Monday, September 27, 2010

Didja notice?

Like most American homes, ours has a bathroom well furnished with reading material. And for the last few months, every time I've gone in there, I've seen this comics collection cover:


It's one of the DC Showcase volumes of Silver Age superhero comics. This one is the third volume of World's Finest stories -- World's Finest being the series that teamed up Superman and Batman.

I looked at that cover over and over for weeks. And then I began to idly wonder who the heroes were punching out. What was the context for this moment of triumphant mayhem? Was this just a generic image, or did it have a story?

One day I realized the truth. They are punching out their non-super alter egos. It's a little hard to tell, but the signifiers are there: Note the glasses flying from Clark Kent's face, Robin's youthful (and vaguely swarthy) opponent, and ... Bruce Wayne's shoes look expensive, sorta, don't they?

I assume there's a sensational issue from which this splash page was taken, in which some sort of ginned-up appearance of conflict between the costumed versions and the secret identities. What's interesting to me, though, is that every time I see the cover now, I go through a ten-second version of the realization that took me weeks the first time: Oh, that comic book again, hm, who are they punching, oh yeah, it's themselves!

How long would it have taken you to figure it out? Or did you know right away?

No comments: