Rogue’s Review #4: Bane

January 25th, 2011

Running this oldie again in the wake the Morrison making reference to it at SDC

Right, offline in the real world, I occasionally enjoy a pint with Bulk Meat. The Meat, incidentally, hates his name and to be honest we never call him it to his face anymore – the man’s a father, a successful careerist (tho’ no-one understands exactly what it is that he does, except for Zac Goldsmith), fiercely intelligent and handsome, etc., etc., blah – and to continue to do so would be churlish at best. But in my heart of hearts, I still understand him as one of those massive slabs of pig bashed around by sound effects artists in the 70’s and Scott Walker in the recording studio. For he is, amongst my scrawnier-than-a-Face-model-in-the-nineties but slightly pot-bellied friends, absurdly stacked.

More after the jump

A, B, Cs part 1, Cs part 2



Me: so why do you like Clayface so much then?
The Boy: He’s scary
Me: But what’s scary about him
The Boy: He’s got goop
Me: But what’s scary about goop?
The Boy: Carnage and Venom have got goop, and there’s no man.
Me: No man inside Clayface, you mean?
The Boy: Yes. He hasn’t got a man.

Me: What’s good about Clayface?
Amy: I’m thinking of a story where you could have a dead body buried inside him. Maybe even in a coffin.

I struggled long and hard with this one until I realised that Clayface isn’t a character, he’s something that happens to you. I can’t imagine a Clayface story arc being up to much, the obvious and done to death route is to go all snoretragic, loss of humanity, etc… but personally I think I’d aim for a few panels where someone (perhaps the little girl in the panel above) is dragged screaming into its earthy darkness and play out the consequences. Clayface isn’t a monster that I want to understand, I don’t want a POV shot or interiority, you don’t identify with walking graves, you have people get buried alive in them, and you make sure that you make the getting buried alive sequence is suitably terrifying and distressing.

Clayface is a one or two issue, all horror bat-foe, and that’s that. He’s a horrible inevitable event like death. There is no man.


Fuck Cluemaster

Next: finally the Ds



Before you go any further you should read (or remind yourself of) what Amy had to say about her in his ancient Rogue’s Review. It’s a little bit woolly in places but it’s also full of great ideas and he covers most of what I have to say here and then some. Not only that, he manages, in true Poodle style, to anticipate popcrime and Morrison’s it all happened approach to the bat-characters, but instead of focusing on Bruce he spends his energy on Selina. His take on her relationship with Holly is especially cool.

Stop heading down. His is better. Go read and come back.

Read the rest of this entry »

A, B

Over to Bobsy for the first one, a lost gem of a bat-ghoul.


Think like Dr. Phibes or ‘the Price of Fear’, Vincent Price’s radio series of horror tales that he would front and narrate. Cadaver is like a behind the scenes mastermind, crafting these little theatrical events for unwitting but ironically-deserving Gothamites to get caught and come to a grisly end in. This would be like The Game or traditional long-cons, but low key and intricate, involving doppelgangers, stooges, switches, hi-tech surveillance, all painstakingly researched and executed, and performed with an unusual amount of stagey flair, blood, and medieval death motifs.

Cadaver worships death – not as one worships a god, as one worships a favourite matinee idol, and seeks to flatter her with wonderfully inventive murders.

He should have a beautiful assistant: Who is that mysterious, alluring, new secretary who is tempting this average joe into a dizzying series of betrayals that results in him dying nob-first through the office shredder? That kind of thing. Batman is called into the bizarre crime scene by a baffled Gordon, and painstakingly reconstructs the chain of events leading up to it. Cadaver is crap in a fight of course (but his assistant isn’t) and there are always loads of death traps in his hideout (usually abandoned art deco hotels, mausoleums or churches). Cadaver spends a lot of time pacing about wearing cloaks and Phantom of the opera masks, quoting the bloody bits from obscure Jacobean dramas.

The autopsies continue after the jump

And so we continue.

All the As can be found here, along with an explanation of what the billy-o I’m doing



Amy’s already done this one and it can’t be bettered. All that’s left to be said is that Amygdala and the rest of those muscle men live permanently in Bane’s liefeldian shadow. If Bane is leader of the cult of bulk then they can only ever be his disciples; Sweaty, raging, flesh machines lost in the stink of his meat locker come gymnasium.

Black Mask


Dirty. Nasty. Fucker.

Start with the mask: you’ve got dehumanisation and the death of identity. This guy’s face isn’t just a black skull, these days it’s a black skull with red eyes – that’s demonic evil straight outta the 80s. There’s also something specifically horrific about a skull wearing a suit, it brings to mind the triumph of the material, modern monsters like the denizens of Hostel, and Patrick Bateman, terms like slasher and torture porn.

The character’s origin is begging to be jeuged up into a full blown Giallo nightmare. After murdering his parents for interfering with his love life, Roman Sionis takes control of their business and markets a cosmetic that hideously scars thousands of women. You’ve got brutality, misogyny, matricide and patricide, operatic vileness. Dirty. Dirty. Dirty. People who care about boring shit will be quick to point out here that Roman didn’t know what the product would do, but I like to think of Sionis spending his nights “market testing”, and fucking his lover, Circe, over the same desk where he makes the phone calls, has the meetings, and deliberately and methodically works to ensure that his facial treatment will do the maximum damage possible.

While we’re feeling gratuitous, perhaps it would be good to work an oedipal subtext into his background: maybe his mother, a woman who wore a disturbing amount of make-up, loved him just a bit too much, maybe his Father hated him for it, maybe that’s why they tried to destroy Roman and Circe’s burgeoning romance.

As a paid up member of the misogyny can fuck off club, and someone who isn’t particularly interested in seeing the Bat-franchise rub more grime n grit into its spandex I’m not very keen on Black Mask’s torture happy ways. I could do without a villain who lives to stuff women into refrigerators, but I’m happy to concede that he readily gives himself to the kind of voyeuristic violence and horror so popular with today’s audiences. So I say go with it, have him be all that stuff that the crime lord incarnation of the Penguin couldn’t hope to be. Have him be one hell of a nasty bastard.

Play up the monstrous verging on supernatural slasher angle by having his masked henchmen simply be an extension of him – think you’ve killed the fucker? Guess again, kid – and forget all that cultist stuff. The false-face gang aren’t his minions, they’re his claw. Have him kill and kill and kill, give him an ebony room with an operating table, and casino where the patrons can bet against the lives of their enemies’ children. Have him make Catwoman’s sister watch while her husband is tortured to death and then force her to eat him.

Hang on, he’s already done that…

Or maybe just bin the horrible git.


There’s two sorts of Blockbuster and they’re both more than a little yawn inducing.

1. The chap who drank the science potion and got strong and dumb and was exploited by his criminal brother. He’s a bit like the green Hulk.

2. The chap who got strong and then did a deal with the devil so that he could also be clever. He’s a bit like the grey Hulk but with a bigger head.

The first has the whole tragic monster thing going, which certainly fits with the kind of story that some people like to tell with Batman but I couldn’t give a monkey’s about, mainly because it’s been done to death in Batman and elsewhere (the Hulk, Frankenstein, why am I bothering to list these?, etc…). The second is just… well… it isn’t really anything. Big strong criminal = so what? I suppose you could do something with the hackneyed Faustian bargain bit but I wouldn’t want to.

Whatever, see the Bane entry.

In the grand tradition of our Rogue’s Reviews and inspired by Zak Sabbath’s Alphabetical Monster thing, his attempt at reviewing each and every entry in the D&D Monster Manual, I’ve decided to take on all the Bat-villains, starting with…

Can you guess? He’s a bit shit!

Rogue’s review: Nick O’Teen

September 28th, 2009


While flicking through the pages of Batman Year One in an effort to research my Batcave essay I paused, as I am want to do, on the pages where Bruce Wayne ventures into Gotham’s red light district. I feel now, as I have long felt, that I know those city streets: The neon gloom, the amphetamine air, the gaze of eyes it’s better not to catch. Coincidentally I’d recently listened to a show on Radio 4, presented by Suggs, on the history of London’s Soho and had been taken back to the early 80s and my visits to my Mother’s office, a television production company that specialised in music videos, that nestled on the edge of London’s red light district. I dreaded the inevitable few minutes spent under the glare of an arcade or sex shop waiting for a taxi or one of my Mum’s friends while the shadows of an adult world fell around me. Even behind the office walls I didn’t feel safe. Sometimes I overheard secretaries whispering about their sex lives thinking they were out of earshot or that the kid wouldn’t understand (I didn’t, but not in the way they thought). Then there were the alien artifacts that littered the rooms and staircases, the posters of rock concerts and the modern artworks that throbbed with a strange potential energy. But worst of all were the giggling men, who once or twice or perhaps more I can’t remember, offered me cocaine and cigarettes.

Just say no! after the jump

(The) army thronged like locusts or like ants,
and hid dale, plain, and mountain.
As the dust rose from that countless host
the cheeks of our worthies turned pale.
As for me, I raised the mace that kills with a single blow,
and felled that host upon the spot.
I uttered a roar from my saddle, saying, ‘The Earth
has become a millstone upon them.'”

Ferdowsi, The Shahnameh


Read the latest from our occasional guest, the very wonderful Mighty Satrap


So I was reading Living Between Wednesday’s Justify Your Existence column and I just couldn’t help myself. Red rag to a bull.

This is the first installment of our Mindless response, an attempt to justify the existence of each and every one of those limbo bound characters: rogue’s reviews, on the crash cart!