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Batman and Robin Batman and Robin
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Martian Manhunter & J. Hex New!

Superman and The Flash New!

Justice League of America

Jonah Hex

Green Lantern


Green Arrow and The Flash


The Flash


Gotham City Police Dept.

Johnny Thunder and Shazam!

Batman, Green Lantern,
and The Flash


Metal Men

Pete Ross and Lana Lang

Superman & J'onn J'onzz

Charles M. Jones

Batman and Robin

The Flash and Zatanna

Jor-El and Lara

DC Prez Jenette Kahn


Clark Kent and Lois Lane

The Haunted Tank

Superman and Lois Lane

The Unknown Soldier

The Vigilante

The Private Life of Clark Kent

Green Arrow and Black Canary

Sgt. Rock and Easy Company

Witching Hour

Green Arrow, The Human Target,
and Superman

Super Friends

Lois & Clark

Green Arrow & Black Canary

Superman & Jimmy Olsen


Batman & Shazam!

Justice Society of America

Phantom Stranger and
Phantom Girl

Batman and Robin

Black Lightning

Private Life of Clark Kent

Green Arrow and The Warlord

Eclipso / Mr. Mxyzptlk

The Flash & Adam Strange


Lightning Lad & Chameleon Boy

Justice League of America

Wonder Woman

Zatanna and Professor Zoom

Firestorm, the Nuclear Man

Swamp Thing

Gotham City Police Dept.

Bizarro World

The Atom

The Flash and The Mirror Master


The Batman and the Joker

Lex Luthor and Brainiac

The Flash

Enemy Ace

Green Arrow & Black Canary

Hawkman & the Flash

The Phantom Stranger

Legion of Super-Heroes

Green Lantern


Batman and Red Tornado

Green Lantern and the Flash

The Creeper

Robin, the Boy Wonder

Justice League of America

Legion of Super-Heroes

Elongated Man and Plastic Man

Superman Family

The Flash and the Spectre

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen


Hawkman & Hawkgirl


Wildcat & Dr. Fate

Batman & Robin


Plastic Man

Bob 'Answer Man' Rozakis

Batman & the Flash

Green Arrow & Green Lantern

The Atom

Batman & Robin

Coming soon

Jimmy Olsen & Lois Lane

Steve Trevor


Steve Savage

The Flash

Johnny Thunder

Sgt. Rock & Easy Company


Johnny Cloud

Green Lantern

Lois, Clark & Jimmy

Plastic Man

Perry White & Jimmy Olsen

Martian Manhunter

Madame Xanadu

Bruce Wayne


Swamp Thing

Fred Hembeck

Batman and Robin
Uploaded June 25, 2000

Hey! It's the original Ambiguously Gay duo!

You think I'm kidding? Go read Fredric Wertham's landmark 'Seduction of the Innocent'. It's all about how comic books corrupt and destroy children's morals, leading them on a path towards juvenile delinquency and a lifetime of crime and anti-social behavior. See, Mom? It wasn't the Bugs Bunny cartoons, after all; it was the comic books that you should have been worried about.

In all fairness to Doc Wertham, he meant well. At least, I think so. Either he was genuinely well intentioned, but utterly clueless and without a facility for logic and rational thought, or else he was deliberately disingenuous in an attempt to gain prestige by demonizing comics and their publishers. Either way, he had a tremendous impact on the comics industry, in terms of both actual content and the perceptions of western society towards comic books.

A lot of people have written about the changes made in terms of content as a result of Wertham's 'findings'. Entire genres disappeared, the super-hero titles got significantly more sterile, and Batman and Robin found themselves saddled with 'Aunt Agatha', in an attempt to discredit Wertham's attempt to paint the dynamic duo as having a homoerotic relationship. There's nothing like having a live-in spinster aunt to force you back in the bat-closet, I guess.

In all fairness to Wertham, the changes in the industry that took place, such as the closing of the EC comics line, may have been influenced by other factors. Writer/artist Frank Miller and others have speculated that, as a whole, the industry executives' collective defense of certain publishers - M.C. Gaines being the notable example - was less than spirited, simply because his lines of comics were doing so well in the marketplace. As long as Wertham remained focused on titles in the horror and crime genres, it's very possible that comics publishers in other genres (i.e., super-heroes, humor, Classics, etc.) saw his crusade as a healthy one - healthy for their own bottom line, that is. Needless to say, he didn't remain focused on the horror and crime genres. "First, they came for the engineers, but I wasn't an engineer, and so I said nothing."

The more profound - and subtler - effect was the increasingly widespread notion that comics were a kids' medium only. By trumpeting so loudly the alleged damage that comics were doing to kids, he associated comic books solely with children, a public perception that still persists. As Scott McLeod rightly points out in his highly regarded treatise on the medium, 'Understanding Comics', comic books don't have to be the same old loud, uninspired super-hero slugfests that they often are. The comic form is a communications medium, akin to novels, film, radio, television or the web. Like each of those media, comics have their own particular strengths and weaknesses as communication channels. What distinguishes comics from those other media, however, is that no one would dare suggest that any one of the others is for the exclusive use of a single demographic.

Enough with the soapbox, already, let's look at today's installments of the Fred Hembeck Files!

First up, we have a Saturday Night Live reference. Gilda Radner, one of the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players, had come up with a character named Emily Litella, whose shtick was to deliver a rant on a topic she had misheard, and then later apologize for the misunderstanding with the catch phrase, "Never mind!" Case in point: rambling at length at how she didn't understand why people were so up in arms about violins in schools, only to be gently informed that people were concerned about violence in schools. It's the same thing here, only with super-heroes.

Next, we have a play on use of the 'bat' prefix, applied typically to anything connected to the Caped Crusader. Batmobile, bat-plane, bat-copter, bat-arang, bat-cave, bat-shark-repellent, bat-condoms, etc. Really, it gets kind of silly, which makes the 'bat-bat' a perfectly appropriate addition to the bat-arsenal.

On the subject of softball, incidentally, does anyone else remember a story from the mid-seventies that featured a team of heroes playing a softball game against a team of villains? I think it ran in 'Strange Sport Stories', but I could be mistaken. It was fun in a remarkably surreal way, with the Justice League heroes up against the likes of The Tattooed Man, Chronos, and others. In retrospect, I wonder if the story was inspired by the regular softball match-ups between DC and Marvel staffers.

Hey, do those games still happen?

- NP

The copyrights, trademarks and publication rights to Fred's cartoons belong to DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Fred Hembeck where appropriate. Proud Robot Productions graphics, site design, cartoon re-coloring and commentary copyrights belong to Neil Polowin and Proud Robot Productions.

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