Sunday, January 21, 2007

From the Man Who Can Do Everything

Every time read work by Alan Moore for DC I enjoy it more and more. This page from the classic story For the Man Who Has Everything that was published in Superman Annual #11 is a perfect example of why I like his work. Superman and Wonder Woman aside it is the Batman & Robin dynamic he penned in the story I appreciate the most. I don't see Moore as using characterization elements found Pre-CoIE or even what a reader would expect from a Silver Age story.

What I find interesting is that in this story Alan Moore has given us a Dynamic Duo that I see as being pure Golden Age. I think the relationship between the two is usually best when addressed by using the 1940s template and that is what I am seeing in this issue. There is humor here and honest affection between the two without subtext or the zaniness of the 1950s and dimension -hopping 1960s. Many readers enjoy this page for what they assume is an homage to the Adam West-Batman cautionary statement for Robin to behave himself. But if you search back further that doesn't have it's origins with the television show.

To show what I mean about the Moore using the Golden Age as the inspiration for their relationship roll your cursor over the image below and compare the pages (for the browser-impaired there are image links at the end of the post). The first image is of course from Superman Annual #11 (Dec 1985). The second page is from the Lev Gleason published Daredevil #10 (May 1942).



While 13 and Jinx were not Batman and Robin they were definitely inspired by and mimicked them. The writing of the 1940s Batman and Robin set the tone for the era and Alan Moore successfully applied to the story the original spirit of a Golden Age hero and sidekick, which worked well when used for the modern tale. I would not be surprised if Moore used as reference the same exact 13 & Jinx story while writing for the annual. The pages are remarkably similar. Frank Miller may have likewise attempted to duplicate the Batman and Robin relationship recently with the mean-spirited and much-reviled All-Star title but so far his work has met with mixed results.

Tags & Links: Page from Superman Annual #11 Page from Daredevil #10

6 comments:

  1. This is one of my all-time favorite stories and possibly THE best story of interplay between the Big Three. But I have always hated this scene (the classic "clean thoughts" line aside) because of Robin's uniform.

    For a guy with such attention to detail, I think Moore slipped a little here. Batman's got undersea and cold and various costumes in his arsenal. They're going to Antarctica, where it's like 80 below at the WARMEST. And Robin can't have the costume with legs? Sheesh.

    seriously, he'd get frostbite in just a few minutes like that. I can overlook Robin driving a car and facing bullets, but this just seems so very wrong to me.

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  2. Yeah, they established the leggings thing a while ago. Not bare legs and hot pants like we thought for years.

    Which doesn't make his outfit any less stupid and gay, but instead actually manages to make it more so.

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  3. Maybe Batman's intention was to distract the criminals with homophobia, but still maintain the practicality of Robin's costume. Kinda like the Wasp flashing the Hulk, except with shaved boy-legs.

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  4. Mike Sterling's commentary on All Star Batman, etc. etc. has gotten me to understand if not enjoy the book, but it occurs to me that the breakneck thrillride pace at which the story might work is completely lost when only one issue comes out a year.

    But back to Gibbons. Isn't that final panel just perfect? Love the sense of scale and the framing.

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  5. Ah, a wry smile from the BM. And maybe the last time you could tell he was hepcat Bruce Wayne under that mask instead of Wolverine.

    I have to keep reminding myself it's not Frank Miller's fault. It's the fault of all the hacks who can't think of anything better to do than imitate Frank Miller's innovations.

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