She's the ****ing Batgirl
September 10, 2008 3:45 PM   Subscribe

DC Comics' All-Star Batman and Robin series (from creators Frank Miller and Jim Lee) has taken quite a bit of heat here and there, but it's not the dubious quality of the book that has its publisher urging retailers to pulp its newest issue: It's some censored dialogue that managed somehow to not quite get censored.

Via The Comics Journal's Journalista (website may be NSFW), which also offers an interesting writeup, debunking the notion that DC may have done this accidentally-on-purpose.
posted by kittens for breakfast (67 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Top Comic Writing Tip: If you really want to annoy an editor, or get a letterer in trouble, give one of your characters the name CLINT FLICKER.
posted by Artw at 3:49 PM on September 10, 2008 [14 favorites]


OH FRANK MILLER NO
posted by Shepherd at 3:49 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


No matter how much they roll the ink over Miller, he just keeps coming back.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:50 PM on September 10, 2008


Has Frankie finally written a female character who wasn't a whore in some aspect? No? Well, keep shootin' for the stars, Miller.
posted by boo_radley at 3:54 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Lucky, Frank Miller.

Lucky old man.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:56 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


The first 4 or 5 issues of All Star Batman & Robin was actually my first first-hand exposure to Frank Miller's writing. Given the enormous success and acclaim he's enjoyed during his career, I've always felt very hesitant criticizing ASB&R, but I fight it unenjoyably grim. Everyone in that book just acts like a dick at every opportunity. Batman blackmailed Superman into doing him a favour. WTF?

If there's a word to describe the over-the-top character of camp expressed in noir, ASB&R should be described using that word. It seems like no chance is wasted to depict someone behaving like a total degenerate. Except Alfred, as I recall. He seemed a little more level-headed.
posted by chudmonkey at 3:57 PM on September 10, 2008


Continuing this line are we likely to see “You can’t pissing well mess with ME, Professor Zoom, I’m the shitting FLASH!”, “Up yours, I’m the twatting RED TORNADO!” or “Knobs to you, I’m the arsing AQUAMAN!” anytime soon?
posted by Artw at 3:58 PM on September 10, 2008 [15 favorites]


"Stuff your bollocks up your gob, I'm the shitting dick nipple GREEN LANTERN!"
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:01 PM on September 10, 2008 [12 favorites]


“Knobs to you, I’m the arsing AQUAMAN!”

If Warren Ellis is hungry enough to script All-Star Aquaman....
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:01 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Stuff your bollocks up your gob, I'm the shitting dick nipple GREEN LANTERN!"

Okay, my bad. Clearly, I meant to say "All-Star Green Lantern."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:04 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has Frankie finally written a female character who wasn't a whore in some aspect?

Umm ... yeah.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:05 PM on September 10, 2008


Why don't they have (fuckin') swearing in the comic books?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:11 PM on September 10, 2008


CPB, ummmm...that's not the best example. Although she's forced into it, the Elektra of Miller's Elektra:Assassin was definitely a prostitute. Which..."some aspect."

There are a number of characters in Sin City that fit this bill, though, and Carrie Kelly from DKR, and probably a lot of others I'm not thinking of right now.

posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:11 PM on September 10, 2008


ASB&R is an epic disaster. Outright terrible. It looks even worse when compared to its sister title, All Star Superman (which is anything but ASS).

This is just icing on the cake. Though (/tinfoil hat on) it smells of guerrilla marketing tactics to me. Anything to generate buzz. In the comics' world, asking to have a comic pulped has the opposite effect on its desirability as the collectors scoop up the backstock thinking it will be worth gold someday.
posted by C.Batt at 4:14 PM on September 10, 2008


Has Frankie finally written a female character who wasn't a whore in some aspect?

What about Martha Washington?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:26 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


In the comics' world, asking to have a comic pulped has the opposite effect on its desirability as the collectors scoop up the backstock thinking it will be worth gold someday.

I'm not trying to mod my thread, but I will speak up here (then try to shut up for a while), because I think the idea that DC may have done it deliberately is what's most interesting about this incident: The problem with this theory is that DC doesn't profit from collectors scooping up the backstock. In the direct sales market, there's no returnability, meaning that the retailer buys everything lock stock and barrel. Barring an "accident," future printings of this issue will be censored, so there's no reason to presume that orders for those printings would be any higher than normal. And even if these uncensored books are worth a fortune to retailers (which they may or may not be, depending upon on how many of them are in circulation and how much this story drives up demand), DC won't see any of that money -- they've already been paid, and won't be paid again. As Dirk Deppey points out, DC is actually losing money by going back to press with the issue.

So the only way it makes sense for them to have done this on purpose is just to generate interest in the book -- but that interest already exists. It's one of DC's better selling titles. So I personally can't see any rational reason to have done it deliberately. Doesn't mean it didn't happen; just means it doesn't really add up.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:27 PM on September 10, 2008


DC is still publishing All-Star B&R? I've heard is awful on all levels, and I've heard this from people who are inveterate Miller & Batman fans. I ask in all seriousness, is there anything good to be said for it?
posted by lekvar at 4:30 PM on September 10, 2008


a female character who wasn't a whore in some aspect?

Not to get all lit theory in your ass, but the Whore is very precisely that... an aspect of all woman.

But in terms of what you probably meant, yeah, I'd have to side with Fuzzy and say that Martha Washington was strong without any sexist compromise that I can remember.
posted by rokusan at 4:31 PM on September 10, 2008


Franks last few at bats haven't been to interesting. Before ASBM, he did the second Dark Knight series which was not too well received either. Now he seems to have gone Hollywood.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:31 PM on September 10, 2008


ASBATS is awesome if you're in on the crazed joke of it all, and terrible if you're not.
posted by Shepherd at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2008


Apparently Frank Miller was mugged at some point in his life (so the story goes) - this is why all the crims in his scripts (particularly muggers) get a rough time of it.

The dialogue in All-Star Batman and Robin is pretty poor. But then again I think Jim Lee is one of the most over-rated artists in the US comics scene. This is not a good combination.

I think The Ultimates was just a (welcome) blip on the radar. If there were more comics of that calibre coming out then I'd buy them. All-Star Batman and Robin? Not so much.
posted by panboi at 4:38 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


A Play in One Act
posted by camcgee at 4:39 PM on September 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


In any event, Miller shot his load in the late 80s and has been fucking the same soggy pillow ever since, and it fascinates me that people continue to be disappointed with his subsequent discharge. DK2 should have seen him laughed out of the business.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:40 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I saw All-Star Batman in nine goddam panels a couple of days ago I didn't know anything about the series. Now that I know Frank Miller wrote it, all of a sudden Robin calling Green Lantern a "rube" makes perfect sense.
posted by camcgee at 4:44 PM on September 10, 2008


NO! NOT LIT THEORY! VLA VLAH!

~ runs back to his crypt
posted by boo_radley at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I saw All-Star Batman in nine goddam panels

You know, looking at that, it just hit me. Why doesn't the Green Lantern just carry a fucking paintball gun?
posted by eriko at 5:28 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haf come to zuck the joy out ov reading. VLA VLAH!
posted by Falconetti at 5:29 PM on September 10, 2008


Batman blackmailed Superman into doing him a favour. WTF?

Well, that's kind of minor put up against beating Supes nearly to death just to make a point. Miller really likes Batman really disliking Superman.

But from everything I've heard, I get the impression that this series isn't nearly as good as Miller's (very good) Dark Knight Returns or his (I'm willing to use the world sublime here) Batman: Year One. Read those some time, they're landmarks.
posted by cortex at 5:35 PM on September 10, 2008


There are 7 working reactions to Frank Miller's work. 3 of them fawn. 3 of them rage without analysis of the piece. One of them...goes "meh".
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:47 PM on September 10, 2008 [5 favorites]


Why would ... why would they letter and print the actual words, knowing full well that they were just going to run a black bar over them? Am I missing something? Why not just print the black bar in the first place? Why don't they come with the bar over them straight from the letterer?
posted by penduluum at 6:43 PM on September 10, 2008


I guess "cunt" is the new "WHORES."

I bet DC's breathing a sigh of relief now that Holy Terror, Batman! has outgrown their property and is becoming its own series. I'm not sure the world was ready for Batman vs. Al-Qaeda.

Miller's going to end up in the same historical bucket as Dave Sim, just minus the schizophrenia-- "aw, yeah, Frank Miller's early stuff was the shit... but, yeah, later on, not so much."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 7:04 PM on September 10, 2008


penduluum
Am I missing something? Why not just print the black bar in the first place? Why don't they come with the bar over them straight from the letterer?

What, are you dense? Are you retarded or something?

...I'm sorry, I couldn't control myself.
posted by Sangermaine at 7:13 PM on September 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


penduluum
Why would ... why would they letter and print the actual words, knowing full well that they were just going to run a black bar over them? Am I missing something? Why not just print the black bar in the first place? Why don't they come with the bar over them straight from the letterer?


In a future reissue or trade compilation, they may decide to publish without the black bars.
posted by boymilo at 7:20 PM on September 10, 2008


Here's the way I break down Frank Miller's female characters:

- Whores with hearts of gold;
- Ninjas;
- Mannish warrior amazons;
- Little prepubescent girls who grow up to have weird quasi-sexual things with their father figures.

Have I read every single Frank Miller story? No, but in every one I have read (or seen, re: Sin City), every female character can be classified into one of the above categories either literally or thematically. Usually literally.
posted by bettafish at 8:00 PM on September 10, 2008


Oh, also, whores whores whores. An oldie but a goodie as far as Miller commentary goes.
posted by bettafish at 8:02 PM on September 10, 2008


Watched Sin City. Listened to dialogue. Genuinely thought it was a parody. Was told otherwise. Goddamn.
posted by Paragon at 8:53 PM on September 10, 2008


Frank Miller is an ass hole. He writes some of the most ignorant stuff.
posted by metricfan at 9:02 PM on September 10, 2008


bettafish:

Don't forget 300 where the queen sleeps with someone in the assembly or whatever. Then she stabs him! If you thought maybe you'd kill him, why bother sleeping with him?!
posted by metricfan at 9:04 PM on September 10, 2008


If you thought maybe you'd kill him, why bother sleeping with him?!

They did things differently back then. Because THIS. IS. etc.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:11 PM on September 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think The Ultimates was just a (welcome) blip on the radar. If there were more comics of that calibre coming out then I'd buy them.

The best stuff Millar ever wrote was his name on the scripts Morrison ghosted for him.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:20 PM on September 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


Another recalled funnybook was Wolverine #131, wherein our hero accidentally called archnemesis Sabretooth a kike.
Wikipedia's got a few more recalls.

Also: RECALLED ALL STAR BATMAN #10! POTTY MOUTH VARIANT! $&^! $102.50
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:59 PM on September 10, 2008


Don't forget 300 where the queen sleeps with someone in the assembly or whatever.

That was only in the movie version, not Miller's original.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:01 AM on September 11, 2008


Meh, call me when they finally misplace the censor bar covering up Batman's penis in Robin's orifice (although maybe it is the other way around).
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:00 AM on September 11, 2008


I always thought Roger Mellie would make a good Batman
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:15 AM on September 11, 2008


The second Dark Knight series is pretty garbage, with terrible art, but has some cool stuff in it. Plastic Man is presented as one of the more dangerous people on the planet, which is a fun concept. Batman repeats "he could kill us all" in his internal monologue referring to Plastic Man.
posted by autodidact at 5:35 AM on September 11, 2008


The second Dark Knight series is pretty garbage, with terrible art, but has some cool stuff in it. Plastic Man is presented as one of the more dangerous people on the planet, which is a fun concept. Batman repeats "he could kill us all" in his internal monologue referring to Plastic Man.

I agree. DK2 is clearly not as good as DKR by pretty much an metric, but I think some of the outside-the-character-box stuff really makes it worth the time, IMO.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:09 AM on September 11, 2008


Somebody ⨘⟒₡₭ed up.
posted by designbot at 6:48 AM on September 11, 2008


Don't forget 300 where the queen sleeps with someone in the assembly or whatever.

That was only in the movie version, not Miller's original.


Yeah, the movie was a complete fuckup. All that foaming-at-the-mouth scene-chewing rage that Butler displayed was absent from Miller's cool as ice Leonidas, especially during what became the iconic scene.

They still shouldn't have gone into battle naked, though. wtf, Miller?
posted by adamdschneider at 7:48 AM on September 11, 2008


"Not to get all lit theory in your ass, but the Whore is very precisely that... an aspect of all woman."

Not to get all rebuttal on your ass, but that's only true if you create some archetypical woman (I assume you didn't mean "all women") and work to connect that woman with all female characters.
posted by klangklangston at 8:55 AM on September 11, 2008


I always felt like DK2 was Miller’s attempt to jump into the 21st century. The first time I read it, I wondered if Miller had a plot in mind when he wrote it, or just decided to throw out a bunch of little vignettes that he thought sounded cool. The thing was a mess. After reading it again years later, I realized that there was in fact a plot, but it was complicated, and he put the thing together in a rather scattershot manner.

Rather than reading a book, it felt like I was browsing a paper version of the world wide web: I would jump from site to site, scanning a little Flash, a little Bats, a little Brainiac. There was an overall arc, but it was really hard to suss out. Varley’s computer inking helped to accentuate that paper web feel. Plus, there was the shift in focus of the media. Whereas in DK it was all tv news, it was clearly a lot of bloggers and soft-news entertainment telling the stories. So you have this move from something that is predictable and reliable (tv news coming on particular channels at predictable times) and moving to something considerably more chaotic.

This isn’t to say it’s any good, but it was interesting to see Miller do this. It felt like maybe he knew he was never going to top DK or Year One, or even come close to equaling them, so he decided to try something crazily different.

If you step back and look Miller’s whole Batman arc, starting w/ ASB&R, then DK, then DK2, I think you see a world where it appears that Batman starts out insane, but then the world just gets more and more insane as time passes, until finally Batman is the ONLY guy who knows how to survive. He’s been crazy since the beginning, so the world getting crazier just puts him more in his element. His attempt to make Dick “strong” is more like trying to make Dick crazy. Because Batman knows that the world is crazy, and to survive, he’ll have to be crazy too. But then Dick ends up going down the Joker route of crazy instead.

Again, I’m not saying it’s good. I haven’t liked anything Miller’s written since Year One, but it feels like he does have a plan, anyway.


Obviously, this whole theory ignores Year One. I don’t know what to say about it, other than it’s obviously the best of the bunch.
posted by nushustu at 9:09 AM on September 11, 2008


His attempt to make Dick “strong” is more like trying to make Dick crazy. Because Batman knows that the world is crazy, and to survive, he’ll have to be crazy too. But then Dick ends up going down the Joker route of crazy instead.

Which makes for an interesting comparison to Moore's treatment of V and Eve in Vendetta.
posted by cortex at 9:19 AM on September 11, 2008


Shepherd: ASBATS is awesome if you're in on the crazed joke of it all, and terrible if you're not.

... ASSBATS?! Oh. ASB&R.

I wish I could find scans of the Evan Dorkin & Frank Miller collaboration in "World's Funnest Comics." That was funny, & it looked like Miller actually had a sense of humor.
posted by Pronoiac at 9:43 AM on September 11, 2008


ASB&R is an epic disaster. Outright terrible.

That's what I thought when I saw the first couple of issues. But picking up the first trade paperback in the store, I just kept laughing harder and harder, building up to the awesomely ridiculous scene with Green Lantern in the room painted yellow and Batman taunting him with lemonade, and I decided this was my favorite Batman parody evar.

I just love how Lee's art makes Batman look like a lunatic. The stubble, the grin, the gleam in his eye. This is what Owlman (the evil mirror-universe Batman) should look like.
posted by straight at 12:42 PM on September 11, 2008


Klangklang: Yes, I meant to capitalize Woman to avoid misunderstanding. My bad.
posted by rokusan at 1:15 PM on September 11, 2008


In any event, Miller shot his load in the late 80s and has been fucking the same soggy pillow ever since... posted by turgid dahlia

Look, Dahlia: you can tear Miller down all you like, no problem, but there is absolutely no reason to resort to planting such imagery in my poor, nightmare-fertile imagination, all right?

Ewww.
posted by rokusan at 1:16 PM on September 11, 2008


“The second Dark Knight series is pretty garbage, with terrible art, but has some cool stuff in it”

Also agreed. Miller has done some excellent work. Doesn’t seem like he’s done any lately. He’s got some good ideas - but that’s not enough. I’m with Gaiman on that - it’s in the execution.
That and certain tropes seem to overwhelm Miller’s understanding of character.

I could write Batman (granted - with some professional help). I have some depth of understanding of his character, and I have yet to see any of that be utilized. So there’s a couple of facets that haven’t been seen yet.

But I don’t think those are enough to sustain an entire new way of looking at the character.
Batman is psychopath-ish. Sure. But he could not be actually insane. And, while he might savor the triumph over a criminal - even in detail afterwards - there’s no way he could indulge in sadism.

For one - it’d take the edge off his anger. And secondly - he’d lose focus in his skill. Enjoy delivering a beating too much, savor the moment in the moment, and you lose precious time and attention.

If he were nuts, he’d be nowhere near as effective. And he’d go from an actual crimefighter to a rich fantasist doing wish fulfillment every night.

Oh, certainly one could argue that P.O.V. But you couldn’t write it and sustain it. There’s no real drama there. Maybe a Kafkaesque short story, but not an ongoing series. “Richguy: beats up yet another street thug.”

And the whole swearing thing. I mean, sure I swear all the time, it’s how I talk.
But doing it with deliberation in a piece of writing for emphasis is just getting lazy. Doesn’t look like Miller is doing it because that’s how people talk, or artistry or color in the language or as a conveyance for character but rather as delivery for emotional emphasis in a scene.
And we’ve seen him do it expertly in a variety of ways, the least of which the paceing in Dark Knight Returns.
So his stuff here, that just gives me asspain.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:39 PM on September 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I used to like Jim Lee's stuff, though I haven't been reading comics for a long long time. He sure does a crappy Joker!
posted by Chuckles at 7:27 PM on September 11, 2008


I used to like Jim Lee's stuff...

Looking at that pic of Batman and the Lantern mouthing off at one another, one thing I've always wondered about Jim Lee, and superhero artists in general, is...where the hell are the genitals going? Guys don't have a mons pubis!
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:21 PM on September 11, 2008


it's a cup.
posted by boo_radley at 9:59 PM on September 11, 2008


In the comics' world, asking to have a comic pulped has the opposite effect on its desirability as the collectors scoop up the backstock thinking it will be worth gold someday.

I met a guy tonight who's lined up buyers for 4 copies at $250 a piece. Lucky bastard. Lucky fucking bastard.
posted by flotson at 10:13 PM on September 11, 2008


Anybody have the nitty grity on the recall copies? Like, do they have different newsstand and direct sales versions of comics now the way they did 15+ years ago? Is it only the newstand version that is getting all the ebay attention? I mean, no comic shop is going to send these back, so you know there has to be a glut of them out there.. Short term demand is huge, so high prices aren't completely surprising, but.. unless there is reason to believe a substantial portion are actually being destroyed, this really is simply about separating fools from their money.

Not that I have a problem with that :)
Where should I go looking for copies of this thing :P
posted by Chuckles at 10:23 PM on September 11, 2008


"Stuff your bollocks up your gob, I'm the shitting dick nipple GREEN LANTERN!"

"!ANNATAZ gnikcuf m'I ,ti taE"

...sorry
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:39 PM on September 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um, that last one might have unintended results.
posted by Artw at 9:00 AM on September 12, 2008


And wow that dialogue is bad. Batman saying “Naw”?
It’s like all Miller’s tough guy characters have the same voice.

(except maybe for Hell and Back, although there’s an awful lot of parallel with bits of my life there (even worked for a gay Captain)....I think Miller is following me around *glances into the shadows*)

And this ‘retarded’ thing concerns me. I can see Batman trying to put it into terms a kid (who maybe surfs /b) might understand. But the whole heated breathless thing just blows the authority he’d otherwise speak with.

I mean, there’s a scene, dunno who wrote it, where Superman’s poisoned and he’s looking for Lois Lane with Batman’s help.
Batman enters a bar looking for information and says “You’re going to tell me everything.” Then his eyes get as big as saucers and he looks really really psychotic, like horror villian psychotic and says “Everything.”

Worked beautfully. That’s exactly who that guy is. (Of course, the patrons turned on him and he had to get physical to make them afraid, but still...)

Here - the “Who do you think you are anyway?” would have been nicely contrasted by the same sort of psychosis.
The wide staring ‘Phantom of the Opera’ eyes of madness, the tremulous, leering, sardonic, nightmareish voice such that you can hear the minor chord gothic organ in the background: “I’m the Bat-man.” Duhn duhn duhn duhn - DAAA? Duhn duhn duhn DUHN!
or “Why...I’m the Bat-Man” with a leer. etc.

And it should have that “The Bat-man” echo. As in - there’s only one. I’m it. Perhaps I drink blood. Perhaps I’ll drink your blood.
That “I’m completely out of my mind” thing. The stage presence. The use of fear and cloak of uncertainty that makes him dangerous. Because maybe he’ll do worse than drink your blood. You don’t know do you? (Moo hoo ha haaaa)

This, not so much. Just a fish laying there. No mystery. Like the “I’m the ‘x’ smartest person” or “I’m the ‘x’ best fighter” ranking crap I’ve been seeing lately.
You can’t know about the Batman. Is he that bad? Would he even fight straight up? What is he going to do?
Fear of the unknown is much more powerful than straight intimidation.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2008


"Shit your knickers, BATMAN, I'm the cocking JOKER and I beat Jason Todd to death with a cunting CROWBAR!"
posted by Artw at 10:26 AM on September 12, 2008


"Oi! I'm BATGIRL and I punched THE PENGUIN in the DICK!"
posted by Artw at 10:55 PM on September 21, 2008


Bat Pussy
posted by homunculus at 7:51 PM on September 30, 2008


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