Daily Batman: the little Robin was a hot button


vintage poster art by Michael Myers on the behance network.

“Like the girls in other stories, Robin is sometimes held captive …. They constantly rescue each other from violent attacks by an unending number of enemies. The feeling is conveyed that we men must stick together because there are so many villainous creatures who have to be exterminated. They lurk not only under every bed but also behind every star in the sky” (p. 190-1).

Wertham argued that danger could be stimulating, and that in the wrong circumstances that stimulation could take a sexual turn. He called such stories “erotic rescue fantasies.” They were intended, he said, to make Robin more devoted to Batman than to anyone else on earth.

(Wertham, Frederic. Seduction of the Innocent. 1954. qtd in “Wertham’s Ghost,” The Animated Batman. April 19, 2006.)

Childrens’ rights crusader, noted comic-“reformer,” and homophobe Dr. Frederic Wertham took special care in his explosively nonsensical bullshit-book Seduction of the Innocent to devote more time to dissecting the perceived homoeroticism in Batman than to any other comic of the time. Winner, winner, chicken dinner? Dubious and highly disputed honor. For the record, the creators initially found his accusations laughable and explained that the character of Robin was indeed intended as wish-fulfillment, but only to keep the audience of young boys who imagined themselves being able to aid the Dark Knight in his efforts to clean up his city. Oh, what rabble-rousers.

On the other hand, Wertham is perhaps the first theorist of any note to take a genuinely psychological and critical eye to comics, trying to root out the source of their success and overarching mythos in their stories, and, though I may not 100% agree with his conclusions, I cannot in good conscience decry that early and earnest undertaking of a stab at a [misguided] unified theory of comics. People read them: they do matter.

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One Response to “Daily Batman: the little Robin was a hot button”

  1. IzaakMak Says:

    Lunacy indeed! But as you say, people read them. You can’t just ignore the loonies, ’cause they won’t go away on their own.

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