Batman: Shadow of the Bat #56
July 14, 2014
A comic where Batman is too concerned with marijuana to worry about the evils of rock and roll!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Those of you who view my list of upcoming episodes saw that this episode had a question mark next to it, whether it was a "PSA Hell" comic.
(The cover for "Batman: Shadow of the Bat #56" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Well, the reason why is that the Batman storyline was recommended to me for "PSA Hell", but I never got a chance to actually read it before I wrote the review to see if it would make a good "PSA Hell" review. Is it?
Linkara: Oh, Lord, yes! Welcome, my friends, to "PSA Hell"!
("PSA Hell" title is shown)
Linkara (v/o): While this comic does not fit the standard structure of a regular PSA comic, it is a PSA through and through, just a three-part one... which we'll look at only the first part today. So let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Batman: Shadow of the Bat #56".
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title sequence has "Defying Gravity" from Wicked playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is okay, if just a bit generic, since it's just the back of Poison Ivy. Frankly, with how women are usually drawn in comics, we should be lucky that she's not twisting her spine around to the point where we can see her full chest and her ass at the same time. You know it's a sad state of comic art when I have to give positive praise to a comic for not going for the lowest common denominator. (reads title dramatically) "Poison Ivy: Twin Peaks".
Linkara: (incredulously) Was that a boob joke?! I withdraw my praise.
Linkara (v/o): Actually, it's a reference to the title of the issue, but we'll get to that.
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open in Gotham City, where a guy is smoking some weed.
Linkara: (singing as this guy) I'd sooner try defying gravity... (pretends to smoke some weed)
Drug dealer: Best weed I ever sold, man--and so cheap!
Linkara: (as drug dealer) I'm runnin' a sale right now because... (pauses) Wait, what?
Drug dealer: Your friends are gonna love you when you take that home! Tell 'em I got plenty more!
Linkara: (as drug dealer) We're also runnin' a tie-in sale for Doritos, man! We got plenty of those, too!
Linkara (v/o): The drug dealer walks off, whistling to himself, when he sees a car, or at least two very bright headlights, coming right at him.
Drug dealer: Look out, you maniac--!
Linkara: Oh, my God, Joe Friday's gone berserk!
Linkara (v/o): It turns out it's someone trying to make a hit on him. However, Batman swings down and picks the guy up with one arm around his neck. Yeah, that seems healthy. The dealer's would-be killer are pretty determined to get him, too. Check it out, they're trying to shoot at him even as Batman is swinging off with him. I'm not even sure how he's missing; they're not that far away and the aim seems pretty good. Sure, they're speeding in the car, but they're driving through a pile of boxes...
(Cut to footage of NC's confrontation with the Angry Video Game Nerd)
AVGN: Oh, don't you talk about my boxes! I like boxes!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...which should be slowing them down a little. And thus, we also see the title of this storyline and issue: "Leaves of Grass, Part 1: TWIN PEAKS".
Linkara: I suppose the title does make sense now. Twin Peaks is the kind of show that one can only really understand while high.
Linkara (v/o): Check it out. Batman actually put his logo on the underside of his boot.
Linkara: (as Alfred Pennyworth) Master Wayne, is it really necessary to put your Bat logo on everything? (as Batman) Yes, Alfred. That way, everyone will know it's my stuff and they're not allowed to touch it! Stupid Spawn touching my cape...
Batman: (narrating) There's a drug war raging in Gotham. A new supplier is providing dealers with genetically-enhanced marijuana at half the cost of their regular score.
Linkara: (making a "finger quote") "Genetically-enhanced marijuana"? Oh, so that's where those plant creatures from the last "Comic Book Quickies" episode came from.
Batman: (narrating) Established suppliers are taking a bath.
Linkara: (as Batman) And I'm totally not watching them while they take a bath! (looks around awkwardly) I'm Batman.
Batman: (narrating) More than one has turned to brutal force to try to keep their dealers in line.
Linkara (v/o): Unlike Batman's use of brutal force, which involves him tossing the drug dealer into an overhanging statue on a building to hopefully not die. He also takes out the attacker's car by ripping out the steering wheel. And I just noticed that the car is not one normally seen driven around back alleys and drug dealers in 1996. It looks like a 1957 Mercury Turnpike. Possibly Mercury Cougar. Either way, thank you, Twitter. So I guess this rival drug dealer was on his way to a vintage car show that night, too. And Batman just ruined it! Jerk! Back on the gargoyle of... something very phallic and disturbing-looking, the drug dealer demands Batman get him back to the ground.
Batman: In some cultures, saving your life would make you my slave! But since this is Gotham-- I'll settle for a little information!
Linkara: (holds up index finger) One, which cultures in particular? (holds up two fingers) Two, why the hell would you even bring that up?
Linkara (v/o): He asks if a guy named Victor Assetti has been supplying the new weed, but the drug dealer says he doesn't know what he's talking about.
Batman: You're street-dealing scum, Wiley! Why do you think I've been watching you?
Linkara: (as Batman) Especially when you're taking a bath? (as drug dealer) Wait, what?! (as Batman, hastily) I mean, the– not when you're taking a bath! (nods, then looks on confused as drug dealer, then looks around shiftily as Batman) ...I am the night!
Drug dealer: You don't get it, do you? To you I'm no better than filth... but my customers don't see it that way! I offer a service, same as a bank or a shoe shop!
Linkara: (as drug dealer) Or an assassin, or a lobbyist! (nods)
Drug dealer: Ever ask yourself why people want to change their consciousness? Why they want to change the way they feel? Or why guys like you feel you always have to poop the party?
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Dragnet)
Sgt. Joe Friday (Jack Webb): (to a hippie) Don't you con me with your mind expansion slop. I deal with kids everyday. I try to clean up the mess that people like you make out of them. I'm the expert here, you're not.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, as with any time drugs come up in PSA Hell, I'm not going to get into the debate about marijuana legalization. We're just here to make fun of a very silly comic book. For starters, "poop the party"? They're pooping the party? What? It seems Batman is not putting up with Wiley's crap either, since he just moves right back to the subject at hand: that Assetti was no doubt the one who tried to kill him and will no doubt come after him again... Erm, wait. Batman was asking if Assetti was the one supplying the new weed, but his narration said it was the regular suppliers who were pissed about the new weed, so why would Assetti be trying to kill this guy for selling it? Erm, whatever. The guy says he'll talk, but then we cut to some of Assetti's men having a business meeting. Apparently, Assetti is not the one giving out the new weed, since some head dealers are meeting with people who aren't buying from him anymore since the new supplier is at half the cost and double the quality. Naturally, Assetti's men insist that they buy from him, and their insistence comes at the end of a knife. And then suddenly, these two show up (...who happen to be Eva and Holly Green wearing scantily-clad outfits).
Linkara: Ah, good, the Playboy Bunnies we ordered have arrived.
Eva Green: Can we play, too?
Holly Green: We like playing.
Linkara: Man, those twin ghost girls from The Shining grew up to be really weird.
Black man: We don't need no wacko dames! Waste 'em!
Linkara: Ah, that gritty reboot of The Little Rascals is here.
Linkara (v/o): Although, I do applaud this comic for being smart enough to recognize that mysterious twin scantily-clad women, particularly in Gotham City, are a threat and we should probably shoot at them right away. I mean, it doesn't help. They flip around in very awkward synchronized posing and toss knives right into some goon's neck, but still, points for not being that kind of dumb, just the kind of dumb where there are two twin women assassins with waist-length hair jumping around in fetish clothes. After knocking out the goons, they tell Assetti's man to inform Victor that Eva Green and Holly are protecting the dealers and to send a message they cut off a dude's ear, although, again, points for not actually showing it. If this scene was made today, we'd make sure to show the ear being sliced off in gory detail. We cut to Arkham Asylum, where Poison Ivy is being talked to by Dr. Arkham himself. And naturally, she's in her supervillain outfit while in a cell in solitary confinement. Normally, I'd ask why the hell she's not wearing a prison jumpsuit, but I think it's well-established by this point that Arkham Asylum is not a good hospital.
Poison Ivy: Go away, Arkham. I'm busy. I'd rather spend a minute with a plant than a month with any man. Except one, perhaps.
Linkara: (as Poison Ivy) Robert Mapplethorpe. That man knows how to photograph a flower.
(Cut to Linkara wearing a Starfleet uniform and a soldier helmet on his head while holding a cigar)
Linkara: (in a voice like Gen. Patton) All right, everybody, it's time to discuss our battle plan: (AT4W logo appears in the corner) namely, that we'll be right back after these commercials!
(He puts up the cigar to his mouth to smoke it, and we go to a commercial break. Upon return, we see Linkara again in his uniform, still holding the cigar)
Linkara: Audience, (points to camera) you magnificent bastards, we're back from the COMMERCIAL!
(The AT4W logo appears in the corner as he puts his cigar to his mouth to smoke it. Cut back to the comic again as the review resumes)
Arkham: Ah, yes... your hatred of men. I thought we'd make it the subject of today's analysis.
Poison Ivy: Doctor, I manipulate men--I use them--sometimes I even pity them. But hatred? Never!
Linkara: And welcome back to our continuing coverage of "What People Think Feminism Is Versus What It Really Is".
Poison Ivy: In fact, I could use one now. Why don't you unlock the door and--
Linkara (v/o): Aaand turn the page, and her dialogue is inaudible and in a heart-shaped word balloon.
Arkham: Miss Isley!
Linkara: (as Arkham) We use regularly-shaped speech bubbles around here, missy! (points to camera) You are crazy!
Linkara (v/o): Arkham says that the real reason he's here... Not for a session? Then why did you bring it up? ...is to deliver some flowers for her. They arrived for her, but with no card. Then how do they know it's for her? Ivy says there doesn't need to be.
Poison Ivy: Victorian England developed a language of the flowers--where every one has its own unique meaning.
Arkham: So what does your message say?
Linkara: (as Poison Ivy) Always massage your cassette tapes with onions. (beat) It loses something in the translation, I admit.
Linkara (v/o): She mocks him in her answer and he takes the flowers away, saying they're confiscated. One wonders why the hell she's allowed any flowers, considering her particular psychosis and whatnot, but again, it's Arkham's great patient turnover that makes it such a celebrated medical institution. We cut to a high school, where we see Tim Drake meeting up with a friend of his named Norris. They head outside and Tim detects the faint odor of... (gasps) MARIJUANA!!! (a dramatic sting plays)
Druggie: Want a hit?
Tim: Are you insane, Mason? Smoking grass in school?
Linkara: Well, with that pencil-thin mustache he's trying for, I wouldn't rule out insanity.
Linkara (v/o): Also, Tim, it's less the fact that they're smoking at school, and more the fact that they're doing out in the open where anyone can see them or smell it. Just like you did! There's the real moral message of this, everybody: pot makes you an idiot. Or they were already idiots. Either possibility is valid here, frankly.
Girl: Loosen up, Drake! Everybody does it, except wimps like you!
Linkara: Yes, call him a wimp, since obviously it's bravery people usually associate with marijuana. (shrugs)
Mason: Try some, Norris?
Norris: I...I've never...
Mason: You'll love it, guy!
Linkara: (as Mason) Would this mustache lie?
Linkara (v/o): Tim grabs Mason's hand, forcing him to drop the joint.
Tim: That stuff's poison!
Linkara: (as Tim) Literally millions could die from the smoke of that joint!
Mason: Oh, yeah? What right have you got to tell me what I can and can't put into my own body?
Linkara: (as Mason) If I want to pointlessly endanger myself by ingesting poison, then let me be a moron!
Tim: It's against the law!
Mason: Gimme a break! Tobacco--booze--guns-- they're all legal. You agree with that, Drake? Okay to sell mass death, but not a little dope?
Linkara: Ah, another new thing this comic teaches us: marijuana increases your ability to rationally debate with someone.
Mason: Why shouldn't I smoke if I want?
Linkara (v/o): Tim quickly swerves to the side, causing Morris to fall down due to his impaired motor responses from the pot.
Tim: That's one good reason!
Linkara: (confused) Because he's clumsy?
Linkara (v/o): Later, Tim's at the Batcave, talking with Bruce about how...
Tim: --Half the school's smoking the stuff!
Linkara: Wow! Half the school? I guess you can't fault the effectiveness of the marijuana business plan.
Linkara (v/o): Batman explains about how well it's been genetically enhanced, that it's so potent that it can be harvested six times a year and easily grown close to Gotham to minimize transport cost and risk. Tim asks for advice on what to do about the kids.
Bruce: You could report them.
Tim: It means automatic expulsion. It could ruin their whole lives.
Linkara: Oookay, but if this is supposed to be a private school where that would be a thing, wouldn't that imply wealthy parents who could afford a different school?
Bruce: It's their choice.
Tim: They do it for bravado-- or rebellion-- or because they feel alienated-- or maybe they do it because they like it.
Linkara: Or maybe they just want to mellow out and eat Cheetos.
Tim: But none of them are bad kids.
Linkara: (as Tim) They just have questionable facial hair.
Bruce: Have you ever been tempted?
Linkara: (as Tim) I just get high from beating people up. You? (as Bruce) Oh, me? I get high from impoverishment. (as Tim) Impoverishment? (as Bruce) Oh, yeah. Show me a poor person, and I am high as a kite!
Linkara (v/o): Back at Arkham, Poison Ivy apparently sleeps with sheets wrapped around her lower legs because that way, the artist can draw side boob. She dreams of how she became what she was: experimented on by Jason Woodrue.
(Cut to shots of "New Guardians", showing the Floronic Man)
Linkara (v/o): You may recall Jason Woodrue by his other name, the Floronic Man. He was a member of the New Guardians during the brief time he was a superhero. He also got high on cocaine, thanks to close proximity to SNOWFLAME!
(Cut back to "Shadow of the Bat")
Linkara (v/o): Apparently, the experiments also turned her [Poison Ivy] into She-Hulk briefly, according to this panel. And for some reason, Woodrue kept her stockings on when he experimented on her. Weirdo.
Narrator: ...as Woodrue's plant toxins fused with her very essence, and her bloodstream turned to deadly poison. The pain left, but the power remained-- and the deep, never-satisfied need to dominate men.
Linkara: (confused) Sooo... plants make you a dominatrix?
Linkara (v/o): The two scantily-clad twins use their own plant concoctions to burst through the walls of Poison Ivy's cell, while Arkham finally gets around to looking up the "language of the flowers" thing Ivy mentioned earlier, realizing the message was meant to tell her they were going to break her out that night.
Poison Ivy: Hi. I got your flowers. Nice outfits.
Linkara: With all three of them dressing similarly, I honestly can't tell if that's supposed to be serious or mocking. I'll just say you all look ridiculous and move on.
Linkara (v/o): We cut to Victor Assetti himself going to meet two drug runners in a parking garage, and we finally get a good look at him. And he apparently has sizeable sideburns. Hell, one of his flunkies full-on friendly mutton chops. Vintage cars, weird facial hair, scantily-clad flunkies? The art design of this comic is kind of bizarre. Anyway, Batman interrupts the deal and manages to get a hold of Assetti. Also, I'm pretty sure Batman kills two guys when the Batmobile rams another car head-on. Just wow.
Batman: A handful of weed... yet they were willing to kill--and die-- for it.
Linkara: (as Batman, pretending to hold up the weed) And now it's all mine! This is going straight up my nose!
Commissioner Gordon: It's the money. What costs a couple of dollars in its country of origin is worth a hundred times that here!
Linkara: (as Comm. Gordon) Damn drug dealers moving jobs overseas! Why can't they grow drugs right here in the good ol' U.S. of A.?
Linkara (v/o): And the more we wage war on it, the more people want to use it. Sometimes I wonder if we ought to... Well, sometimes I just wonder!
Linkara: (as Comm. Gordon) I'm just saying, Batman, your swinglines would be even better if they were made out of hemp.
Linkara (v/o): We cut back over to Poison Ivy and the other two ladies who want to lead her underground. She refuses to follow and demands to know who hired them, but they don't want to talk. She tries to force the issue, even expelling toxins from her body to get them to comply, but our comic ends with a bunch of vines whipping out of the darkness and grabbing her.
Linkara: So, a lot more moralizing, insane giggling, and being made fun of by everybody on Earth? (shrugs) I'm down with that. (closes comic and holds it up) This comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): Leaving aside the overly heavy PSA elements of drug dealers and users attempting to justify themselves, the issue is just dull. They're treating an influx of marijuana as one of the most serious and dangerous things in the world, even implying a huge gang war, but honestly, it feels fairly contained for the moment. Hell, the best drama they could wring out of this was a page or two of Robin wondering if he should report some asshole students for their blatant stupidity of smoking marijuana on campus out in the open. The artwork is bland and the writing tiresome. Nothing more to say there.
Linkara: We will be getting back to this one later, though. The source of the super marijuana, as I'm calling it, is both laughable and ridiculous. Next week, though... well, it's been 302 episodes; I think it's time to go back to our roots a bit... with a dash of Sinnamon. (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
The real reason Batman brought up the whole "some cultures make you a slave for saving their life" thing is because he has an anthropology major that he doesn't get to utilize very often.
Ironically, "defying gravity" is also what people who are high think they're doing.
Because... you know... they're high.
...It's the kind of insightful wit and humor that's embedded me to last this many episodes.
(Stinger: A panel showing Holly and Eva reaching their hands out to Poison Ivy's hair, while she looks pained, is shown)
Linkara (v/o): What the hell is even happening in this panel? Are they supporting Poison Ivy's hair while she really needs to go to the bathroom?