Batman: Shadow of the Bat #58
April 25th, 2016
Head-rolling, pot-smoking, cleavage-exposing fun for the whole family!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome back, my friends, to "PSA Hell"!
(The "PSA Hell" title is shown)
Linkara: Time to finally conclude our look at (makes "air quotes") "Leaves of Grass", AKA (imitating a stoner) "Batman's Harshing My Buzz, Man".
(Cut to black)
Linkara (v/o): (dramatically) Previously on "Batman: Shadow of the Bat"...
(Cut to shots of "Batman: Shadow of the Bat #57", as Linkara gives a recap of them)
Linkara (v/o): The Floronic Man, whom you may recall as being a good guy for, like, five minutes in "The New Guardians", hit upon the most ingenious idea for world domination ever: get everybody high on marijuana. Also, something about a plant-human hybrid using Poison Ivy's blood. In addition, Tim Drake's friend decided to give in to peer pressure and try some weed... aaaand has a really bad trip from it.
Linkara: Because no two ideas fit together than (points to his left) "afterschool special" and (points to his right) "crazy plant supervillain".
Linkara (v/o): When we last left off, Batman had been investigating Poison Ivy's escape from Arkham when he was caught and captured by the two twin dominatrixes who work for the Floronic Man for reasons that remain unclear.
Linkara: So let's dig into "Batman: Shadow of the Bat #58" and see what new spore of madness they've concocted for the conclusion of "Leaves of Grass". (beat) I don't have a copy. The guy who was going to send me one got high and forgot.
(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has "Time of the Season" by the Zombies playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is pretty damn good. While Batman is overly detailed – and really, Bruce, I don't know what your cape is made out of, but you need to tell Alfred to work out those wrinkles – there's a very nice horror vibe from it, with Batman shoving electrodes into the Floronic Man's shriveled-up body. Hell, he even seems to be lacking a lot of his torso since we can see his spine. It's probably really inappropriate and horrific for this book, but screw it, it looks awesome. I'm also always fond of light shining out of holes, which in this case would be from the Floronic Man's chest, mouth and eyes. Just the beams of light coming out, it's great.
Text: THE FLORONIC MAN'S COMEDOWN!
Linkara: I would have gone with ("air quotes") "Frying the Floronic Man". Alliteration and more accurate, given "comedown" is a bit of an understatement for (becomes annoyed) ELECTROCUTION!
Linkara (v/o): We open with some narration, that we'll later to be from Tim Drake, about marijuana while we observe the hallucinations caused by his friend who had smoked some pot. And yes, pot can cause hallucinations, depending on a number of factors concerning how strong it is. I don't think it necessarily creates two floating monster heads that just kind of stare at you with bad teeth. Also, is the pot giving him x-ray vision? Why can we see part of the thing kind of translucently? Or is it supposed to be in front of him? Except it's not. Part of his hand is see-through, but some of it isn't?
Linkara: Marijuana apparently gives you MC Escher vision.
Linkara (v/o): Also, I don't think teenagers, high or not, talk like this.
Voice: Get back, you devils!
Linkara: I think if I was seeing floating monster heads coming at me, it would less coherent melodramatic proclamations about ("air quotes") "devils" and more flailing and... (screams while flailing his arms around)
Linkara (v/o): It seems the kid, Norris, agrees with me, since he starts screaming and... I presume doing more flailing. Since there aren't any motion lines, I just have to assume that equals flailing.
Linkara: (as Norris, imitating his flailing) My yoga moves will stop these monsters!
Linkara (v/o): Tim Drake comes running up and gives him his coat, which seems to calm him down. He tells the others to call for an ambulance, but Mustache Guy, who had given him the pot, says it's just dope and there isn't any need for that.
Tim: It's strong dope--and Norris is still recovering from his illness!
Linkara: Ah, so that's why he did those hand motions. (points to camera) He has boogie fever.
Linkara (v/o): Also, how is it that this is a comic book and yet this guy still looks like they hired a thirty-year-old to play a teenager? Tim runs off to get help.
Tim: Stay with him! Make sure he doesn't do anything stupid!
Linkara: Yes, leave the traumatized kid having a bad drug reaction with the group that's also high as a kite. (points to camera) Truly, Tim, you were trained well by Batman.
Linkara (v/o): I'm just saying, seems more likely, even in 1997, that Tim would own a cell phone, courtesy of Bruce, for just this sort of emergency in civilian life. Speaking of Bruce, he wakes up tied to a tree and greeted by the Floronic Man.
Batman: Floro? You've been pushing the super-skunk in Gotham?
Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask) My God, man! "Super-skunk"?! Next, you'll be pushing "China cat"!
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, had to look this one up. Maybe I'm the last one to the party here, but I had never heard of cannabis referred to as "super-skunk" before. But indeed, that is actually a term associated with it.
Linkara: Then again, "China cat" is apparently a real term, too. Pretty soon, I'm gonna learn that LSD is also called "megahorse" or something.
Batman: But... I thought--
Floronic Man: I'm working for the side of good?
Batman (v/o): Man, Batman sounds disappointed by that.
Linkara: (as Batman) You were the chosen one, Floro! You were supposed to bring balance to the DC Universe, not leave it in hemp!
Linkara (v/o): Floro claims that he is working on the side of good, by saving the world through marijuana.
Floro: Gotham's already saturated with my dope. Soon, the whole world will be turned on! There'll be no more wars, no more violence, no more of man's inhumanity to man!
Linkara: You say that now, but watch what happens when people run out of Doritos, Floro! There won't be enough supply to meet the demand!
Linkara (v/o): He also says he plans to kill Batman, which seems like of a dick thing to do, but whatever. I'm just confused about why his eyebrows have spikes coming out of them.
Batman: So the end justifies the means? Just like any other despot!
Linkara: Yes, because that is the problem with his plan: the fact that he's willing to kill to make it happen. World's greatest detective, everyone!
Linkara (v/o): Floro reaches out to kill him, but Poison Ivy stops him.
Poison Ivy: I was about to leave when you showed up to pique my interest!
Linkara: (as Ivy) The guy who turned me into Poison Ivy, who wants to use hemp to take over the world and make plant-human hybrids, (waves dismissively) is so boring. But my nemesis who dresses up like a bat? That's got my attention!
Linkara (v/o): Also, a classic sign of an artist who can't draw women unless they're in high heels, as demonstrated by Poison Ivy standing on her tippy-toes.
Ivy: It would be a real shame for you to perish. We've always had a special thing going...
Linkara: Poison Ivy: (holds up right hand) a deadly opponent of Batman because of her knowledge of toxins and obsessive defensive plants? (holds up left hand) Or because she's an ex-girlfriend who doesn't get that it's over? (points to camera) You make the call!
Linkara (v/o): I mean, Floro's just standing there while Ivy grinds up against Batman. What the hell? She makes out with him and then proclaims...
Ivy: Batman's always fought against me in the past. Now I'd like to see him fight for me-- against you, Floro! If he wins, he goes free!
Linkara (v/o): So, this is the part where Floro knocks her aside or something, right? Nope! He just stands there and watches as she cuts his bonds loose. I mean, I guess it's possible that he's just that high, but then again, I don't know why he needs to kill Batman anyway. He's all about how awesome dope is, so make him smoke or eat the stuff and get Batman high!
Linkara: (as Batman) Alfred, have you ever noticed that, like, our hands are shaped like bats, too?
Linkara (v/o): The twin dominatrixes come in and see the two beginning to fight, while Tim Drake continues his lecture about the history of marijuana.
Tim: (narrating) Marijuana was legal in the earliest American Colonies.
Linkara: (as Paul Revere) The British are coming! The British are coming! (stops to smoke marijuana, then continues in a stoner-sounding voice) But, like, I don't think we need to worry about them. It's all good, man.
Tim: (narrating) Virginia and Massachusetts passed "must-grow" legislation, requiring farmers to cultivate hemp because of its importance in making rope and cloth.
Linkara: (as Tim) Later, cross-pollination resulted in hemp-on-the-cob.
Tim: (narrating) The plant was legal tender throughout most of the continent until well into the nineteenth century.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Simpsons)
Abe Simpson: And in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on them.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The twins decide to cut and run, but Ivy somehow has stolen their guns.
Linkara: Good thinking, Ivy! Now you're keeping around potential opponents who were just going to leave. (beat) What?
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, more of the battle and more of the history lesson.
Tim: (narrating) George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both farmed the crop.
Linkara: Yeah, sadly, we went through three Declarations of Independence before they stopped using them as joints.
Linkara (v/o): Batman manages to toss Floro into some plants, but of course, we see the true mastermind behind the whole plot: THIS GUY! Dun-dun-DUUUUUN!
(As he says this, the camera zooms in on this one guy idden in the plants with a menacing expression on his face)
Tim: (narrating) In 1937, after 5,000 years of worldwide use, hemp was declared illegal.
Linkara: Man, this comic is doing such a great job integrating this high school essay with what's happening in the actual story of the book. I was just thinking, Batman throwing a supervillain into some hemp plants? Why, that reminds me of when hemp was made illegal. (shrugs in confusion)
Linkara (v/o): Back over to Tim Drake, they're putting Norris into an ambulance, and Tim Drake wants to come along to help him. However, a cop decides to just pick up the discarded joint off the ground.
Cop: Nobody goes anywhere until I get some answers, kid! Where'd the grass come from?
Linkara: (as Tim) I don't know, sir, but I do know that the grass is the most feared enemy (points to camera) in Ultima 3!
Tim: I don't know! I... I was only passing! Look-- That's my friend--
Cop: Who seems to have been committing a crime. Maybe you'll feel more like talking down at the precinct house--!
Linkara: Wow! Batman has really made your job that pointless, hasn't he? I mean, you're not wrong, but his friend is going to the hospital, and all you know is that Norris smoked the joint. But you're ready to arrest Tim for daring to do the responsible thing and call for help! There's your lesson kid: let your friends die, or the cops will harass you!
Linkara (v/o): Fortunately, Mustache Kid says that he can explain, allowing Tim to run off after the ambulance. Back to Batman...
Tim: (narrating) A prolonged and racist campaign by the tabloid press had hastened hemp's demise, and coined the term "yellow journalism."
Linkara: Um, citation needed! I mean, I suppose it's possible, but the term (makes "finger quotes") "yellow journalism" has been around since the 1890s, forty years before hemp was made illegal.
Linkara (v/o): One of Floro's henchmen defends him with a club, but Floro tells him to back off, since he wants to finish Batman himself.
Batman: So much for your beautiful, nonviolent world!
Floro: Sometimes one must suffer that many might profit!
Linkara (v/o): Aaand Batman backhands him.
Batman: Sounds like a kook's charter to me!
Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask) You should really stick with the one the New Guardians had: eugenics through lots of superior beings having sex. That's a charter I can get behind!
Tim: (narrating) The World Health Organization backed the ban and, except for the period of World War Two, the marijuana plant has been illegal ever since.
Linkara: Yes, while Hitler was developing wonder weapons, we weaponized pot! (looks up in thought, stroking chin) I believe it was General Patton who once said...
(Cut to Patton, played by Lewis)
Patton: No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard get high so he couldn't fight back.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Floro launches some tentacles into the ground that spring up and grab Batman. Tentacle hentai joke, yadda yadda, it's been almost 400 episodes; I just kind of expect it these days.
Floro: I am not a kook!
Linkara: (looking to the side with his fists up) I AM A MAN!
(As always, he punches offscreen, and this time he pulls in... a DVD copy of Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie)
Linkara: Oh, hey! (holds up DVD) I hope this goes on sale soon.
Floro: I am the sanest man on Earth!
(Cut to a clip of Dracula)
Renfield (Dwight Frye): Isn't this a strange conversation for men who aren't crazy?
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): He smashes Batman into a wall and water leaks out of a tank, which soon leaks into Floro's feet. And to prove just how not-crazy is, Floro makes out the Y in "YMCA" and starts cackling madly into the air.
Batman: (thinking) Floro... isn't human!
Linkara: (as Batman) That's what I'll say in court, anyway.
Linkara (v/o): Batman grabs a conveniently placed piece of electrical cabling and electrocutes Floro. Floro is actually unconcerned with himself, but rather in his plant-human hybrid experiment, which (sounds confused) I guess are in danger because the power is overloading or something? I don't know, somehow it started a fire. So he orders the twin henchwomen to go and rescue it. Aaand then Batman cuts off Floro's head.
(Cut to a clip of Yor: The Hunter From the Future)
Yor: We will need a lot more hemp before we're through.
(Back to the comic again)
Batman: Next time, Floro-- maybe you'll regrow in a better frame of mind!
Linkara: Lame! I would have gone with (as Batman) "Time to trim the bushes!"
Linkara (v/o): Of course, Floro, being half-man and half-plant himself, is not killed by this, and his proclaims that Batman will pay for this. Batman then goes to confront the twins. Back over to Tim, his doctor says they won't know for certain how he [Norris]'s doing until he wakes up.
Doctor: You know, marijuana has several beneficial properties. Patients with multiple sclerosis--M.E.--and opithalmic [sic] disease can all be helped by it. But it'll never be legalized for medical use while hooligans like you two abuse it on the streets!
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs, edited to add in the doctor in this comic)
Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley): Let me see if I can make this real clear for you: if this hospital were a human body, you'd be the appendix, because at one point, you served some function, but it was so long ago, nobody's quite sure what that was anymore.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): Also, it's "ophthalmic", not "opithalmic". If you're gonna be educational, spell it right!
Tim: Norris is no hooligan, sir. And neither am I!
Doctor: Teenagers? Pah! You're all the same!
Linkara: Hmm, I've used up my weekly allocated Dr. Cox clip. So let me just make one up here. (clears throat, then speaks like Dr. Cox) Good job there, Ebenezer. Maybe when you're done shoving that enormous rod up your ass, you'll try some of that sweet medicinal marijuana you're all hyped up about. Clearly, you need to calm down a bit!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, back to Batman and the twins. And they're twins, since this larger panel really does highlight how completely ridiculous their outfits are, and they exist just to show off their breasts.
Eva: Beat you once!
Holly: Do it again!
Linkara (v/o): Aaand Batman does... something... Seriously, what the hell did he do? Did the two walk into his outstretched arms and knock themselves out? There's nothing to indicate he leapt forward and punched them or anything. Even if he did, it looks really awkward. But whatever gets this thing done sooner, I guess. He goes after Poison Ivy next. But apparently, when she kissed him, it infected him with a delayed toxin, so he's temporarily paralyzed and can't stop her from escaping.
Ivy: Such a pity you never surrender willingly to me. Though I suppose that's what makes you so darn attractive!
Linkara: Thanks for adding that extra touch of sex offender, Ivy! It truly says something when the "New 52" version of you is a more compelling character.
Linkara (v/o): Later, Commissioner Gordon is talking with Batman in front of what I presume is a bonfire to destroy all the marijuana from Floro's lab. No mention is made of what the hell happened with all of his henchmen.
Gordon: I have the crime statistics for the period Floro's grass was on the streets. Mugging, assault, armed robbery are all down. There's less of everything except road accidents and raids on cookie stores!
Linkara: (shocked) Cookie Monster is a pot smoker?!
Linkara (v/o): And now we really know that Floro's plan wouldn't work. It may end war, but it won't stop traffic accidents.
Batman: But admissions to mental hospitals went up twenty percent and at least a dozen drug dealers were killed or maimed!
Linkara: Okay, but it wasn't the marijuana's fault the drug dealers were killed or maimed, so that seems unfair.
Gordon: Granted. It makes you wonder, though...
Batman: Not me, it doesn't!
Linkara: (as Batman, wearing his mask) Screw your complex, legal and medical issues! (looks up) I am the night!
Gordon: Wherever you're headed, I'd stay upwind of this little lot-- it's supposed to cause havoc with spatial coordination!
Linkara: (as Gordon) That's why I'm standing so close to it. This buzz is gonna last me all weekend.
Linkara (v/o): And Floro's head is back in a jar, where the smoke from the marijuana apparently decides to rise and then fall again right on top of him.
Tim: (narrating) Whatever anybody tells you, dope can drive you crazy!
Linkara: Um, no, I-I'm pretty sure it can't. It can mess you up. Any mind-altering substance can do that. But drive you crazy? Tim, we'd better not see Reefer Madness on your "works cited" page.
Linkara (v/o): Tim is giving his little essay as a speech for his class.
Tim: I feel guilty about what happened to Norris. I wasn't there when he needed me.
Linkara: No, you were ten minutes late, and he was impatient and made a choice for himself.
Linkara (v/o): He asks why dopers do it, and it's here where we fully enter into PSA territory.
Tim: You do it to get "stoned." You do it to get "wasted." To get "smashed." "Caned." "Destroyed." "Out of it." "Off your face." "Out of your head."
(Cut to a clip of Pokemon: The 'Bridged Series)
Brock: I'm sorry, I can't hear you over how much drugs we're doing.
Linkara: Turns out none of these kids did drugs; they just found this speech infinitely preferable to history class, which gets quite confusing for the DC Universe because of all the reboots.
Tim: All expressions meaning you give up control of yourself!
Linkara: (as Tim) When we all know you have no control to give! Your souls belong to this school and places like it for the rest of your meaningless lives!
Tim: We're all blessed with a conscious mind, capable of anything. We can solve all the problems of the world with that mindset...
Linkara: That's right! It's marijuana's fault that we haven't solved war, bigotry, and a lack of pockets on women's pants!
Linkara (v/o): Thus, Tim declares that he'll never take drugs. And so, our comic ends with the class clapping. And oh, dear God, Tim, it's too late! They're all seeing a translucent Robin standing right behind you!
Tim: (narrating) Sometimes, being a hero just isn't enough.
Linkara: (as Tim) It also requires boring speeches that don't address why people actually do drugs. This comic sucks.
Linkara (v/o): Out of all three issues, this one is the worst. I will grant you that at least it's trying to show the positive uses of marijuana outside of being a drug, but the PSA parts are jammed into it, with facts and history having no relation to what's actually occurring in the story. Poison Ivy is just being an asshole to Floro for no good reason, despite him having paid her millions of dollars and him no longer needing her alive, so he could have killed her, too. The action is subpar, with barely a fight between Batman and the Floronic Man, and however the hell he knocked out the dominatrixes. Speaking of, what the hell was their deal. The artwork is average at best, the story is preachy and nonsensical, and it feels like nothing at all was accomplished.
Linkara: Next time, it's another Patreon-sponsored review, this time of another JRPG. So, I should probably start playing that. (gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
So Poison Ivy's actual reason for being in this story is rendered completely moot because Batman never fights any plant/human hybrids.
I didn't see any other cops around helping burn the marijuana. Did Gordon do all of that himself?
(Stinger: A panel showing Tim's lecture while the battle goes on is shown)
Tim: (narrating) The plant was legal tender throughout most of the continent until well into the nineteenth century.
Linkara: It fell out of favor when, instead of "In God We Trust", they read "420 Blaze It".
(Another stinger: Linkara paces around his living room in thought. He makes motions while moving his mouth as if talking to himself. He then walks over to a chessboard with the chess pieces out and moves a pawn. Pollo appears in the room)
Pollo: Alan called. He said the K-lister's crew wanted to meet with you about the design ideas for–
Linkara: A secret ship.
Pollo: Well, I don't think it was meant to be a secret, but...
Linkara: No. (holds up pawn piece) I think we should build one.
Pollo: What are you talking about?
Linkara: We have the technology. We just need the resources. If I can send the Vigilant out to scope it out, maybe find some materials to mine...
Linkara: (looking up, startled) Huh? Oh, sorry, man, I was just thinking out loud here.
Pollo: About what?
Linkara: Ideas, concerns about we have, and most especially, what we don't have. (sits down in futon)
Pollo: I don't follow.
Linkara: It's been months since I fought that... well, Freddy Kreuger thing. (sighs) At the end of it, he said it was my turn. Ever since then, though... nothing. Nothing new, nothing different, nothing out of the ordinary that would normally get my attention.
Pollo: I thought we wrote that off as a lingering aftereffect of the magic coin.
Linkara: I know. It's just... There's something inside of me. A worry, a concern about the future.
Pollo: I don't see much point in dwelling on it.
Linkara: The chessboard is the world, the pieces of a phenomena of the universe. The other player is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair and patient. But we also know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, nor makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.
Pollo: Thomas Huxley.
Linkara: (nods) Mmm... We're woefully unprepared. It always feels that way, anyway. We try to make new weapons and whatnot, but it never seems to be enough, not when the big fights come. Some of them we could hardly call them fights. I beat the Entity by outthinking it, but what happens when one of its bigger brothers comes along and doesn't care about its place in the universe, it just feels like stomping on us?
Pollo: By that same admission, though, why should it care to stomp on us if it's beyond revenge or the like?
Linkara: Tell that to the King of Worms. And it was considered a lesser being in its pantheon. One legend suggested it was a human who ascended into godhood. And even at that level, we got our asses kicked. The King of Worms tricked us in so many ways. And it's not just him. Mechakara has come back more times than I can count. And Vyce took us completely by surprise (holds up two fingers) twice. Then there was that whole fiasco with the magic coin. We didn't know anything about it! (shakes head and sighs) We always try to develop new weapons, new technologies, but... (shakes head) I don't know. Maybe we've lost the knack for it.
Pollo: But we still win through.
Linkara: And that's even more terrifying, though. We don't know how the King of Worms was killed. It just... died!
Pollo: Well, sitting and speculating isn't going to help. What do you suggest we do?
Linkara: We need... information. Knowledge. I know one place we can start looking, (points to Pollo) but I want you to look into something else.
Pollo: At your disposal.
Linkara: When 90s Kid returned from the future, he brought something back with him, some kind of message for me. We haven't done a lot of study of it, but... I think it's time we learned what the hell it means. Get Nimue on it. In the meantime, I'll call Alan back about his thing.
Pollo: On it. (leaves)
(Linkara turns back to the chessboard and takes out a remote control, which he pushes)
Linkara: Time to start moving some pawns...