I’ve been listening to Glen Weldon for years on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and he’s so funny and so smart and so endearingly enthusiastic when it comes to all things Batman that in spite of not being a Batman fan myself I couldn’t resist reading this book.
Well. Whole lotta Batman going on, along with some truly insightful commentary on the sledgehammer impact Batman has had on American culture, Batman as primogenitor of the noli me tángere nerd culture, and Batman (with Superman and Weldon’s already written that book) as the beginning of what feels like an endless stream of the same damn superhero films every year (What, they’re going to trash New York again?).
Yes, he takes his subject very seriously. On nerd culture–
…nerdish passion is strong and unmindful; its very nature is to obliterate dispassion, nuance, ambiguity, and push human experience to either edge of a binary extreme: My thing is the best. Your thing is the worst…Moreover, if you do not love my thing in the same way, to the same degree, and for exactly the same reasons that I do, you are doing it wrong.
You know who you are. A footnote on a Broadway Batman musical that was to be directed by Tim Burton–
It seems somehow important to note here than the Joker’s big number contained the memorable lyric “Where does Abercrombie & Fitch get all those boys/And where does [Batman] get those wonderful toys?”
To truly savor that comment you need a working acquaintance of Frederic Wertham, the Joseph McCarthy of comics. I say no more, other than that Wertham had his shot at Wonder Woman, too [cough*asshole*cough].
A full-throated support of Batman as a character worthy of hero worship–
But though he lives in darkness, Batman is not of it. He was birthed in a senseless act of violence, but his mission, his life’s work, is to prevent such acts from happening to others. That selflessness is why he’s a hero, and it’s why he has always represented not hatred but hope.
Okay. But my absolute favorite line in the whole book is this–
…the performative online biliousness that has come to be known as trolling…
As the occasional bilious online commenter, I bow my head in acknowledgement, and in shame.
A fun read, recommended for the casual reader and absolutely essential for the Batman nerd. Even if they do immediately give it one star on their Amazon review because Weldon loved the Adam West TV series. SHOCK! SACRILEGE! HORROR!
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.