There are a lot of reasons why I don’t read superhero comics with the same intensity or appetite as I did five years ago (2006 was the last good year for superhero comics, by the way), and one of them is Comics Alliance. Okay, that’s neither true nor fair. I like a lot of what Comics Alliance has done. They’ve taken some worthwhile principled stands and generally elevated the tone of mainstream comics coverage. Unfortunately, in doing so they’ve also kinda sorta legitimized the vapid echo chamber mainstream superhero comics have become (see how furious I am? “kinda sorta”) where “awesome” is all a comic has to be (awesome should be the starting point for a superhero comic, not the end result).
What’s really stuck a crowbar in my spokes is this He Said/He Said (is there any other dialogue in comics coverage?) bit on the 1989 Batman movie by Chris Sims and David Uzumeri. I pretty much knew this was going to go wrong when both reviewers copped to being under 10 when the movie was in theaters (Sims “was about to turn 7” and Uzumeri was “around…8 or so”). So whatever historical sense they have of the film has probably been gleaned from Wikipedia pages and Ain’t It Cool News posts. Very early in the review Uzumeri compares it to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while Sims’ closest cultural touchstone is Super Mario 3. As someone who turned 12 a mere 15 days before Batman‘s North American theatrical release, I quickly realized that these two kids had Batman totally wrong.
“Michael Keaton is not exactly believable as Batman,” says Sims. “Like, go watch the opening to Batman: The Animated Series. There’s a fluidity to movement that — while exaggerated for the cartoon — is just completely impossible for Keaton here.”
I almost stopped reading there. The guy is comparing a human being in at least 50 lbs. of foam rubber who can’t move his neck to a piece of animation. But if I had stopped, I would have missed (the usually very readable) Uzumeri say “Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face is just a hilarious idea to me.” And then he doesn’t say why. I would really love to hear why that’s a hilarious idea to him.
Instead we’re treated to a lengthy debate on the merits of Ace Chemicals vs Axis Chemicals, cheap shots at Bob Kane, and whinging about how Burton failed to capture the subtle essence of Batman. Like Batman’s a single malt scotch or something.
Batman’s not a single malt scotch. Batman is cola. Sometimes he comes in a red bottle, sometimes he comes in a blue can. I hear that in Mexico they still use cane sugar to make Batman, but around here it’s just high-fructose corn syrup.
mp3: “Far Away” by John Millard & Happy Day
Emmet Matheson is a cowardly, superstitious lot who blogs intermittently at A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom