Tuesday, September 1, 2015


The Arabian Knight Returns

If I have one goal with this series of articles covering Batman's interesting life, it's that the idea of the ideal, iconic Batman is slightly revisited. We all know of Batman as a dark avenger of the night, a brilliant tactician, scientist and engineer, the world's greatest detective, a tireless defender of the defenseless, and possessed of near-infinite resources in his battle against crime. To that I'd like to add "He uses time travel in a very irresponsible fashion."

It's true, on practically every opportunity during his first fifty years of existence wherein Batman had access to time travel, he used it for what was essentially a frivolous purpose. Takes, for example, the reasoning behind his crosstime trip in "Batman's Arabian Nights" (Batman vol. No.49 Oct-Nov 1948), in which he uses time travel to verify the antiquity of a rug which Bruce Wayne bought at auction. Come on, Bats, you're a bazillionaire, you can afford to take a soaking.

Technically, it comes from a lamp,
Actually, Batman and Robin are intrigued as to the rug's origin inasmuch as it has a likeness of the Joker's pasty mug sewn into it - a fact which every previous owner of the rug and every official at the auction house appeared to have been completely unaware. In retrospect, I wonder if Batman didn't actually buy this thing out of some guy's van in an abandoned grocery store parking lot.

Solving this puzzle necessitates a trip to see their science pal Dr.Nichols, who has invented a machine which can hypnotize a person into traveling through time. This is a scientific process called "deluding," as in "Professor Nichol's machine deludes Batman and Robin into thinking that they're in the past, while he rifles through their wallets."

The hypnosis sends Batman and Robin back to ancient Bagdad, where they discover that the city is under siege by a strange, white-faced, green-haired criminal mastermind. If he seems familiar, then ... you're wrong! It's not The Joker, in fact, it's the polar opposite of the Joker - the Polar Joker! Wait, I mean, it's The Crier! Star of Two and a Half Men!

The Batman books at this point had a yen for establishing that the Joker was actually part of a long lineage - going both back in time and far into the future - of similarly pasty-faced human harlequins with green hair and a deformed jawline. Every generation, there's another opportunity to coo over the crib "Aw, he's got grandpa's eyes" just before you get murderer by an exploding pacifier.

It's an untenable and ludicrous idea, but here it is in all its four-color glory! The Joker has an ancestor in ancient Bagdad, it's canon now, let's just keep moving.

The Crier utilizes a wide array of crying-related gags, including a smoky lit torch and freshly cut onions. It's not the most high-tech thing ever, but it works.

This is disturbing.
His most daring escapade involves pouring oil into the river so as to light the Tigris on fire and terrify the locals - so that the Crier can commit a mass robbery in the confusion. In the interim, Robin had been captured in the Crier's lair and Batman was wandering around the lonely hills looking for him. When the Crier launches his scheme, all the Dynamic Duo can think to do to cross the great distance between them and the crook and save the city from panic is to use stolen silk to make a two-man glider with which they can coast down the hill. I am a hundred percent sure the manufacturing time is far in excess of walking.

Since the silk is so thin, they toughen it up by laying a handy carpet on top of it, creating the myth of the flying carpet right there and then! What would the world be like if it weren't for time-travelling Batman and Robin? Be sure to ask this question in your Humanities class.

Anyway, long story short, they discover that the rug they stole actually had the Crier's face on it, not the Joker's, and I guess THAT explains everything. Also, the way they defeated the Crier's scheme involved furious tickling, which I'd also like to add to the Batman canon if at all possible. Bat-tickles.

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