Sunday, July 13, 2008

How to teach your child about Batman

With the imminent release of another Batman film at the cinemas, a lot of folk seem to be paying a little more attention to the caped crusader. Granted, most of those people are still mystified why the word BLAP! doesn't appear on screen when Batman punches someone's head in.

Time to brush away your ignorance once and for all, you thick dullard. If you're still sitting there saying to yourself, "What happened to that mincing teenage boy that used to hang around Batman? He was funny. By the way, I ain't no homo.", then you've come to right place. Your child should be introduced to Batman the correct way. Not the wrong way, the way most of the human race was introduced to him.

First things first

Now, naturally your child will gravitate towards Batman for entertainment. He's fun, tough and he dresses up like a bat and beats the fuck out of ne'er-do-well types. Awesome right? Well, let's not get ahead of ourselves. You may think that any old introduction to the imposing cape & cowl will do. Wrong. You can't just point to a crappy $15 dollar action figure in your local supermarket and say "That's Batman." The child will automatically think "Lame." and move on to Hanna Montana or something.

Here now is a step by step guide on what, how & why your pre-pubescent child should be exposed to this legendary 79-year old vigilante.


Comics are where Batman started, and so should you. For your child, who preferably knows absolutely nothing at this stage, the best introduction is the simplest. Namely this:

Date: 1987

Spanning four issues, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Year One covers all the basics and delivers all the information to the child in a tight, crisp and punchy narrative that should be nice and easy on their senses. It's available in one complete trade paperback pretty much everywhere nowadays, so getting hold of it shouldn't a problem.

It tells the tale of how Batman became Batman, which is a natural place to start. Obviously, Batman started in 1939's Detective Comics but there's two major problems with you child reading that comic:

1) It's as rare as hens eggs and expensive as fuck.

2) Convincing your child to read an eight decade old comic will be like trying to climb Mt Everest with a blindfold over your eyes. Which is on fire.

If you want to try and track it down anyway, then by all means go for it. But I'm trying to make this easy as possible for you.

Year One (pictured above) details the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, the introduction of James Gordon, the decaying crime-ridden filth pit that is Gotham City and generally ticks all the boxes for your child when it comes to meeting Batman for the first time. Frankly, it's brilliant. It rules so hard that if you ever met it in a dark alley somewhere it would kick your arse, steal your wallet and then go burn your house down.

Date: 1992-1995

Based on the striking art-deco images of producer Bruce Timm, Batman: The Animated Series is perfect for younger audiences. Now, I don't mean perfect as in you can plonk them down in front of it and all the pretty colours will distract while you piss off down the pub to put their education funds into the gaping maw of a poker machine.

I mean, it's perfect because it doesn't treat the child like a fool. It's scripts are as tight as a snare drum and portrays its characters with respect. Gotham City is an artist's paradise in this show, combing 1940s era automobiles and architecture with 21st century intelligence. The stories are engaging, fun and always centred on a telling a tale with purpose. Your child will drink it in like morphine-laced breast milk.

You may get a few questions from the child as you sit down with them to watch Season 1 (which you should stick to just for now). Such as "Who's Robin?", "Who are all these looney bad guys?" and "Why does the voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, sound so fucking awesome?". Well, tell the child to just chill and enjoy the ride. Everything will be explained in due time.

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