Good luck, and when you are bad, may you be very, very bad.