You can't kill me without becoming like me! I can't kill you without losing the only human being who can keep up with me! Isn't it IRONIC?
March 2, 2012 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Batman should kill the Joker. No, he shouldn't. Yes, he should. No really, he shouldn't. What would Kant, Mill, Hobbes, Nietzsche, and Rawls think?

Via the tweetstream of @TalkPhilosophy. Post title from Batman #663, "The Clown at Midnight" by Grant Morrison and John Van Fleet.
posted by BitterOldPunk (73 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why so fucking serious!?
posted by Fizz at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


"To live alone [in Wayne Manor] one must be a beast or a god, says Aristotle. Leaving out the third case: one must be both -- a philosopher BATMAN." - Nietzsche
posted by joe lisboa at 2:38 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


They'll just end up in the same elder care home and continue their antics on a smaller scale.
posted by The Whelk at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'd probably use this as a limus test of who shouldn't ever write Batman.
posted by Artw at 2:41 PM on March 2, 2012


They'll just end up in the same elder care home and continue their antics on a smaller scale.

I'd read that arc.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:43 PM on March 2, 2012 [17 favorites]


Oh God no you don't want to kill Joker- he'll only come back again, weirder than ever.
posted by happyroach at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2012


Oh God no you don't want to kill Joker- he'll only come back again, weirder than ever.

So what you're advocating is that we kill him a few more times. Just to really weird him the fuck up!
posted by Fizz at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Duh guys, Tim Drake kills the Joker, everybody knows that. Bruce doesn't collect tweenagers like stray cats for NOTHING.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:45 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's simple, we kill the Joker.
posted by codswallop at 2:45 PM on March 2, 2012


You can't kill me without becoming like me!

Dude, become 'like him', already! Have you never heard of "he's a total SOB but he's OUR SOB"?
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 2:46 PM on March 2, 2012


It's simple, we joke the killer.
posted by The Whelk at 2:46 PM on March 2, 2012


I think the real problem here is that Gotham City apparently can't build an effective prison. If the Joker didn't keep escaping like clockwork every time he gets put away, the issue would never come up.
posted by jcreigh at 2:47 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wrong question. The real mind blowing query here is: Does the Joker really want to kill Batman? Is he really even trying?
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2012


The real reason is that if Batman killed the Joker everyone knows he'd just be back again in a few issues for some stupid reason anyway.
posted by aubilenon at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is pretty clear the entire DC universe exists within the mind of the Joker. He can't be killed or he will wake up and the DC universe will cease to exist.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


The problem with applying moral philosophy to the Batman universe is that time doesn't proceed in the correct fashion. Batman just always is, the Joker always is; they exist in a narrative stasis required by the format and by the investment both readers and producers of Batman stories have in the characters, even as the desire for new story developments implies a desire of character growth. This weird state of duality, this yes-it-is, no-it-isn't temporal flux undermines significantly attempts to place the larger questions raised by the stories into a moral context that can apply to the story world itself.

I mean, you can ask why Batman doesn't conclude that Joker will always escape from Arkham again, but Batman lives in a universe where he necessarily has faith that this time the Joker will stay put, because Arkham is where you put the mad criminals. That Joker will escape in the future is something we know as readers because we understand the narrative requirements of an ongoing comic series, but much as we would like to think Batman understands by now that Arkham's security needs work, he cannot understand that fact in the same way that we understand it. Because he lives in a constant now.

So how do you take a moral philosophy developed in a world where time passes properly from day to day and history unfolds steadily, and apply it to a universe in which time simultaneously passes in fits and starts and doesn't pass at all, where actions that violate the status quo are bound to be reversed, where time and history are so at odd with our understanding of the real world that a character will stay 30-something years old for fifty years straight while the world ages around him, where his origin story will rewrite itself periodically but he himself is stuck in a constant now?

I think the real question is why Batman and Joker and everybody else in the universe don't freak out about the impossibility of their chronological existence and commit mass suicide.
posted by cortex at 2:55 PM on March 2, 2012 [50 favorites]


"I think the real problem here is that Gotham City apparently can't build an effective prison. If the Joker didn't keep escaping like clockwork every time he gets put away, the issue would never come up."

Batman should build his own darn prison. He's got the money, and he's a vigilante already. And make that sucker totally escape proof by putting on Mercury or something.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:56 PM on March 2, 2012


Batman basically exists in some kind of Groundhog's Day hell but has yet to realize it.
posted by The Whelk at 2:58 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


watch out dudes cortex is owlman
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:58 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is a book about this.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:58 PM on March 2, 2012


Srsly, homicidal teenagers are our best bet. The right hand knows not what the sidekick left hand is doing, and they can't be tried as adults! Joker + Red Hood with something sharp + ten minutes alone = problem solved. Or five minutes + Damien + crowbar.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:58 PM on March 2, 2012


You silly people, we, the readers are the Joker, putting the Batman through mad plots for our own amusement. How can the Dark Knight, our endlessly-reinvented puppet kill us?

Now, if we take on Flex Mentallo, we are fucked.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:01 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but that story ended with the Joker capturing Damien, so those encounters might not work out as planned. Off the books sidekick execution squads sounds like the sort of thing that might show up as a subplot in The Boys, tho.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:02 PM on March 2, 2012


I think the real problem here is that Gotham City apparently can't build an effective prison.

I though the Joker was kept in an asylum rather than a prison. It's obviously less than ideal for holding all those supervillains, but I guess Gotham City has liberal values with respect to the criminally insane.
posted by Hoopo at 3:03 PM on March 2, 2012


You silly people, we, the readers are the Joker

Not true because if I really had access to a blimp full of laughing gas I'd be doing whippits and not trying to take over the city
posted by Hoopo at 3:06 PM on March 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


The real problem is that Batman's heavenly(ish) reward after death is being reborn as Batman; so either the Joker is always reborn to justify Batman's existence, or the Joker's afterlife reward is always coming back as the Joker.
posted by nicebookrack at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2012


The last Batman continuity (1990's to 2010) had Blackgate Penitentiary in addition to Arkham Aslyum, for the more regular crooks.

Some bad guys did time in both places, but generally speaking Arkham is where you went if you really liked hats, far more than any man should, and Blackgate is where you went if you just used a hat gimmick in your crimes.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:09 PM on March 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


See, Batman attempts to kill the Joker, but he fails. The gun misfires, he pushes the Joker off a tall building only for the Joker to catch himself in a net he knows Batman could never have known about, or he snaps and ties the Joker to a chair in a burning warehouse and the Joker gets out. Whatever it is, Batman clearly attempted to kill the Joker. Thinking he succeeded, Batman starts to lose his mind. Joker watches with incredible glee as Batman's crime-fighting is bungled to the point that he can't capture common thugs and the Gotham PD is forced to put Batman on trial for wanton property damage and several collateral injuries while chasing minor criminals. At his trial, Batman is unmasked as Bruce Wayne and the trial becomes an enormous circus. The Joker manages to torment Batman with planted images and brutal murders. Every time, he blames Batman for what happened. Every time, Batman loses a little bit more of his sanity. Finally at his wit's end, Batman is thrown into Arkham Asylum where the Joker breaks in to face his old nemesis. Lamenting how he broke his favorite toy, the Joker challenges Batman to one last fight. Batman refuses to defend himself as the Joker beats him to death in the most graphic manner the entire Batman world has ever seen. With no hero to protect Gotham, the Joker takes over. None of the previous Robins stand a chance, they end up slaughtered by an increasingly more sadistic Joker.

Staring out of his penthouse apartment overlooking a declining Gotham City, the Joker muses on just what will entertain him now. His monologue is interrupted by a sniper's bullet directly to his forehead. The comic ends with Alfred Pennyworth dismantling his rifle, apologizing to Bruce Wayne for not having done this earlier.

It is all retconned a month later with a new storyline using some terrible hand-waving. This is because despite what he should do, Batman is fundamentally incapable of killing the Joker even if he wants to, and the Joker could not kill Batman even if he were inclined to. These are not moral rules, but rather fundamental axioms of the universe in which they live. It would make no more sense to blame or praise Batman for not killing the Joker than it would to blame or praise a star for going nova and destroying dozens of planetoids, comets, and potential life.
posted by Saydur at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


where you went if you really liked hats, far more than any man should, and Blackgate is where you went if you just used a hat gimmick in your crimes

Change hats to bats and where does Bruce wind up?
posted by nicebookrack at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


cortex: I think the real question is why Batman and Joker and everybody else in the universe don't freak out about the impossibility of their chronological existence and commit mass suicide.

Because they've been conditioned by the eternal antics of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or they live in some Dark City world. They are the mere playthings of a dying race who fuck with people in some sad attempt to understand the soul.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:21 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


(And I would be interested in cross-overs into either of those worlds)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:22 PM on March 2, 2012


It's not just that Batman won't kill the Joker and the Joker can't/won't kill Batman. It's that the Joker won't even unmask Batman. Nor will most other villains.

Batman has been captured and tied up before. Take off his mask! Of course, when someone does take the mask off, or otherwise find out who Batman is, he has to either die or go mad to maintain continuity. But that's OOC thinking.
posted by JHarris at 3:24 PM on March 2, 2012


And while I'm on a caffeine-induced roll, I nominate Elizabeth McGovern for any possible future role of a She-Joker. I'm not sure who would be The Batman of Downton Abbey, but I'm sure that could be figured out.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2012


Batman comics are definitely at their best when they dramatise ethical questions like this. There's this question, whether Batman should kill the Joker, but other great ones include Batman vs Ra's al Ghul: is despair ever ethical? Can genuinely moral action ever grow out of despair? And before DC fucked up Leslie Tomkins but good, she was a great in-universe critique of Batman with her hardline Ghandian non-violence. I think possibly my favourite single issue of Batman ever is Batman Chronicles 18: Spiritual Currency, writtten by Devin Grayson, which is all from Dr Thomkins' POV and has this confrontation with Zsasz which I'm not even going to try to describe because... you have to read the whole thing.

I'm still not sure, though, that any of these articles has completely articulated Batman's reasons for not killing the Joker. Something that becomes clear is that Batman's prohibition against killing is not, as the last link maintains, about notions of good and evil. It's far more of a fundamental, constitutive prohibition, in the way that Lacanians see the incest prohibition as grounding the formation of the subject. Buffy off Buffy the vampire slayer is always saying 'I won't do that, because. it's. wrong.' Batman is more likely to say 'I don't kill'. He doesn't give reasons - others around him, like Alfred, sometimes do, but Batman (when written well, at least) doesn't talk a lot about how killing is wrong, he just says he doesn't do it, just like he doesn't use guns. In fact we are invited to think that in its origin the killing prohibition is just as neurotic as the gun phobia; we are forced to witness a blurring of the line between a moral stance and a psychological symptom. It's not either-or, it's both-and; it isn't that Batman is less good because he's crazy, it's that being crazy is sometimes the only way to be genuinely moral. You have Ra's al Ghul, who is ethical in a way that's traumatised (thousands of years of agonising human history) but not as such neurotic; he's far saner than Batman, far less parochial, far more all-encompassing in his vision of mankind. And yet it's precisely the totality of his vision that's terrifying and destructive and anti-moral. Batman's morality, precisely because it comes from this damaged neurotic subject who is incapable of seeing certain things, is recognisably moral. Batman's position is more like a critique of Kantian morality; he's the quintessential Kantian (the article had that semi-right) who acts according to principle in a way that's cut of from the usual pleasure-seeking aspects of the self. Batman doesn't really get enjoyment from his actions, he just does them because he feels he must. And yet even Kant acknowledges that there has to be some place where the must enters that is beyond reason. He calls it freedom. But what is freedom? Freedom's the Joker, the something-outside, the point where rules fail and yet something happens. Freedom is the tiny spark of madness in Bruce Wayne that grows into the Batman; both Batman and the Joker come from this position of active denial of the self, re-creation of the self, a mad will that isn't integrated into channels of desire but short-circuits them. Ra's al Ghul doesn't have to do this. Leslie Thomkins certainly never wanted to. Batman's Kantianism is only possible because of the injection of an alien will into a broken self. Not killing is a condition of the possibility of that self, it is a transcendental reason - not because otherwise the comics wouldn't exist, but because otherwise Batman's personhood wouldn't exist, he wouldn't have an I.
posted by Acheman at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2012 [21 favorites]


I think too much about Batman.
posted by Acheman at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nobody thinks too much about Batman.
posted by Saydur at 3:27 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about Frank Miller?
posted by JHarris at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You the batman kill the joker and the joker kill the batman, then you get the bat-skins for nothing!
posted by lumpenprole at 3:32 PM on March 2, 2012


Because they've been conditioned by the eternal antics of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.

Which leads us directly to the Gospel of Crafty Coyote in Grant Morrison's Animal Man #5.
posted by cortex at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


The real reason is that if Batman killed the Joker everyone knows he'd just be back again in a few issues for some stupid reason anyway.

This is the tip of it. See, Batman's a smart guy, and he's specifically studied superheroes and supervillains on a scale and to a depth that nobody else in the DC universe (to my knowledge, though I confess I'm more of a Marvel guy generally) ever has. That study will necessarily lead you toward uncovering a deeper understanding of the universe you exist in - what kind of forces at work in the universe lead to the rise (and fall) of these incredibly powerful figures? How can there be so many exceptions to the laws of physics, or is the truth that the laws of physics don't work the way Bruce Wayne was taught in gradeschool? With Batman's intelligence it's not that hard to figure out that the universe you're in operates, quite consistently, on certain universal principles that have more to do with "drama" than "physics". It's an ugly truth, something he tries not to think about, but at some point in his study he came to the realization that he was, in fact, a comic book character in a comic book universe. Now, that's the kind of realization that would send most men gibbering merrily to Arkham, but not Batman. Batman just growled "IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE MISSION" and kept on fuckin' up bad guys. Because he's Batman, and that's how he rolls.

Batman doesn't kill the Joker because he's taken his mission of protecting the people of Gotham one step further: he's protecting the people of Gotham from a realization that would almost certainly drive most of them mad, would lead to inevitable, endless rioting in the streets, murder and chaos on a scale like no other - the realization that they are all comic book characters, the vast majority of them even completely insignificant ones. Sadly it's a burden he cannot share with any other superhero (again, one or the other of them would wind up in Arkham). He's Batman, though, so this kind of "struggling alone valiantly in a quest to save everybody from evil" thing is pretty much right up his ally anyhow.

The worst part, though, came when he attempted to study the chemical effects that caused the Joker to become the Joker. In tests and simulations, he couldn't reproduce the effects that made the Joker the Joker. He finally was forced to conclusion that the origin of the Joker isn't what he had always thought that the origin of the Joker is. He's begun to suspect that he isn't completely alone in knowing the awful truth about being trapped in a comic book universe. That one other person out there figured out, somehow, the awful truth - but instead of burying the secret, like Batman has, instead of trying to carry on as though everyone is normal, the Joker has totally embraced it. Gleefully living a life devoted to exposing Gotham City as the paper-thin, unbelievable comic-book setting it is, pushing the boundaries of the ridiculous as far as they will stretch. Batman doesn't try to kill the Joker for exactly the same reasons that the Joker constantly tries to kill Batman - because they both know it won't, can't, ever possibly work, that their universe will contort itself in absurd ways to undo such a momentous death, and in that contortion, for just a brief moment, the comic-book underpinnings of their universe will be laid painfully bare and everyone exposed to it will be driven one tiny step closer to total madness.

At least, that's what I like to think.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:39 PM on March 2, 2012 [34 favorites]


So how do you take a moral philosophy developed in a world where time passes properly from day to day and history unfolds steadily, and apply it to a universe in which time simultaneously passes in fits and starts and doesn't pass at all, where actions that violate the status quo are bound to be reversed, where time and history are so at odd with our understanding of the real world that a character will stay 30-something years old for fifty years straight while the world ages around him, where his origin story will rewrite itself periodically but he himself is stuck in a constant now?

I wonder if anyone has tried to develop an appropriate moral philosophy for Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day. It would seem to fit a lot of comic books as well.

I think the real question is why Batman and Joker and everybody else in the universe don't freak out about the impossibility of their chronological existence and commit mass suicide.

Murray's character tried that a few times, but it didn't help, so he moved on. Maybe Batman and the Joker have tried it, too?
posted by jedicus at 3:43 PM on March 2, 2012


I think the real question is why Batman and Joker and everybody else in the universe don't freak out about the impossibility of their chronological existence and commit mass suicide.

Perhaps the Joker is the only one aware of the impossibility of their existence, which is why he is what he is. He's in on it.
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:47 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sisyphus should stop rolling the rock. No, he shouldn't. Yes, he should.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:48 PM on March 2, 2012


The New Gods had condemned Batman to ceaselessly imprisoning the Joker in Arkham Asylum, whence the Joker would escape. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

If one believes The Batman Chronicles, Batman was the wisest and most prudent of mortals. According to another tradition, however, he was disposed to practice the profession of vigilante. I see no contradiction in this. Opinions differ as to the reasons why he became the futile laborer of Gotham. To begin with, he is accused of a certain levity in regard to the New Gods. He stole their secrets. Talia, the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, was carried off by Darkseid. The father was shocked by that disappearance and complained to Batman. He, who knew of the abduction, offered to tell about it on condition that Ra's al Ghul would give water to the citadel of Metropolis. To the celestial thunderbolts he preferred the benediction of water. He was punished for this in Gotham. Batman Confidential tells us also that Batman had put Death in chains. Desaad could not endure the sight of his deserted, silent empire. He dispatched the god of war, who liberated Death from the hands of her conqueror.

It is said that Batman, being near to death, rashly wanted to test Catwoman's love. He ordered her to cast his unburied body into the middle of the public square. Batman woke up in Gotham. And there, annoyed by an obedience so contrary to human love, he obtained from Hades permission to return in order to chastise Catwoman. But when he had seen again the face of this world, enjoyed water and sun, warm stones and the sea, he no longer wanted to go back to the infernal darkness. Recalls, signs of anger, warnings were of no avail. Many years more he lived facing the curve of the gulf, the sparkling sea, and the smiles of earth. A decree of the New Gods was necessary. Darkseid came and seized the impudent man by the utility belt and, snatching him from his joys, lead him forcibly back to Gotham, where the Joker was ready for him.

You have already grasped that Batman is the absurd hero. He is, as much through his passions as through his torture. His scorn of the New Gods, his hatred of death, and his passion for life won him that unspeakable penalty in which the whole being is exerted toward accomplishing nothing. This is the price that must be paid for the passions of this earth. Nothing is told us about Batman in the underworld. Myths are made for the imagination to breathe life into them. As for this myth, one sees merely the whole effort of a body straining to capture the Joker, to contain him, and imprison him in Arkham Asylum a hundred times over; one sees the face screwed up, the arms tight against the supervillain, the shoulder bracing the green-haired crinimal, the foot wedging him, the fresh start with arms outstretched, the wholly human security of two batarang-clenching hands. At the very end of his long effort measured by skyless space and time without depth, the purpose is achieved. Then Batman watches the Joker escape in a few moments toward Gotham whence he will have to capture him again. He goes back down to the city.

It is during that return, that pause, that Batman interests me. A face that toils so close to villains is already villain itself! I see that man going back down with a heavy yet measured step toward the torment of which he will never know the end. That hour like a breathing-space which returns as surely as his suffering, that is the hour of consciousness. At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the New Gods, he is superior to his fate. He is stronger than the Joker.

If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works everyday in his life at the same tasks, and his fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Batman, proletarian of the New Gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that can not be surmounted by scorn.

If the descent is thus sometimes performed in sorrow, it can also take place in joy. This word is not too much. Again I fancy Batman returning toward the Joker, and the sorrow was in the beginning. When the images of earth cling too tightly to memory, when the call of happiness becomes too insistent, it happens that melancholy arises in man's heart: this is the Joker's victory, this is the Joker itself. The boundless grief is too heavy to bear. These are our nights of Gethsemane. But crushing truths perish from being acknowledged. Thus, Scott Free at the outset obeys fate without knowing it. But from the moment he knows, his tragedy begins. Yet at the same moment, blind and desperate, he realizes that the only bond linking him to the world is the cool hand of a girl. Then a tremendous remark rings out: "Despite so many ordeals, my advanced age and the nobility of my soul make me conclude that all is well." Kirby's Scott Free, like Gaiman's Sandman, thus gives the recipe for the absurd victory. Ancient wisdom confirms modern heroism.

One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness. "What!---by such narrow ways--?" There is but one world, however. Happiness and the absurd are two sons of the same earth. They are inseparable. It would be a mistake to say that happiness necessarily springs from the absurd. discovery. It happens as well that the felling of the absurd springs from happiness. "I conclude that all is well," says Scott Free, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a New God who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile suffering. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.

All Batman's silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him. The Joker is his thing. Likewise, the absurd man, when he contemplates his torment, silences all the idols. In the universe suddenly restored to its silence, the myriad wondering little voices of the earth rise up. Unconscious, secret calls, invitations from all the faces, they are the necessary reverse and price of victory. There is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night. The absurd man says yes and his efforts will henceforth be unceasing. If there is a personal fate, there is no higher destiny, or at least there is, but one which he concludes is inevitable and despicable. For the rest, he knows himself to be the master of his days. At that subtle moment when man glances backward over his life, Batman returning toward the Joker, in that slight pivoting he contemplates that series of unrelated actions which become his fate, created by him, combined under his memory's eye and soon sealed by his death. Thus, convinced of the wholly human origin of all that is human, a blind man eager to see who knows that the night has no end, he is still on the go. The Joker is still escaping.

I leave Batman in Gotham! One always finds one's burden again. But Batman teaches the higher fidelity that negates the New Gods and captures supervillains. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each villain of that city, each crime syndicate of that night filled DC Universe, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward Arkham Asylum is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Batman happy.
posted by kyrademon at 3:50 PM on March 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Mefi Comics Podcast, just say'n.

Each episode, the Distinguished Panel beanplates another comicbook character.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:59 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mefi Comics Podcast, just say'n.

But we did that already. Fans don't want retreads, they want something new! Which is why in the next podcast mathowie is killed while defending the web from Robokottke.
posted by cortex at 4:01 PM on March 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sisyphus should stop rolling the rock. No, he shouldn't. Yes, he should.

Sisyphus is compelled to push the rock as eternal punishment by the gods; the character of Sisyphus doesn't have agency in this situation whereas in the Batman universe his "can't kill rule" is presumably self-imposed and there's nothing but himself to stop him from making exceptions.
posted by Hoopo at 4:04 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, cortex, but what's your origin story? That's what I want to hear.
posted by never used baby shoes at 4:04 PM on March 2, 2012


The comic ends with Alfred Pennyworth dismantling his rifle, apologizing to Bruce Wayne for not having done this earlier. - I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by epersonae at 4:08 PM on March 2, 2012


Bruce doesn't collect tweenagers like stray cats for NOTHING.

That is an awesome and hilarious image. :) I want to read more of this, no supervillians, just badman in his raggedy costume, feeding tweens out of cat dishes. ;)
posted by usagizero at 4:24 PM on March 2, 2012


OK, cortex, but what's your origin story? That's what I want to hear.

Late one night while working in the spooky MetaFilter labs, an explosion rends unassuming musician/programmer Josh limb from limb. Thinking fast, pb wires what remains of Josh's brainstem directly to the server, saving his life but at what cost?. A few simply Markov chains based on the infodump grant the power to communicate and Josh's cortex becomes cortex. /lightning crash/ His power grows with every comment added to the MetaFilter database so choose your next words wisely. Muahahahaha /much louder lightning crash/
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:40 PM on March 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


His power grows with every comment added to the MetaFilter database so choose your next words wisely.

Ut oh.
posted by aubilenon at 4:57 PM on March 2, 2012


Thinking fast, pb wires what remains of Josh's brainstem directly to the server, saving his life but at what cost?. A few simply Markov chains based on the infodump grant the power to communicate and Josh's cortex becomes cortex. /lightning crash/ His power grows with every comment added to the MetaFilter database so choose your next words wisely. Muahahahaha /much louder lightning crash/

You mean this isn't how all the mods were created?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:05 PM on March 2, 2012


If you meet the Joker on the road, kill him!
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:20 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


All superhero comics are just footnotes to plato's batcave.
posted by condour75 at 5:57 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I heard I could find a plate of beans in here. Is that true? Because I love beans.
posted by Brak at 6:23 PM on March 2, 2012


Frank Miller is the only one who ever really understood...

Batman is nuts. Completely out of his gourd, every inch as much as his rogue's gallery. Everyone else in the DCU understands he's dangerously insane as well... and they put up with it for two reasons:

1) He's the world's greatest detective. He can solve just about any problem, he just chooses to apply this skill to hurting people who hurt other people.

2) He would kick their ass in a a New York City Minute. No-one wants to be a problem only Batman can solve by hurting people.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:37 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Posted too early)

Part of his insanity is that he won't kill his enemies... he's smart enough to know he can't really be sure if they're really evil, or if it's just his own insanity talking. So he'll hurt them, but he'll never kill them.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:38 PM on March 2, 2012


Frank Miller is the only one who ever really understood...

Batman is nuts. Completely out of his gourd, every inch as much as his rogue's gallery.


I thought this was common canon for quite some time, but then i didn't really get into Batman until then 90s, and even then it was passing. Though even from then i remember that was the defining characteristic of the Batman books.

Since it's also what i think of when i think of Batman, i'll leave this here: My parents are dead!!! and the pvp spoof of it.
posted by usagizero at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2012


Hang on a minute. Is the "My parents are dead!!!" thing real? I've seen it before, but assumed it was photoshopped. Did that actually run in an actual DC comic book?
posted by jcreigh at 8:25 PM on March 2, 2012


LOL Golden Age!
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:33 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, my buddy Steve Watts got on this post (second link). We've had this discussion over IM in the past, and it's a pretty interesting subject. He was proud of that post so I'm glad to see him getting some broader recognition.

What strikes me as a significant part of this discussion is the idea that a decision like this shouldn't really be left up to a single vigilante, especially one that has shown himself to be...shall we say, not entirely stable. The better question is why hasn't the state Gotham is in instated the death penalty?
posted by HostBryan at 9:03 PM on March 2, 2012


Hang on a minute. Is the "My parents are dead!!!" thing real?

It is not real. Hang on while I do some detective work.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:05 PM on March 2, 2012


BIFF!

That didn't take long. Although it does say it is "currently being researched and evaluated".
posted by adamdschneider at 9:07 PM on March 2, 2012


In a small cafe in a nondescript neighborhood in the city, the two men sit at a table. One of them is meticulously, nattily dressed, almost perfectly put together except for his hair--oh, his haircut is immaculate, but there's something a little... off about the color, as if he'd had it dyed once too often and it just ended up this vague no-color permanently. The other man wears all black, hoodie, jeans, boots, and has a permanent day's worth of beard, like those guys on Miami Vice. The natty man has a glass of sherry; the stubbly man has a cup of coffee. Neither is ever seen to touch his drink, and for that matter, it's difficult to say exactly when they arrive or leave, even though the cafe is on a corner with windows on two sides and usually well-lit.

The natty man clears his throat. "So... how's Selina?"

"Fine."

"That's good."

An indefinite silence follows.

"I saw Harley the other day. She's doing well."

"Mmm."

"She's been working with Harvey. She says he's making progress. It turns out that getting acid burns on your face doesn't turn the burned part green and that it was mostly a tattoo. I'd always suspected, of course. He's also become much better about owning his decision making process."

"Mmm."

As per usual, there are a few lookie-loos hovering around across the room, but they keep their distance. Good. The natty man notices one of them trying to raise a phone camera in their direction, casually, and for just a moment considers giving them what they really want... The Grin. Instead, he catches the eye of the would-be photographer and shakes his head minutely. He sees that the woman is, in turn, considering going for it, just for a moment, but then she turns a little pale and puts her phone away. Good. He wonders what might have happened if she'd taken the picture. Probably, the worst thing that could have happened would have been nothing at all.

He toys with his silverware, idly reminiscing about the days when he couldn't pick up a fork without automatically calculating all the ways that he could kill or cripple a man with it. He looks out the window, noting what a beautiful day it is outside. When it's overcast or raining, the stubbly man seems to almost grow in size, as if he's feeding on the gloom, but at the moment Gotham in sunlight displays a grave charm that would surprise people who think of the city as being eternally caught between twilight and midnight, and the stubbly man looks like a former athlete or cop that's aged beyond his years.

The last night of their old lives had, in fact, been the proverbial dark and stormy night, with the two of them squaring off on one of the interminable rooftops of the city, as familiar to them as the set of a long-running sitcom is to its increasingly shopworn actors. After quite a long period of reflection, the natty man had decided that what had happened was probably more or less inevitable. If they'd stuck to not just the familiar pattern--the plot, the puzzle, the investigation, the eureka moment, the confrontation, the denouement--but to the same, not-terribly-awful level, they probably could have gone on indefinitely. But, somehow, in some indefinable way, they felt compelled to escalate things just a little bit each time, the crimes becoming more depraved, the investigation involving less deduction and more brutality, the confrontation becoming ever more drawn out and almost Wagnerian in its epic fury. They could each feel the cycle accelerate, but were as helpless to stop it as they would have been to brake a runaway train.

And so, they ended up crossing not one but several lines, each taunting the other with the plain fact of their mutual interdependency, each revealing secrets that they knew about the other that the other had thought indiscoverable, each daring the other to meet them without the old familiar trappings--the poison, the gadgets--and settle things once and for all. After their interminable bout, they'd finally reached the fifteenth round, as lightning crackled overhead, illuminating their final, titanic clash.

The other inevitable occurrence of that night was that, of course, someone got video of it all. Gotham City is home to millions of people, after all, and they weren't too picky about always having their fights in abandoned, uninhabited buildings or areas. And the video of the two of them, resolving their conflict in the only really plausible way, went up on YouTube in the wee hours of the morning.

The result was a sort of anti-bomb, with its ground zero on that rainy rooftop, that spread out across the entire city and beyond, leaving not just a stunned silence but a vastly diminished motivation on the part of those who liked to dress up like circus acrobats and sideshow freaks. Even without the two of them--the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince--there were plenty of others who could have taken up their mantles, but after what they'd seen on their computer screens, suddenly it all seemed just too, too... silly. Even the man of tomorrow and his tyrannical tycoon nemesis held a brief lunchtime meeting, followed by a public announcement of their partnership in forming a nonprofit foundation together with a number of philanthropic goals. A few minor-leaguers tried to carry on the tradition, but eventually lost heart when it became clear that people mostly felt sorry for them.

The natty man sighed. Was life really better, with mundane problems being worked on indifferently by mundane politicians? He looked at the stubbly man, and although he didn't smile fully--he avoided doing that these days--one corner of his mouth twitched up a fraction of an inch as he remembered how, when they simultaneously discovered that they'd been on camera all the time, it had been Bruce who smiled first... who had, in fact, giggled.

He reached over and patted the stubbly man's hand, and made to get up. The stubbly man spoke. "I saw some nice carnations at the florist on the way over."

"Thank you, dear."

"Not the kind that squirts acid."

The natty man sighed. "Of course not, dear." He walked out of the cafe, into the perfect day.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:55 PM on March 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


Well, I see everyone's trying on their Grant Morrison pants.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:11 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is so much blotter paper in these pants.
posted by The Whelk at 11:13 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I always wondered, especially while watching The Dark Knight, is not why Batman doesn't kill the Joker, but why no one else steps up.

Say you're a henchman. You have a gun, his back is to you and he's about to burn a big pile of money. You obviously don't have a problem with immoral activity and he's displayed a certain cavalier attitude towards your life and that of your cohorts. What the hell is wrong with you? Shoot him in the head already.
posted by ODiV at 12:11 AM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody thinks too much about Batman.

Nobody expects The Philosophical Inquisition!
posted by Twang at 1:00 AM on March 3, 2012


While we're at it... how creepy is Superman, rite?

He's an alien, virtually-invulnerable, super-powered, a walking-talking nuclear bomb, and out of all of his crazy freaky powers, you expect me to believe that the whole world loves him?
Oh COME ON!
He's literally an illegal alien!

The only logical answer is that Lex Luthor is right. Superman has creepy mindcontrol powers that he uses on the world for his own deity-riffic amusement, so that people think he looks human, thinks in Clark Kent & Superman look different, and perceive him as not just being awesome, but being the most awesome person in the world.
C'mon, why would he even be human shaped? He's probably either a shapeshifter, or actually something tentacled.

Lex Luthor, being the smartest, and sanest man in the world, is the only one who is on to him, and is therefore fighting a desperate 1-man battle for the sake of humanity, against a deity-like opponent.
posted by Elysum at 2:00 PM on March 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


...which is of course Luthor's entire view of the subjetc, as well as his excuse for being a total dick.
posted by Artw at 2:29 PM on March 6, 2012


Why Spider-Man Is The Best Character Ever (Yes, Even Better Than Batman)
posted by Artw at 11:24 AM on March 9, 2012


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