Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Perhaps a Frontal Lobotomy WOULD Be The Answer ...

When I was a kid, I had a couple of combination comic book and record sets -- in the back of the comic book would be a 45 record that had voice actors performing an audio play of the issue you were reading. In retrospect it's a strange idea -- the beauty of comics is the silent word on paper, the juxtaposition of images to create the impression of time, the ability of art and words to create in the reader all five senses, and combining that with an audio record is a bit of an abomination.

But hey, I was seven years old at the time, what did I know?

I recently bought a replacement copy from eBay of a Batman record book I had, and there's a truly appalling bit at the end of it. Here's a link to an MP3 recording of the relevant section, but I'll post the transcript below for those who can't get the link. It's definitely better to hear it, though.

Robin (in authentic golly-gee-whiz voice): I sure hope they put the Joker away a good long while for this one!
Batman (in solemn, earnest, Batman-As-Wise-Old-Cop voice): Robin, knowing the cleverness of this artful dodger, who can say for sure? Perhaps a frontal lobotomy would be the answer. If science could operate on this distorted brain, and put it to good use, society would reap a great benefit. Come, Robin. Into the Batmobile, and home!

I want you to take a moment and listen to, or read, that again. Yes, you're hearing correctly.

In a Children's comic book, Batman is advocating that we should give the Joker a FRONTAL LOBOTOMY!!!

I usually frown on the use of multiple exclamation points, but I think it's well deserved in this case.

A frontal. Freaking. Lobotomy.

Batman, in a grave and Very Serious voice, gently tells the children of America that cutting open a man's skull and removing his frontal lobes is jolly good fun and a sure-fire win for society. I think it's worth remembering stuff like this when we get all misty-eyed about the past and how "pure and innocent" we were back then. Folks, we were ripping out chunks of brain from bad guys in children's books!

Jiminy Christmas, I need to go lie down. What a world we live in. And I LIKE Batman!


Anthony Strand said...

Holy crap!

Is that John Fiedler as Robin?!

Allen said...

I my day we had to walk uphill in the snow (both ways) on our way to the frontal lobotomy. We we didn't complain.

Tell that to kids these days...

Seriously though, there was a time when frontal lobotomies (and other gruesome "treatments" such as electro-shock therapy) were seen as necessary and even prudent procedures. That doesn't make any of it less icky, but it might explain why it came up in a conversation about "curing" the criminally insane. In what year was this comic written?

I'd rather have a bottle in front-a-me than to have to have a frontal lobotomy!

John said...

Why does the phrase "knowing the cleverness of this artful dodger, who can say for sure? " jump out at me? I want to say that I've heard that somewhere before. Truly, one of the great examples of American wordsmithing of the 20th century.

Anonymous said...

A frontal lobotomy wasn't very sophisticated -- in along the eyeball with an icepick like tool, a quick stir around severing some connections and you're left with a much more tractable subject. Didn't really cure anything but ...


Anonymous said...

Talking about a frontal lobotomy when the super heroes the bad guys against buildings, Superman is left for dead by Lex Luthor how many times? Peter Parker's parents are dead, his uncle dies because Peter's too busy doing something else, Bruce Wayne's parents are killed by a mugger and he grows up morose, albeit rich, Supergirl's whole planet, and that of her cousin, Kal-el, is blown up... these are the delightful tales that kept us fighting for truth, justice and the American way. Just go back to the fairy tales -- Hansel and Gretel on the witch's menu for the night, Red Riding Hood eaten by the wolf and then freed when the lumber jack slices open the wolf's stomach, Snow White and a poisoned apple... And we wonder why we're warped!!! Holy Fairy Tale, Batman! -- Denise

Intruder_W said...

Good old Doc Savage, Ben Grimm's favorite superhero, used to give all the badguys he caught lobotomies.

The same guy who used traquilizer darts so nobody got hurt.

I think John Sunlight got off easy, torn apart by mongols/polar bears.

Jeff Rients said...

I had this album as a kid! This was my first Bat-Man comic. Even then I knew lobotomies where not nice but come on, the Joker shoots a gun at the Dynamic Duo. That never happened on the Superfriends!

I also have a Fantastic Four one where Ben Grimm retells the origin of the FF. I really ought to do a post of my own on that one. And the LP comic where Spider-Man fights Draco the Dragon was awesome.

Jeff Hebert said...

Draco the Dragon, that was it! I had that one too and had totally forgotten about it. I remember the cover art was really cool, though, this big dragon looming up behind Spidey ... Good times, good times. You say "45" to a kid today and they duck, thinking you're about to pull a gun on 'em.

There's another Batman comic / album where he recommends a frontal lobotomy for the villain, but I can't for the life of me remember or find what it was. The internets have failed me for the first time, I think it's time for some new tubes ...

Jeff Rients said...

Sadly, my Spidey versus Draco went missing at some point. Here are the awesome hightlights as I recall them:

*The adventure opens with two teenagers making out in a field. The voice actor for the teen boy played him as a total sleazeball lech. Then they're attacked by Draco's Dragon-Men, who chant just like the Wicked Witch of the West's green-skinned troops.

*Draco's real name is Demosthenes Q. Drake. Ah, Marvel and it's fabulous naming conventions.

*Draco sets up shop in a sewer, which Spidey floods to ruin Draco's plans. Duh.

*The final throwdown is Spidey versus Draco atop the Empire State Building! And Draco shoots fire out of his mouth and the palms of his hands.

*Despite having wings, Draco apparently falls to his doom. WTF?

Truly an awesome Spidey adventure.

Rob said...

I had this! And a bunch of others, too. I remember the Fantastic Four, a Captain America, a couple of Star Treks...

Good times.

Thanks for the flashback, my friend.

And the frontal lobotomy bit? The mind boggles. At least a dozen times, I've pulled out some cherished relic of my childhood, ready to share it with my boys, and come across something like that reference that makes me wonder why I'm not more screwed up than I am.