Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by A beaker full of death, Jul 21, 2012.
Any thoughts on why this image, dating back to the 40s, has become so very iconic?
Probably because of how famous a part of the Batman mythos Robin is. Also due to his age and if he did die how great a loss it would be to Batman. Bruce became Batman due to the deaths of his own parents. If a boy he sees as a son where killed it would be as great a loss. Its symbolism.
Well, if he was really concerned about Robin he'd probably dress him in something else besides tights and a pair of hot pants.
Well if he was reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally concerned for Robin he probably wouldn't take him out every night to brawl with hardened criminals twice his age and fives times his size.
With the exception of the first two images, all of the others are just reprints/reproductions of the iconic image from "A Death in the Family." It should be pointed out that you can find a similar let of pictures that reproduce the iconic image from Crisis on Infinite Earths with Superman holding Supergirl in a similar pose when she died. Superhero deaths, especially if they stick for any length of time, are usually done in iconic imagery. The image is meant to be memorable.
Incredibly, I hadn't even thought about that. Shame on me.
Yes. All three images (Jesus, Robin, Supergirl) seem to be of a parent (figure) holding their own slain child (figure) - someone they had responsibility for. It's not just two superheroes. It wouldn't be the same if it were Batman holding a slain Superman. It seems to me there's an instant attribution of the survivor's responsibility for the life - and therefore the death - of the child figure.
Just pulling this out of my ass as I go. More thoughts welcome.
It also seems to have become a form of commentary in some recent cases. Since Jason Todd's death that the very idea of Robin, Batman having a child sidekick, is outdated.
I read a Robin once where the Joker says that he's so incredibly sure he's killed Robin dozens of times that he's starting to believe that Robin never existed and the entire concept is some twisted dellusion.
There's the scene in Final Crisis where Superman carries Batman's body, I suppose.
Which is actually the cover of the novelization.
Bump for what I was also going to post.
The image's iconic quality predates Batman/Robin. The image of a broken person being held by their loved one is enduring, most prominently in the religious imagery of the Pieta. It's been reused and recycled extensively over the centuries in other contexts. You see it across lots of movies and TV shows too. They may not necessarily know what they're referencing, but all these similarly symbolic portrayals work together to cement its enduring nature.
What of the death of Bucky?
This is really interesting. Are all sidekicks outdated now? What really is the purpose of the sidekick?
Some sidekicks give us entre into the world of the hero. Watson was not only a normal guy with whom the reader could identify, he was the narrator and chronicler of Holmes's adventures. Robin, and the spate of young sidekicks at the time (Speedy, Bucky, Butch, Boy, Jimmy Olson, and later Aqualad, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl) also were intended to give the young comic reader someone to relate to in these stories - to feel that they were in on the adventure. And, despite the bullets flying and wartime context, the tone was generally light (indeed, the advent of Robin lightened up the tone of Batman considerably, his origin notwithstanding) and the danger a fanciful abstraction.
Sidekicks also served the function of providing contrast for the hero's extraordinary skills. Holmes famously remarked to Watson, "It may be that you are not yourself luminous, but you are a conductor of light. Some people without possessing genius have a remarkable power of stimulating it...When I said that you stimulated me I meant, to be frank, that in noting your fallacies I was occasionally guided towards the truth."
Sidekicks are always inferior to the hero -- either they are a comic figure like Doiby Dickles or Cisco Kid's Pancho, a youth like Robin, a racial minority like Kato or Tonto - basically someone who, even when competent, could in no way compete with the hero for the limelight. Of course, the advent of racial justice and the rise of the anti-hero did a lot to change that dynamic.
So, between the "darkening" of comics and the erosion of the classic worship of the hero, are all sidekicks outdated at this point?
Not sidekicks in general but Batman's having a child sidekick!
He's going out there and fighting armed thugs, murderous maniacs and people bent on destroying Gotham and as an aide Batman brings a twelve year old boy in hot pants to help?
It doesn't really fit or make sense.
Robin as a sidekick is very, very different than Holmes having with him an intellectual near-equal, adult, doctor.
As for other child or child-like sidekicks, I don't think they fit well either. Jimmy Olson was a tool and probably more annoying to Superman than as a helpful "sidekick." And the idea of putting a child into a movie to give child-readers someone to connect with is the type of stupid thinking that gets us Short Round and a young child Darth Vader.
When kids read these stories or watch these movies they don't want to be a child hanging out with the superhero or the hero they want to BE the hero. It wasn't "Gosh! I wish I could hang out with Batman in a pair of pantyhose and help him kick the ass of murderous thugs while mostly being ineffectual and end up getting caught to give Batman more of motive to do his self-appointed job!" it was "Man! I wish I could be Batman and an unstoppable bad ass kicking the ass of murderous thugs!"
A late teens or 20-something Robin would make a touch more sense and being more acceptable, but a child is just an idea that I think has gotten harder and harder to swallow over time.
Well don't forget for much of Batman's early publishing history he was read by a younger audience than today. He fought outlandish crimimials who robbed banks and did not kill people. That was there in the beginning but went away around the time Robin first appeared.
Since the 80's all of the Robin's except for Damian have been depicted as being teenagers. Damian is something of a special case since he'd probably be more dangerous if he were not out there as Robin so that Batman can keep an eye on him.
And it's not like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys weren't running around catching smugglers and counterfeiters and bank robbers on their own. Children's fiction (which is what comics were back then) was full of kids getting into dangerous adventures. Think Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island, Huckleberry Finn, even Tom Swift . . . .
(And, later, there was also the Three Investigators, the Newsboy Legion, Johnny Quest, and so on. Children's fiction tends not to be about kids who stay home, obey curfews, and never get themselves into risky situations!)
It was a simpler time.
Not really different at all. It's frequently made clear in the stories that Watson is nowhere near the intellectual equal of Holmes (of course, only three or four other characters ever were - Mycroft, Moriarty, The Woman, and ...?). He's simply not competition for Holmes, and as such, never threatened to take center stage. (The only way in which Watson was able to surpass Holmes was in his ability to have a normal life -- to romance women, to have friends and a wife. It was always made clear these things were of no interest to Holmes -- if they had been, you may be sure that Watson would not have been any good at them).
Thus Watson, like Robin, was never in a position to upstage or surpass Holmes/Batman. To the sensibilities of the time(s), no one was interested in them in their own right, but rather, what they showed us about the hero. Watson and Robin were not the center of their respective universes. They were sidekicks, not partners.
But these characters were surrogates for the reader (indeed, Watson was the narrator). These types of sidekicks are in part Mary Sue characters who let us into the story to marvel at the hero's accomplishments. What's Batman going to do next? We don't know. Robin doesn't know. We get to "ride along" and find out. Robin becomes our surrogate.
Again, I refer to the literary role of the sidekick prior to the late '60s. After that, a lot changed.
I have to reject that. We always think that. You've grouped together writers from a huge swath of time. I'm sure that, in the post-Pearl Harbor world, writers looked at the 19th century as being a simpler time. Now it's post 9/11, and we look at the 20th century as a simpler time. I, for one, don't believe it. I know I grew up in tough times, nothing simple about them. I certainly find the world as represented in the arts today (movies and tv, primarily) as far less complex than the artistic representations of 30-40 years ago.
Good point. That was an overly glib way to put it. But one could argue perhaps that, as a society, we're perhaps a bit more sensitive on the issue of child safety than earlier eras. And, of course, that we expect comic books to be more "adult" and "realistic" these days.
I'm just saying that readers in the forties and fifties might have just accepted a child fighting crime as a bit of juvenile comic-book silliness that didn't need to be defended or rationalized.
(Have you ever watched the old black-and-white NANCY DREW movies? They're hilarious, at least to modern eyes. Nancy comes off as an utter loon without a trace of self-preservation. "Come on, Ned! I'll bet we can track down those armed bank robbers all by ourselves. I'll just tell my dad we're going fishing!")
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