Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Comic of the Day: Batman The New Adventures No.416

Batman, The New Adventures

Published: February 1988

"D.C. Comics Aren't Just For Kids!"

  Clearly the cover depicts more graphic violence than one would expect from a kids comic book. It's interesting to me that my reaction to this cover is a lot different than it would have been when I was spinning the comics rack at my local convenience store when I was growing up. (Sunny Corner Farms, Brookline, MA to be specific...)

   I was actually 17-18 years old when this was published and was more likely stocking the rack as I worked at my local Store 24 (Beacon Street, also Brookline, MA) but my point is that I would have totally paid absolutely no attention at all to this cover as I was more attracted to the creepy fantasy aspect of the revamped Ghost Rider that also came out around that time.

  Now tho? Yeah, this bothers me. The adult in me (who after 10 years working in convenience stores has had more than my fair share of guns, thank you very much) has a definite gut reaction to the realistic depiction of the gun in this villain's hand and even more emotion is evoked by the seemingly doomed young man on the ground.

(The fact that it's Robin? Meh. Robin has always bugged me to some degree but, this? Nah, he's an irritating gnat as a character but he doesn't deserve this. Or any of the later things that happened to him but I digress...)


 So yeah, clearly the cover even without this PMRC era style warning label, makes it clear this comic might not be appropriate for young kids.
 (High School aged convenience store clerks is debatable...)

 But there is quite a bit more to this issue than just the violent cover.
   Endless insinuations both subtle and overt have been made about a possible romantic relationship between Batman and Robin. Most of which I find just silly but I think that is because "my" Batman and Robin are the Adam West / Bert Ward campy TV variety that I loved as a kid. I view the relationship between the two characters as any 8 year old would, as presented, at face value and totally innocent and devoid of any romantic undertones.

   But to accept that we have to suspend our belief in the reality that ALL of our beloved childhood icons were not written and drawn by kids like us but by adults with adult feelings.

So yeah, whether we buy into the whole Batman and Robin as a couple idea, it's pretty undeniable that these pages illustrate very adult relationship emotions.

Still unsure? 
The rejected aging former partner giving advice to the new younger version of himself? 
Seems kind of serious adult behavior to me.

  Since the very beginning comic books have not been intended to be "Just For Kids" as supported by the whole Comics Code labeling system of the mid 1950's (History of the Comics Code of 1954 ) and I can't help but wonder if this book having been published shortly after the big PMRC record labeling crusade of the mid 1980's, was this label a wink to past crusades or a smart ploy to increase book sales in the same way that records with the RIAA Parental Advisory label sold more units to tantalized teens on the hormone driven 24/7 quest for adult ideas?


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