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Saturday was Batman Day! How did you celebrate? Curse your parents for still being alive, thus depriving you of the motivation to punch all of crime? Hahaha, me too. As a kind of belated Batman Day gesture I have collected a few weird Batman comic covers and will attempt to decipher their meaning. Something I have a little experience with.
Now keep in mind, most of these are pulled from the Golden and Silver Age. A time when comic book popularity was high and the restrictions on what they could show was plentiful. As a result of the huge competition and strange standards, comic covers got crazy. You gotta entice that customer to buy your little book and the best way to do that is to raise so many questions in their mind that the only way to escape years of sleepless night is to buy the damn thing.
Let me show you what I mean:
Even Batman looks confused. He’s completely reevaluating his life there on the mat. He just wanted to fight crime, you know, stop the same criminal element that robbed him of his parents. Now he’s been KO’d in a boxing match officiated by The Grim Reaper. Where did it all go wrong?
Who challenged who to this? What’s Death’s deal? He takes whoever loses? I assume those are the stakes in this, but it’s never really made clear. For all we know, this could actually be a normal match and Death is just a symbol of Batman’s career. I don’t know. This is the worst Ingmar Bergman adaption I’ve ever seen.
First off, did they not own Ace? I thought they did. Ah, looking it up, it seems Pre-Crisis they did not. It was a dog who helped Batman rescue his owner from a kidnapping, then would come to help every so often? Because if there’s one thing Batman needs when fighting a war on crime, it’s a German Sheppard in a mask.
Anyway. There is a lot of unspoken drama happening here. Ace The Bat-Hound is passive-aggressively holding that glossy photo (how did he get this?) off to the side, refusing to make eye contact with them. He looks pissed. Robin is, as always, confused, but Batman. Look at the regret on his face. “He’s getting to be too good a detective,” he says with a shake of his head. It was at the moment he realized: I’m going to have to kill this dog.
Why does Batman need money all of a sudden? HA! That’s the question they want you to ask. The real question is: how does no one realize Batman’s identity from this? “Hey, why is Bruce Wayne’s butler and effeminately-drawn ward openly weeping at this auction? Must have missed out on that red phone up there.”
Guys, who bought the Robin costume? Like, I keep thinking about it and I keep coming back to a weird fetish thing. Because I’m guessing a kid can’t afford it. Maybe a Batman collector? But why not a Batarang or the freaking Batmobile. I think some weirdo is going to squeeze into that costume and depreciate it ifyouknowwhatImean.
Also, Bat-Auction? It’s just a regular auction! It’s just about Batman. C’mon Bruce, you have a problem.
What is this even about? An evil country bumpkin? Batman and Robin seem to really dig it, but who can blame them? I’d love for an overweight hick to sing a song about me every time I turned in an article.
Though, the lyrics could use some work. “None knows from where they came, nor when…” Nor When? Isn’t that pretty well known? Someone has to have recorded the first time they appeared. Do they mean like, they just randomly arrive whenever? Because that’s not true either. The police have a signal. I’m pretty sure they come when that’s on. That’s the whole point.
Whoa, I just noticed that guy’s strumming hand. Holy crap, that thing’s like a dog’s paw. Man, maybe that’s it. This is just a homeless man who just lost his job at the sheet-metal factory after a metal press mangled his one hand. He only hangs out by the police station because Batman gives him a 20 each time he slurs out that one song he wrote for him through his ever-present booze haze. It’s a tragic story that ends with a cop finding him dead in the alley, killed by another bum for his bright purple overalls.
Silver and Golden Age comics loved gorillas for some reason. They’re all over, I’m talking dozens of characters who either are gorillas or use them for crimes. Batman was no exception.
Why is Batman calling Bat-Ape by his real name? What’s even the point then? Yeah, “good work, Bruce!” I’m sure that’d go over well. It’s bad enough that it’s a gorilla in a cape and cowl, so still 100% identifiable as a gorilla, now you have to give everyone the only thing they could use to ID it. It’s not like gorillas are super easy to tell apart (#gorillaist).
Also, the balls on these criminals for still making their way to the roof. If I was crawling out a window and saw what appears to be an eight-foot tall gorilla (unless Batman and Robin are pretty far away) lowering two vigilante crime-punchers towards me, I think I’d just go “you know what fellas, I think I’m just going to back out of this one” and slowly close the window.
Oh my god, a giant gorilla is becoming a mob boss, isn’t he? I mean, I think that’s what the tagline is saying. Or is he becoming the boss of gorillas in general? In either case, why is he three stories tall? I feel like that would seriously hinder attempts to boss anyone secretly.
Wait, are those people shooting at each other back there? So there’s a shootout as well as a giant gorilla who is also a mob boss rampaging through the streets? Forget that issue where one guy sings about Batman, this is the most exciting issue ever!
OH C’MON! This is just superfluous! Why a beast bomb? Tell me, what is the added benefit of strapping explosives to a gorilla? And they must be powerful explosives, because they appear to be hundreds of miles away from Gotham City and three bombs will take out the entire city.
Also, the gorilla can’t touch the ground. I’m not even sure how they got the gorilla into the city in the first place. Or transported it in general. You know what they call explosives that explode when they hit the ground? A MISSILE. I feel that’d be much more reliable than your average comic book gorilla. It’s like whatever villain is responsible is just adding gorillas to add gorillas. I won’t stand for it!
So there you have it. Just a few of the insane covers that plagued the Golden and Silver Ages. Hopefully, this serves to shed a little light on why we celebrate Batman Day year after long year. To commemorate those characters we’ve lost. Like Mogo the Bat-Ape and Cletus “Booze Hound” Yancy. True Gotham heroes.