"World's greatest detective and you still can't figure it out."
November 10, 2013 5:16 PM   Subscribe

 
I also can't figure it out, frankly, but I'm probably not in the top 100 of world detectives. I guess it's supposed to be... Batman as a metaphor for war? Or something?
posted by absalom at 5:22 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't get it: it feels like a rehash of the end of The Killing Joke, with a iconic Bill Hicks quote concerning all of life somehow shoehorned in place of the joke about two inmates escaping on a beam of light, less sense, and more senseless gore.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:28 PM on November 10, 2013 [14 favorites]


Batman as allusion to allegory for metaphor.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:31 PM on November 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure any allegory is intended. I took it as a interesting experiment in taking this particular never ending battle all the way over the edge, and I like how the penultimate panel works as a symbol for either character. ymmv

(using the entire Bill Hicks quote was probably gratuitous, yes)
posted by EatTheWeak at 5:38 PM on November 10, 2013


Yeah I'm with Uther on this one, feels like the end of Killing Joke but edgier and Bill Hicksier.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:39 PM on November 10, 2013




The art's quite good and the panel-to-panel flow is incredibly effective. I want to see more work from these guys. They look like talented collaborators.

This particular bit is...well, it's a popular take on the characters' relationship that I don't much care for. But the execution is a lot better than the material, and elevates it a bit.
posted by kewb at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


It would be better if it weren't the Joker coming to the "deep" conclusion. As it is, it looks like the refrain, "It's all just a ride!" is a rationalization for truly awful behavior. Since it's all just a ride, it doesn't matter if I'm good or evil. My evil doesn't really touch anyone. Well ... baloney.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 6:05 PM on November 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Shoehorning the Hicks quote just feels really, really forced to me. The theme is one that's been explored repeatedly, to much better effect. It's a bad knockoff of Paul Pope's art, too. I could go on.
posted by brand-gnu at 6:06 PM on November 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


It feels very...twenty-year-old. The over-the-top shock value of the gore, the quasi-deep but incoherent "we're soulmates and I love you" monologue, the lengthy but inappropriate quotation that is supposed to sum it up but kinda misses the mark...it's an attempt at depth and insight from someone who hasn't quite figured out what to say or thought everything through.

The only half-defense I can imagine is that the Joker's kind of admitting he's a fictional character, so his actions don't matter, and the Hicks quote "backs this up," but as others above me in the thread point out, that's also saying that mass murder is the same as any other action and cruelty is nothing, because "HEY, NONE OF THIS IS REAL!"

I doubt that's what Hicks meant. At least, I hope not.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 6:15 PM on November 10, 2013 [30 favorites]


Since it's all just a ride, it doesn't matter if I'm good or evil.

It's not perfect, but the Joker's admission that it's something they've done before, all of it, in every permutation (the Joker has been Batman's wife, I believe he said), and that he's tired of it was a nice touch. It's not horribly original, and I'm not overly a fan of the facial grimaces a la adventure time, but I enjoyed it overall.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:22 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]



It feels very...twenty-year-old. The over-the-top shock value of the gore, the quasi-deep but incoherent "we're soulmates and I love you" monologue, the lengthy but inappropriate quotation that is supposed to sum it up but kinda misses the mark


To be fair, imho there's a lot of this kind of jazz in many current "conventional" comics as well.
posted by smoke at 6:22 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that the artist really enjoys drawing individual teeth.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:26 PM on November 10, 2013 [26 favorites]


At the risk of sounding excessively negative, this idea is completely dumb and confused. It seems like it expresses a very flawed understanding of the relationship between the material and the medium.

In order for this story to work, you have to accept that Batman and the Joker have both noticed that they seem to be thrown together constantly, over decades, but that despite this constant antagonism neither one ever permanently prevails. This comic proposes that this "fact," which is an artifact in part of the narrative constraints entailed in this kind of graphic fiction, is actually because of something inherent to the characters, which strikes me as a perverse and bizarre method of integrating the inherently unjustifiable way that the characters are used with their identities. It's like having sitcom characters noticing that they always end up back at the starting point after their adventures every week, and then having them say that this is because they value their home life with each other. Without having noticed how artificial and surreal that explanatory gesture is. Which, I guess, is why Batman and the Joker both have to die immediately after this is explained!

It's an inexplicably ham-fisted way of trying to make the comic intertextual, and it doesn't work because it tries to answer questions that would be posed if the characters *only* knew that their lives happen just as though they were comic book characters, and couldn't fully realize that they are merely comic book characters. Why only go half-way? It mythologizes and sanctifies something that should not be interesting to the characters.
posted by clockzero at 6:27 PM on November 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


To expand on clockzero's comment, there's also the added annoyance of "I'm not crazy, I can just see through the fourth wall!" Of course the Joker's being presented as the enlightened one. "Hey, everyone, he's crazy, and we all know crazy people are in touch with some higher truth, right?"

I swear, the profoundly depressing number of people I've met whose ethical compass has been calibrated by standup and Deadpool...
posted by belarius at 6:46 PM on November 10, 2013 [23 favorites]


I really REALLY like the art, but they should just stick to illustration. The writing has been properly skewed here so i'll leave that alone.

I'm actually kinda sad, the art really is great. I wanna see other stuff they've done that isn't this.
posted by emptythought at 6:52 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only half-defense I can imagine is that the Joker's kind of admitting he's a fictional character

Really, I thought that was the way this was going. I thought we were going to get one of those reveals where it turns out Batman has been chasing a figment of his imagination. There is no Joker and no supervillains. He's just a rich man that's had a psychotic break and everyone's let him get away with it for years because he beats the shit out of criminals so an overstretched GCPD just kind of shrugs and goes back to what they were doing. The Joker's speech is just a hint of reality intruding.

Alternately, a Suckerpunch-esque story where we pull back to reveal Arkham Asylum is real and the Joker is just the doctor taking care of him trying to make a breakthrough through Shutter Island-style antics or it's just Batman turning the workers and patients into supervillains he has to fight.

So, okay, when he was a kid, he lost his parents and created this whole persona to deal with it and every now and then, when things are too much, he slips into it and becomes Batman until the state wears off. Now that's much more fun to explore than yet another Bill Hicks rant.

That's my kind of dark and edgy (and why I wish I could draw to do comics).
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:55 PM on November 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


I had never really considered Conan O'Brien as a possibility for the next Joker before...
posted by jim in austin at 7:02 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Zen and the Art of Batmobile Maintenance
posted by benzenedream at 7:02 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zen and the Art of Batmobile Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Batman Maintenance
posted by clockzero at 7:04 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zen and the Art of Batman Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Batmaintenance
posted by theclaw at 7:06 PM on November 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


That was... um, underwhelming. Then again, the whole "Death of the Family" thing they did at the actual DC sausage grinder was even more underwhelming, so...
posted by Iosephus at 7:11 PM on November 10, 2013


"...I thought we were going to get one of those reveals where it turns out Batman has been chasing a figment of his imagination. There is no Joker and no supervillains. He's just a rich man that's had a psychotic break and everyone's let him get away with it for years because he beats the shit out of criminals so an overstretched GCPD just kind of shrugs and goes back to what they were doing."

Neil Gaiman wrote a story in Batman #686 (Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?) that was like that. In it, Batman beat up all the ordinary crooks in Gotham and started to self destruct when he had nothing left to do. So Alfred created the persona of the Joker, and hired his old actor buddies to become other super criminals - crooks that never actually got away with anything, but their continued threat to the city gave Bruce a reason to go on living.
posted by Kevin Street at 7:23 PM on November 10, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm genuinely mad at this story for taking one of Hicks' more optimistic refrains (which are mostly outnumbered by equally honest and powerful, but more depressing ones) and repurposing it as some kind of backhanded affirmation of suicidal despair.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:30 PM on November 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


"What if I -- the Joker -- am actually Batman?
And what if you, then, are actually the Joker?
Maybe we're not so diferent?
Kind of makes you think.
What a long strange trip its been."
-Bill Hicks, 1964-2013
posted by Greg Nog at 7:37 PM on November 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is a stupid Batman story he doesn't even beat up Superman on his way down.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:42 PM on November 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I hope that in a future Internet, people will not make as many disparaging comments about young people's unpaid fan art projects.
posted by steinsaltz at 7:44 PM on November 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


Mediocre fan art and thoughtless criticism holding hands, falling from the heights of an FPP on MetaFilter...
posted by griphus at 7:55 PM on November 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


The overall piece might leave something to be desired, but that first page/panel stands alone pretty well. It's like a completely self contained scorched earth "batman's last ride" finale all rolled up into one obvious but nasty drawing.
posted by SharkParty at 7:57 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mediocre fan art and thoughtless criticism holding hands, falling from the heights of an FPP on MetaFilter...

...who will save them?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:00 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


so what's the explanation of the story?
plus:
what is the shiny red helmet (??) thing Joker is holding towards the end ( under the small pictures of the gun shot and the bat breaking glass)?

does the green-gloved arm Joker holds at one point mean Robin is dead too?
posted by Bwithh at 8:00 PM on November 10, 2013


...who will save them?

Batumblr
posted by griphus at 8:02 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


what is the shiny red helmet (??) thing Joker is holding towards the end ( under the small pictures of the gun shot and the bat breaking glass)?

I believe it's the Red Hood.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:02 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yep, Robin is dead too.

The shiny red helmet is the Red Hood, Joker's first villainous identity. That, and Batman's purple gloves (from his first appearance) suggest that the creators of this strip know their Batman trivia pretty well.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:03 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well....Um....Gee....That really wasn't very good at all, was it?
posted by TDavis at 8:04 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


So is this comic an argument for not buying violent fantasy comic books anymore and instead contributing the time and money saved to peace activism?
posted by Bwithh at 8:06 PM on November 10, 2013


I did not enjoy that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:08 PM on November 10, 2013


The "meh" sentiment here kind of pisses me off; the plot itself is frankly trite, the kind of thing Batman comics have been doing longer than many of the people reading them have been alive, but the art is wonderful and the storytelling is very good, and on that pure comics level it's head and shoulders above much of what the big two are publishing right now. This isn't a "meh" work. This is excellent work.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:09 PM on November 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


You're the smartest guy I ever met, and you're too stupid to see: he made up his mind to kill Batman ten minutes ago.
posted by bicyclefish at 8:15 PM on November 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I liked the art & storytelling. As fan fic or a calling card, it's pretty damn good. These guys understand how comics work. If it was in an "official" Batman story, though, I'd say it's mediocre at best, for many of the same reasons noted by others: It's been done ad nauseum, too much grimdark violence, the use of the Bill Hicks quote in a completely wrong context, etc.

Quite honestly, the Batman/Joker relationship has been "examined" so often that it bores me at this point. I wouldn't mind seeing Supes & Bats swap their nemesises (sp?)-- Batman vs. Lex Luthor and Superman vs. The Joker. I think it would open up a lot more interesting storytelling opportunities for all the characters.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:28 PM on November 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of my favorite moments of the 90's is in Action Comics #714 when Jimmy Olsen punches out the Joker. It's such a WTF thing, Joker never sees it coming. They even had a story later where he tried to get revenge.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:35 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if that was a callback to the early days of Superman's Pal when Jimmy KO'd a guy at least once an issue.
posted by griphus at 8:39 PM on November 10, 2013


For every person, there exists a series of words that, when said in just the right manner, will cause them to completely lose their mind, albeit for only a brief moment of time. It is in this window that magic happens.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:40 PM on November 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ahem.

That was actually pretty good, you guys. It's not as great as we could have imagined it but honestly? a large percentage of all imaginable batman stories have already been told.

Although, yes a bit over the top in the gore, but the art is top notch and it's well executed.

Are we criticizing this for rehashing a story *in mainstream superhero comics*? How many times have we been subjected to the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, or with how Peter Parker's indifference accidentally led to the death of Uncle Ben? Rehashing is part and parcel of the medium, given the constraints of its copyrighted characters.

I'm a bit weary at lack of originality being the main sin pegged at this since it's a Batman comic.

The ying/yang evil/good aspect of the Batman Joker relationship is now a fundamental part of how we look at the character. I haven't read the Killing Joke but felt straight from Return of the Dark Knight - where the Joker returns from his catatonic state at Arkham Asylum when Bruce comes out of retirement. Or this scene, obviously ("an unstoppable force meets an immovable object" [...] I think we're going to be doing this forever").

And I think it fits especially well with the Gaiman story Kevin Street linked to: they're just starting over again in a brand new Batman universe.
posted by pmv at 8:42 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Zen Pencils continues to infuriate me further and further!
posted by Apocryphon at 9:10 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


I liked the zeppelin. Damn fine looking zeppelin, and that counts for something. Trite ness, shopworn, yeah yup, uh-huh. But I'll think about that zeppelin.
posted by From Bklyn at 9:16 PM on November 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was expecting the twist to be that the Joker was an invention of Bruce's. A perfect enemy to perfect his skills, a super villain fit for a superhero.

Training alone would never be enough, skill alone would never be enough, striking fear in the hearts of the enemy would never be enough, never enough for the Batman. There was something more that was needed.

Defeating petty crooks was one thing, but being capable of defeating any crook, anyone at all, stopping anyone and everyone and anything imaginable from harming his parents--- such a task required the bar to be set quite a few notches higher.

What was needed was a villain, a true villain. Someone to equal him, to surpass him and challenge him and to always survive to fight another day. What was needed was someone who never surrendered, just as the past never surrenders to the present, so too would the perfect villain.

And what name better fits a threat which has no definition but 'The Joker'?

With the funds and access and provisions provided him by Wayne Corp, little Bruce's inheritance went toward the of development a representative of his childish conception of evil.

A man from the streets, any man would do, young Bruce pounded the board room table. His name was irrelevant; it was never to be kept on file. Outside of a diner, it was a Thursday night, winter by the snow drifts. He was eating late after a swing shift, lemon curd pie for dessert. The fleet van pulled up, a decal disguised the logo. The armored corporate soldiers were swift. No family, no relatives, no mention in the Wayne Corporation press outlets. A new division had been opened, a weapons division, the future birth place of monsters. Bruce was only the age of 16, but his genius was unsurpassed. Biochemical, psycho warfare, cybernetic solutions crafted personally by this child mind. Solutions to problems which did not exist, and, in time, they proved each to be problems themselves. Problems made for the Batman to solve. Origin stories were devised, villains shaped, Arkham born. Batman was equipped with something more important than weapons-- young master Bruce had crafted a context, a context in which Batman rised.

But one thing was left, a final touch-- this Bruce Wayne had to die. Memory was so easy to clean, it was no work at all. Bruce polished the scalpel and slicing his forehead, slipped under his skin two electrodes. The machine was calibrated, it felt like nothing.

He awoke in his bed.

Everyone he asked answered that he had been in Tibet, suffered a fall, studied under guru masters, was captured by monks. None of it made sense, but there was no time to think, Alfred was there. A man calling himself the Joker was robbing a bank.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:21 PM on November 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


And I thought that the reason he loved the Joker was because the Joker was the last thing he had left of his parents-- the Joker was his loss.

There is the loss of loved ones, and there is forgetting them.
posted by TwelveTwo at 9:34 PM on November 10, 2013


Wow, Kaworu and Shinji are looking rough these days.
posted by whitneyarner at 9:35 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Finally someone has pointed out how goddamn stupid that Bill Hicks quote is by showing how it justifies violence just as much as charity. If "it's just a ride," we don't need to give our money to the poor, and that's pretty much exactly what the baby-boomers decided on the basis of their solipsistic fantasies.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:40 PM on November 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


Bill Hicks doesn't even function as comedy for me, because I was introduced to him via Tool liner notes as an impressionable adolescent still capable of taking Tool seriously for more than 5 minutes. If he had lived, I imagine he'd be basically Jello Biafra for the trenchcoat set, with the speaking tours etc. (if he still needed money after having appeared in all 3 Matrix films).
In other words, nicely drawn teeth, but no sale.
posted by Rustmouth Snakedrill at 10:33 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


If "it's just a ride," we don't need to give our money to the poor

What if it's a shared ride?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:42 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Art is good, story and dialogue don't really understand the source.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:56 PM on November 10, 2013


Yeah, it's very "things that fandom thinks are very clever that are basically very dumb". Someone sign the guy up for a movie deal with Snyder to direct.
posted by Artw at 11:07 PM on November 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


TwelveTwo, as I was reading your version of events (which is pretty awesome) I was thinking of this as if it had been some Batman/Joker version of the ending of Sherlock, season 2

SPOILERS, and just watch Sherlock already

Where, instead of Richard Brook being the big lie Moriarty was telling, it was all, all true, and that Sherlock had somehow (hypnosis? as you say, electroshock?) removed all memory of those events. The reveal would be like having the world ripped out from under you, finding out that you were the mastermind behind all of these villains. Only, this being Batman, the Joker is the only one of his villains (all hired/created by proxy/shell company/hell, Alfred) who, through his insanity, manages to figure out the whole scheme, and tries to snap Bruce out of it.

Of course, this could be made more fun by having Alfred as the prime mover. He sees Bruce, the man whom he's devoted his entire life to, the boy whose parents were such titans, and he sees that the boy will squander everything. He's soft. He's coddled. (to borrow from Batman Begins, it's Alfred, in this case, who asks Bruce "Why do we fall?" because his father is busy at the hospital) So Alfred decides to act. What will take away the comfort? Losing his parents (let's say it worked for Alfred, also an orphan through retcon). Sure, that shock makes him grow up, but then, there Bruce is as a teen, slacking, looking at his fortune, realizing he never needs to work. What should Alfred do? Alfred thinks. Bruce needs motivation. Alfred hires people to rob the mansion. Alfred sets it up so Bruce is out on the town, and there's a mugging/murder-in-progress that only Bruce could stop.

Alfred keeps pushing. Alfred finds people from his past. Loosely connected freaks and psychopaths (from the circus, or from his time as a mercenary). People at loose ends. He gives them purpose. He gives them personas. He cripples them. Mutilates them. Sets them free. Each time Bruce defeats one, Alfred has another in the pipe, all to keep Bruce busy. All to keep Bruce realizing his potential.

The reveal of Alfred as the string-pulling mastermind would be cataclysmic. Of course, by the time Batman has to deal with Alfred, the villains should all be pretty much self-sustaining.

More fun, villains that aren't in on it. Villains that are real, that don't pull their punches. Villains that put Bruce in the hospital. Villains that aren't in the system, but that, like everytime Bruce wakes up, have already been taken care of, brutally. Efficiently. By the Butler.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:09 PM on November 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, okay, when he was a kid, he lost his parents and created this whole persona to deal with it and every now and then, when things are too much, he slips into it and becomes Batman until the state wears off. Now that's much more fun to explore than yet another Bill Hicks rant.

That's my kind of dark and edgy (and why I wish I could draw to do comics).


Have you read Batman: The Ultimate Evil by Andrew Vacchss? If you're in the mood for a screwed up and gritty Batman you might like it. It was too grim for me, though -- pretty much all Vacchss books are.
posted by rue72 at 11:11 PM on November 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


What if, Joker wasn't his big nemesis all along, but the real greatest dangerous rival was Calendar Man or Clockmaster or something.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:25 PM on November 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


The worst thing you can do to people online is to give away free stuff.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:45 PM on November 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


What if, Joker wasn't his big nemesis all along, but the real greatest dangerous rival was Calendar Man or Clockmaster or something.

I love this. It makes me think of an old-school, pulpy camp-type villain, maybe with dull, meaningless schemes and awful dialogue but ludicrous, banal super-powers ("I'm like Superman...times ONE MILLION!") that enable him to defeat Batman easily. Like Batman is sighing and looking at his watch while the Clocksman threatens to cut THE MAIN TELEGRAPH WIRE TO GOTHAM!

"You'll never catch me, Bat-MORON! I am EVERYWHEN!"
posted by clockzero at 11:45 PM on November 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's an inexplicably ham-fisted way of trying to make the comic intertextual, and it doesn't work because it tries to answer questions that would be posed if the characters *only* knew that their lives happen just as though they were comic book characters, and couldn't fully realize that they are merely comic book characters.

This is my problem with it, and partially the Killing Joke, which this liberally borrows from it too. Basically, who wouldn't be pro death penalty in a world with the Joker in it? I mean, I'm as anti-death penalty as they come, but with the Joker prison doesn't work, to the extent that he continually escapes from it, and then murders hundreds of people each time. The idea that Gotham city, who has an utterly ineffective penal system which can't hold any criminal wouldn't have the death penalty. Imagine a world in which Charles Manson escaped every year, killed a few people, then got captured then imprisoned again!

So yes, I can buy a batman who doesn't kill, but a state which doesn't? Its absurd. Batman occasionally beats himself up (particularly in the Dark Knight Returns) for not being willing to go that extra step, but if I was someone who kept catching bad guys, gave them to people and said "dudes, he's escaped fifteen times before. Maybe some better security this time?" and they still let him out? That failing would not be on me.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:23 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this was shit. The writing was ripped off from Moore's Killing Joke (and wasn't all that great when he did it either) and the art is technically decent, if butt ugly. In conclusion: too many teeth.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:47 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


So yes, I can buy a batman who doesn't kill, but a state which doesn't? Its absurd. Batman occasionally beats himself up (particularly in the Dark Knight Returns) for not being willing to go that extra step, but if I was someone who kept catching bad guys, gave them to people and said "dudes, he's escaped fifteen times before. Maybe some better security this time?" and they still let him out? That failing would not be on me.

Wondering how long it would be till he gets fed up and has Wayne Enterprises or indeed Bat Man himself create an actually secure prison.

And does that look like Gitmo?
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:48 AM on November 11, 2013


I liked the zeppelin. Damn fine looking zeppelin, and that counts for something. Trite ness, shopworn, yeah yup, uh-huh. But I'll think about that zeppelin.

That one page is actually so amazing that i just had to use it for something.

and i'm aware the laughter overlapping the date/time is a bit irritating, but overall it's just too good to not do.
posted by emptythought at 1:21 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Wondering how long it would be till he gets fed up and has Wayne Enterprises or indeed Bat Man himself create an actually secure prison."

I always wonder that too, but so far as I know "Batman - Prison Warden" has never been done in a comic.

Somebody, maybe Chris Sims over at Comics Alliance, once wrote up a really eloquent essay on why Batman keeps sending villains back to the same leaky asylum. Basically it boils down to a belief in redemption deep in the core of Bruce Wayne's soul. (This would definitely not be the Frank Miller version.) Bruce is guilty of the sin of letting his parents die (being a little kid at the time is no excuse so far as his subconscious is concerned), but the Batman's crusade redeems him. Therefore he has to allow for the possibility that anyone can be redeemed if they see the light. So he can't just shoot the villains or go all Gitmo on them, because they deserve the same chance.

This does not sound like a rational belief, but maybe it's such a core part of his personality he's not even aware of it.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:22 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can't kill the Joker. Do you know what happens when you execute the Joker? He comes back. Darker and edgier and more powerful than before. I have a feeling that in the DC universe the death penalty is banned, and cops are issued rubber bullets, not out of ethical concerns, but out of sheer terror of what may arise if they actually kill a villain.
posted by happyroach at 1:51 AM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised the comments here are so negative. I thought it was very good, although I wasn't completely sold on the use of the Hicks quote and I did think that ran on a bit. I felt like I got what they were saying, and they didn't need Hicks to help them say it.

I think the characters weren't so much commenting on their status as fictional creations (although the story itself was, to a degree). I think they had literally been through many past lives together, reincarnating as different people but always coming together somehow, and this was the moment when they both recognized it. It's a mystical story about reincarnation, and the Joker and Batman are kind of the ideal characters for the point the story was trying to make.

You could say that the way the strip ends is nihilistic, but while everything the Joker has done is horrific in our reality, none of it matters so much if we are all souls who are fated to be born and die endlessly until we achieve enlightenment and break the cycle of rebirth. I'm not sure if I believe in reincarnation or not, and I wouldn't make excuses for somebody like the Joker in the real world, but in this story reincarnation is real. Batman and the Joker "woke up" and realized that they were trapped in a cycle and that this particularly ugly life had to end. That kind of justified the over-the-top gore for me, which had seemed just plain nasty until then. The violence is supposed to be too horrible to bear. This fight has to stop.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:12 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does it always have to be the dark, edgy stuff? The next proper reboot trilogy should give Rob Schneider a shot to don the mask. Batman... on Vacation.
posted by 0 answers at 3:49 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rob Schneider getting to do a big-budget film is my definition of dark and dystopian.
posted by kewb at 4:16 AM on November 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


The art and visual storytelling of the linked comic were above par... but the plot and theme was... Hmm. Kinda derivative and hackneyed in this day and age, and not terribly shocking compared to the gore-fests mainline DC comics have become in the past decade or so (Another Geoff Johns script, another person being stabbed clean through their back by someone in spandex who doesn't actually have powers relating to stabbing.)

I mean, the grandfather of the Grimdark Genre, TDKR, had a crippled Joker willing himself to die to frame Batman for his death, simply because he thought it would be funny. It's really hard to top that - the Killing Joke did, but this kind of didn't.

Does it always have to be the dark, edgy stuff? The next proper reboot trilogy should give Rob Schneider a shot to don the mask. Batman... on Vacation.

Brave and the Bold is about the best Batman incarnation since the '90s animated series, and it's pretty much the opposite of dark and edgy. While not voiced by Rob Schneider, Deidrich Bader of "Evil Alien Conquerors" fame is Batman, with guest stars that include Neil Patrick Harris, R. Lee Emery, Jeffry Tambor, Paul Rubens and Henry Winkler (as Ambush Bug!).
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:49 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps Thomas Wayne survived, driven insane by the death of his wife, and vowing to punish the city he tried save. Thomas Wayne, who became the fool, the Joker. Thomas Wayne who spends his life unknowingly trying to kill his son, Batman?
posted by blue_beetle at 4:50 AM on November 11, 2013


Perhaps Thomas Wayne survived, driven insane by the death of his wife, and vowing to punish the city he tried save. Thomas Wayne, who became the fool, the Joker. Thomas Wayne who spends his life unknowingly trying to kill his son, Batman?

Brian Azzarello's Flashpoint: Batman series does a variant on this, with Thomas Wayne as a grimmer Batman and the Joker as Martha, driven mad by seeing her son's death.

What was needed was a villain, a true villain. Someone to equal him, to surpass him and challenge him and to always survive to fight another day. What was needed was someone who never surrendered, just as the past never surrenders to the present, so too would the perfect villain.

And what name better fits a threat which has no definition but 'The Joker'?


Done, in a variant, in Batman/Joker: Two Faces, which is a riff on the Jekyll-Hyde idea. It's also a staple of Sherlock Holmes reimaginings to have Moriarty prove to be Holmes's invention or delusion.

I always wonder that too, but so far as I know "Batman - Prison Warden" has never been done in a comic.

The Batman of Arkham is an Elseworlds where Bruce Wayne is an alienist who runs Arkham and tries to treat the villains he captures. The DC ONe Mllion incarnation of Batman in the far future rules Pluto, terraformed into a high-tech asylum world, which is basically one vast supervillain prison.
posted by kewb at 4:56 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Everyone bitching about this work should totally demand their money back. It is hackneyed, a story that's already been told, it pulls too heavily from existing pop culture, it doesn't say anything new. It adjoins two completely sacrosanct subject matters.

Dear kids(? that's just my gut feeling, and anyone under 35 is a kid to me now) who made this, keep making stuff. Just keep making it. There's never going to be a shortage of us internet people willing to point out everywhere it's not perfect. Most of us never get around to making anything. Much less something that enough people will spend the energy to consume so that they can complaint.
posted by DigDoug at 5:59 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


more lines

balance the colors harder
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:26 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hope that in a future Internet, people will not make as many disparaging comments about young people's unpaid fan art projects.


But as long as someone is older and receives remuneration of some kind, disparaging comments are fine?
posted by arnicae at 6:27 AM on November 11, 2013


Most of us never get around to making anything.

Does that mean that those of us who do make things, work hard at them, are all-too-aware of the errors and imperfections, tear up first drafts, and are our own worst critics can snark with your permission?

Just because you're uncreative and uncritical doesn't mean the rest of us are. To the kids who made this, I say: you're talented artists but you need a better writer, and an editor. Part of doing great work is finding collaborators who will can take up the slack where you are weakest.

"Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors, God knows."
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:31 AM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does that mean that those of us who do make things, work hard at them, are all-too-aware of the errors and imperfections, tear up first drafts, and are our own worst critics can snark with your permission?

Haven't you found that the type of snark people who actually build shit give tends to be constructive, or at least far more willing to acknowledge the positive along with the negative? Ya' know, like you just did.
posted by DigDoug at 7:01 AM on November 11, 2013


If you're going to make a living or indeed just work in a creative field (not mutually inclusive) you need to hear the negative comments, even the ones lacking positivity. Not that nastiness is okay, but all criticism is valuable to one degree or another. Especially when you're starting out.

Big steps in the artist's maturation are divorcing fragile ego from the work (the important thing) and then learning over time which criticism is valid, which is reasonable, and which you're going to ignore.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:17 AM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I read this this morning, came back and looked it over again, and... I'm underwhelmed. Soem thoughts:

1. Art -- A bit too much Paul Pope. I like myself a little Pope, but, like Mignola, I don't think he's a great model to copy -- his stuff works, as much as it does, pretty much because the uniqueness smooths over the clunky bits. When you copy him, you lose that extra protection of "well, at least I haven't seen this before." All that said, the layout is really dynamic, I like the flow, and some panels (the zeppelin one especially, are great). The use of color is good for what it's trying to do, even though I don't really like that.

2. Writing -- Really, the "gritty" thing was overdone more than a decade ago (as was the Leifeld-style "mouthful of identical teeth" if you are going to give us lovingly-rendered teeth, why not look at some dental references?). The writing would have benefited by a lot of pruning -- while some of the ideas are pretty competent, none of the dialogue sounds like anything people would actually say, and there's an attempt to reach profundity which would have more impact with fewer words. Hicks is not a philosophical trump card that can tie a premise together; you'd need to dig deeper than that.

3. I really don't think anything more can be wrung out of making Batman more bloody and gritty, his villains more awful. I think all there is to say down that path is "people are horrible and can imagine horrible things," and, really, reading the news tells me that, so why do I need a superhero comic to do so? It really just points to a kind of fake catharsis, and maybe that's why Batman has failed so spectacularly in the last decade, comics and movies alike.

Game designer Robin Laws has an idea about "iconic heroes," characters who find the world in disorder and repair it using their iconic devices (Sherlock Holmes with deduction, Batman with detective work and gadgets, James Bond with gadgets and style, etc). These characters aren't supposed to change or even grown, because that isn't what we want from them -- we want to see them deploy their same old tricks in a slightly new setting. If Batman can "grow," you are stuck with an escalating cycle of crazy (or the story has to end, which obviously doesn't fit the franchise model).

I have an idea that comics started to lurch down this path when they made a bit to keep readers past their teens. This isn't a bad impulse, but it superficially rewarded writers for proposing solutions to the static nature of the comic narrative which created problems in turn that damaged the medium more. Honestly, if you want a story that "moves," you should not be writing an on-going serial that, by its nature, can't end.

Anyway, that makes any attempt to "resolve" the Batman-Joker tension a failure from the beginning (at least after The Killing Joke, and maybe even then). There is literally no point in trying to get to the heart of the psychological tangle of the Batman because there can't be anything there. In the end, the reason the Batman is the way he is is that there needs to be a new comic next week or next month. Save growth and development for stories where you've plotted the ending.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:25 AM on November 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I appreciate everyone sharing more dark (none more black?) Batman with me because that's why I love Batman, will definitely check those out.

My critique was actually disappointed: Why isn't this as good as it could be? The art's great and shows action well and they're using it to knock off Killing Joke (one of my favorites, admittedly, and you could certainly do worse) rather than spending a moment's thought coming up with something slightly different. My suggestions above took 30 seconds to come up with and I'm not saying they're great but they're a smidge less literally-the-end-of-killing-joke. The Batman/Joker dynamic is really interesting, so explore it in some new or less-obvious way rather than just slapping a Bill Hicks quote over the end of Killing Joke.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:26 AM on November 11, 2013


Sorry, hit "post" too soon.

4. Conclusion -- I think these guys show some promise, but they need to develop their own voice and style. If this is the sort of thing they want to do, they should be developing their own characters, which they can grow or not as they see fit, without the baggage of a licensed property. Also, using less blood means that you don't have to crank the dial up relentlessly with every panel. Give yourself some time to build momentum (something else that using the established characters does, I think -- fools the writer into thinking he has momentum when he just is exploiting history).
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:29 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


In conclusion: too many teeth.

God, yes.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:01 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Terrible idea and terrible execution, and I would expect no less from fanfic.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:11 AM on November 11, 2013


I liked it. I could tell the artist was having a great time pushing the hell out of all of the drawings of the two characters - an urge I can recognize, what with having an unfinished Bats/Harley story that serves mostly as an excuse for me to giggle like a lunatic as I caricature and exaggerate the animated series versions. (One of these days I'll figure out a suitably menacing yet cockamamie Joker plot and finish it.)

I don't think the story has to be as metatextual as everyone hating on it wants it to be. There's a joy in taking two or three familiar toys, winding them up, and just letting them go. See how they bump up against each other in your mind, pick the narrative that makes you the happiest, and draw it - then get back to your own stuff. Or maybe get a job playing with those same toys, if that's what you're interested in. Every creator's got a fanfic or two in them somewhere.
posted by egypturnash at 8:13 AM on November 11, 2013


Haven't you found that the type of snark people who actually build shit give tends to be constructive, or at least far more willing to acknowledge the positive along with the negative?

I have, but that's why I find the hater-hating so curious. If you were snarking in the manner that you recommend, you'd point out the virtues of the negative criticisms along with the positives. To do otherwise would be a performative contradiction.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:27 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did Doctor Seuss design this Batman and Joker?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:00 AM on November 11, 2013


>In conclusion: too many teeth.

God, yes.


Only Ted McKeever should be allowed to draw teeth like that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:44 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


“...but the art is top notch and it's well executed.”

Restaurant review: food is horrible, dishes are ordered from other more famous restaurants, mixed together and then warmed over and presented as original. But the décor is great!

“Basically, who wouldn't be pro death penalty in a world with the Joker in it?”

In the real world the Joker would never make it to court.

Beat cop *spots the joker*: “oh shit! The Joker!” *opens fire/calls for back up*
Back up arrives :Oh, shit! The Joker! *back up opens fire/calls for SWAT*
SWAT arrives: Oh, shit! (etc)
News story: Unarmed suspect shot 306 times. But it was the Joker, so…”
Police internal affairs: You opened fire on an unarmed man dressed as a clown.
Beat cop: It was the Joker.
Internal affairs: Oh. Right. Carry on.

I think Azzarello's Joker is about as "real world" as that world can be reflected. In fact it draws attention to the Joker deflecting the question how the hell they let him go.

What makes that work though is the characterization. This fails there. It's not Batman that can't let go. And the Joker as the mystic fool doesn't really work. He's more Mr. Punch. He uses revelation to open the door to absurdity and violence, not to dispel an illusion.
It's juvenile in its philosophy, but that's not really a valid criticism.
I think most of the above criticism is accurate (and better than what I could put together). The story is incoherent and would be whether the philosophy was cogent or not. One can see what they're driving at. But it completely fails to get there.

On the other hand, it's not professional work so it has to be considered that way. In that sense, it's worthy of criticism. I mean some things are just crap. This isn't worthless.

And I think it's worthwhile to try to find something that supersedes earlier work.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know, guys. I am usually the first to be all "hahaha eeew fanfiction" but for some reason I actually liked this. I think I just loved the 90s-esque goober-grotesque drawing style and the semi-humorous distortion and destruction of classic comic book characters. Maybe it's nostalgia for, like, The Maxx and Celebrity Deathmatch all mixed up inside me.
posted by Mooseli at 10:43 AM on November 11, 2013


For all that it was awful, it was still better than Batman:Odyssey.
posted by hanov3r at 11:16 AM on November 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Fuck you for making me remember that.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:34 AM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I genuinely like the whole thing where the Joker sees his relationship with Batman as a test or a personal game rather than a mortal-enemies situation, but geez, from the Alfred-in-a-box bit to the ending quote, this thing is so ham-handed it's treif.

Nice art of the blimp, though.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:08 PM on November 11, 2013


For all that it was awful, it was still better than Batman:Odyssey.

No way. Batman: Odyssey was much crazier, much more entertaining, and a much more original take on Batman. And the art is sure a whole lot better. Odyssey wasn't exactly a good story and didn't really make sense, but unlike this thing you read it and think, "Wow, I've never seen a Batman story like that!"
posted by straight at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2013


When I was a young person, like literally when I was 13 years old, I wrote a lot of fiction and nonfiction and poetry online and shared it everywhere and got ripped the fuck to pieces. I remember one instance of crying in rage because a somewhat-pretentious poetry workshopping forum nonetheless pointed out that something I'd written sounded like, well, a moody teenager had written it.

It made me a much better writer and I am grateful for it. I prefer critics to fans or even to encouragement, except for those occasional moments when I'm doubting whether I've got what it takes to go on, at which point yes it's nice to remember "oh there's a reason that I do this after all". On the flip side, I know a lot of people, including close friends, who had some amount of talent and received absolutely zero criticism from friends/family/teachers/whomever and who are just kind of paralyzed by not knowing where the hell to go next, and who are too used to praise at this point to take feedback any amount of gracefully. That sucks a whole lot more than somebody being told that their work could be better.

This strikes me as a talented young person's attempt to do something kind of stupid, crappy both morally and in relationship to the Batman franchise. Nothing wrong with that, but it could be a whole lot smarter and better, and it's not terrible that the Internet is saying so. Why else would we hang out on MetaFilter, after all, if not for the fact that we hate on each other in such amusing and engaging ways?
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:18 PM on November 11, 2013


Yeah this is a bit sophomoric, but not without its merits. Not least of which being, these guys TRIED to do something interesting. It is far from the worst thing I've seen, but I'd have preferred to see what the artists could do without saddling themselves with the baggage that comes with icons like Batman, and The Joker, and Bill Hicks.

But, were I the person who looks at stuff like this at the comic book factory, I'd tell them to keep working at it, they've got the germ of something interesting.
posted by Mister_A at 12:47 PM on November 11, 2013


Not least of which being, these guys TRIED to do something interesting.

No, that's the whole problem. This isn't interesting and much better writers and artists couldn't make it better because it's such a cliche; even Alan Moore in the Killing Joke couldn't make the Batman/Joker bromance working. And darkening up Batman is the safest, least interesting thing you can do with him.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:18 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I also think trying to do anything interesting with the Batman/Joker pairing is hard, because it's so overused in the comics itself, even more so than after the 1989 movie. What's more, there seems to be only one direction you can take it, each writer ratching up the darkness and outrageousness of the Joker's crimes.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:22 PM on November 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Terrible idea and terrible execution, and I would expect no less from fanfic 90% of everything that has ever been or ever will be created, including professionally, and especially in comics

Strong, if obviously derivative, art and a willingness to get a little weird with the writing. Shows potential, and is no worse than most stuff that gets printed in volumes of thousands. I didn't enjoy it personally but am not sure I understand all the hate here. With luck and the right kind of encouragement they'll expand to trying more interesting stuff.
posted by regicide is good for you at 1:25 PM on November 11, 2013


I had a dream one time that Batman wasn't real. What really happened was that Commissioner Gordon had his family killed in front of him and then went back to work as a cop. Whenever he saw a criminal, he would freak out and savagely beat that person almost to death, while fantasizing that he was standing a few feet away watching a guy dressed up as a bat do the beating. The commissioner would always get there just in time!

In my dream, Bruce Wayne also had the traumatic experience of having his family killed in front of him. Because of this, he vowed to fight crime. Therefore, he donated to police charities and to community programs that may have an effect on the violence in his town. He was actually the only one that knew commissioner Gordon's secret (Gordon didn't know, himself).
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 1:36 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


MartinWisse, I agree with you in large part, as you'll see if you re-read what I wrote. Perhaps I could have been more clear about the idea of trying to do something interesting - I thought my perception of that attempt as a failure was clear by my phrasing, and by my wish that the pair had not bothered with the cliché-ridden Batman and Joker (and Bill Hicks!) characters.

So this is basically a failed experiment. The artists are hampered by their lack of perspective, not realizing that some of their insights are pretty well worn Sunday homily or after-school special material at this point. They fail to recognize (or evince) the fact that the essential humanity of characters, even comic book characters, is what draws us in to fiction. Plus there's something weird and distracting about the way the artist draws teeth.

But, again, were I in a position to evaluate them in some semi-formal or formal way, I would tell them that there's something interesting to their compositions and tone, and that they should keep trying.
posted by Mister_A at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2013


So this is basically a failed experiment.

It depends on what constitutes a failure. I think the story is nothing special, but that's a little like dismissing a pop song for its banality. The art is good, the panel-to-panel storytelling is good, even inspired in places. The subject is dumb, but who cares? I probably wouldn't buy this comic -- I wouldn't buy most comics like this -- but as a calling card for the artist, this is damn impressive. I have a fair amount of inherent affection for Batman, but let's be real here: Who gives a shit about Batman? If you heard someone sing the hell out of a Katy Perry song and all you could do was focus on how stupid it was -- that's not even what "firework" means! -- you'd be missing the point, and focusing on Kevin Smith-y stuff about Batman and the Joker here is missing the point.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:42 PM on November 11, 2013


Well, I'm on the internet making no art at all, so I know this completely sucks and I'm going to spend some time shitting all over it to prove I'm cool and aesthetically hip and smart.

And not draw any parallels between Gaius Baltar and Number Six. Or Satan born as God's greatest angel, until he became God's greatest thorn... just to give Jesus a job to do.

Or admit that the art, over-the-top gore or not (not, IMO), was very compelling, with a powerful, nonlinear (visual) story arc to complement the very intense, short-duration and very linear dialog arc.

Nice work.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:43 PM on November 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


My favorite criticism of this may well be the description of the cartoonist as "Paul Pope's Wario"
posted by Greg Nog at 5:14 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope that in a future Internet, people will not make as many disparaging comments about young people's unpaid fan art projects.

How about constructive criticism? Great art. Poor story. Terrible use of Bill Hicks' quote.

If the internet is the democracy that lets anyone put their fan art online for the world to see, they gotta expect criticism. And if they are serious about their art (and they seem to be), then they need to learn what's working and what's not working.

It looks great but it doesn't work.
posted by crossoverman at 10:19 PM on November 11, 2013


For me, the best part was Batman's boots. Have no idea why I loved the lace-up depiction of them.

I liked the piece overall but the one thing that would have made the strip good or great would have been eliminating most of the words altogether. The relationship between Bat and Clown is well known and it would be hard for anyone to write dialogue which doesn't fall into the well-worn canyon-sized rut.

So there's no need for words with this old couple. Batman finds Gordon's corpse, finds Joker, they do the dance, they fall into space together. Joker only gets to say one line, in the final fall: "I love you." A few panels later, Batman can say, "I know." And then splat.

Would be a nice callback to that old Venture Bros. episode / plotline about how hard it is to find a good archenemy and how you should stick with them when you do.

Almost tempting to fire up Photoshop and make this a dialogue-free piece.
posted by honestcoyote at 11:00 PM on November 11, 2013 [2 favorites]




Why else would we hang out on MetaFilter, after all, if not for the fact that we hate on each other in such amusing and engaging ways?

I think it's worse to produce something that no one says anything about. Or something so stupid it's utterly incoherent and laughable.
Like the Wolfgang Pauli quote "It is not only not right, it is not even wrong."

As it is, this take on Batman is wrong. Worth taking the time with tho.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on November 13, 2013


So that's why this seemed familiar.

Damn you Chris Sims!
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on November 13, 2013


honestcoyote: "For me, the best part was Batman's boots. Have no idea why I loved the lace-up depiction of them."

Then you might really dig Batman Year 100.
posted by straight at 4:47 PM on November 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


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