Friday, March 8, 2013

Batman: The Dark Knight #17

I wonder if that hat makes Batman feel like a little, curious girl?

Grunion Guy has been bugging me all month to publish the next chapter in his story he assures me is a loving homage to Alice in Wonderland instead of just a sordid rewriting of it to titillate the more lascivious amongst my readers. I told him he'd better make it a lot fucking shorter than his last chapter if he wants me to keep publishing his story. I also warned him that this Mad Hatter story probably isn't going to last long enough for him to complete his chapter by chapter "homage" and that he'd better wrap it up quickly. I think he took some of my advice. Or he's already bored with this story since his books tend to only run one or two pages at most. Anyway, "enjoy".

Temperance Goes Down
Chapter Two
Pool Party!

I think the end of the last Chapter was where Temperance was suddenly real tall for some reason I can't remember having been a whole month ago. But anyway, she grew so tall that her boobs were as big as my head!

"Oh whatever shall I do?" Temperance sighed as she bumped her head into the ceiling. Also I think her clothes probably tore right off of her body and only her underwear didn't break because I think there is a limit to how much nudity you can show even in a Rated-R movie. You should also probably be reminded that Temperance was at least eighteen years old so it was okay to look at her in her underwear and sexualize her body. Unless this movie were being filmed in France or Canada and then I think she could probably be sixteen. But now she was too tall to get into the door so instead she kicked down the door to the garden with her giant foot!

"Here I come, Garden that was behind the door that I should have mentioned but might not have!" Instead of a garden behind the door, there was a Werewolf in a scary castle in a shower cap. The werewolf was wearing the shower cap, not the castle.

"Awww!" it screamed and dropped its white gloves and fan it was holding for some reason. And then it put a hip record on the turntable and turned on some rainbow lights.

"What a groovy party!" shouted Temperance over the noise as somebody served her a chocolate coin and some french fried onions. And then she remembered that eating things made her feel funny and she shrunk again! Plus she was drunk this time because of the rum in the chocolate coin. You see, it was French.

"I'm super small again! And I've fallen into the Werewolf's pool! But look, here comes a Gerbil! Hi Gerbil! Do you like cats?" Temperance was mean and stupid and really didn't know that a Gerbil was just a glorified gay mouse.

"Jerk!" screamed the Gerbil as it drowned from fear.

"Whoops! I guess I should get out of this pool since it is filled with animals all of a sudden and I might get Hepatitis C!" She remembered this from a film strip in school she saw last week. So she climbed out of the pool and into Chapter Three!

End of Chapter Two!

Um. So. The Goddamned Batman. Where were we?

The Mad Hatter's plan seems to be franchising his Hypnotic Hat Stands across Gotham and selling them right out in the open for every Batman to see. But seeing that Batman needed The Penguin's help to figure out The Mad Hatter was behind all of the kidnappings, it's likely Batman won't figure this out either. Currently The Mad Hatter has just sold a Hypno-hat to some jerk kid that pointed out all of The Mad Hatter's horribly wonky facial features.

Is it weird that this moment endeared me to The Mad Hatter?

And look at how much The Mad Hatter is enjoying making and watching that kid punch himself in the face?

Are we sure Batman is the hero and not The Mad Hatter?

Meanwhile in The Batcave, Batman is desperately searching for recent traces of Jervis Tetch (The Mad Hatter! Don't be upset that I pointed that out, nerds! I know you knew that! But there are some non-nerds that read these commentaries! (not to mention the super sexy and smart non-nerd that writes them!)). So the first page made me chuckle. And then Gregg Hurwitz nails some dialogue between Batman and Alfred.

See? One of the reasons Alfred is so enjoyable to read (and, I assume, to write!) is because he plays the part of us. He sees Batman's ridiculous aspects, his faults, and his foibles, and he gets to comment on them and say what the author knows the reader must be thinking. I believe The Joker called himself Batman's Jester in Death of the Family but he was wrong. Alfred is the court jester, and, at times, the Fool to Batman's King Lear.

Obviously the "bata-mining" term by Batman is fairly ridiculous, a term more apt to appear in the sixty's sitcom. Without Alfred commenting on it, the term would just grate and seem like a horrible Batpun. But Batman seems so obsessed at times that he doesn't even realize he's making horrible puns. I think Bruce Wayne is simply thinking of trademarking proprietary software with his copyrighted Bat names!

By page five, I have to wonder what the fuck Gregg Hurwitz is doing to The Dark Knight! This comic book is called the Dark Knight because it's supposed to be the grim and bloody and dark and scary version of Batman. Isn't it? Instead, Gregg Hurwitz has made me chuckle on four of the five pages so far. Stop making Batman funny, you idiot! What is he to you? A joke?!

Okay, so it's Jim that being funny here. I think Batman is still serious when he makes the boot comment!

I actually like my Batman comic books to have more humor in them. I don't know why people feel silliness should be relegated to The Batman Adventures and other "kid" comics. Adult comics aren't about sex and violence. They're about mature themes and profound and complex ideas. There is plenty of room for whimsy and humor in stories like those. So I appreciate any sense of levity that comes through in a Batman book. Maybe Gregg Hurwitz will turn this comic into the "funny Batman book"! I hope so!

Do I have to apologize for calling Hurwitz an idiot when it was so obviously done sarcastically and in fun? Is that question a good enough apology?

I imagine this joke has been done multiple times over the years but I really like the timing and the way Batman actually waits for Jim to acknowledge the end of the discussion before he takes his leave.

From the very beginning of Hurwitz run on The Dark Knight, it seemed apparent that he was going to be focusing strongly on the antagonist of each story. So he presented a lot of The Scarecrow's history through flashbacks to flesh out the experiences that drove him to be the insane creature he had become. I mentioned how that would really differentiate this title from the other Batman titles and justify its inclusion in The New 52. Thankfully, he's continuing that trend with The Mad Hatter.

This is a pleasant twist on the high school bully scene. But why are they his friends? None of them are wearing hats!

Jervis spends time with his father making and selling hats. Their store is called Tetch and Son Haberdashery which could cause some confusion for men looking for clothing and not just hats. Perhaps they should have went with "Hattery" or "Hat Barn" or "A Place to Buy Hats"? Tetch's father is teaching him how to make hats without using the mercurous nitrate so that he won't go crazy. Hmm. I guess he goes crazy for a different reason later! Probably a reason that has to do with that girl Alice he really likes. During this scene, Hurwitz takes a moment to teach Scott Lobdell how to write characters.

Wait, what?! You mean it's cheating to have Kid Flash and Solstice begin kissing while mentioning how close they've been getting since they met without actually ever have shown them interacting at all? Isn't their explanation good enough for readers?!

Jervis invites Alice to a new Wonderland theme park that's opened up. It's this memory of his time there with her that he's trying to recreate by building sets and kidnapping people that will fill all the roles. I imagine this trip to the theme park did not end as Jervis was hoping. Or perhaps it was perfect and he's restaging the entire thing so that he can manipulate the ending and Alice will fall in love with him.

Or perhaps, and I'm beginning to suspect most probably, Alice actually declined to go with him and he's finally staging the fantasy he's had of what that day could have been like so many years ago.

Later Batman stops some of The Mad Hatter's thugs from kidnapping a boy that was probably destined to play Jervis's role. Batman sticks a tracer on the thugs' van and lets them go. But when he follows the van to its location, he finds no trace of anyone because The Mad Hatter's operation is beneath hundreds of feet of reinforced concrete in an old abandoned missile silo. So Batman heads back to the Batcave to search through all of his Bata on the case while The Mad Hatter relaxes with a nice cup of hallucinogenic tea.

I would hang a print of this on my wall.

Batman: The Dark Knight #17 Rating: +3 Ranking. There is just so much to like about this issue, I've got to give it a bigger bump than I might normally simply to balance out the bad taste of the early Finch months. Remember when Venomized Deathstroke dropped out of the sky to land on the Batplane? What the fuck was that about? And when Two-Face declared himself "One-Face"? Ugh. This comic book was so incredibly awful early on. Gregg Hurwitz has actually developed it into a worthy Batman title.


  1. That was a nice twist on the bully thing, unless he's making that part up. Could be. But yeah, pretty damn good Hatter story. Although I maintain that Paul Dini's Mad Hatter stories from Batman:TAS were better.

    1. Because of the way the story unfolded, I didn't even consider that Jervis was making up the part about the kids liking him as well. That's a major possibility but I'd be disappointed if that ends up being the case. It would be less melancholy if the girl he wanted to go to the park with hated him and never would have went in the first place. But if the girl thought of him as a friend and then denied his advances, it would hurt him a lot more.

      So I hope he's not making that part up! And Dini's stories may or may not have been better. Just judging this on its own merits.