Tuesday, November 18, 2014

BATMAN LEADS AN INTERESTING LIFE - THE LORD OF BATMANOR

Swingin' around like that is just punishing innocent people who choose that moment to look up.

The recent referendum for Scottish independence resulted in a narrow but decisive “No” vote, which is a real shame since I’m pretty sure Scotland could have walked away with Batman in the arrangement.

That brave young boy.
As ”The Lord of Batmanor” (Detective Comics vol.1 No.195, August 1953), the Dark Knight Detective picks up a third identity – not only is he a crimefighter and a multimillionaire, he’s also a Scottish Lord. When the last of the McLaughlie line passes away, he leaves the familial castle to Batman as an incentive to right a centuries-old slander against the family name.

Because of the constant truck of coincidence which typifies comics, know that the castle in question is bedeviled nightly by bats and known locally, therefore, as Batmanor, which I think was the original title of Downton Abbey. Imagine that, all the downstairs staff is the Outsiders, serving the Bat-Family upstairs, in celluloid collars. Geo-Force getting in trouble with Alfred because he’s a shitty butler, then inhaling sharply on a cigarette he dashes off to fumble with one of the new footmen. It writes itself.

Meanwhile, this highlands-and-heathers tale also writes itself, inasmuch as it descends a checklist of old Scottish tropes for Batman to encounter: there’s a haunted castle, of course, and an appearance by a Loch Ness Monster (who, inevitably, turns out to be a robot submersible used for nefarious purposes by a local crook) and copious use of bagpipes being confused for the screams of the dying, apparently.

There are no words.
What the story does have going for it is Batman in a kilt, which is an image I’ll take with me to the grave or, at the very least, to a long nap. I’m sorry that none of the assorted teams of international Batmen ever included a Scottish Batman, because at the very least the idea of a Utility Sporran has immediate appeal, as does Batman calling the Joker “a right bawheed” and the Riddler “A feckin cant.” Also, providing he was Glaswegian, it would have been delightful to see Batman even try to pronounce the crimes of “murder” or mention that he’d responded to a “burglar alarm” ...

As for the temporary lord of Batmanor, Batman’s job is to uncover the lost “royal gold” which the McLaughlie clan was meant to have delivered to the king, but bollixed it up. That’s British for “fucked.”

Actually, an even-cursory glance at Scottish history didn’t seem in the cards during the plotting session, since the gold is only ever intended for “the king” so as to fight “the wars.” In fact, the gold was supposed to have been lost 400 years ago, during which time … well, listen, I’m no expert on Scottish history, but if we’re strict about the “400 years” and assume there’s little-to-no rounding of the number going on, then the gold was intended for King James around the time of the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh. See, this blog is good for something!

Ultimately, the gold is found, having been melted into clock weights and set up in the nearby clocktower, a hiding place also discovered by fake detective and actual American gangster “Smoothy” Mathers, whose gimmick was his addiction to the healthful, satisfying flavor of smoothies, probably.

I’ll get pilloried in comments if I don’t mention that Alan Grant and Frank Quitely revisited the essential premise of the story in a 1998 graphic novel, Batman: The Scottish Connection, but that one didn’t end with Robin gleefully torturing Batman with bagpipe music, so I consider it inferior at every level.

...and that's when Batman dumped Robin into the Atlantic from 60,000 feet up.

7 comments:

cup king said...

"The Scottish Connection". Is that like the French Connection but deals with smuggling huge amounts of haggis/buckfast/whiskey/tarten hats/fifth lazy stereotypical item?

Robot Devil said...

I'm surprised Grant Morrison didn't bring this back, since he somehow managed to get KRYPTONIANS speaking Scottish.
And Melbourne was once named 'Batmania', after its founder, John Batman.

neofishboy said...

"And Melbourne was once named 'Batmania', after its founder, John Batman."

This may be one of my favorite facts. Definitely up there with the scientific name for the western lowland gorilla being "Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla."

Calamity Jon said...

I think this is also now one of my favorite bits of trivia, I never knew about Batmania ...

Cary Comic said...

Actually, there was one other time where Batman visited Scotland. It was an eerie, late Silver Age WORLD'S FINEST story involving a haunted castle; cursed raven's eggs; and a cadet branch of the Wayne family known as the Kilbecs! Imagine if HPL had written "The Midwich Cuckoos" as a pulp fiction novella and you might get the idea.



Cary Comic said...

Actually, there was one other time where Batman visited Scotland. It was an eerie, late Silver Age WORLD'S FINEST story involving a haunted castle; cursed raven's eggs; and a cadet branch of the Wayne family known as the Kilbecs! Imagine if HPL had written "The Midwich Cuckoos" as a pulp fiction novella and you might get the idea.

Cary Comic said...

P.S.---"Smoothy" was probably being used in the context of that time period. Namely, that Mathers was a smooth-taking con artist.

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