So I feel like, after it being all over Twitter and Tumblr, I should give an explanation for the “Mansplain” panel from Batman and Robin #18.
For those of you who don’t know, yes, the villain told Dick Grayson’s Batman that he doesn’t get to Mansplain to her. It was some funny shit, but at the same time, with context…slightly demeaning.
If you actually read, and haven’t yet, and don’t want spoilers, move along, but I feel like there needs to be an explanation.
Paul Cornell is only writing three issues of the book as fill-in until the new regular writer comes on after Grant Morrison finished one of his more comprehensible and entertaining stories since his All-Star Superman, and Paul has introduced a new villain.
Her real name is Una Nemo, a shrewd businesswoman, richer than Bruce Wayne, and scorned by most men for acting like a man in the business world. She used to date Bruce Wayne, until things got too serious for him and he realized the relationship was turning into something more than just keeping up the appearance of a billionaire playboy.
So he ends things, and she goes on a cruise with a friend, telling her the story and feeling a little disappointed. The friend tells her she shouldn’t have let Bruce get away so easily, because rumor is he’s on the hunt for a wife and that was a test…or something. It was very gold-diggery. But the friend says Bruce probably loves her…which…yeah.
It’s revealed that Bruce did care for her, but it didn’t go that far.
Una buys it just as the cruise gets overun by robbers, who shoot her in the head because she tried to take them on.
She falls into the ocean but…doesn’t die. She winds up with this ENORMOUS HOLE in the middle of her head that makes her super smart, but everybody thinks she’s dead. She goes to her own funeral, intending to reveal herself and be dramatic, when she realizes that no one there is actually mourning for her. They all hated her, and thought she was a “bitch.”
When she realizes that Bruce (who actually was dead at the time, except that Tommy Eliot (The villain Hush) has been running around as Not!Bruce due to some handy plastic surgery) didn’t show up to the funeral. He sent flowers.
It drives her nuts, probably due to the GIANT HOLE IN THE MIDDLE OF HER FOREHEAD! And she starts going on a murder spree.
When confronted with Dick and Damian’s Batman and Robin, Dick tries to reason with her, telling her she doesn’t have all the facts, which prompts the knife to the Grayson Family Jewels, and the “YOU don’t get MANSPLAIN to ME!”
Ten-year-old Damian tells her she’s insane, and Dick tells him to STOP HELPING while she has a knife so close to his junk.
After there’s a fight and everyone gets away (genitals all intact), Una decides to go after Bruce’s ex-girlfriends.
It’s like Scott Pilgrim in demented reverse.
First victim? Vikki Vale. Poor girl can’t catch a break. First Ra’s, now this.
The big problem is…well…the character isn’t quite…I mean, look, I love Paul Cornell, but the fact that Una is doing all this because of a man’s lack of attention? Iffy. VERY iffy.
On top of that, Bruce comes off with his shit smelling like roses, when he clearly needs to stop pretending to play the field, for the sake of a secret identity. His actions have consequences that Dick and Damian (and Vikki and whatever other exes are roaming around) now have to deal with, because he’s far too busy roaming around Asia with Catwoman.
This walks the fine line of “oh this is cool! She’s nuts but she’s a strong woman” and “ooh. No. No. Don’t…don’t do that. No really don’t do that.”
I’ll be interested in next month’s issue though, whether it be steaming hot mess, or something a little more enlightened. Here’s hoping for the latter, but expecting the former.