You could listen to the similarly titled Motley Crüe song to accompany this post, but I’d advise against it. Bit rusty, hold on:

It’s all been done before, of course.

I expect you can’t say carneys (carnies?) anymore to denote itinerant circus folk. A damn shame if you ask me, and I’ve been on the BBC/Telegraph/Mail website to whinge like a snivelling coward about this imagined slight to my freedom to be revolting about people different than the majority about 100 times today already. I am so sick of my country, there is almost not a whit of evidence of courage in its public life.

Tales of derring-do, eh?!!

They’re not all bad, anyway, the Carnies. Carneys? Richard Grayson for one, before he was straitened out by a bleakfaced rich man, he was a circus person.

Richard ‘Dick’ Grayson, the Man Wonder. I kind of forget that, unless I’m thinking really hard at a comic featuring the former Robin, the one-time Nightwing, the recurring Batman, because listen: I honestly don’t give a good goddamn about Dick Grayson, child of the trapeze, the Acro-Bat.

Listen, more: some bellends will tell you this isn’t a Batman comic, because (and I should know better than to read comments on almost any article on the whole internet, barring our own, of course. Present company excepted obvs) it does not feature Bruce Wayne donning the cowl. This betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of superhero comics – if you think the man (normally a man) behind the cowl is more important than the emblematic costume; his motivations, his training, his passions, his perversions – if you think that, then, honestly, you’re wrong. Iconography first because: bold pics, motivations worn on sleeve, chest, cape, etc. Which is a way about to say: I really, really don’t like Nightwing, he is my #3 most disliked superhero behind Gambit and Hal Jordan, ever since almost a lfetime ago he traded the disco aerialist look (hot, far right)


for the interstitial BatRob guff (poop)


because Nightwing has existed since solely as a vassal for exactly the sort of comicbook storytelling I don’t like (i.e. lifetime investment in a fictional man’s exploits, regardless of quality, thrillpower and so on.) Above is pictured the last issue of his solo title, Nightwing’s, which lasted in excess of 150 issues. What were the good ones? What exciting adventures did the sub-Bat-io have?

No-one really knows.

There may well not have been any? I like Batman, I like Robin (which one? All of them.) I hate Nightwing.

Let’s then touch upon the “character”, or demeanour or disposition preferably, of Dick Grayson, contrarily, whilst pointing out, nonetheless, that ‘debates’, to be kind, on what maketh the (bat)man that characterise a lot of supe fandom are primarily filled with wilful misreading and selectivity and bizarre, constrictive peccadiloes and fixations. Let’s do that: I will feel better about myself, superior, for almost fully 30 seconds. Dick Grayson is, like, kind of peppy, but also kind of mopey. He has a nice ass. Two firm buttocks betwixt which, at the centrifuge, lays an bumhole which produces shit as a primary function. I assume you, dear reader, have an ass, or “arse” as I prefer to call it when not engaging in the NorAmerican demotic: you know what goes on here. These are all the things one needs to know about the new Batman. Pillock has written much the same, only better, and without the faecal obsessing. Food goes in, food comes out.

‘S all about balance – peppy/mopey, the symmetry of buttocks, now sadly obscured by a very large cape, Alfred’s uncanny butler skills carrying a tray of sandwiches down a ladder, Wayne fils – Robin’s – handy use of fuzzy logic processors to build a better gyroscope (a motif!), switched up interactions between lead and sidekick; there is no sidekick, no, not anymore – it’s a actual dynamic duo comic, which no-one makes anymore, I think? Iron Fist doesn’t get to lie beneath Power Man on a masthead, not for a long time, Hawk and Dove split when the former done some incoherently bad shit… Doesn’t happen, but certainly, this is about treading a line between widening poles: a 12|12 domino, creepy weirdo David Lynch and, um, creepy weirdo Adam West. The good, kind circus act and the awful baddie circus acts.  

I like the baddies here; they’re interesting and the last section has a trademark bit of – look, is this comic, while accessible, really kid-friendly? A bit of that 12y.o.’s screaming nightmare frisson. Best line, too: hell really can be anywhere, with a wee bit invention. I was going to write a whole screed about Mister Toad, children’s franchise characters, the Edenic fall where growing up means cuddly animals are no longer cuddly, in fact anthropomorphised or otherwise a lion or bear in particular is pretty scary, but so’s a pig, so’s a frog, you know, and the lineage of that bit at the end of Wind in the Willows when the Weasels (hey, there’s going to be a ‘The Weasel’ again, isn’t there? In B&R, I mean. Checkback Batman #666 for details) take Toad Hall, how that’s basically a legacy for certainly my favourite kids’ books, the Robin Jarvis Deptford Mice books, but also probably Watership Down and the careers of Brian Jacques and Erin Hunter, and isn’t that a kind of fascinating, if awkward analogy for superhero comics if you imagine all kids’ books were these fairly brutal tales of anthro-animals basically doing one another in, admittedly shot through with some nobility. Wouldn’t it be brilliant if they were? Brilliant. I’m working in the local children’s library these days, I’ll be there all week.

It turns out Mister Toad wasn’t as direct a referent as I’d hoped, that there’s some Bob Kane cartoon characters had him as a villain, so that’s clever, but really I wanted to bang on that and ask if anyone recalled a book with him, Toad, interacting with this kid’s dream life, possibly involved WWII fighter pilots? No? I maybe hallucinated that, but I sure loved that book, which may never have existed. 

I do get a little tired of the appellation ‘fun’ in comicsuh-critiquery because, with hugest poss apologies to Andrew who has again written his usual terrifically perceptive and revealing review, it does rather make me think of men post-Pyg operation: “I used to have a willy, and things were upsetting, but now everything is just perfect, hooray.” The eyes, as they say, roll back. I want comics to acknowledge how daft they are, and I think the incrporative action sound effects herein are yet another example of the teams terrific genius for ‘why has no-one ever thought…’ but really, also, here are some more important items: drama, conflict, horror (existential or otherwise). Batman and Robin #1 was almost entirely too light, and too brief, for me to shoot a critical load but the manny getting his cock sanded down – that just about saves it.

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