Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Bat-trap fetishists, you'd best be getting to your local comics emporium in search of a copy of BATMAN ADVENTURES #9. (It's been out for a month already, but you should still be able to find it somewhere or other.) I heard about this one from the always-handy PERILS OF BATMAN Yahoo group, the "Files" section of which contains a few scans of sample pages in case you don't want to shell out the $2.25.

But the full story is totally worthwhile: our heroes are in the clutches of yet another deathtrap set by yet another faceless villain, and Batman begins flashing back through one past peril after another--page after page of near-misses. ADVENTURES is ostensibly a kiddie comic, but the writing is excellent and the story is surprisingly self-reflexive and post-modern and such--the kind of joke that few 8-year-old batfans would be likely to get. (Not unlike the '66 TV show, for that matter--Batman has a long history of working on several levels at the same time.) Smartass Robin keeps asking where the bad guys get the money and time to design, budget, and create all these elaborate contraptions; it's sort of like the scene in the first Austin Powers movie when somebody asks why they don't just shoot the International Man of Mystery instead of subjecting him to some amazingly complicated--and easily escape-able--trap.

But, as all good perverts know, it can be way, way more fun to take the scenic route sometimes instead of the shortcut. It's like asking why you don't just hop into bed with somebody and skip all the time and expense of building and stocking a dungeon or fleshing out a role-play scene. If you have to ask, you may well never understand the answer.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Death of a Mauve Bat

Okay, so I guess I'm starting to look like one of those Blog Burnout cases we hear so much about, but I haven't entirely given up the ghost. If it's any consolation, I've neglected many other details of the rest of my life lately, too (including, sadly, the kind of costumed play sessions that I love so very much), though I'm confident I'll eventually return to most of them in due time.

But you don't want to hear excuses. (At least the one or two loyal readers who write me to bitch about my online disappearance don't want excuses; they want action.) So allow me to divert your attention elsewhere: Batfans who haven't checked out this bat fan film site owe themselves a visit. I'd seen passing references to short unauthorized movies about the caped crusader here and there, but had no idea where to find the actual productions until fairly recently. ("Fairly recently" = at least a month or two ago; as you know, I've got a pretty big backlog of stuff to write about here.) I was intrigued by the possibility of someone doing with actors and costumes the kind of thing that slash fiction must do strictly with words and mental images. (Normally I root for the power of language and imagination above all, but I'm not about to pass up the chance to see a real live hunk in tights and a cape.) The specific film all the fetishists have been raving about is called "The Death of Batman," and you can find it here. (Along with several others, some funny, some dead serious, and teases for some potentially very hot properties still to come.)

Beware: "Death" is every bit as grim as its title suggests, and more than a little violent. The online commentator who compared it to "Oz" (the prison series, not the magic land Dorothy visits) is on the right track. But if your bat-fantasies tend toward sadism and brutality, as mine sometimes do, you can't beat this thing for taboo-flaunting excitement. There's no sex, but it's mighty erotic all the same. In addition to seeing our hero bound and beaten, there's the added thrill -- for me, at least -- of watching his facial hair grow the longer he's kept in captivity. I confess I'm a sucker for secondary sex characteristics like 5 o'clock shadow, and you get plenty of that here. That's something the '66 TV show and the movies never addressed, though it's come up in several comics over the last decade or so. (My favorite chapter of the epic "Knightfall" saga is surely the flashback in volume two, in which a haggard Batman is captured by Two-Face; his stubble is remarkably pronounced throughout the entire ordeal.)

It strikes me that the design of BM's cowl, which exposes only his cheeks and mouth, must have inspired me at some point to fetishize those parts of the face; certainly I think of facial hair as a kind of mask in itself, keeping secret what lies beneath. Then, too, there's the sense in "The Death of Batman" that the Masked Manhunter has been taken out of circulation for days and eventually weeks, and I find that aspect of bat-traps exciting, too: the sense that everyday life must be suspended in the midst of a crisis. Bruce Wayne (inherently a cleanshaven persona) effectively ceases to exist during such periods.

And that's how I choose to explain away my current lapse in writing here and at my story site: I've fallen into enemy hands. Believe me, I'd love to spend my time typing away at blog entries and kinky stories (let alone balancing my checkbook or sending out Christmas cards), but as long as I'm in The Joker's clutches, I've got no choice but to submit to his wicked schemes.

You should see my beard these days--it's practically long enough to touch the ground.