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?

1 comment:

Wayne said...

Here's an update: I found both parts of Tenses on a two-for-one sale at my local comics shop yesterday and read them/it right away. I'm stunned there's no "mature audiences only" warning on the cover--this thing would make Dr. Wertham shit bricks. It's hyperviolent, in a Silence of the Lambs kinda way, complete with cannibalism and skin removal.

The storytelling is pretty interesting, juxtaposing three men's lives, with the emphasis more on the bad guy than on the Batman. The gay newsguy is certainly there, but the keys scenes I'd read about unfold in a different order than I'd thought, so the hand-breaking incident is less about homophobia (we don't know for sure the guy is gay yet) than Bruce's aversion to nosy reporters.

Notably, the portrayal of Bruce as irresponsible CEO anticipates the treatment of that subject in the most recent movie, and also allows the author to address the social/moral implications of downsizing.

Consumer report? I'm happy I read it, and delighted I didn't pay full price. It's no masterpiece, but I'd give it a gloved thumb up.