Another infamous one, by Frank Miller, and much parodied on the Internet. Much like the Tarot example, I’m posting it just so that, when this blog has thousands of readers a day ((any day now)), I’m not inundated with emails and comments asking me if I don’t know about this one ((OK, and also because I didn’t want to do “crude anti-Communism” twice in a row)). I’m not going to write much about it, instead referring you to an article titled All Suck Batman and Robin, which talks about this comic in detail.
In fact, ASBAR has a lot in common with Tarot: great art, professionally done, but the plot is absolutely crazy. In this case, it’s kind of worse, though: Frank Miller used to be a brilliant writer, with a long run on Daredevil that defines the character to this day, and other works of art such as Daredevil: Born Again, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, Batman: Year One, and Sin City, especially the early ones. Today, however, not only does he seem to be the laziest writer in existence, with delays of 6 months or more between issues, and several projects announced years ago that still haven’t seen the light of day, but his writing seems almost to be a parody of himself and the “grim and gritty” style he was so influential in some 30 years ago, with lots of repetition (“Dick Grayson: Age 12”), and mostly unheroic, unappealing, psychotic characters — even the ones supposed to be the heroes. Just read the dialog above… or look at the link I provided for more details of just how insane ASBAR is.
The above image is from Superman: At Earth’s End, an Elseworlds comic from 1995. The comic itself is terrible: sometimes approaching “so bad it’s good” territory, but not often; most of the time it’s just boring, senseless, and the supposed “moral” is not only self-contradictory (“guns are bad”, therefore Superman saves the day by shooting every bad guy with a huge freaking gun… but guns are still bad, mmkay?”) but doesn’t even make sense in the context of the comic. But then there’s this panel, where Superman says the brilliant line that is the topic of this post:
“Someone has turned the Gotham City bunker into a diseased version of Hell!”
Now, yes, the quote is obviously stupid and makes no sense. Linkara said it best: “because a regular version of Hell is just so pleasant!” But I challenge you, dear readers, to consider the following: what could be going through the writer’s mind as he thought of that line and put it to paper? What kind of diseased version of a strange, warped mind could consider that comparing something not simply to “Hell”, but to “a diseased version of Hell”, a good idea? Was he doing it for fun ((I hope!)), just like the authors of the Doom Comic ((totally deserving of a post here, in the future))? Or did he actually think that this comic was enjoyable to read and had a thoughtful, worthy message?
Oh well. It was the Nineties.
P.S. – he also thought it was a good idea to have one robot talk in binary — but saying the zeroes and ones out loud, which certainly makes sense in terms of data efficiency — and another robot talk in R2D2ish. Need I say more?