Ah, the 60's. A time of peace, love and superheroes undergoing random transformations every other week. Whether it's Wonder Woman being turned into a gorilla by alien gorillas (and not by Gorilla Grodd because that actually would have made sense in a "that makes no sense anyway" kind of way), Lois Lane using a machine to make her a black woman (yes, that happened) or everything that happened to Jimmy Olsen for a straight decade, DC comics were obssessed with turning their characters into something that wasn't a superhero. However, today on What Were They Thinking (the place where we look at all of the stupidest, most ill-advised things in comic book history), we're taking a look at Batman. Or rather, as the cover to Batman issue 147 says quite clearly; Bat-Baby.
Time travel is a tricky thing. For a start you have to avoid changing history and breaking the laws of causalit,y both of which are not things you exactly want to do as they usually result in your potential erasure from existance (see Back To The Future) or an almighty space-time paradox (see Doctor Who). However, there is another danger that is often overlooked when it comes to going for a quick jaunt back in time, which is that you have a high chance of being killed by the locals. When considering where to travel in time to, your best bet is to consult a history book as if it were a weather forcast. "Ok, 1918. The year starts of with some rather heavy war, but that is expected to die down towards the end of the year and in its place there will be a strong front of Spanish Flu. Throughout the year there may be some smatterings of institutionalised racism and sexism along with some sufferage showers. Time travellers are advised to take an umbrella."
So, what happens when superheros from, say, the 1980's get transported back in time to both the Wild West and Ancient Eygpt without having time to consult their handy History Forecast. Well, this is What Were They Thinking, the place where we look at the stupidest, most ill-advised things in comic book history, so what do you think happened?
So, here on What Were They Thinking? (the place where we look at all of the stupidest, most ill-advised things in the history of comics) we don't tend to look at current storylines (so storylines published with in the last year, currently being published or to be published soon), we mostly look at storylines from at least 5 years ago and, more often than not, earlier. However, there has been one occassion where we have looked at a more recent storyline, when we looked at Spider-Man's Clone Conspiracy crossover. That was what Marvel were doing last year, but what about DC. They were doing Rebirth at the time, which was their way of fixing the dumpster fire that was the New 52. It's not like they would do anything to ruin their legacy whilst trying to salvage it right? They'd never bring back classic characters from classic storylines that should be left well alone right?
Sorry, this weeks What Were They Thinking is going to be a bit shorter than usual. I urgently need to go out and buy a large whole tuna and a plane ticket to California.
So, two weeks ago on What Were They Thinking (the place where we take a look at all of the stupidest, most ill-advised things in comics history) we covered a lovely little Batman story called "The Widening Gyre" (I still have no idea what a gyre is nor why one should be getting wider). In that story, the writer quite literally takes a piss all over Frank Miller's seminal Batman Begins story. Now, that got me thinking. We've already covered Frank on WWTT before for his more recent Batman storylines, but Frank is a very prolific writer and has written some true masterpieces in his time. Surely, those two Batman comics can't be truly indicative of his work post-millennium can they?
Here on What Were They Thinking (the series where we look at the stupidest, most ill-advised things in comics history) we have spoken a lot about the stupidity that goes on during the creation of the comics we love almost as much as we've talked about the stupid stuff that has been published. Take DC for example. We've looked at how the New 52 almost brought the company down and how they once tried to sue Rihanna over the trademarking of the name Robyn (not Robin, Robyn). But we're not talking about DC this week. Neither are we talking about any of Marvel's behind the scenes problems, because if we keep looking at instances of a writer/artist team falling out with their editor on a Spider-Man series it's going to get old quite quickly. No, this week we're looking at the mother of all "backstage" barneys, one that even went as far as getting litigious (which means I have had to consult my legal team of Phoenix Wright and Detective Pikachu again). So, which company do you think would let creative differences get to the point of taking legal action against its own staff? We've ruled out DC and Marvel, so maybe Image? Dark Horse? No, well what about an older, now defunct company like EC Comics or maybe Charlton Comics? Nope, it's none of them. It's this guy.
You know, I feel that I'm often too negative here on What Were They Thinking (the place where we look at the stupidest, most ill-advised things in comic book history), so today we're going to start out by taking a look at one of the greatest moments in comic book history; the time Batman knocked out Guy Gardner in a single punch. Here it is:
These four panels are perfect in pretty much every way. It tells you everything you need to know about both characters involved. Guy Gardner is a ass-hat who can't back up what he says and everyone is happy to see get put in his place, whilst Batman is a legitimate Badass (capitalised) who can lay out another "superhero" in a single punch and not lose his train of thought, or even really care that he just laid a guy out.
So, what we can take from that is that Batman has an unimpeachable aura of awesomeness that puts other lesser beings to shame. He isn't the kind of guy to wet himself on his first mission is he...
Marvel are the best at being the worst. It's a phrase that we've used often here on What Were They Thinking (the series where we look at all the stupidest, most ill-advised things in comic book history). Whether it's terrible storylines (usually involving a respected female character being abused in some form or another), awful farmed out reboots or being assholes to creators, it's amazing that Marvel actually function. Oh and lets not forget the crossovers, which, if they had physical form, would look like something out of Resident Evil they're so messed up. And the resurrections of course, I mean, we covered those enough on the last two lists, but when you can't even let Barney Barton stay dead after over 40 years, you know you've got a problem.
So, as I'm sure you've all guessed by now, this week we're talking about Marvel, but which stupid incident is it this week. Which screwy storyline are we going to laugh at? Well, how about a storyline that actually shouldn't have been screwy, but then the editors got involved. Ladies and gentle-mutants, I give you; The Hobgoblin Saga.
So here on What Were They Thinking? (the series where we look at the stupidest, most ill-advised things in all of comic book history) we talk about Marvel and DC a lot, and that's understandable. They are the Big 2, the comics publishers with the longest histories and the largest outputs of stories and behind the curtains politics to pull from when it comes to bad ideas. But that doesn't mean that indie comics are off the hook. No sir, they can be even worse at times *cough* Image *cough*. But today, instead of talking about the people you might expect, I've found something that really, really needs to be highlighted on this series. So we're going over to Broadsword Comics and their long running series; Tarot: Witch Of The Black Rose.
(Reader Discretion Is Advised)
Now as we are discussing a legal issue today on What Were They Thinking (the place where we look at all of the stupidest and most ill advised things in all of comics history), I've had my legal team (comprising of Phoenix Wright and Detective Pikachu) look over everything to see that it's all in order, and they say it's ok, so we should be good. Now Detective Comics Comics Incorperated (to use their government name) have had a lot of strange and amusing incidents in the court room. They've been sued by Batman (that is, the city in Turkey; Batman) and of course, sued every other comics company in existence back in the 40's/ 50's if they had a character who was even remotely similar to Superman, but then forgot to bother when the Silver Age picked up. And then, back in 1979, they collaborated with Marvel to procure a joint trademark over the word "superhero", but only when it applies to comics, magazines, cardboard stand-up figures, playing cards, paper iron-on transfers, erasers, pencil sharpeners, pencils, notebooks, stamp albums and costumes (and not TV, Film, Books or Video Games, which is weird, as these are where the two make a fair chunk of their money from now). Now this one is most pertinent to what we're going to be talking about today, as we're going to be looking at DC's reaction to someone else trying to trademark a common use word. What is also pertinent is this picture.
HEATH AND SAFETY WARNING: THIS WEEKS WWTT CONTAINS "ART" BY ROB LIEFELD. PLEASE TAKE ALL NESSESCARY HEALTH AND SAFETY PRECAUTIONS BEFORE READING. THANK YOU.
You know, doing a reboot isn't always a bad thing. DC successfully did it back in the 50's, taking the names of established characters from the 40's and changing their origins and personalities to create new characters and boom, Silver Age of comics. I mean, ok, they have now officially over-egged that omelette after the 18 trillionth time they've rebooted their universe, but still the original idea of taking the name "The Flash" and having it be a guy called Barry Allen rather than Jay Garrick was possibly the best in comic book history, maybe after the idea of putting Superman in bright red underwear over a blue one-piece. But, that's DC, what about Marvel. They aren't exactly known for their reboots are they. Whilst DC was creating all new characters from old ones, Marvel just slotted the new characters in alongside the old. So, they never needed to do a big reboot right? Yes, that's true, but this is What Were They Thinking (the place where we look at the stupidest most ill-advised things in all of comic book history), so of course, they did it anyway and what did we get? We got this...
Rob Liefeld cannot art.