Saturday, December 03, 2005

In case you were wondering...

The fact that I've taken another couple of online personality profiles can only mean that I have work to do in the daylight world that I'm avoiding. But here goes:

Imaginative, erotic, passionate

You prefer to have one partner and to try everything with them. You have an enormous sexual appetite, and you often create sexy scenarios to play out with your significant other.

Take this quiz at

Truth be told, the questions in this quiz were annoyingly simplistic, as they so often tend to be--WAY too binary, no room for any gray areas, multiple answers, etc. Even so, I'd say the capsule summary of me was fairly accurate. (Unfortunately, it doesn't appear properly onscreen above for some reason.)

From there we turn to...

The Assertive Sub
You scored 57
You are assertive, yet still maintain some level of submission. You stand your ground firmly most of the time, and are fairly level. You may not identify with being submissive or dominant, and it's possible that you're a switch (someone who alternates between the two depending on circumstances and/or mood).

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 28% on domsub
Link: The Are you Dominant or submissive Test written by nahemah on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

("Assertive sub," eh? Sounds like somebody putting a positive spin on the dreaded "pushy bottom" category.) Once again, infuriating questions, although this time there were at least more options than two for most of them. The problem was, lots of them were based on assumptions that were completely off base.

Finally, lest there be any doubt whatsoever...

You scored as Batman, the Dark Knight. As the Dark Knight of Gotham, Batman is a vigilante who deals out his own brand of justice to the criminals and corrupt of the city. He follows his own code and is often misunderstood. He has few friends or allies, but finds comfort in his cause.

Batman, the Dark Knight


James Bond, Agent 007


Neo, the "One"


Lara Croft


Indiana Jones


Captain Jack Sparrow


The Amazing Spider-Man


William Wallace


The Terminator




El Zorro


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

(Re my runner up identities, I'm flattered by 007, mildly appalled by Neo and Lara, and surprised to find my Zorro Gene was practically nonexistent. In any case, I'm delighted to have this particular bat-pic on my blog now, since I've always liked it.) For the record, I found all of these elegant time-wasters via this blog by a like-minded stranger (friend of a friend) I should probably contact sometime.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Odds 'n' ends

1. This interview at with Paul Pope about his BATMAN YEAR 100 project makes the book look mighty interesting. Batman looks pretty hot, and I am intrigued by Pope's comments, some of which sound just as fetishistic as stuff I would probably say:

To me, the classic Batman is the most visually interesting and the most believable - the little gloves, the gray jersey, the mask with the severe 'V' shaped design cut across his cheekbones - the strange, scary slits for eyes - that kind of thing from his original appearances... He has real boots on. There's no generic foot shape on my guy. a Ken doll foot, you know. Generic superhero foot. ... I don't know how others draw Batman's boots, but mine look like actual boots.

My other pet peeve has always been his utility belt. It seems like it's often portrayed as kind of this Deus Ex Machina thing with everything in it. I want to wipe that campy Batman shit off the board. There's no Bat Shark Repellant in here. He just has a few essentials in this utility belt. Since it's the future there are some tricky weapons like this sonic dog whistle thing, a machine that confuses people, rope, a torch cutter, lights, and a few other simple devices.

2. I've been TRYING to remember which comics blog did a tribute to Dorian's semi-regular "Subtext? What Subtext?" feature (which I dearly love) sometime last month, but I can't find it. In the process of trying to track it down from Dorian's own site, I came across this brilliant and hilarious entry about "How To Get Your Boyfriend To Read Comics." It's great, although I don't think I'm ever gonna try it with the Hub. I've already got him dressing up like comics characters and doing various kinky things with me in costume, which is way more fun, so why put him through actually reading real live, ahem, "monthly comics periodicals"?

3. To make up for not finding the item I was looking for in #2, here are two of the pics in that entry I was gonna link to. I won't even bother to come up with smirking text to accompany them, since that's been done by minds far wittier than mine. (I just can't tell you where.) Me, I just want to enjoy the pix. Click on 'em to make them--and maybe yourself--get bigger:


4. I still have more to say on that SuperDickery treasuretrove, but it will have to wait. Ah, how I tease...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Knightfall 22: Enemy mine

I can't tell you how cool it is to have an archenemy.

One of the main things that has always appealed to me about the comic book and tv-series versions of Batman, as opposed to the films, is the fact that the villains stick around for years--decades, even. Oh, they may be sent off to jail every now and then, but their time in the stir only hardens their resolve to break out and return to their work destroying their nemesis with a renewed sense of purpose. The characters have a history together, a shared language. They're like forces of nature. And the intensity of their battles grows stronger with each encounter. Because Batman's moral code does not permit him to kill his enemies--and because I suspect they don't really want to do him in, either--they're stuck with each other for life.

Likewise, I've always been intrigued by the element of time in SM (or whatever you want to call it) roleplay: the longer the better, if you ask me. While it's not really in the cards for me, I'm fascinated by the prospect of a longterm master/slave relationship, or something similar. It's definitely the same in my solo batplay: when I get a weekend, let alone a week (or, on one glorious occasion ten years ago, an entire month) to myself, time to suit up and go wherever my imagination takes me for hours and hours at a stretch, I'm ecstatic--literally. There may be forays into the outside world now and then, but it's immensely comforting to know that I can return that night to an extended fantasy of my own design, and even more satisfying to know that I've been spinning an ongoing, albeit deeply private, saga for more than ten years.

So you can imagine how thrilling it is to realize that I now have a longterm cast of characters on my IM buddy list: the Monk, of course, but many others as well--fellow superheroes, current and past sidekicks, lesser villains, and a troubling number of "shifters" who tend to slide from good guy to bad guy without warning. Most of these characters know each other and have their own adventures that don't necessarily include me; sometimes two or more of them work in cahoots either with or against me. I'm not really interested in the brief encounter with a passing stranger, though there is certainly a place for those in the comic book world, too: the petty thieves and crossover cameos that add texture to the main storyline (or storylines, since my online saga is sometimes a bit different than the private one I conduct by myself, in the way that, say, Legends of the Dark Knight varies from Detective). The same is true of my Beginnings serial--unlike your average slash fiction, it goes on and on, with characters dropping out and returning from time to time, and having interconnected lives, just as real people do. I enjoy being able to incorporate the passage of real time as often as possible (and to imply that various things have taken place without my having to spell them out.) That's also been the appeal of soap operas as a narrative form for me--except in that case, the content is totally uninteresting. I just like the potential for a tale to span years, in the writing/telling/performing as well as in the reading/viewing.

As for the Monk, he's still out there, and resisting the sometimes burning desire to return to his clutches has become the struggle of my bat-career, the year-and-a-half-long battle that defines my very (fictional) character. He has long insisted that he is no mere outside force by this point but a part of me, and I'll be damned if I don't believe him sometimes. (And, er, perhaps I'll be damned if I do believe him, too.)

So stay tuned--the worst (or best) may be yet to come.

Monday, November 14, 2005

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a DICK!

I don't remember how I came across it, but I found myself with a copy of the August 19, 2005 issue of The Comic Book Network Electronic Magazine, which led me to, home of Superman is a Dick, an extensive gallery of comic book covers and panels demonstrating just how often the Man of Steel behaves like a complete asshole. (Obligatory side note: I've always been slightly bothered by the slang use of words like "dick," "asshole," "pussy," and the like--or the phrase "that sucks"--to denote something negative, since it just perpetuates our culture's general hatred/fear of the body. But saying that, I realize, makes me sound like a total pussy.) Here's one of the less dick-ish examples of Superman's behavior, which I've obviously picked for the cameo appearance of another famous jerk:

Oh, wait, here's an even better one (as in hotter, since I believe "brainwashed killer" is a bit different than "dick"):

Believe me, there's plennnnnnty more where these came from (and I'm not really giving you the clearest illustration of the "dickery," most of which involves Lois or Jimmy--who totally deserve it, if you ask me). The pages take a while to load, but it's worth the wait. I'll be back with more highlights from another section of the site in a future post--but you really need to check this one out yourself.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My Son Calls Another Man "Daddy"

(Somehow, I don't think this is what Hank Williams had in mind with that song title.)

Dorian at has a nice appreciation of Tom of Finland on his blog, as part of a mini-series on "Objectifying Men." Not only is the writing interesting, but I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever seen Tom's--er, Mr. Finland's--work discussed by someone I associate with comics (gay or otherwise). Here, allow me to post a JPEG from my own collection that we may all enjoy:

Given my interest in cops, real and otherwise, I keep meaning to write more about Tom's stuff here, but I never quite get around to it. I've read portions of Micha Ramakers' book Dirty Pictures: Tom of Finland, Masculinity, and Homosexuality, a fairly academic tome peppered with, well, dirty pictures, and many years ago I saw the documentary Daddy and the Muscle Academy, both of which I'd recommend to fans of the artist who are interested in the deeper implications of his work.

Oddly enough, I first heard about Tom from a heterosexual woman artist/curator (with lots of gay friends), around the time of one of his first gallery shows in NYC in the mid-80s, just as the post-modernists were starting to discover him. So, hey, let's hear it for universal appeal!

--Wayne of Gotham

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Peek into the box...

I'm still not crazy about any of the Burton/Schumacher Bat-movies, but that hasn't stopped me from coveting the new boxed set of them, mainly for the voluminous extras, and the ability to freeze-frame those one or two images from each film that floated my batboat, like Michael Keaton literally tearing the mask off his face near the end of Returns, or this nice little moment from the movie everyone hates so much:

Somehow today I found myself at this Warner promotional site, which contains snippets of some of the featurettes, a trivia quiz (in multiple versions, though my score was always the same dismally low one since I honestly don't give a shit how many hours it took Danny DeVito to apply his makeup or how much Chris O'Donnell's outfit weighed), desktop themes, (slightly) interactive photos, and other goodies.

Like everyone else, I wish the TV series would get this sort of treatment (even though it seems like we'll never live to see it). Oh, to behold behind-the-scenes footage of Adam and company, in and out of costume! After all, if photos like these exist,

then is it too much to hope for moving images of this kind of thing, too?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Begins, again

Yes, yes, of course I picked up the DVD of Batman Begins right away, and of course I got the 2-disc version with bonus bat-goodies.

I headed straight for the extras, and enjoyed them all. Nothing spectacular, mind you; I wish there'd been a commentary track (I'm a sucker for those), and the "Interactive Comic Book" menu makes for an annoying interface (it is kinda hot, but it's a pain to have to navigate through it to get to a conventional menu). The hard-copy comic included in the package reprints one chapter of The Long Halloween (gotta push that back catalogue) and two origin/early-days stories I didn't have. All in all, I gained a lot of insight into the making of a blockbuster circa 2005, and I saw just how seriously the writer and director take the Bat-mythos and their part within it. (Sorry, I hate that word "mythos," but what the hell.) And let me just say there are some migh-tee hot men involved in the making of that mythos.

In one of the featurettes--maybe the one on the fighting technique Batman uses--there's a note of explanation that the notorious/controversial quick cuts in the combat sequences are meant to convey what an encounter with our hero would look like from the perspective of a bad guy: lightning-fast, impossible to follow, and then it's over. Makes sense, but this and some other passing comment made me realize that, once again, filmmakers feel that Batman himself is not interesting enough to hold a film. In the Burton/Schumacher era the emphasis was on the villains (in ever-increasing numbers each time), and for Nolan it's Bruce Wayne in his pre-Bat days. And I just don't agree. Both classic tv incarnations--the 60s show and the 90s (?) animated one--place Batman, AS Batman, at the center of the story, and that's just where he belongs. Wayne and the baddies need to be there, but they're not what have kept me transfixed for the last four decades.

Sermon over. DVD good. Waiting on pins and needles for the next installment of the Nolan/Goyer saga. Here's hoping they're both along for the long haul, too.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Skin Tight and ready for action

Just got an e-mail alerting me to this entry from the Terminally Single blog about the SkinTight (formerly HardComixxx) parties in NYC, which I'm passing along because there are some nice photos, and the blogger has some good stuff to say about the events, too.

I've never been to one of these parties, but man oh man do they ever look tempting.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


1. I tell you, I am kicking myself HARD for not being a regular, or semi-regular, or even occasional, Today Show viewer. Matt Lauer is my kind o' cutie any day of the week, but the thought of him in a batsuit on Halloween is too much for my poor heart to bear. Here's one teensy taste, in case you missed it, too:

That outfit borders on the freakish--believe me, if Batman really wants to strike fear in bad guys, maybe he should go for the steroid-abuser look on display here--and I shall hold my tongue regarding the matter of Al Roker as Robin. But the idea of Bat Lauer has me all atwitter--hottest of all for me would be a shot of him in the suit but unmasked, and I haven't come across that yet. There are a whole bunch more images here, and maybe you will have better luck than I did viewing this video clip. (Ah, how painful it is, knowing there is footage out there and not being able to see it!)

2. In the course of finding the links above, I stumbled upon this page of photos from a San Francisco stage show with the somewhat unwieldly name Batman!!! The TV Show: The Play. Here's an unauthorized sample (the best image for my twisted purposes):

The show itself (which apparently just closed) looks like a spoof of a spoof, which is very hard to pull off. (I'll never forget a painfully unfunny "parody" of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman I saw during the run of that classic series, created by folks who were far less clever and creative than the show's creators.) But the villains in particular look great, and I'm sure I'd have paid the bucks to see the show if I'd been able to go.

3. Oh, and here's a personal Halloween update, in case you've been hanging on the edge of your seat waiting to find out: dreary daylight-world obligations kept me from doing the bat-thing this year for the trick-or-treaters, dammit. I was also surprised to find only one pint-sized Dark Knight at my door. No other superheroes that I recall, which was a letdown. Costumes tended to be surprisingly old-school: your ghosts, your witches, your fairy princesses. Here we are in the golden age of comic book movies (well, maybe not so golden, come to think off it), and none of the kids in my little corner of suburbia can be bothered to rise to the occasion? Holy letdown!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

'Tis the season

Jeepers, how can it possibly be Halloween again? Time is flying a bit too fast these days--but no matter, for this is indeed the most magical time of the year for superhero fetishists, lycra lovers, cross dressers, furry friends, and all manner of other kinky freaks. All sorts of outfits are commonly available, and you can purchase weird clothing without the usual self-consciousness.

I had high hopes this season, what with the recent bat-movie and such, but the Batman Beyond-inspired costumes tend to be cheesy stuff like this, clearly left over from the last wave of films without any drop in price. Why, why, why do manufacturers think anyone would want to don a bunch of spongy fake muscles and drawn-on features, particularly when spandex-y apparel is readily available in your average sporting goods store? It makes no sense to me. (Exceptions: this utility belt and these gauntlets, which may not be leather but are actually quite comfortable and useful. Both of these items were the stuff of wet dreams in my youth; I'm just happy I've lived long enough to actually be able to get my hands on them.)

By coincidence, sort of, I just purchased and received a new batsuit from SpandexMan. The timing is pretty much by chance, because I've had my eye on this thing for about 3 years now; kept telling myself I'd buy it once I'd paid off some outstanding debt, and I finally did that a couple of weeks ago. It arrived tonight, and needless to say I've already begun to break it in.

Funny thing: a year ago I was strolling the aisles of seasonal costume shops searching for rat-related items. I'd been stripped of my mask, and then my costume, by the Monk and honestly thought I might never wear the uniform of Batman again--a prospect which made me sad, even though I was willing to make that sacrifice if need be, in the interest of discovering where my new circumstances might lead me. Instead, here I am, back in the (bat-)swing of things, even contemplating another Halloween-night appearance in costume (probably not the new grey one, which at the moment feels a little dorky to me, perhaps because I've grown so used to an all-black ensemble), handing out candy to the kiddies.

It'll be interesting to see how many of them show up at my door dressed as the Caped Crusader this year. Funny how, in this era of annual superhero blockbuster movies, there's a continual cycling in and out of characters: Spider-Man's come around twice already, but will probably take a back seat to Bats this year--only to return yet again when his third movie comes out. I'd love to find an adult Mr. Incredible this season, padding or no padding, but I kind of doubt it'll happen. And it would have been cool if the Fantastic Four movie had done better, if only so I'd get to see kids burst into flames on my doorstep, or ring the bell, then go invisible--but no, wait, they do that already.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

My kind of Australian crawl

It's true, I am much more of a BatFan than a SupermanFan, but I couldn't resist a quick peek at From there I moved on to this Kevin Spacey fan site, which contains a tantalizing Newsweek article providing a behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of the new movie. Well, the tantalizing part is this little opening snippet:

Inside a soundstage in Sydney, Australia, Brandon Routh, as the Man of steel, crawls across a black, wet wasteland, pursued by the evil Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) and Luthor’s three henchmen. One of the thugs grabs Superman by his hair and shoves his face into a dark puddle, holding the hero’s head underwater as he struggles for air. Luthor strides up behind Superman, stabs him in the back with some sort of Kryptonite shiv and whispers a sentence so horrifying (and, for now, top secret) into his ear that Superman cries out in agony. He staggers to his feet, stumbles and topples backward over a cliff.

You should know that I happen to find Mr. Spacey one of the cutest actors on the planet, and the thought of him reducing Superman to tears is almost too hot to mention. (The new supersuit looks mighty fine, too, and the article closes with an amusing discussion of the star's bulge.) Thank goodness for the handy countdown on the Blue Tights site: as of this writing, the premiere of Superman Returns is a mere 8 months, 14 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes, and 26 seconds away--

--no, make that 25 seconds. Can't you just feel the excitement?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Faster than a speeding Winnebago

What's up with all the superhero-mobiles on the streets of Gotham City lately?
First came the Spiderman vehicle. Now it's Superman's pickup truck:

Apologies for the crappy photo, but I took it from behind the wheel of a moving Batmobile--the risks I take for you, dear reader!--and I didn't get a very good look at it myself. Not quite as decked out as the SpideyMobile, but the imagery continued on the side doors and perhaps on the hood.

For a split second I thought it was some sort of marketing stunt, this proliferation of moving advertisements, but then I remembered that DC and Marvel have different owners. Perhaps it's really just a bunch of guys (MUST be guys--what woman would be caught dead in such a thing?) who have enough disposable income at this point in their lives to carry out their childhood dreams? (Hmmm, sounds familiar--except that I've only managed to net the bucks for the outfits, not the wheels. Besides, I was never much of a car geek; no batmobile is half as hot as the man who drives it. I have been known to sprout wood at the sight of a police car or motorcycle, but, again, that has more to do with anticipation of the driver within.)

The funniest thing about the SuperTruck is the very notion of the Man of Steel behind the wheel. If you can fly (or, for that matter, spin a web), what the hell do you need this thing for? I know, I know: helping Lois move. Again.

Any super-mobile sightings of your own? Post 'em here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Lycra Lovers Alert

If you're anything like me (and the fact that you've found this blog suggests we have a fetish or two in common), then you just may have a taste for tight-fitting superhero-style clothing (even if you don't quite have the body for it). For my money, UnderArmour is the second skin of choice--and if that sounds like the beginning of a commercial, read on.

One of the things I like about UA, beyond the obvious, is the fact their logos tend to be in places where they can easily be covered up with a cape or cowl. Wearing branded apparel, as they call it, on the field of battle reminds me a bit too much of that running gag in the movie Mystery Men about the costumed crimefighters suited up with more logos than Nascar drivers. True, the Nike swoosh does looks like it would suit some superpowered fellow quite nicely, and I've convinced myself that the UA logo over the right breast of my red tunic is a modified Robin "R," but it's all a bit unseemly.

The biggest problem with UA's stuff is how ludicrously expensive the best of it is. I can't justify paying $60 for a clingy, stretchy top I would never ever wear outside the privacy of my own batcave. (Okay, I confess I have dropped that much, or nearly that much, for an item or two, but I don't feel good about it.) And years of research have taught me that end-of-season clearance sales are hard to come by. They don't seem to phase out one line for another one and pass the savings along to the consumer, unfortunately.

That's why I was surprised and delighted to find that my local T. J. Maxx currently has a healthy stock of UA tops and tights at the moment. I don't know if individual stores tend to carry the same items at the same time or not, but I suspect they do, and it's worth a stop-by to find out. (Obligatory non-adlike comment: the stores are frequently a mess, with clothes strewn all over the place or on the wrong rack, etc.) I feel a bit like Tammy Faye plugging the Maxx, but I wouldn't want you to miss out.

On the other hand, this does leave bitchy supervillains with a new dis: "Where'd ya get your outfit, Captain Amazing? T. J. Maxx?" On the other other hand, it strikes me that "T. J. Maxx" could be the name of one of those short-lived comics that you always find in the clearance bins. "We can't let the Price Gouger get away with this--to the cash register, Checkout Girl!"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Knightfall 21: Here we go again

The long gap between updates on the Monk saga does not mean, sadly, that he's out of my life. Would that that were true! No, just because the Joker doesn't show up in every issue of Detective, it doesn't mean he's not still out there, plotting his next nefarious move.

The Monk's most recent move in our ongoing saga has been to sit and wait for me to come calling--and I've done so, I'm appalled to admit, more and more often in recent weeks. I've realized that the main "drug" in his arsenal is adrenaline: I get one charge when I venture out into his presence, and a second, larger one when he contacts me. I invariably come back to my senses after a few seconds of repartee, but each time I risk recapture... and each time it seems to get harder to make my exit before it's too late.

Obviously, there's a big part of me that wants to be caught (you can guess which literal body part I'm referring to). There's something extremely seductive for me about the chain of events that leads from initial failure to imprisonment to helplessness to utter submission. I've already lived through that cycle once with the Monk, and I can't deny that it evoked some powerful sensations for me.

In the process, by the way, I came into contact with lots of other superheroes. Some sought me out through these entries-- and I'm still always delighted to meet fellow travellers that way, BTW--while others I met when M would assign me to help him break them. In almost every case, I discovered that they shared my appetite for destruction at the hands of an unbeatable adversary. Not always to the same degree as me--though some would happily go even farther than I ever did.

Many of these heroes wanted to be able to control the details of their downfall: to come and go from captivity as they pleased; to decorate their cells according to their own desires, as it were. And lord knows there are times when I long for one single afternoon of surrender to my nemesis, after which I could pack up my mask and cape and be on my way. But the deal is, it doesn't work that way: the Monk will be satisfied with nothing less than my complete and irreversible elimination from the ranks of herodom. He vowed, long ago, that he would own me "mind, body, and soul," and there is no time-share option in a proposition like that.

One of the tactics he uses, shared by other nefarious types, is the gentle approach: to encourge me to relax, let my defenses go, and just surrender to the feeling of safety in his presence. Every time I hear this line (and I've employed it on numerous occasions in solo sessions), I want so badly to give in; I usually kick myself later for not doing so, foolish though it would be. But every time, something prevents me from letting go. I stand my ground--even when I feel myself sinking into quicksand.

And that's where I stand right this very minute: aware that I'm in danger of sinking, but not quite over my head just yet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The imagination of disaster: 4 (The punisher)

Listening to this NPR program devoted to the life of Simon Wiesenthal, I couldn't help thinking of this legendary man as a real-life superhero.

Lord knows he's got the right back story: an unspeakable tragedy early on (including death of relatives) compels him to devote the remainder of his life to tracking down criminals and bringing them to justice, a somewhat controversial task he performs tirelessly, sacrificing any and all creature comforts, for decades. He generally works with the police, and always on the same side as them, but sometimes their negligence forces him to resort to other means. He's even got a nifty superhero moniker: "The Deputy."

With his story in mind, I get on an even deeper level the point made in Cavalier and Clay and several recent nonfiction histories of comic books, about the close ties between the Holocaust and the origins of the superhero genre. Many of these books, as we know, were the creations of Jewish immigrants.

They fought their battles in the realm of imagination. Wiesenthal fought his in the daylight world.

Me, I'm thankful to both for making my own life a better one.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The imagination of disaster: 3 (The real and the fantastic)

The Hub and I finally made it to Fantastic Four tonight. Both of us were mighty glad we waited till it was at the cheap joint. As H said, "The only good thing about that movie was the costumes." And, yes, it was mighty refreshing to see spandex-clad superheroes actually clad in spandex, or something resembling it (though I also enjoyed the shots of bare-chested Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans).

But this isn't really a post about the movie; it's really a post about what was on the TV in the Mexican restaurant where we ate before the movie: an episode of America's Most Wanted about the "Erie Collar Bomber" who snapped an explosive device on a pizza delivery guy and ordered him to rob a bank, back in 2003. Amazingly enough, I don't recall hearing anything about the case at the time, though the Hub did. (Well, he is in law enforcement.) We couldn't make out most of the narrative over the Mexi-muzak in the restaurant, but we pieced together as much as possible, and then I looked up more online on the way to the movie.

Suffice to say that Fantastic Four could not possibly compete with the Pizza Bomber when it comes to mind-blowing adventure--spandex or no spandex. Turns out several people at the time of the crime in question (like this one and several of these) had the same thought I did: that this whole thing is straight out of a comic book. Joker? Riddler? Clock King? The Puzzler? Could be just about any of 'em...

For the record, the collar bomber/pizza bomber saga also reminds me of this almost equally bizarre (and equally comic-book-like) saga of an online gaming guy and the artists who essentially stalked him as an art project. Once again, an "innocent" bystander is plucked out of his daily routine and plunged into a surreal adventure involving false pretenses, clues, challenges, and the like--only this time the game is not a deadly one (and the "victim" lives to tell the tale in his own words, too).

I find both of these strange tales utterly fascinating, in much the same way that my own bat-adventures with the Monk and various other quasi-fictional but still-real characters blur the lines between fantasy and something more tangible. (Inevitable disclaimer: just as I don't want to end up the prey of a cannibal, I am not interested in tangling with actual master criminals, either.)

Could it be that, as real life feels more and more scripted and predictable, deviations from that script--deviations that resemble actual comic-book-movie scripts--are what keep us going?

Monday, September 19, 2005

The imagination of disaster: 2 (Heroes without tights)

At the risk of trivializing real-life tragedy, I've thought of a few ways that several characters in my "Beginnings" serial will be affected by the Katrina disaster. It's been one of my goals to incorporate real-time events in that story, and this seems like one I can't ignore. (Actually, I've been planning this for a couple of weeks--ever since I heard a real-life friend of mine talk about his plans to lend a hand--but I've been too busy in the daylight world to add any new chapters. Sorry about that. Promise I'll make up for lost time.)

But that's only fiction. In our real, daylight lives, it seems to me that each of us--make-believe heroes and villains alike--have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help our fellow citizens in need. That can take any number of forms, many of which have little to do with costumed crimefighting. I am thinking of not only the people heading down to the Gulf Coast to provide direct assistance, but individuals like...

These two otherwise hilarious gossip-crazed bloggers, who maintain a growing list of Katrina-related charities of all sizes that you may wish to support. It's the best-organized, most coherent, most appealing such list I've seen so far.

This ad-hoc group, holed up in a building with their own generator in downtown New Orleans since the hurricane hit and issuing regular reports, publishing photos and videos of things you probably haven't seen on TV, etc. The earliest entries are the most comic-book-like; I haven't quite pegged the political sentiment of these guys, but at the peak of the crisis they seemed to be functioning like a cross between Sgt. Rock/Blackhawk/GI Joe and some kind of vigilante/survivalist group. Much talk of command stations and patrols and such.

This woman, whose name happens to be Katrina, and who happened to own the "" domain before all the shit went down, who has subsequently turned her personal site into a clearinghouse for information since she's getting zillions of hits everyday anyway. (Though I gotta say, I just visited the site a few minutes ago for the first time in a week or so, and it appears she's gone pretty heavily into the god-and-country stuff lately. But hey--Wonder Woman's all about the red, white, and blue, too, right?)

These folks may not wear spandex (well, not that I know of, anyway), but they look like heroes to me, in a time that desperately needs us all to assume that role in our own idiosyncratic ways.

If you can think of any more examples, please add them in a comment!

Friday, September 16, 2005

I'm getting TENSE just thinking about it...

Hooray for the new Google Blog Search, which reveals almost 232,000 blog entries containing the word "Batman." The first of these that caught my eye was this one, consisting largely of scans from a bat-book I'd never heard of: Joe Casey's 2003 two-parter, Tenses. I also found a review of it here. At first I thought it was some sort of fan-generated thing, since it's evidently got graphic violence, S/M references, and gay subtext up the, uh, yin-yang.

Wait, did I say "subtext"? One of the supporting characters is a nosy reporter who is clearly, unmistakably queer, and assumes Bruce Wayne is, too. (BTW, I would clearly, unmistakably want to have sex with the journalist if I encountered him in real life.)

In one of the bitchy queen's later encounters with Our Hero, the flirtation becomes overt, and Bruce doesn't exactly handle it too well.

Looks like textbook homophobia, if you ask me, Bruce--and if you do, I'll say this whole School-of-George-Sanders-style 'mo subplot reeks of something out of some 60s/70s crime film of the sort chronicled at length in The Celluloid Closet. But hey, I'm totally intrigued by what I've read about this book. Anybody out there read it and care to comment?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The imagination of disaster: 1

Like many of you, I spent most of last week glued to the tv and heart-rending websites like this one absorbing all I can about the catastrophe in New Orleans. That city will always occupy a special place in my heart, and everything feels even more (sur)real because for several years the Hub and I headed down there on Labor Day weekend for Southern Decadence. (BTW, you'll be intrigued to learn that the rain of destruction visited upon that poor city is actually God's punishment for Decadence, according to this fucked-up web page. On the bright side, it seems a dozen or so Quarter residents held the parade after all.)

Any time something globally awful happens (9/11, the tsunami disaster, etc.), it seems trivial, if not downright offensive, to continue talking about superheroes. On the other hand, I can't help finding comic-book parallels to real-life events as a way to comprehend the otherwise incomprehensible. Such events aren't really "unimaginable," given how vividly they have been imagined in horror and fantasy fiction for decades. Osama bin Laden is nothing if not a member of the Legion of Doom, and the horrors of New Orleans (flooding, looting, fires, mass casualties, the apparent neglect of the federal government) keep bringing me back to the earthquake that turned Gotham City into a lawless zone a couple of years back during that whole "No Man's Land" saga that I didn't really follow too closely.

In other words, fictional worlds give us ways to envision disasters in the real one. "It's just like a movie" has been the recurring response to both 9/11 and Katrina. I have more to say about this, but I'll save it for a future post.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"The natural shape of the bat man": Turning Japanese, I really think so...

Hey, if you know Japanese you might want to visit the four sites listed in this Animania Blog entry on "Batman Doujinshi". The entry itself is in English, and explains (in a slightly sketchy way) that there are evidently printed slash comics circulating around Japan which involve American characters in compromising situations.

The Animania blogger recommends writing the Japanese sites in English and asking for info. Or you can do what I did, and submit the URLs to a Babelfish translation. The only problem is, when I did, I ended up with ... babble, as these tantalizing quasi-random excerpts illustrate. (The first image goes with the first excerpt; the rest I just find interesting and/or sexy.)

(At last: proof positive that Batman is a Friend of Dorothy!)

1. It is the serious story "of BATMAN." You speak a word from SONIC of the author: "Square Crowe is present. Pursuing the suitable good quality which we is thought, it tried drawing. Please try reading by all means."
Notice: * Note! Sound comes out.*

Don't you hate it when the sound comes out? Okay, moving right along... Not sure what Spiderman is doing at Arkham Asylum, but here he is:

2. "The cameraman who knows the natural shape of the bat man Is, but the photograph does not become the article.As for the cameraman story the which keeps facing to the residence of blues in attaching" … "The extent where when the thinking to we BATMAN does not be plugged too much being plugged, it increases…"

3. It made with the purpose which introduces, you call generally known propagation or, it is the brainwashing book. - it is in the person who knows main part with the contents which are said (?) Being to be, it does, but by some chance, the where one by one interpretation bears difference so! Whether with there is new discovery! (It is not or......)
As for contents the character explanation which it is related to is main. If possible you tried the multitude to introduce however it is, introducing, () pulled out improbable delightfully cruelly. Don't you think? - , for example... is! ! However only the costume it comes out, you drew knight wing what which has love. In addition, you drew in one evening of impact, (the ear, time it was not truly and, the picture material becoming firm, you could not use and), it consists 4 scene cartoons and the like. "Return of the Joker" topic possession.

Ah, the Brainwashing Book. Always a fave. This next cover has a DC logo on it, so I'm guessing it might be something official, but something about it seems suspect to me:

Damn, I loves me a good babelfish!

Friday, September 02, 2005

Bat-links, get your bat-links (and one Cap'n America)

These are all odds and ends I've found over the last few days during occasional breaks from unending immersion in the unending horrors currently unfolding in New Orleans (more on that in a later entry). They're all kinda random and kinda interconnected at the same time.

1. I found this extremely handy collection of reviews of Batman (and related) graphic novels, trade paperbacks, etc. while doing one of my characteristically kinky Google searches. (I forget the keywords in question this time, but seeing what emerges from combinations like "Batman+bondage+deathtrap" has long been one of my favorite uses of the world's greatest search engine.) There's nothing even remotely R-rated about this particular page, it just looks like a potentially valuable tool for sorting through the vast array of bat-books on the shelves these days.

2. The same Google search, whatever it was, also yielded this exhaustive Wikipedia entry on slash and fan fiction which should be of interest and use to all who share my close and personal connection to certain masked manhunters.

3. Speaking of which, the world always has room for another Seduction of the Innocent joke...

4.and for another gender-transgressive kid-related Batman reference in another indie comic. A Beaucoup Kevin find. Merci beaucoup, Kevin, indeed!

5. Shifting from sex to politics, here's an interesting collection of links to several reviews and think-pieces arguing that Batman Begins (and/or the title character) has an essentially conservative agenda. (BTW, a neighbor I had a crush on during the Dark Knight Returns era was on the cutting edge of this Batman-as-right-winger notion; as he saw it, the bat mythos glorifies the fabulously wealthy individual who vows to rid his city of crime. I hate to read it that way myself, but then as we know, I do have a soft spot in my heart--or a hard spot somewhere else--for sexy Republican dudes, even though, like Claire Fisher, I detest their politics.)

6. Perhaps I will remember to devote more attention to this one in that upcoming New Orleans post, but in case I forget or it doesn't fit, here's another fruit of that same Google expedition: a student term paper on Batman and postmodernism.The bulk of the essay is a fairly detailed history of the character as he has evolved over time and across genres. The postmodern part is iffy in the way most student term papers tend to be when juxtaposing fun pop culture and dreary critical theory, but I also found a lot of eye-opening stuff I may quote in future entries on various bat-subjects.

Finally, as promised, the non-Bat-related link:
7. I also have Beaucoup Kevin to thank for my discovery of this cartoon that proposes a government-sponsored Captain America clone used to create low-budget patriotic cartoons in the Vietnam era. If you liked Team America as much as I did, you'll dig this, too.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The love that dare not show its face

Shhhhhhh: Don't tell anyone, but the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder just might be an item. This tidbit in THE BEAT describes the saga of a Chelsea art dealer slapped with a cease-and-desist from DC over artist Mark Chamberlain's homoerotic watercolors of the dynamic duo. Touchy, touchy. Wouldn't want anybody thinking dirty thoughts about those two, you know.

Wanna see more? Some lovely samples of Chamberlain's work are posted here, at least for the time being. Better look fast: another cease-and-desist has already gone out to shut the page down.

Turns out I'm several months late to pick up on this one (as is my wont--I am not one of those bloggers who insists on breaking news). Here's a lengthy thread of comments at Stay Free's blog, starting with one particularly homophobic rant and then veering off in various directions. And, just in case you want it, here's the rabid rght wing take.

(Special bonus link, just for the hell of it: this collection of Ambiguously Gay Duo-dads. Oh, and while we're at it, here's a raunchy little slash comic DC will hate even more than those watercolors. Collect 'em all, till the comics police crack down on copyright infringement yet again.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Running it up the flagpole

Just noticed that both this blog and my "Beginnings" story now have a little "Flag?" button in their navigation bars. According to this page from Blogger central, it looks like that means I'm sort of on Double Secret Probation. Apparently if several people complain now (if they click on the flag, in other words), then the sites won't (necessarily) be removed, they'll just be made private instead of public. (FYI, if they do ever disappear, head to my main site, which has a different host and should theoretically be able to stick around--though even its days may well be numbered.)

Nice guy that I am, I hate to think that people would take offense at this very personal project of mine, which is so NOT about porn in the conventional sense--but then again, I acknowledge it's not appropriate for everyone. It was never intended to be--I want to reach a relatively small number of like-minded fellow travellers--but I'd like to be able to reach the ones I don't already know, not just the handful I do.

Here I must put in another plug for the notion that maybe our culture shouldn't spend so much time child-proofing the known universe--that maybe we need a little genuinely "adult" subject matter every now and then (and a workable way to screen out the wee ones). As I never tire of saying, if something like the internet had existed when I was an adolescent to let me know that there were other people in the world turned on by something other than pretty people of the opposite sex, I bet I could have spared myself a couple decades of self-loathing.

Put it this way: if we gear everything to the under-5, then we end up with... a country whose leaders think like children, too. But I digress.

I've got a secret

Given my interest in anonymity, I was pretty interested to find out about PostSecret, a site that allows people to divulge any long-held secret they want. It works like this: you create a postcard and include whatever message you want to convey, then snailmail it to the webmaster. (Must make for some fun at the post office.) Most of the cards on the site are terrific mini-artworks in themselves. Some of the confessions are funny ("I always pee in hot tubs"), others are much darker ("My dad used to beat me and call it spanking"). I keep hoping for a secret involving costumes or comics, but nothing yet.

Then again, maybe I"ll just send one in myself. Or maybe you will. Whattaya say?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Send in the Cavalry

In countless entries here, I've talked about comic books as my favorite form of porn. Probably my second favorite form is police supply catalogs, and I just saw one I must recommend to fellow pervs: the U. S. Cavalry catalog, which you can request through their site (which also contains merchandise you can order online, including sale items).

(The current cover is a lot more enticing, but I don't have an image of it. Trust me.)

For the record, the all-time best catalog is still Gall's (and I have links to others on my site), but U. S. Cavalry is pretty hot. I doubt I'll ever have the nerve (or disposable income) to purchase most of the best goodies from any of them, but it's fun to browse them all the same. Unlike the comics, however, there's a real-world dimension to this stuff that is of course disturbing, both conceptually (actual people buy and use these things in very dangerous situations) and politically (lots o' War on Terror ideology; check out the essay on "Fourth Epoch War," for instance).

But hey, by now I'm pretty comfortable with that level of discomfort. How 'bout you? Do your politics and your passions ever intersect? How do you handle it when they do?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

To the Spider-mobile!

I used to think I was over the top in terms of Adult Superhero Fixation. Then I came across this car in a parking lot today:

My photos don't really do it justice. You can't see the webwork on the hood, for instance. Here, let's take a better look at the passenger door:

You may be able to make out the Spidey decal in the window, but you can't see the action figures hanging from the rear view mirror and ceiling, or the special Spidey-themed steering wheel cover, or the multitude of other details.

I can only hope the driver comes equipped with the appropriate costume. If so, I'll have to pull my batmobile up next to him for a little hero-on-hero action.

(Disclaimer: Alas, I own no such vehicle. But I do have a friend with a remarkably detailed Batmobile and an arsenal of pricey batarangs from the earlier movies. He was even thinking about installing a batpole in his house until his lover put his foot down.)

Ah, adulthood: if you hold onto those adolescent fantasies long enough, you can earn the disposable income to make them come true!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Batman and Bat-buddy

Thanks, Dorian at (, for the image of the day.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Knightfall 20: Unchained melody

I'm starting this entry with yet another image from Jekyll and Hyde--in this case, the cover of issue #3, which is the must-get if you're not really interested in the story and only want the good stuff--ie, Bats in captivity from cover to cover.

I'm including it here because:
*I forgot I had it earlier,
*it's really hot, and
*both the image and the issue bring back memories of my time in the Monk's clutches.

In the comic (and I guess you can consider this a SPOILER ALERT), Two-Face has captured our hero and poisoned him with a compound designed to unleash his inner monster--his "Hyde" side, if you will. While waiting for the drug to take effect, TF addresses his captive:

I'm not talking to Batman--I want to talk to the other one: the one that hides beneath the leather mask. The good man--your daytime persona. Your Henry Jekyll. A man with a secret he can hardly contain. A man who lives in plain sight and wishes more than all the world that he could run away from it. ... The good, honest man is just your daytime face--that's the real mask you wear. The man in the black leather mask who skulks in the shadows is your true persona... You don't have to keep it inside. Whatever it is that holds you back, let it go. ... Don't struggle. This is all perfectly natural... It will only hurt until you accept the truth. You're no one else--you're only Batman.

All of that reminds me of the way the Monk coaxed me into his control (except, of course, that once he had me there, he replaced the name "Batman" with "Ratman"). I reached a point when it simply became too difficult to keep up the balancing act between the part of me that wanted to surrender to him (Hyde) and the part that wanted to fight back (Jekyll). Rather than tear myself apart, I let my Hyde side take over completely.

And then, a few months ago, I simply snapped out of it. Came back to my senses, and broke free. I wish I could claim I'm completely back to my old self, but that would be a lie. As one of my crimefighting colleagues points out, I may have to struggle with this for the rest of my life. It seems instead that I'm truly changed--I've been to the bottom and come back to the surface, and nothing can removed what I learned (and what I did) while I was down there. Put it this way: now that I've been utterly humiliated, I've learned a thing or two about humility. If you're following my serial story, you know that the Batman there is also dealing with the lingering consequences of being broken by an enemy, although his recovery is taking a rather different form.

I was back in contact with the Monk for a few weeks recently--including one phone conversation, when my personal storyline suggested that I had no other choice--and held my ground each time. Lately, though, there's been not a word from him. Nothing. If you ask him, he'll insist that he's written me off because I've disobeyed him (shunning is one of his favorite methods of punishing adversaries he's pissed off at), but my version of the saga is a little different.

From my perspective (and, as always, I can't write openly about all this because I know he reads these accounts), his silence has provided me with exactly the opening I needed in order to further clear my head of his influence. Getting him out of my system is akin to getting over a relationship which has ended, or recovering after the death of a loved one: it takes time, more than anything, and the silent treatment has bought me more of that at last. A part of me is ready to move on (to see other bad guys, as it were), and of course another part longs for the days of captivity and subservience.

I take that all-too-familiar inner struggle as a sign of progress: it means I have my Jekyll side back again. The other day (after months being otherwise engaged and unable to suit up on a regular basis) I put the batsuit back on and spent a nice long time in it, reflecting on what I've been through and where I'm headed next. One thing was abundantly clear: no matter what other yeanings I may experience from time to time, a part of me is and always will be the good guy in the leather mask, fighting the good fight. I carry a part of my childhood hero with me at my core. I may be other things as well, but on a very deep level I am Batman... and always will be. While I doubt I've seen the last of the Monk, I count that revelation as a victory.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stranger in a Strange Land

I visited a new (to me) comic book store in the hinterlands outside Gotham this afternoon. The classic scenario: all male, geek central, lots of insider talk about specific issues of specific comics and how there were problems with the color separation or some such, followed by some sort of misogynstic rant about somebody's wife. All very, very loud. Everybody seemed to know everybody, except me, of course, and I wanted to keep it that way.

Even though I am now a paragon of well-adjusted perversion, I still get a bit self-conscious in this setting. Deep down, I still feel like I'm visiting a porn store, albeit one whose contents don't hold the same charge for the other customers. I can't get past the feeling that if I were a "normal" 45-year-old, I either wouldn't be in the store in the first place, or I'd have graduated long ago from the superhero comics to the indies. And it's true, I always make a point of lingering in that section of any store for a while, partly out of genuine interest and partly as a cover for my true motive, which is invariably to check out what kinky situations my #1 hero has gotten himself into lately. I truly wish I could relax a bit more in these stores--I mean, god knows the other 45-year-old who inhabit them are just as weird as I am, and none of us are probably all that weird deep down--but it's just some kind of reflex action.

A store employee eventually asked if I wanted anything, and I got all nervous and fumbly, said I was "just looking," then decided my half hour of browsing was up, grabbed the debut of Frank Miller & Jim Lee's All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder," as the vanilla cover to what I was really there for: the first 4 issues of the 6-part Batman: Jekyll & Hyde. A tip o' the cowl to my online pal LycraMan for not only encouraging me to seek this one out, but passing along some sample panels to explain why:

(You will notice, as LycraMan did, that Batman's cowl fits so snugly in this one that you can actually see his ear, which is a rarety in the comics, and one we'd both like to see more often.) Then there's this delightful taunt...

and finally, one of my favorite villainous threats: the ever-enticing "I won't unmask him, I'll make it so bad for him that he removes the damned thing himself"...

From what I've seen so far, this mini-series ranks up there with the much-reviled Batman: The Cult (and the less well-known but highly recommended The Last Arkham trade paperback) in fetish appeal. If you share my taste in bat-ventures, this one is worthy of braving the trip to your own local geeketeria. (There, I've just alienated all the healthy, well-adjusted adult readers of comics who may read my blog from time to time. Sorry, guys.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Another missed opportunity

Damn, it's National Night Out again--tonight!--and my schedule is so damn full I can't do much more than post the link here and hope that my fellow cop fetishists make their way to a police station nearby for punch, cookies, and maybe more. If you do, send me the pix and I'll thank you profusely.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Knightfall 19: Walking on a wire

Two months have passed since my last Monk update, and almost three months since my "escape" from his clutches, so you'd be forgiven for assuming that that particular chapter of my batlife is over. In fact, I even thought for a while about renaming this series of reports something more optimistic, since I wasn't feeling particularly "fallen" anymore.

As it turns out, though, I am still prone to relapses from time to time. Had a close call with near-disastrous results around Memorial Day, which strengthened my resolve for a month or so, and then last week I felt the strong desire to put myself in M's path again. Can't say that impulse has quite left me yet. (As always, I'm mindful that M is a regular reader of this blog, so I can't reveal too much about specific strategies here.) I keep expecting--hoping for?--a phone call or some other invasion of my space. Suffice to say I'm torn--yet again--between the desire to be a free man and a strong hero, and the yearning to submit to the depths of degredation. M is well aware of this ambivalence and exploits it at every possible opportunity.

It occured to me the other day that the overt antagonism between the two of us is something that distinguishes our fantasy relationship from the conventional master/slave dynamic (and, yeah, I'm aware of how odd that phrase sounds), at least as I understand that. When I see men on leashes wielded by other men in leather bars, I assume the leashees are there by choice, not because they've been captured, held against their will, stripped of all their secrets, and transformed into something they abhor. (That list of abuses belongs in quotes, of course; in earlier entries here I've described my superhero-downfall saga as being "consensually non-consensual," or words to that effect. I know full well this is all a game, but I do put my whole self into the playing of it, which often entails fighting back as hard as I can.)

Built into the Monk/Bat saga is the notion that I don't want to be defeated by my mortal enemy, that what has happened to me is a degredation, an obscenity. And throughout the events of the last year or so I've noticed that when I'm not in contact with M I long to be, but the minute I actually encounter him, I don't feel particularly good about it. It's an intense feeling, to be sure, and enormously enlightening, but I can't say it's a happy one. I don't enjoy, at least not in the conventional sense, being the servant of another man, being the bad guy, the loser... but those fantasies are still very strong for me. As I've noted before, I generally feel most vulnerable to M during periods when my daylight-world self esteem is low, or simply when I'm feeling drained. Fleeing him was accompanied by an upswing in my mood--I felt good about myself again because I'd broken free of him, and I was probably able to break free because I felt good. Lately the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction again, so it's no surprise that I feel the familiar pull of the gloating nemesis who gives voice to the very things I'm so used to telling myself about myself.

It's often said that art comes from pain and unhappiness, and it's true that stories about happy people are usually not very interesting. So the question becomes: is it better to be a happy person with no story to tell, or a miserable one with fascinating adventures?

Thursday, June 30, 2005


I have Johnny Bacardi to thank for calling my attention to part one of Logan Polk's handy dandy recap of Batman's onscreen adventures from the serials to the new movie. Needless to say, I don't agree with every single thing Polk says, but it's a nice summary, supplemented with reviews of some recent comics.

The line that caught my eye was the one where Polk notes that Warner Bros. is preparing special-edition DVDs of the 2 Tim Burton movies. I had a funny feeling something like this was up when I started noticing the boxed set of those 2 plus the 2 Schumacher films (which--heresy alert!--I don't actually hate as much as the rest of the universe does) priced to move at Target, Media Play, and elsewhere, presumably as a tie-in with the new film. I've had my eye on the box ever since I started seeing it going for 30 bucks or so, but I'd been holding off because there are next to no bonus features. Now I guess I'll wait, or buy the 2 Schumachers at the current sale prices (though those should be pretty easy to find even cheaper, given their notoriety).

Oh, and lookie here: from the Google ads accompanying Polk's article I also found this compedium of New York Times coverage of the caped crusader--including another critical retrospective, this one a spiffy multimedia bonanza narrated by critic Manohla Dargis. Enjoy. Maybe I will, too, someday--though I tend to spend more time posting links than actually pursuing them myself, these days.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Technology triumphs at last

Hey, wow, can I really post images here now for the first time? If so, let the games begin with a couple of mementoes shot earlier today:


A little blurry, yes, but I took them on my phone (god, I love the 21st century), on the sly, and in a great hurry. Poorly cropped butt shots don't really bother me, and I hope they won't bug you, either.

Dear friends, we stand on the verge of a new era in H&V history. Such treaures I have in store for you in the days and months ahead...

Charge of the Bat Brigade

I happened to catch Adam West discussing Batman Begins on G4/TechTV's increasingly annoying Attack of the Show. (Come back, Patrick and Leo, we miss you!) I don't have the energy to find out if a clip is available online, but here's a discussion of the segment on AOTS's blog. In his generally positive review of the new film, Mr. West (who is certainly starting to show his age) says the kinds of things he usually says, which is comforting, I guess, and there's some tomfoolery involving the interviewer suiting up and fighting (don't ask why) a cute, nontraditional Superman (by which I mean a guy who looks nothing like the usual Superman but totally like someone I would sleep with, particularly if he had that outfit on).

There's also plug for a Batman Credit Card, which is indeed available at, though it's not quite what you might expect, and probably not worth $25. Oh, and one of the show's hosts makes a reference to reading some fan fiction online, which strikes me as noteworthy for some reason.

It's weird: the humor on the '66 TV series was truly sublime, and yet pretty much every time in the intervening decades that someone has had West appear on a talk show to discuss the program, they feel obliged to emulate/parody/salute the series in some way that totally misses the mark. A friend of mine says he learned post-modernism by watching Bullwinkle; for me it was the '66 Batman (and Green Acres) and Bullwinkle, of course) and it's just irritating to watch such subtle, self-reflexive wit transformed into such corny, broad, embarassing crap.

On the other hand, don't think for a second that that's gonna stop me from eventually purchasing my very own DVD copy of Return to the Batcave, which may be a perfect example of what I've just complained about but which features some delightful footage of hottie Jack Brewer as a young Adam W. trying on the batsuit for the very first time. I don't mind cringing at a bad bat-homage when it's accompanied by something like that.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Super readers, double agents, and other "guilty" pleasures

Here's an interesting article on modern-day superhero comics from the Boston Phoenix by Douglas Wolk from a few months back. Lots of sensible observations, mainly about the way that the readership of comics has aged and grown more sophisticated over the years, leading to the rise of the "super reader"--the kind who gets all the inside jokes and external references in every issue of, say, Superman. Superhero comics now cater to these readers, which means you have to know all kinds of backstory in order to follow a storyline. (Wolk theorizes that this explains the recent popularity of translated manga among American kids: stories that stand alone, no baggage you're expected to know from the outset, etc.)

In a sidenote, he mentions a book I don't know but want to check out: Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips’s Sleeper, which he describes this way: "superhero joins the villains’ team as a double agent and becomes so morally compromised that he no longer knows what side he’s on." My favorite theme! Anybody know this one?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Batz & Robinson

A few days ago I got an e-mail from a guy who's been reading BEGINNINGS and has started his own serial in blog form, called DETECTIVE'S LOG. The story is just getting started, but it's clear that he's doing with the hard-boiled/pulp genre what I try to do with my favorite superhero: creating a new version that includes the scenes we (as horny gay readers) have always wanted to see in them.

This is a particular treat for me, because (shifiting for a moment to the film adaptations of these stories) I'd much rather see Humphrey Bogart get it on with, say, Dick Powell than Lauren Bacall. I love film noir (and the novels of Cain and Chandler) mostly for aesthetic/cerebral/intellectual reasons, but I admit that the men tend to be pretty manly (with plenty of that five o'clock shadow that I've rambled on about before) and there's a good chance in lots of the films that the anti-hero will eventually find himself knocked out, tied up, and messed around with in some vaguely Batmanish manner. The relationship in DETECTIVE'S LOG between the "boss-man" and his sidekick/"Boy Friday" (as well as their names, indicated in the subject line above) explicitly refers to Batman and Robin, too.

If you like that gritty, smoke-filled, black-and-white world--and the lingo of the pulps--then you might just wanna get in on the ground floor of DETECTIVE'S LOG.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The reviews are in...

Okay, so I saw You Know What tonight. And I kept finding the insatiable bat-fetishist in me getting brushed aside by the trend-tracking sociologist. Here's the instant response--and I guess I should insert a spoiler alert here, although I don't think I'm giving away anything major:

1. Damn, is that thing LONG. I was convinced four hours had gone by--three, easy. (Surprise: it's just over two.) Given how much the filmmakers have taken on (Bruce's missing years, complicated gangster saga, multiple villains, etc), I don't see how they could do it in any less time or any faster (those cuts in the combat sequences are migh-tee fast as it is), but it just seemed to go on and on. (I had the same complaint about the second Spider-Man movie, which everybody else seemed to love, so maybe it's just my Attention Deficit Disorder actin' up or somethin'.)

2. Interesting, isn't it, how so many blockbusters these days strive for such epic sweep--and ask for such major investments of time and attention span from audiences, even though we keep hearing that nobody has much of either any more? And not only are individual films longish, they tend to be single installments in trilogies (Star Wars, Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings, and now, apparently, Batman). Which actually works pretty well for modern-day comics, since--as in lots of recent TV series--storylines generally unfold in long, multi-issue arcs. (BTW, thank god some of the bad guys actually get away in this one; the tendency to kill them all off was my number one beef about the earlier batmovies. How can Batman be locked in lifelong struggle against an archenemy if the poor sap dies after two hours? Whatever happened to dragging them off to jail, only to have them escape a year or two later? That always worked well for me...)

3. Fun to watch the screenwriters weave together so many threads from various comics--not just the Year One and Long Halloween stories I figured would be there, but also The Last Arkham, elements of the R'as Al Ghul mythology, even a little of the texture (if not the actual plot) of the whole post-earthquake-Gotham-as-war-zone stuff from a few years ago. And hey, a shout out to Mr. Zsasz! (What, no naked body shot?) It's a giant hodgepodge, but somehow it works.

4. New suit: hot. (Still miss the spandex, but I guess we'll never ever see that in an official batfilm--though I notice the new Superman seems to be sportin' the lycra.) Wish we could see more of the outfit. But maybe that's what the next 2 movies (and the inevitable collector's-edition DVDs) are for. Side note: have you seen the accompanying toys? There's a utility belt I would kill for, if only it came in an adult size.

5. Speaking of kids, this really doesn't seem to be made for them, which suits me just fine. For starters, there's that length issue. But then the whole approach to the character is pretty adult--and it's ABOUT TIME.

6. Christian Bale: cute. May even replace Val Kilmer as sexiest movie Batman. But it's weird, having seen him as a little kid in Empire of the Sun not so very very long ago, to watch him play a character I've always taken to be older than me. It was one thing when I realized some of the movie Batmen were my age or slightly younger, but I'm not sure I can handle being closer to Alfred than Bruce.

7. The new car: silly. I like the basic idea, but when it starts leaping from rooftop to rooftop, and the only way in and out of the batcave is via a waterfall, we're talking Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, people. Might not bug me so much if the filmmakers didn't go on and on about how they've taken a realistic approach to the story. (The aforementioned chase sequence was the moment where I felt like the filmmakers had lost me. Though they got me back eventually, I guess.)

8. Bruce's spiritual quest: naturally I like this. Okay, so he's attended the School of Star Wars Philosophy, but it's still nice to see a film deal with this stuff. And I love the twist that it's Bruce himself (more than the criminals) who's afraid of bats.

9. Overall, a very successful job of relaunching the, ahem, franchise. (It always bugs me when folks discuss this as a revamp of the film series. This character has been around for over 70 years--in comics, newspapers, radio, serials, live-action tv, animation, etc. Making a new film about him is not exactly like doing a remake of The Dukes of Hazzard.) The new film is every bit as fresh a re-invention of the bat saga as the Tim Burton movies were, and I actually like it a lot more than those, even if it didn't quite blow me away the way I hoped it might.

10. Oh, yeah: I've already vented many times about my aversion to origin stories, but I must say, that aspect of BB didn't bother me too much. The basic strategy seems completely of a piece with the Star Wars prequels (which I didn't really like any less than episodes 4-6, since I didn't care for them too much to begin with): take a series of iconic characters and show, in sometimes painstaking detail, how they came into being. Everybody knows how the story is going to end, so the challenge is to make the journey something special. So the filmmakers get a chance to investigate aspects of the saga that aren't particularly essential to the narrative, but that still shed light on the larger story. In this era of DVD commentaries and bonus features (and special edition double-disc repackages of classic albums, for that matter), it's like the entire prequel is a bonus feature. That could easily be overkill, but this time it just doesn't bug me. It's safe to say that if this were the first time I encountered the Batman character, I'd still be intrigued.

11. Bonus: thank you, thank you, THANK you, Chris Nolan and company, for resisting the urge to have your characters spout wisecracks every few minutes. And I'm not just talking about the last two bat-films, by any means: for the last two decades or longer, EVERY big action film and horror film (and BB is a bit of both) has been plagued with this tendency, and it ruins many a movie for me. There are a few one-liners in BB, but they don't appear for at least an hour or so, and they're totally welcome, since the film is otherwise so relentlessly (and deliciously) sober and serious.

So that's my take. How about posting yours below?

Monday, June 20, 2005

Batwatch 2

Nope, I still haven't seen the new movie. (The only batfilm I've ever seen on opening night was the first Burton/Keaton one--although it's likely I was in a theater the night the 1966 movie hit my town; I just don't remember.) But I hear good things, and I'm sure I'll see it soon when I am just a teensy bit less busy. Feel free to post your own reactions to it here.

In the meantime, let me steer fellow batfans toward Entertainment Weekly's detailed collection of articles on the bat-phenomenon from the last few years.

Oh, and I thought I had already written something further here about NPR's heavy-duty coverage, which at last count included four stories in a two-day period (what, is the beleagured Corporation for Public Broadcasting now a subsidiary of Time-Warner?). Every one of those stories included the same soundbite from the film, in which the future Caped Crusader tells Alfred about his quest to stir people from their apathy, how as a mere man he can die, and how he therefore needs to transform himself into a symbol. Wow, Bruce Wayne must have taken the same semiotics courses I did--sounds like the making of an ACT UP member, circa 1988!

Speaking of those NPR stories, this interview with Frank Miller is particularly informative. And, yep, it includes the soundbite, too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


In case you're awaiting the new batmovie with bated breath, here's an interesting interview with Christian Bale from the NPR show Fresh Air. There's a bit at the end where he reveals he's not doing publicity in his actual Welsh accent so as not to call attention to his own nationality while playing an American icon--meaning his "American" voice becomes kind of a disguise of his own.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sympathy for the Devil

From a strictly fetishistic point of view--which is probably not the demographic they're aiming for--the WB's animated series The Batman has gotten a lot better in its second season. Way more death traps, injections of deadly substances, near-unmaskings, etc., and ample portrayals of our hero in the batsuit sans mask, gloves, etc.

Don't get me wrong: the show is still prrretttttttty bad in all other respects, like plot, dialogue, voice acting, etc. But I'm fairly shallow when it comes to getting my cartoon-superhero rocks off, and the first season was so thoroughly devoid of kink (and remarkably awful in every other way) that just about anything would be an improvement.

They're already into self-parody, with the episode "The Laughing Bat" featuring the Joker running around pretending to be the Batman (true to the show's ineptitude, it's never made clear exactly why he's doing this, or even if he's aware that he's not really Bats), then dosing the real BM with a poison that makes him giggle uncontrollably at other people's misfortune, thus reversing their time-honored roles. And, yes, this one features the obligatory Adam West cameo. (This time he plays the mayor; needless to say, it's not nearly as clever as his casting as The Grey Ghost in the beloved B:TAS, but we all know how left out Adam feels when they don't invite him to drop by.)

Another recent episode alllllllmost pulled off something truly surprising and moving. (Spoiler alert, for the five of you out there who actually might care about this show.) In part one of a two-parter, Joker captures one of those two police detectives whose lives have been intersecting with Batman's since the beginning of the series; J tortures him until he breaks, then gasses him with an untested compound that seems to mess up his complexion pretty badly. In part two, Batman has a brand-new enemy: Clayface!

Never mind that this is only the 200th completely different origin story for CF (and the cop is only the 201st person to assume the role). The big problem is the poor guy's abrupt (and, once again, badly explained) transformation into a sci-fi villain. The writers have provided some interesting tidbits, like CF's inability to speak coherently, leading everyone on the police force to assume he's simply a run-of-the-mill monster instead of a once-trusted colleague, and the police commissioner's longstanding war on "freaks," which includes both BM and CF, but these don't really go anywhere. And the dude also seems to figure out his poorly defined powers mighty quickly. Let's just say it pales in comparison to the origin story for Mr. Freeze in Sub-Zero, which remains the most single moving tweak to the classic Rogue's Gallery. Even so, there's an element of tragedy to this revised Clayface (the episode ends on a particularly poignant note) that is far beyond the usual grasp of the new series, and that's gotta be worth something. It's cool that they've taken a recurring character and completely pulled the rug out from under him.

Speaking of humanized super-villains, I still haven't seen Revenge of the Sith. (Let's face it, I'm just not that big of a Star Wars fan--and I get a little nervous every time one of these new movies opens and everyone laughs at the geeks who dress up like their favorite characters--little too close to home for moi.) But it certainly fits in with a larger trend in popular culture: bad guy as fallen hero, i.e., tragic victim rather than malicious perpetrator. As a reader of Paradise Lost in my English Major youth, I ain't gonna claim this trend is in any way NEW, but it does seem to have a distinctly twenty-first-century urgency nowadays. Film noir brought us the Anti-Hero and the concept got refined in the 60s and 70s, only to vanish during the Reagan era; now we have the Good Man Who is Driven to Evil Even Though He Knows Better. Episode Three is the only one of the SW movies, old or new, that I've actually been eager to see, because I can't wait to see Anakin's transformation into Vader.

If you've followed my own exploits in online bat-fantasy as chronicled here, you can surely guess why I'm so fascinated by this trope: because I've lived through it myself (at least in the virtual realm). As of this writing I've been Monk-free for about two months and my "Ratman" days are but a distant memory--but there's no getting around the fact that I was indeed broken, turned to the Dark Side, did things I'm not proud of and can't undo, yadda yadda yadda. But maybe I'll save the update on that front for some future "Knightfall" installment (or not: there really haven't been too many developments in the saga for a while, thanks in large part to my overly busy B. Wayne schedule--not much bat activity 'round these parts in weeks, sad to say).

What I find most interesting about the Bad-Guy-as-Good-Guy-Gone-Wrong scenario is how much more ethically complicated (and therefore more realistic) it is than the whole rhetoric of the Bush administration--you know, that "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists" malarkey. Oh, and I've neglected to mention that the cop who becomes the shape-shifting, identity-borrowing Clayface, is a black man, a premise chock full of possibilities you just know the creators of The Batman cartoon won't even begin to explore.