"Frank Miller is Still Insane"
I've been getting lots of emails requesting a follow-up to my All Star Batman and Robin Longbox column, and the time has finally arrived! It was always my intention to do a follow-up piece, but the book has been coming out so slowly that I wanted to wait until at least a few more issues came out so there'd actually be a decent amount of content to talk about.
For those of you who've been wondering, I have good news: Frank Miller is still completely off his tits, and his ongoing "fuck you" letter to comic book fans everywhere is still just as hilariously awful as it's ever been. In fact, he seems to have taken great efforts to spite all the critics and naysayers by going out of his way to include things that we've made fun of (e.g. now every goddamn character in the goddamn book refers to him as the goddamn Batman), so the book now comes off like it was written by a child who's done something terribly embarrassing in public, like pissing himself, deciding to "go for the gusto" and run up and down the hallways screaming and urinating on everything in sight, so that people will hopefully focus on the crazy more than the pissing itself.
They really should just go ahead and change the name of the book
to "The Goddamn Batman" already. Sales would go up tenfold.
But enough about that! Let's get down to brass tacks and get on with the circus sideshow that is issues 5-7. Our story picks up right after we left off, introducing the man-hating Wonder Woman marching determinedly down the streets of Metropolis, pushing spellbound men out of the way with clever quips like "Out of the way, sperm bank!" while also making us endure a three-page internal monologue about how much men suck. But she thanks her lucky stars that Metropolis isn't as bad as Gotham City, with its awful goddamn Batman.
In Frank Miller's world, it's heroic to push people out of the way and call them names.
And get angry when men stare at you when you walk around half naked.
We soon discover that Wonder Woman is on her way to a secret Justice League meeting including Superman, Green Lantern, and Plastic Man. It seems they are trying to decide what to do about this newcomer, the Batman, and whether or not he needs to be dealt with because he's obviously completely psychotic. Wonder Woman thinks they should just hunt him down like a dog and kill him, but Superman and Green Lantern think they need to try to talk some sense into him and then have a vote on what must be done. Wonder Woman tells them all how spineless they are and makes Green Lantern grab her coat. GL shows how useful he is to the team by manifesting a green hanger with his power ring, though he appears to exert a lot of grunty, constipated effort in doing so.
Back in the early days, this was Green Lantern's only power.
But he was real useful to have hanging around the Justice League foyer.
The Justice Leaguers argue and tell each other to "shut up" a lot, before Superman gets angry at Wonder Woman and blows her across the room with his super breath. Wonder Woman picks herself up off the floor and utters: "You bastard! You bastard. I hate your guts. I hate your guts. You make me sick. You make me sick." This dialog is absolutely stellar, and by that, I mean it was written by someone who is not from this planet.
"Woah, apparently this broad doesn't like hangers!"
Immediately after she stands up and spits on Superman, you turn the page and the two of them are sucking each other's faces in the next panel. What the fuck? Did I miss something here? Is there a page removed from the book? Sadly, this is not the case. I know that sometimes there's a fine line between loathing and lust, but Frank Miller seems to have some crazy ideas about romance, that's all I'm saying.
Frank Miller knows that all Wonder Woman really needs is some serious deep dicking.
Apparently the kiss changes Wonder Woman's mind, for she tells the boys that they have one chance not to fuck things up, and then she's coming in to kill the Batman. And with one final "I hate you all", she storms out of the room. Superman at this point is like "Huh, huh, girl!" and seems as though he's going to be even more useless than he has been so far, now that he's got stars in his eyes for Wonder Woman.
"You know, you really are an idiot, Superman."
We then cut to the goddamned Batman, running along Gotham City rooftops and giggling to himself like a crazy person. He's thinking to himself about how he loves being the goddamn Batman and how it's "a perfect night, a hunter's night", which is something he will repeat until you get sick of it. As he's bouncing across the city skyline, he hears a woman scream in an alley below, and swoops down on her attackers, cackling insanely the whole time.
Batman was never quite as stealthy after he
got sprayed in the face with the Joker's smilex gas.
Batman attacks the punks who are assaulting this woman, and breaks one of their hands rather horribly. The punk asks why he can't feel his hand, and Batman explains to him how he'll never be able to forget the goddamn Batman because of the subsequent arthritis from which he'll now suffer.
"That's right. Every time it rains when you're all old and shit, and your bones are
all achy and everything, you'll think, 'goddamn that Batman. Goddamn him'."
The other punk, in response to this, asks "What?", and much like Brad in Pulp Fiction, he cannot seem to stop repeating it, which only fuels the goddamn Batman's rage. Batman then answers his question by saying "What? This." and proceeds to beat the man to a pulp while the attacked woman looks on with a wicked grin of satisfaction on her face.
"Say 'what' again! I dare you! I double dare you, motherfucker!"
Meanwhile the other thug is starting to whine about how much his hand hurts, and says he needs a doctor, imploring the woman he just attacked with a "Help me, mamasita". This naturally pisses her off, so she helpfully informs him that she's not his mother while grinding down on his balls with her high-heeled shoe.
Billy Bob suddenly realizes he should've kept his mouth shut,
because he'd have been better off dealing with the goddamn Batman.
Batman then tells the woman to go home, call her shrink, and not to bother with the cops because "they're useless. They're worse than useless." He also advises her not to call an ambulance (which I'm sure was at the top of her priority list) because he wants them to suffer pain that will last a lifetime. Then he takes his leave and shoots up the side of a building, leaving her standing in the alley declaring her love for him.
Oh, how many failed romances of mine have started this way?
Batman does more bounding across rooftops, and then it starts to rain, which he seems way too happy and excited about.
"Sweet! I'm gonna go splash in some big rain puddles!"
After Batman once more reminds us that it's "a perfect night, a hunter's night", we cut to a brief interlude of Alfred, wailing away on a punching bag and worrying to himself that his master may have gone totally mad. Now what would give you that idea, Alfred? Could it be the kidnapped boy in the basement upon whom he's been trying to force a diet of live rats?
And speaking of kidnapped children, we then switch to a scene of young Dick Grayson (twelve years old), who has stumbled across the goddamned Batman's weapon cache, which is just sort of sitting out there in the middle of the Batcave, so he was bound to "stumble" upon it sooner or later if, say, he looked to the left. The twelve-year-old Dick Grayson then picks up an axe that's easily as big as he is, declares it "cool", and our fifth issue ends with nothing of consequence having happened.
Bruce may have left him nothing but rats to dine on, but he at least provided
the boy with comfortable pajamas. He's not a savage, you know.
The sixth issue opens with the goddamn Batman standing in the rain on a Gotham City dock, for reasons yet unknown, when suddenly he notices a damned amateur wannabe, the Black Canary, rolling up on her motorcycle.
It may look like a normal motorcycle, but it's actually a hoverbike.
We then cut to three hours earlier, when we're introduced to young Barbara Gordon (age fifteen), daughter of Gotham City police captain Jim Gordon, who comes home and passes through the kitchen on her way upstairs to hit the books.
"My god, Barbara! Why are you carrying a giant pinecone on your back?"
Jim Gordon questions his daughter on her heavy-looking backpack, and she tells him that she's got a big test tomorrow, so she needs to go upstairs and study. But, as her narration reveals, she is bullshitting him, or if you want to go by the embarrassing typo, she's "bullshittinging" him. Most all-ages comics opt for #@$% symbols to represent cursing, but here they use the more annoying blackout method.
Never write comics for a living. Not unless you're really good at writinging dialog.
Young Barbara goes upstairs and we hear Jim Gordon talking on the phone for a while, using this grand opportunity to drop the "goddamn Batman" moniker on us a few more times.
Yes, that's right, Jim! Some of them in fact are your young daughter! Oh, snap!
Barbara Gordon (fifteen years old) is then shown in her room putting on her Batgirl costume. She then climbs out her bedroom window and swoops off into the night, out to patrol Gotham City's dangerous streets!
"I'm a fifteen year old girl dressed in a crazy costume, swinging off of rooftops
and trying to fight hardened criminals. What's the worst that could happen?"
Cutting to five hours earlier (but whether this is five hours before the dock scene, or five hours before the previous three hours earlier, making this eight hours before the dock scene, is unclear), we see Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen (sixteen years old), running through the hospital where Vicki Vale is being treated. It seems she contacted him (despite his living all the way in Metropolis and just being a photographer) and asked him to download and bring all the information the Daily Planet has on Dick Grayson and the goddamn Batman to her. He even brings her flowers, because apparently he thinks he has some kind of chance with her. But the joke is on him, because when he gets to her room, it's already covered in flowers that were sent by Bruce Wayne! Oh ho!
"Gosh! I sure hope these flowers give a raging dork like
me a chance with a totally hot woman twice my age!"
Then we cut back to "meanwhile, back on the docks" (so apparently this encounter with Black Canary and some thugs is happening either five or eight hours before she actually arrives at said docks), where Black Canary is confronting some thugs about their little fencing operation they're running out of the area. Apparently this version of Black Canary is from Ireland, because she speaks with an Irish accent and the thugs comment that she sounds like "a goddamn leprechaun". One thug complains that the way she talks makes him feel like he has "bees in his head", while another one calls her "love chunks" (an apparently very common term of endearment in Gotham City), which causes her to snap and attack.
It's hard to see in this picture, but that Brad guy
is saying "What? What?" again in the background.
After Black Canary dispatches her foes, she heroically robs them of all the money they're carrying, before being discovered by more thugs armed with guns.
"For too long have you held this money in your oppressive grip! Now I am here to liberate it!"
Suddenly we cut to five minutes earlier, where Batman is staking out the docks, because he's gotten word that Jocko-Boy Vanzetti, the guy who murdered Dick Grayson's parents, has been released and is being dropped off at the docks by a crooked cop. Batman sees the cop car approach and launches his attack, kicking through the car's windshield and smashing into the cop's face with a cry of "Ha! Eat glass, lawman!"
If you try running toward a rapidly approaching car and jump
kicking through the windshield, I do not think you will get this result.
Batman pulls Jocko-Boy out of the car, who responds to being roughly man-handled with "Blaggg" as he's presumably getting sick (Batman's narration also mentioned that when last they met, ol' Batsy hit him up with a dose of "snake poison"). Batman then refers directly to this sound effect in the dialog by asking "What's with 'blaggg'?" which just comes across as really awkward, because I don't know if Batman is actually saying "blaggg" or if he's imitating the sound of barfing, neither of which sound like particularly good options.
I just can't take this panel seriously. And in the context of all the others, I think that says a lot.
Just then, Batman hears some machine gun fire elsewhere on the dock and attributes it to "the amateur", whom he's apparently decided to ignore despite noticing her rocketing onto the scene like she had a score to settle. He punches Jocko-Boy, knocking him out, and rushes off to see Black Canary dodging bullets being shot by half a dozen thugs or so. Just as she's backed into a corner, Batman shows up and tells her to keep her head down and "leave these clowns to me". She looks up in surprise and exclaims "Oh sweet Jesus. It's the goddamn Batman!"
Seriously, aren't there any other adjectives that people can stick in front of his name?
The seventh issue opens with Batman going completely apeshit on these thugs, laughing maniacally and thinking to himself that striking terror is the best part of the job. I don't know that dressing in a bat costume and then laughing about it would strike terror in the same way that ominous silence would, but to be fair I've never been attacked by a man in a bat costume either. He tells them "you don't know from screwed, you losers!", which is a turn of phrase that I've always found awkward and annoying.
You don't know from grammar, Batman!
During the fight, he notices that these guys are apparently selling crates of bleach, so he decides to "take them to school in chemistry" and set the crates of bleach on fire all around them. The thugs complain about how being burned alive hurts, so Batman calls them wads and tells them they "don't know from hurt" either, before informing them that "this is hurt" and punching and kicking them a lot. I'm going to side with the thugs on this one, and say that being burned alive would probably hurt more than being punched.
"Quit crying! I used to set myself on fire all the time, in between eating rats!"
He then proceeds to bestow various terms of endearment on them as he punches them and shows them what real hurt is, calling them sweetheart, and my personal favorite, the super gay "boy of mine".
As this thug gets his face smashed into the curb, he has a brief glimmer
of hope that Batman's words are true, and that he's finally found his father.
Meanwhile, Black Canary looks on, mesmerized at how the goddamn Batman takes out the thugs with such ruthless efficiency, realizing that she's "thunderstruck in love with the man". She runs up to Batman after the goddamn battle and asks "Has anybody ever told you, my good man, that you are totally hot?" He responds "Not for the last few days, no", and then she totally jumps him and starts making out with him. Apparently, über-gay catchphrases are a big turn-on for her.
"Mmmm. Crappy dialog sets my flappy love chunks on fire!"
The two of them are making out with their masks on ("it's better that way"), when Batman spoils the mood by asking her if she needs a ride home, noting that she'll freeze on her Harley in this downpour. This disappoints her, the knowledge that he has a car, because apparently she believed he could fly on his own power, having dressed up like a bat and all.
"Hey baby, wanna come back to my place and see my cool pillow fort?"
She hears him call the Batmobile to him, and just as she questions the name Batmobile, he gets upset and goes off on a little tirade about it. Apparently he's very sensitive about the name.
Hrmm… you don't suppose Frank Miller might be saying something
to all the fans making fun of the "goddamn Batman" here, do you?
We're then treated to a scene of the Black Canary smoking a cigar in Batman's car and babbling on and on, which seems to upset Batman quite a bit, so he tells her to shut up. He then has some insane argument in his head, with himself, about whether or not she has the right to speak her mind and call him crazy. He eventually decides she does, because of Thomas Jefferson. I'm not even making that up.
Little does Black Canary know that Thomas Jefferson
just saved her ass from being dumped on the curb.
After Batman drops Black Canary off back home, he shows back up at the Batcave, where Dick Grayson (12 yrs) has apparently been forced to cut a rat in half with his axe because the squeaking was driving him crazy. He then fears he's gone as crazy as the Batman, which is funny, because we all know by now that nobody is that crazy. Batman has Jocko-Boy draped over his shoulder, who he tells Dick murdered his parents. He then presents Dick with a choice, kill him and be "an avenger", or don't and be "a detective" (apparently there aren't any other options).
"Boy, I figure there's all kinds of horrible perversions we can
visit upon this man who killed your parents. Whaddya say?"
Dick approaches Jocko-Boy and raises the axe high over his head as he makes his choice. He swings the axe down right in front of his face, leaving him unscathed, and then starts beating the shit out of him, asking who hired him to kill his parents. Batman looks on with approval as Dick goes to town on Jocko-Boy, and gives him some unwelcome advice on his technique, which Dick doesn't appreciate.
Batman is puzzled at Dick's standoffish attitude, because he's obviously shown he cares
about his well-being by kidnapping him and trapping him in his crazy cave basement.
After being kicked around some more, Jocko-Boy talks, revealing the answer of who hired him to kill Dick's parents:
Oh boy! Another classic DC icon is about to be ruined forever! I can't wait!
And thus ends the seventh issue. Lots of people are looking forward to seeing what bizarre incarnation of the Joker will be showing up in this insane new Frankmillerverse. My friend Sam believes that since Frank Miller seems to be going more and more insane with each passing year, that the Joker is going to be portrayed as gay (that's what will be "wrong" with him), and more precisely, being totally gay for Batman. I believe if that theory is correct, we can look forward to an entire issue in which each page consists of Batman and the Joker punching each other in the face a lot while screaming "Goddamn Batman!" and "Goddamn Joker!" at one another, before the final two-page spread where they finally have steamy hot sex that everyone but them knew they were going to have the entire issue.
Speaking of predictions, I would also like to predict the ending to the supposedly still upcoming "Holy Terror, Batman!" book, in which Frank Miller has Batman go to Afghanistan or Pakistan in search of Osama bin Laden (I'm not making this up either, and I for one, cannot wait). In the last pages of that book, Batman will dramatically snap Osama's neck after giving a lengthy monologue about his own flavor of acceptable terror versus Al Qaeda's not so acceptable brand of terror. He will then slowly remove his cowl, revealing not the face of Bruce Wayne, but rather Frank Miller himself, underneath. At which point he will look directly at the reader and stare for at least two panels of silence, before he points towards the reader and declares "I'm the goddamn Batman!" Mark my words, and remember, when I turn out to be right, that you heard it here first.
All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder may be a twisted abomination, but it's one I have grown to love for the hilarious entertainment it provides me on the rare occasions they actually ship an issue. Under normal circumstances I'd say you should stay away from a book like this, but in this case, I say we should encourage the hell out of Mr. Miller. If he continues to spiral downwards into insanity at his current rate, there's no telling what kind of beautiful gems he may come up with later. And you can certainly expect another follow-up Longbox column to cover this whole business with the Joker, but at the rate the book is coming out, it will probably be a while.
Found any weird, bizarre, stupid or funny comics that
should appear in a future "Tales From the Longbox" column?
Email Protoclown and let him know!
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