Batman and Robin #8

February 15th, 2010

Let’s annocommentate!

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Amy: ‘What is it with these Crime Coven people and their obsession with stories for kids?’ What is it indeed? Perhaps it has something to do with the rogue logic of fairytales and nursery rhymes, their criminal physics? Alice in Wonderland as topology, a map of a world overturned, where reason and meaning begin their steady descent into the abyss, Cole’s ‘hole in everything’.

Fairytales also speak to our primal condition, a preverbal world of gods and nightmares. Maybe the Crime Covens see their work as an attempt to return mankind to a purer state, unrestrained by ego and superego, culture, law and society.

Shit, they sound pretty cool, don’t they?

Oh, whose side are we all on?

Click for more! more? MOAR?!?

Bob: This is not only the best issue of B&R yet, but the best single issue of Morrison’s batman run by some margin, and as dense and full a piece as he’s written since Seven Soldiers #1, with which it shares many links and referents, both deliberate, accidental and incidental.

Zom: Tan’s a nice chap, some of us around here were quite keen on his work, but if you ask me thank God for Cameron Stewart: Batman & Robin is back at long last. This isn’t my favourite issue and I’ll get into some of the reasons why later, but it’s a bloody good one.

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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.

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