Sunday, February 27, 2011

Batman and the Captive Commissioner

Yes, another Hostess ad. I know, I know, they've been mocked to death by many before me, but this one...this one is my favorite. So from the pages of Batman Family 3, February 1976, here's...

Batman and the Captive Commissioner

Click for a larger image if you like, but an excruciatingly detailed analysis follows.

"Not just trouble, Batman, real, deep, big trouble! Real, deep, big, hard trouble! Real, deep, big, hard, thrusting...what are we talking about?"

I had no idea Commissioner Gordon exerted such a calming influence on Gotham City. Is he so beloved that his mere absence is enough to turn ordinary citizens into fist-waving, appliance-looting hooligans? Or is the city always teetering on the brink of a riot, and it's the Gotham City PD who have pushed it over the edge, joining in on the anarchistic fun now that their killjoy of a boss is out of the way? Whatever the reason, Batman seems pretty happy about the whole thing. And why not? Wayne Manor's on the edge of town, it's not like his TV's being stolen.

Here we meet master criminals/'70s porn stars the 3 Svengali brothers. Interests include unorganized crime, chest hair, and "overuse" of "quotation marks". (Man, I wish I had a hot pink Members Only jacket in 1976. I would have ruled my kindergarten.) This may be self-evident given that this is an ad for fruit pies, but their criminal master plan seems insufficiently thought out. How exactly do they plan on running the town - as Mayor? As the City Council? Because I don't think a street vigilante has the power to turn over municipal authority. (Or maybe he does. Gotham's a pretty weird town.)

In tonight's performance of "The Captive Commissioner", the role of head Svengali will be played by Salvador Dali, with Robert De Niro as the twins.

"You can beat the crap out of us all you want, Batman, this car will still take you to our super-secret hideout where the Commissioner is waiting for you to rescue him." Shockingly, the Svengali brother is not seeing the flaw in their plan. Wasn't he suspicious that Batman got in the backseat of their car so easily? I guess they snagged him coming out of the convenience store, since he has some snacks handy. Svengali brothers, do not trust snack-sharing Batman! He has a plan!

I am amazed that the Svengali's have a computerized self-driving car. I suspect they are actually just misunderstanding what the GPS does.

Road trips with Batman are the best! He's so nice I'll overlook how creepy his drawn-on eyebrows are. But where did he get Hostess fruit pies with the city in chaos? Did he loot them? I'll be so disappointed if he looted them. They look all blurry and trampled from the riot. Blech.

And the carefree "let's enjoy some snacks" Batman of the last two panels is gone. In his place is the grim avenger of the night, using the distraction of the fruit pies to line up his fist for maximum punching impact. Svengalis, you poor, poor bastards. Look at the determined line of his mouth, look at the focused arch of his eyebrows. (Don't look at the eyebrows too closely; they raise more questions than they answer.) Enjoy your real fruit filling and tender crust while you can.

This is our first unobstructed view of driver Svengali, and judging by his rocking turtleneck he is the least sartorially challenged of the three brothers; shame the wind is about to claim his toupee. (Also, he's eating his fruit pie side-on, which is just wrong.) The passenger Svengali has had a different face in every panel. Is he secretly the shape-changing super-villain Clayface, posing as a Svengali because he knows only the Z-list villains get delicious snacks with their beat-down?

A little nap after a meal helps with what? Recovering from a punch in the face? Hey, kids! Enjoy a delicious Hostess Fruit Pie and Batman will punch you in the face! That is the message I glean from this ad. Am I wrong? Whatever the message, this is far and away the most violent Hostess ad I've seen. Batmen is hitting them so hard their faces are distorting. At least he let them finish their snacks. That was thoughtful.

No fruit pie for the eldest Svengali. Just a punch in the face from a teenager in hot pants. (Or as I call it, "Saturday night". Thank you! I'm here all week!)

"Batman, you've done it again!" If this is a recurring pattern for you, Commissioner, you need to start being more careful. Gotham turns into Thunderdome whenever you disappear, so please stop getting kidnapped by morons. And Batman, Hostess did not help you whatsoever. You could have punched those guys in the face at any time - you just wanted to get rid of those Hostess Fruit Pies. Those things are nasty.

Now let's enjoy some snacks!

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