Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Month of... Batman's Got a Gun, Day 26: The Bad News Batman Goes to Japan

Tonight: we're reading Batman manga...or, as it's more properly known, BATMANGA! (na na na na na na na na / gong!)

Yes, let's look toward the East (or, if you're reading this from California, the West) to the Rising Sun of the classic work of Jiro Kuwata. Don't forget: read from right to left! Or you'll be very confused, and look hopelessly uncool to those hep, with-in, manga reading kids from their positions of sitting on the floor at Barnes and Noble.

The amazing title "The Man Who Quit Being Human" accompanies the uncanny story of an extraordinary governor evolving to the next level of all-new life...he's becoming a mutant! (There will now be a slight pause so you can riff "The Jesse Ventura Story!") All this mutanting means he can migrate over to Marvel Comics and drink in some of that luxurious, rich X-Men money, but he's still concerned about it. Well, wouldn't you, if you faced the prospect of losing that gorgeous head of hair?

Panels from "The Man Who Quit Being Human" in Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga v.1 (December 2014), originally published in 少年キング [Shonen King] #38/1966-#41/1966 (September 1966), and in translated form in the US in Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga digital comic #16-18 (October 2014); script, pencils, and inks by Jiro Kuwata; translation by Sheldon Drzka; English lettering by Wes Abbott

Y'know, dude, you want somebody to kill you, don't go to the Batman. I mean, Lord Death Manis probably hanging around somewhere nearby, ask him.

Later, as Governor Warner is pelted by gamma rays, Batman is introduced to the "high-powered laser" gun which will enable him not only to shoot Warner, but to scan coupons at his local Savings-Mart. To sum up so far: Batman's got a gun, but he's not too happy about it. Me, i would be over the moon. So much to shoot!

Let's draw back the curtains to reveal our special guest-star: Charles Burns's Black Hole! (cheers, applause)

OH MAN did you see the way it zapped that big-ass metal all into nothingness I really really want one of those!

"Batman, you've pledged to never, ever shoot a gun and kill somebody. Will you shoot a gun and kill someone?" "Yeah, okay."

Batman takes control of the giant laser! It's got handlebars like a motorcycle, so I like to think that this scene was accompanied by Shonen Knife's popular cover of "Born to Be Wild."

But Batman can't pull the trigger, not even to save all of humanity. Well, thanks a lot, Batman. This scene was accompanied by the's energetic cover of Billy Joel's "An Innocent Man." Yeah, I like to pretty much assume every panel of Batmanga is scored to J-Pop.

Thanks to Batman's cowardly reticence to slaughter a guy just because he possesses the "X" gene, all of humanity is at risk! Especially, for some reason, cosplayers. The mutation has turned Governor Warner into Batman Beyond! With one antenna in the middle of his forehead. He's a Terry McGinnis unicorn. McGinnicorn.

Dramatic...gesture! Speed lines! What looks like the Starfleet symbol on Spock's coffin! Batman is not shooting that laser, darn it!


Then, when Batman finally does manage to shoot X-Warner, there's no effect. It doesn't leave a scratch, thanks to new Hard-Coat Lemon Pledge! Pledge Furniture Polish: Keeping your home spotless and your mutants unshootable since 1953!

So: Batman has fired a gun, and it didn't do any good. Thus his long-held belief, oft expressed to Robin: "I don't use guns; I never will. The one time I did, I totally whiffed it."

Of course, the "kill me before I become too powerful...too late!" trope is a pretty popular one. Here's one of the more recognizable examples. This oughta make Batman feel lots better: hey, if Wolverine couldn't kill somebody, there's no shame in that. And Wolverine has been known to kill people just for taking the prize out of the cereal box before he gets it. Lookin' at you, Gambit.

Panels from [Uncanny7] X-Men (1963 series) #136 (August 1980), co-plot and script by Chris Claremont, co-plot and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Tom Orzechowski

And I'd be amiss (or a miss) if I didn't mention this Batmanga was based on a Batman tale from our own country, Batman #165's "The Man Who Quit the Human Race!" Please note that in the original Batman wasn't asked to kill the Governor, nor does he make any attempt to. "Come on, Robin!" he says, emphasizing the Boy Wonder's name in case you thought he might be addressing Green Lantern. "We've got to knock him out!" You hear that, ya lousy mutie? Batman said knock you out!

Panels from "The Man Who Quit the Human Race!" in Batman #165 (August 1964), script by Gardner F. Fox, pencils by Sheldon Moldoff, inks by Joe Giella

So the score is: Japanese Batman placed in a situation where he must kill, almost can't do it, tries and fails. American Batman: doesn't even get asked to that particular prom.


Delta said...

The weird is I actually did get very confused by the dialogue flow when you switched back to the American comics (which I had even read before!).

RBS, Philom. said...

I shall Telepath!

And Internet speech is invented!

Do you even telepath?

Blam said...

"Robin and the Real Girl" just about killed me.