Detective Comics #571 was one of the first comics that I commented on when I started the blog back in April 2005. Those first few posts are painful to read now - I hadn't quite hit on the proper "voice" for the blog yet - but are mercifully short. I thought I would revisit this issue today, complete with actual scans and actual jokes.
Here's what I wrote Back in the Day:
That about sums it up. This one-shot story pits Batman and Robin against the Pharoah of Phobias, The Scarecrow! Instead of his usual fear-inducing gas, this time The Scarecrow has mixed things up a little and uses fear-inhibiting gas as a blackmail* tool. That's what I like about old school Batman villains: they had gimmicks and costumes and shit, but in the end they were all about the Benjamins. The Scarecrow has an understandable motivation: he wants to get paid. In full.
The Duke of Dread doses a champion race car driver who refuses to pay an extortion demand with his new anti-fear gas, robbing him of all fear and self-preservation. The driver crashes in the middle of a race after doing something stupid, and his car goes up in flames. Dude is trappped. Lucky for him Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd, both big NASCAR fans, are in the stands drinking Coors Ice and sucking on chili dogs. They change into Batman and Robin and leap into action:
Batman has Robin, umm, hose him down before he rescues the driver from the burning car, which leads us to this classic panel:
With some effort, I will refrain from indulging in obvious and infantile humor. I doubt I could add anything new to the collective oeuvre of Batman & Robin gay humor anyway. And really, the whole Batman & Robin gay thing is sort of played-out, isn't it? Can't we just move on? Anyway, the sound effects design in this comic book is excellent - I love that shooosh hose effect.
Thanks to Batman & Robin, the driver survives the crash. The Scarecrow shows up in the guy's hospital room and demands money. The driver refuses. Bad call. Still under the influence of the anti-fear drug, the driver makes like R. Kelly and believes he can fly. He is mistaken.
Things move fast in this comic. Within a few short pages The Scarecrow kidnaps Robin and doses Batman with his anti-fear gas, then lays out a series of elaborate and undoubtedly expensive death traps for Batman to navigate in his impaired state. So that's why The Scarecrow needs to rob people - quality death traps aren't cheap, you know.
Batman waltzes into The Scarecrow's traps, psychotically overconfident. Look at that cocky S.O.B.:
Chris Sims would say: "YOU ARE NOW FREAKING OUT!"
There is further death trap hilarity and radness:
Damn, how is Batman gonna get outta that tight spot? I'll tell you: he ducks underwater and wedges himself in a corner and then breathes using air trapped in his cape, of course.
The Scarecrow is laughing his bony ass off and gloating about Batman's apparent death to Robin when a wet and pissed Dark Knight shows up. "Wha--? How did you escape?"
Again, quality sound effects. Batman hit Scarecrow so hard that he smeared the sound effect and apparently broke the villain's chicken neck as well. Do not get Batman wet, it just pisses him off. That cape weighs a frickin' ton when it gets wet and takes forever to dry. You try driving around in the Batmobile all night with a wet ass and see how happy you are.
There you are: a slightly more comprehensive look at a neo-classic Batman comic, complete with bad jokes. I've come a long way in one year.
*Common error: I used the word blackmail when I really should have used the word extortion instead. My journalism prof would be so disappointed.