There are many kind of, many kind of Batmale memes. There’s the bombastic phrase “I’m the goddamn Batguy,” the sobering “Some guys just desire to watch the world burn,” and the silly photos of Ben Affleck looking sad. But there’s maybe only one — that of Batmale angrily slapping Robin across the face — that has transcfinished the status of “funny image” to full meme format.

Though it has been captioned many times in many kind of methods, the Batman Slapping Robin meme format started its memetic renewal via a straightforward joke around just how Batman’s parents’ are dead. The text is clearly photoshopped into the image, and also can’t be mistaken for original comics dialogue. But what about the illustration itself?

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I had actually always assumed the image was a fan redevelopment, thinking there couldn’t possibly be an official panel of Batguy absolutely belting one on Robin. But I was naive and wrong. The meme format is an actual comics panel. It’s been flipped horizontally, and also one word balloon transformed to overlap the various other, so that Batmale shows up to be slapping Robin mid-statement — yet that’s it.

And so the question remains: Why did Batmale slap Robin across the face?

The shortest answer is that the panel is from an different cosmos story where Batman is persuaded that Supermale murdered his dad.

“But Susana,” you say, “that doesn’t define anything, and, in reality, raises a whole organize of brand-new concerns.”

To which I’ll say, “I wasn’t done.”

World’s Fiswarm #153

Image: Curt Swan, Sheldon Moldoff, Ira Schnapp/DC Comics World’s Finest, in situation you’re not up on your DC Comics naming conventions, is a standard title for Batman stories and Superguy stories, but it took awhile in the stays of both personalities for the two to actually hang out together. The long-running 1941 series began life as a vehicle for reprints of Batman and also Superguy comics, with a name influenced by a promotional comic provided out at the 1940 Queens World Fair — providing it the “world” in “World’s Finest Comics.” The cover of the book constantly shown the two superheroes hanging out together, yet within its peras the two starred in their very own solo stories.

That is, until in 1952, once World’s Finest put a pushpin in background by featuring the first team up story between Superguy and Batman. For the next thirty years, if you wanted to watch Batguy and Superman team up, you check out World’s Finest.

Even just by 1965, that was many Batguy and Superguy team ups. At some point, things had to start acquiring weird. Which brings us to World’s Fiswarm #153.

Image: Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan/DC Comics The cover of World’s Finest #153 touts its contents as “an imaginary story,” fairly than the usual completely real stories featured within the book’s peras. This is both a small silly and also a fascinating refinement of the idea of comic book “canon” right into 3 words.

The story inside is dubbed “The Clash of Cape and Cowl!” and also takes place in an alternate universe wright here Batman’s paleas were not killed when he was a son, so his mother lived lengthy sufficient to die of unrenoted upon natural causes rather. Both Bruce Wayne and also Clark Kent are teens now, the latter recognized as the internationally beloved hero Superboy.

Bruce’s dad, a medical doctor, was in the process of relooking an anti-Kryptonite serum to help Superboy versus his opponents, however he was murdered by a prowler on the very same day that he refsupplied to hand also the serum over to Superboy, saying that it required even more testing. Fortunately, Bruce controlled to capture a glimpse of the killer prior to they fled through an open up window, and he concerned some conclusions.

Image: Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan/DC Comics Bruce is an orphan, yet nobody will certainly believe that the excellent Superboy could commit such a destructive crime without proof. You deserve to probably guess what comes next. Bruce swears to come to be the world’s biggest detective in order to crack The Case of How Superboy Definitely Killed My Dad.

He takes on a costumed identity “so that Superguy won’t suspect me.” Why a bat-themed identification specifically? Writer Edmond Hamilton declines to define this, and also many of the story proceeds as in the major world.

This is the part wbelow Batman slaps Robin

Similar to in the primary cosmos, Bruce Wayne ultimately experienced the death of the Flying Graysons, embraced Dick as his ward, and also trained him to come to be Robin. The problem is that Prick Graychild is a pretty massive fan of Superman, and also as soon as he discovered out that Batman’s whole deal is that he desires to ruin Superman’s life, dispute erupts.

“You should be wrong, Batmale,” Robin insists, “It couldn’t have actually been Superboy! He could never before ... kill anyone!”

For the reasonably reasonable suggestion that possibly Batguy jumped to conclusions about Superboy, we obtain the slap heard round the online world:

Image: Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan/DC Comics After Robin refprovides to become component of Batman’s big Superman Revenge setup, Batmale wipes his memory of ever being Robin and also sends him to an orphanage. Jesus Christ, Batguy, that’s messed up.

Afterwards, Batman accidentally becomes friends through Superman, that transforms out to be really nice. He also provides Batmale a flight belt so they can zoom roughly together. And as soon as Batguy ultimately realizes that it is difficult to prove Superman’s guilt, he provides amends and the two live happily ever before after.

Just kidding. He actually decides that if he can’t acquire justice he’ll have actually revenge and also teams up through Lex Luthor. But after the BatLex team captures Superman in a fatality trap, Lex accidentally lets slip that HE eliminated Batman’s dad all those years back as soon as HE was a teenager, making use of one of Superboy’s very own robot doubles, which he had reprogrammed to steal the anti-kryptonite serum so Superboy can never before come to be immune to his one weakness.

Batman frees Superguy, takes a super-bullet for him, and also dies tragically, gasping an apology through his last breath.

Image: Edmund Hamilton, Curt Swan/DC Comics

What have we learned

It’s hard to say.

The story behind Batmale Slapping Robin is absolutely not the weirdest backstory to a comics meme. And World’s Ficolony #153 is by no indicates among the weirdest stories of its era.

If anything, it reminds me of something exceptionally modern: a Dark Multiverse story. The concept of a shadow multiverse of broken civilizations was first presented in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s 2017 event series, Dark Nights: Metal. The Dark Multiverse worlds are all in a state of degeneration, dissolving dvery own to atoms in order to be reforged into even more functional cosmoses.

Nominally, each universe in the Dark Multiverse represents someone’s (OK, usually Batman’s) best fear. In practice, the Dark Multiverse has actually morphed into a area to put Dark Alternating Histories, dealing with them as temporary fun quite than premium storytelling than the eternally hopeful major DCU.

These days, we tend to watch the parallel cosmos story as a trope so typical to comics as to be a little played out. But as any type of Star Trek fan will certainly tell you that there’s most grist in the mirror-verse. The parallel cosmos story deserve to interrogate the major cosmos, or add to it in significant methods. How does World’s Finest #153 stack up against the excellent parallel universes of modern media?

OK, not well.

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But it does have actually a kryptonite batarang in it, and that ain’t nopoint.