I’m not one for Meme’s— but I can understand their appeal. Essentially its an existing photograph in which witty words are added to make it funny. One I’m familiar with and I DO think is funny is the Bat Slap Meme— Batman hauling off and letting Robin have one. As someone who grew up with Burt Ward’s Holy this and Holy that I can appreciate the need to slap the kid silly.
The slap itself is from a panel from a Silver Age comic book which featured Superman and Batman together for adventures. National Comics (now known as DC Comics) rightfully figured if a kid is looking to spend his 10 or 12c frugally he or she might be inclined to buy a book with TWO heroes in it for the same low price.
I’m going to keep my comments to a minimum (or at least try to) but I have to point out a few things here. As I said this is a comic from what’s known as the Silver Age period of comic books. This particular book is from November 1965 which means it was probably on the stands in mid September. During this period of comics history DC Comics was the industry leader by leaps and bounds but a newly formed Marvel Comics, born from the ashes of what was Atlas Comics in the 1940s, was making headway with superior stories that were aimed more at adults and college kids than the juvenile fare DC Comics was putting out. To put it frankly, DC Comics was publishing some really stupid comics during this period and this one is a perfect example of that. They had a habit of coming up with what they called “imaginary” stories— as if all comics aren’t imaginary stories— but essentially it meant exploring their characters but ignoring the established traits and histories. The reality is they were running out of ideas.
So in this story, Batman is the enemy of Superman, because we start with the premise that Bruce Wayne’s dad is a scientist who comes to Metropolis to work on a cure for Kryptonite to help out Superboy (Supeman’s character when he was a kid). Stay with me here.
So Bruce finds his dad dead. Bruce is smart enough to figure out Superboy killed him. He puts this together because apparently his dad’s head was smashed to bits and someone in a Superboy costume flew away from the scene of the crime. That’s not enough evidence for Bruce, he decides he will dedicate his life to hunting down Superboy.
Bruce Wayne spends his learning years becoming a detective, and since it’s only logical he decides to become this great detective who wears a Bat-costume. He stands in front of the portrait of his dead parents and vows to avenge their deaths. Or maybe just dad’s death, maybe mom is living in assisted living somewhere.
Just savor that catchy expositionary dialogue! Batman is vowing to the portrait again, Robin makes the mistake of grabbing a newspaper to show Batman that he read what a boss guy Superman is so Batman lets him have it. He asks Robin if he’s with him on this, and Robin declines so Batman wipes his memory clean with the hypnosis machine he usually only uses after dates with Catwoman.
Batman starts his plan of vengeance by going to see Lex Luthor, known criminal mastermind and instantly revealing his secret identity to him because, you know, logic. Luthor agrees to help Batman. I love the way Batman and Superman are drawn with thick waistlines— very dad like bodies.
Dig that last panel— exposition at it’s best. Batman is yelling to Superman that the Batarang he just caught is coated with sticky Kryptonite— as Superman plummets to Earth he takes the time to clue us readers in that Batman is right— this is Kryptonite and it’s working on him, which is why he’s now falling out of the sky.
Superman falls right into Luthor’s lab and Batman follows. Luthor is delighted that he finally has Superman in a glass coffin lined with Kryptonite and then let’s slip that he knew about the Kryptonite serum Superboy stole from Batman’s dad which started this whole thing in the first place. Batman, being the keen detective and all— is like “Heeey, wait a minute— only the killer would know about the serum!”
Batman turns on Lex who spills the beans like a six year old caught with mom’s wallet at the five and dime. It turns out that Lex did kill Batman’s dad, but it was an accident because the robot Superboy he used to commit the crime wasn’t perfected and it accidently crashed into Dr Wayne knocking his brains out.
Sorry about that, Bruce!
Wrapping up this 7 page epic (which probably included a title page) Batman realizes the error of his ways and smashes Superman out of his glass coffin. Luthor knowing the jig is up, shoots Batman with his Z-Ray gun because bullets wouldn’t be easier, and Batman, now mortally wounded (we know this because he tells us this) holds onto Lex until Superman is strong enough to take over, then he collapses and dies. His final words? Goodbye.
Pass the hanky.
So there you have it— Superboy Robot, Z-Ray gun to kill Batman, Batman convinced Superman is a killer only to have his mind changed in a half a second by someone giving his some heresay evidence all adds up to DC Comic Books were pretty stupid in the Silver Age which is why Marvel Comics was starting to kick it’s ass.
Today’s stories of superheroes are much more advanced than this, you’d never have Batman convinced Superman is a killer who must be eliminated suddenly change his mind simply because someone tells him something— like his mother and Superman’s mother are both named Martha.
Comic books are pretty stupid sometimes.