I wrote this article a long long time ago. For whatever reason I stopped frequenting RetroJunk and started focusing on my school work. I apparently had a few articles I began but never finished, and I thought that they might be a good springboard back into the world of Retrojunk. I hope you enjoy these articles from the past as much as I enjoyed finally finishing them. Cheers!
To be honest, I was thinking that since The Dark Knight recently hit theaters, Retrojunk would be filled to the brim with Batman articles. I have to admit I was a little hesitant about writing an article on the subject of the Bat, but I only noticed one article dedicated to the Joker 89' and Joker 2008 comparison, so writing an article on the Bat I shall...
My first memorable exposure to the Bob Kane created icon was via Batman's greatest and best recognized foe; The Joker. I was close to three years old when my Grandparents and their best friends decided to take me along on their epic RV adventure. I was one of those kids who loved clowns, and truthfully to this day I don't understand people's phobia over clowns...maybe it's because I've never had an up close and personal childhood experience with a clown? Maybe it's because I loved everything about Circus animals, and I saw clowns as a necessary addition to the Big Top? Whatever the cause, the only time Clowns ever really freaked me out was when I stayed at Circus Circus in Las Vegas on my 21st Birthday and watched their Circus Channel for three hours while sloshed beyond elementary comprehension.
Now I'm not sure what image I was exposed to, but I do remember it was on a t-shirt my Grandparent's friends Grandson was wearing. It wasn't the Jack Nicholson image, no...It was pure cartoony and dark comic book Joker. Silly me, with his make-up and huge grin I could have sworn he was a good guy. It took a long conversation to put the Joker's place in Batman's history into perspective; basically I was told the Joker was Batman's Shredder. You see, I knew all about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I knew all about their battle against Shredder, but this Batman was a brand new concept to me.
I had seen this logo around a lot early in 1989, but I still had no idea who this Batman was! Was he a giant mutant ninja bat? Was he a bad guy? Why did he beat up clowns? So many questions...just so many questions that went unanswered until all the local Toy stores became jam packed with Bat-Merchandise. It was everywhere, and I wanted it all. I had just started at a new pre-school, and while I wanted to play Indiana Jones or TMNT, all the other kids wanted to play Batman; the problems with that were not unlike The Highlander, "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE...erm, Batman?" and not too many kids were keen on playing second fiddle as Robin. Sure, on the occasion someone would have a spark of genius, and claim to be Batman's twin brother who has all the same powers and gadgets, but my huge problem was more severe; I didn't know a darn thing about Batman aside from what he looked like.
Remember this action figure? I always had bad luck with the rope action belt. It had an uncanny knack of getting all tangled up in knots. Anyway, that's all I had to work with until Mom brought back a VHS that not only better introduced me to Batman,Robin, Joker, and The Penguin, but also for the first time Scooby-Doo and the gang.
This was what was so popular amongst my fellow Tots? Okay, I was kind of put off. I'd get into arguments about how the Turtles would put the hurting on Batman and his "Holy" sidekick. Even on the playground, Batman could not be beaten! Say you just hit Batman in the face with a Ninja sword...No problem, Batman can't be hurt. Let's say you poisoned Batman...No problemo kids, Batman has the antidote in a handy dandy straw that came out of his fist. Guns? We weren't allowed to pretend with guns, but on the occasion we did anyway...but low and behold, Batman was also bullet-proof.
Back in those playground days, Batman's vulnerabilities were undefined...I don't think we went as far as to dream up shark repellent, but it got close to that I'm sure.
I wasn't allowed to watch it the movie until a year later, and when I did I finally understood all of the hype. I finally understood that Batman had no super-powers, and that The Terminator was still way cooler. Eventually the Bat-craze died amongst my age group, and Terminator 2: Judgment day was the new big thing.
In 1992 Batman Returns was geared up to hit theaters. I must admit I got all swept up in this Bat-Craze v2. I had to have all the toys from McDonalds, I had to have the t-shirts, the posters, and everything riddled with the Bat-Logo.
I remember liking Batman Returns a whole lot better than Batman 89, but today I barely find Batman Returns watchable. I know a lot of people who think it's the proverbial bee's proverbial knees, but to me it's just a little too...erm, how do you say...Tim Burton-y? I'm not a really big fan of Tim Burton. Some may consider that blasphemous, but I just don't see him as being the artistic genius who rightfully deserves his own section of merchandise at the local Hot Topic...
But I'm not here to speak for the masses, I'm here to speak about Batman and the undeniable impact he had on the world around me. Soon after Batman Returns came out, our local Fox channel began playing Batman: The Animated Series. I was ready to eat it all up just like I had with Batman Returns, but it just never appealed to me when I was that young. I'd watch an episode here or there, but I'd find myself either lost in a confusing story, or bored.
The show didn't seem to catch on with any of my friends either. Looking back at the show now that I'm older and more familiar with the comics and basic history of the character, I have a much different opinion. I think it was great, and I can't remember why I ever changed the channel.
I did, however, love the Batman: Mask of the Phantasm movie. I saw the trailer for it with the vhs release of Free Willy. I ended up seeing it in theaters, and afterward I bugged the local rental store for months about when the movie was going to come out on video. I can't say I felt the same way about Batman: Subzero.
A big event that went down in the comic book storyline was the Knightfall story which pretty much introduced my friends and I to the now infamous Bat-Villain, Bane. We had the Young Adult version of the story in our school library, and it was frequently loaned out until the cover was ripped off and the pages were soaked in Kool-Aid. I actually went out and bought my own copy, and I thought Bane was awesome. The school ground arguments about how great Batman was could be shot down with one simple statement; "Oh yeah? If Batman was so great how come he got his back broken?"
Total PWNG before PWNG was even a term. If you haven't really noticed from this article, I grew to eventually hate Batman. I found myself growing up to be a Marvel fan, devoted to the X-MEN moreso than any other comic book out there. But readers of this article, do note that I did EVENTUALLY ask for Bat-Forgiveness, and I found my own Bat-Redemption in Bruce Wayne and his various exploits. Part 2 will focus on the turning points in my opinions, as well as my first exposure to the 60's BATMAN TV Series, Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, and the classic Frank Miller story The Dark Knight Returns...
Until next time Retro-readers!