[A post from new Guest Blogger -- though regular commenter -- Ultimate Matt. I am going to preface this post with an epigraph from T.S. Eliot: "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." I think Matt's specific point about the thunder clap here goes a little to far, but I think it goes a little too far in the way that the claim Leo Quintum is Lex Luthor in All Star Superman went a little too far -- while I am unconvinced in both cases, the dramatic claim is drawing attention to something that is present and important in the actual narrative. Tell me what you think:]
Check out this page from The Goddamn Batman #7 (my apologies for the poor scan quality).
Batman and Black Canary, right after beating the crap out of some criminals, lay down on the docks for some lovin'. They keep their masks on, because it's better that way (by the way, surprisingly little is made of the fact that this is a clear reference to Watchmen, when Nite Owl and Silk Spectre do the same thing, and for the same reason).
Originally, I took the Lightning Bolt in the center panel as a simple, all purpose metaphor for sex. Than it occured to me - for several pages leading up to this, Canary is all over Batman's jock. Telling him how hot he is, fauning over him like a lovestruck damsel. IMMEDIATELY after the sex, she's treating him like a total chump.
That lightning bolt isn't just a metaphor for sex, it was the LENGTH of the sex. The Goddamn Batman was done in seconds. Look how proud he is of himself in that last panel, and look how let down & vaguely disgusted Canary is (don't tell me Jim Lee is incapable of subtlety). It's clear as day - The Goddamn Batman is overcompensating for his lack of prowess. It fits in nicely with Miller's mockery of the tough guy Batman that he himself helped create (remember Gordon's annoyance with Batman's self-conscious "grim and gritty" style in issue 10).
Note also that he immediately goes to bragging about his car, arguably the most stereotypical male overcompensation for penis size and lack of sexual prowess. Then note how pissy he gets when she mocks his "car" and calls it queer.
This is such a great comic.
[This is such a great comic. I do not think Leo Quintum is Lex Luthor, but I do think the similarities are supposed to make up set them next to each other, and see what kind of person Lex Luthor could have become. As Jog said (I think), in a book where Superman fights versions of himself, it makes sense to give Lex and double as well. In All Star Batman, I think equating the lightning bolt with the length of sex is maybe too specific (cannons, rockets and champagne bottles are common things to cut to when you need to cut away from a sex scene for obvious reasons and they do not generally in those cases mean speed). But Matt is right to point out what I missed, that Black Canary is not exactly swooning after the encounter, she does make fun of his car, which is a stereotypical symbol of male prowess (and MIller loves that stuff) and he does overcompensate. And, in pushing his style to extremes Miller DOES seem to be sending up the tough guy thing in the series as a whole, even if maybe in his own mind he still has a kind of frightening awe for the tough guy thing.
Matt smartly notices Watchmen floating around the edges of this scene, something else I missed; something I noticed when looking closer: Miller does not exactly own the lightning bolt as an image, but it is so iconic in Dark Knight Returns it feels like he may be invoking both here. Why, I am not sure. I could say it means those books totally fucked the comics industry -- but now I think I am going too far.]