Tuesday, July 15, 2014


The Mirror Batman / The Power That Transformed Batman
It wasn’t unusual for comics in the Silver Age to recycle stories – after all, no one expected that these books would be read and re-read for decades after their initial publication, or that they would be collected into coherent volumes, and ultimately preserved in light for all eternity so that future generations could benefit from Cap’s Hobby Hints until the universe goes dark. What IS unusual is that the same plot would be recycled in the same title within the same twelve-month period.

I understand that superhero comics, behind the scenes, can be something of a cynical operation, but surely they didn’t expect their readership to turn over in ten months, right? Was there a war I didn’t know about in the Spring of 1962, for which only eight year-olds were drafted? Still, DC Comics was at the very least counting on short memories when they produced “The Mirror Batman” in World’s Finest Comics vol.1 No.121 (November 1961) and “The Power That Transformed Batman” in World’s Finest Comics vol.1 No.128 (September 1962), both stories in which Batman gets stretched like taffy and becomes a super-powerful mega-jerk.

With this image, a lifetime of reading comics has truly paid off.
Of the two, the latter is the more quotidian - by superheroic standards anyway. A strange comet threatens Earth, but luckily the one thing Superman loves to do is smash celestial objects into the sun. He can never erase the pain of Krypton’s loss, but he can create new disasters which he can control, the traumatized little sociopath.

Something in the comet’s makeup sticks to Superman, and infects Batman with crazy taffyman powers! Elongating like a funhouse mirror, Batman becomes non-communicative and seemingly terrified of his former partners, as well as blindly destructive. He also develops ridiculous powers, including some sort of green foam vision which dissolves anything it strikes, just like real green foam.

This crook has associates named "Sparkles" and
"Silky." I'm assuming that they're ponies.
It’s not a far cry from the earlier version of the story, where Batman stumbles through a magical mirror and comes back out as an easily startled stick of vengeful chewing gum. Batman is off on a destructive rampage this time as well, firing weird and brittle rays of glass out of his body, just like we all did in puberty. Although the later transformation is owed to some sort of comet-fueled Red Kryptonite switcheroo, this time around the weirdo transformation is the fault of the citizens of Xanu, tiny beings which look like jaundiced Smurfs and sound like something out of a Scientology pamphlet.

Apparently travelling to the Xanu homeworld is (A) accomplished by magic mirrors and (B) turns you into a really lazy drawing. Luckily, make the trip enough times and you’re back to normal, except very possibly I bet your intestines get flipped left-to-right and you might not ever know it.

The one thing that remains consistent about both stories – well, wait, there were several consistent things, but here’s another one – is that Batman Hates Bridges. In both stories, the inaugural target for his weirdo super-wrath is the nearest bridge, necessitating Superman and Robin to make a hasty repair and rescue of all endangered motorists. Haha, that last bit was a joke, Robin is fucking useless in a situation like that, Superman did it all.

The secret origin of Hipster Batman.
Still, Batman really has it in for bridges, to the point I’m wondering if we’ve gotten his story wrong all these years. Was it a bridge which killed his parents in Crime Alley? Maybe they were actually on Crime Bridge. Maybe their toothless killer was robbing the Waynes so he could afford a new bridge. There, I’ve just provided the next three shocking revelations about Batman’s origin.

No comments:

Popular Posts