Comics are awesome!

A Death in the Family/A Lonely Place of Dying by Jim Starlin, Mary Wolfman, Jim Aparo and George Perez (and some other people too  I think)

So A Death in the Family came out at the end of 1988 and it was kind of a huge deal. Fans were less impressed with the new Robin, Jason Todd, then they had been with Dick Grayson who had, at that point in the story, gone off to become Nightwing and hang out with the Teen Titans (although that didn’t last long). Because 1) Dick is awesome and 2) Jason Todd had a bit of a Harry Potter in the Order of the Phoenix vibe (uper whiny and yelly all the time) DC put it to a vote. Readers could call one phone number if they wanted Jason Todd to live, and one if they wanted him to die.

Yeah, so that didn’t really go so well for Jason.

And from the perspective of the story, it was a great choice. To have Batman loose this young person who he loved was just awesome for character development and driving the plot forward into places it hadn’t really gone before. I mean, Batman had been dark and grumpy but … this was just fantastic. This is why writers are kind of jerks – they put their characters through unthinkable hell just so they’ll “grow” and “develop” and be “interesting.”

For me, who didn’t have a lot of time to get to know and be annoyed by Jason it as super sad seeing this over emotional but reasonably likable teenager have like… the worst week of his life, ending in him finding his long lost mother only to have her betray him and then get beaten to death with a crow bar. And it was equally heartbreaking to see Batman struggle to choose between this boy he loves and saving lives. He knows that everything could be okay if Jason just listened to him but he also knows that Jason rarely does.It’s just so heart breaking watching his heartbreak that even though it was so good for the narrative I kind of wish more people had called to save Jason. I would have. If I hadn’t been about a year old at the time.

Lonely in a Place of Dying was published the next year. I’m not sure if they back to back or there was a bit of a lull there, but either way it was equally wonderful. We see Batman hurting over Jason’s death and handling it in the only way possible for Batman – getting the snot beaten out of him regularly by super-villains. Alfred is getting sick of saving Bruce’s life, Gordan knows something is up and a random, very brilliant child called Tim Drake decides to take matters into his own hands.

Tim Drake had worked out, all by himself that Bruce Wayne is the Batman, Dick Grayson was Robin and is now Nightwing (who wears the dumbest custom EVER in the 1980s – I cannot fathom what was wrong with that decade if they thought a giant blue collar that comes up to your ears and a deep v-neck spandex onesy would ever make a super hero look sexy) and that Jason Todd had been Robin #2. Tim tracks down Dick, who’s got issues of his own and begs him to come back, be Robin and help Batman. Dick does two of those things – the one he can’t do is be Robin again.

Luckily though Tim Drake is there to slip into the little green ankle boots and charge off to save Batman and Nightwing and by the end it’s pretty clear there will always be a Robin.

This story is just so full of manly bonding and emotional compromises and all these other awesome things that I love so much that I can’t even explain how much I giggled.

The one big downside to this comic was the Technicolor-ness of it. Again, this brings me back to the 80s and why they thought that every frame, even the ones at night had to be blindingly bright. But I got over that pretty fast ’cause the story was worth it. Given the goofy look of it, I was kind of surprised by the depth and darkness of the events. I thought that a blindingly yellow cape and ankle books might have taken away from that but it really didn’t. Not at all.

Last movie I watched: Religilous. Kind of scared me – thanks Bill Maher. But he does make a depressingly compelling argument for how religious people are going to end the world.

Last TV episode I watched: Batman. Joined by Robin. Also Flash. They win!


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