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02 May 2010 @ 07:28 pm
The Hoard Potato makes a note.  
I'm watching Justice League Unlimited again, a disc or two each week.

Man, Superman is really surly in this show. He comes off as snarky, sarcastic, and irritable—while Batman seems relaxed and comfortable and cracks a genuine smile now and then.

It's surreal.

Amanda Waller, however, remains the scariest person in the DCU.

 
 
 
ArchTeryxarchteryx on May 3rd, 2010 02:44 am (UTC)
Certainly the scariest norm. She beats Lex Luthor hands down.

My vote's still for the Joker as the creepiest recurring villain (almost self-evident) and Earth Mover as the scariest one-shot villain.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 3rd, 2010 03:15 am (UTC)
It's because Superman's not in Metropolis with his wife, whereas Batman is away from Gotham making googly eyes at Wonder Woman. ;)

I mean, if I was Batman, I'd probably see the time in the League as a kind of pleasant escape from the constant barrage of horror that is Gotham City.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 08:04 am (UTC)
Speaking JLU and Gotham, why doesn't Green Lantern or Dr Fate or anyone else with ineffable powers say, "Batman, let me help you with that Joker problem." or better yet, just take care of it. It would totally be in character for Deadman.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 3rd, 2010 08:08 am (UTC)
Because 1. Gotham is Batmans' city. Just ask him and 2. he takes care of the Joker himself. There is copious evidence of this. ;)
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 08:46 am (UTC)
I'm not sure that Batman's "care" is effective. Has a year gone by without the Joker killing more people? Meanwhile, GL has the moral responsibility and arguably the authority to protect people in the entire sector including Gotham City.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 3rd, 2010 09:11 am (UTC)
Batman's care is highly effective. It's Arkham's care that is ineffective! And Bruce Wayne has, in good conscious, fairly consistently attempted to make Arkham a better holding facility, but the incompetence and corruption of Gotham City make that impossible - but not through lack of effort.

Plus, it isn't like the sci-cells of the GL Corps are any better than Arkham. Crooks walk in and out of them all the time, too. ;)

I would also hesitate to put the GL Corps up against the Joker. Eventually, the Joker would meet, say, Parallax and the gig would be up for the GL Corps!
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 11:23 am (UTC)
Batman turning the Joker over to the cops knowing he'll end up at Arkham is exactly what I mean.

The Guardians let Sinestro openly rule as an absolute monarch and execute people, so obviously there are alternative to sci-cells. If I was a GL living on earth and read about the Joker's tenth killing spree in the paper, I'd feel obligated to do something, like strand him on an asteroid or Bizarro World.

A random lazy cat: Stormtrooperstwentythoughts on May 3rd, 2010 12:07 pm (UTC)
At the same time, Joker's a relatively low-level guy. He CAN be taken out by Batman.

The high-level supers need to have their hands free to deal with high-level threats. If they took on every low-level villain there was, there'd be no time for eating or sleeping.

Plus, there's probably some "we work WITH the authorities, not as vigilantes" thing there.

I'd recommend reading the "Astro City" comic at some point. One of the first stories involves that universe's Superman equivalent, who basically gets 2-3 hours of sleep every night, and spends pretty much every waking moment flying around the planet stopping natural disasters, rescuing people, stopping supervillains, etc.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 02:29 pm (UTC)
I know all about the Samaritan; he makes time to show up at dinners and banquets people give. The Joker crossed the line into high-level threat when he threatened to nuke New York.

Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 3rd, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
So, you're saying Batman should murder the Joker? Or build his own extralegal internment camp and become judge, jury and executioner?
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 4th, 2010 03:49 am (UTC)
Certainly not! Wonder Woman should kill the Joker.

Even though Batman already does a certain amount of that, I'm not asking for him to change his methods, just to explore the methods of the other Leagers when they realize the Joker's still a big threat despite all Batman can do.

I mentioned Wonder Woman as a joke, but really, is there a compelling reason she wouldn't whip out her sword and split the Joker's bet permanently if she got a chance? As a quasi-Hellene, she might be reluctant to shame her teammate by killing his archenemy for him, but at least she could lasso him and make him reveal all his nefarious plans, safehouses, corrupt people in his pay, his weaknesses, etc.

And I imagine the Joker's already under sentence of execution from various of his plots; his plot to nuke New York was attempted murder against all the diplomats at the UN, and places like Saudi Arabia probably would convict him of a capital crime in absentia, so there cold be superheros, superagents, supercops, vigilantes, etc from various countries gunning for the Joker as well, and they for sure won't respect Batman's turf. Not that they should succeed, but they ought to be shown trying.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 4th, 2010 04:01 am (UTC)
I'm pretty sure Batman does not, in fact, murder people. He does do a certain amount of private incarceration, but generally only for limited periods of time, but I can think of at least one exception . . . but considering he escaped, well, the problem really is that Arkham and Blackgate just can't hold these guys.

But there are all kinds of reasons why WW shouldn't kill the Joker, or anyone else, really. She's doesn't have a lot of legal status in the US and killing a US citizen would make her a murderer.

Plus, why focus on the Joker? I mean, pretty much all of Batman's bad guys are irredeemable mass murderers, most of them quite insane. And, frankly, the Joker isn't the worst of the lot. Ra's al-Ghul is. But even in terms of body count, well, he's just not exceptional in Batman's rogues gallery. Does the Joker really have a higher body count than Two-Face? Killer Croc's a cannibal as well as a mass murderer. Mr. Freeze has wiped out a whole lot of people. Even reasonably goofy guys like the Mad Hatter have enormous body counts. I don't think it is morally possible to justify murdering the Joker because of the inevitability that he will kill again without also killing pretty much every serious bad guy that Batman - and nearly every other superhero - runs into.

Which is the crux of the issue. The reason why Batman doesn't kill or permanently incarcerate anyone is because he's not a policeman, judge or prison warden. If he were to start judging who lives and who dies - or any other superhero - he would become the problem, an unaccountable mass murderer who has made a mockery of civil society and rule of law. Which is why the Joker should live. Because Batman is not the problem. The problem is, first, the Joker and, second, Gotham City and the state's inability or unwillingness to either legally execute him or permanently incarcerate him. But Batman nor any of his friends should kill the Joker because then they would be unaccountable executioner murderers that make a mockery of justice, arrogating to themselves the power to unilaterally decide who lives and who dies.

Which is not only, I think, inarguably the legal and moral case but also the good storytelling decision. Let's face it, there's a reason why the Authority has never seriously caught on and a reason why the Punisher has so many ups and downs. They're not really that interesting of stories.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 4th, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
I picked the Joker because he's the most visibile, most accessible, and least powerful, so there's a very low barrier to entry to encountering him. Plus, he's pretty erratic and random in his targets, unlike the rest, and has no particularly placatable psychology, but you are correct in that Two-Face and the rest deserve some attention as well.

I doubt Wonder Woman would care that destroying such a depraved monster would be considered murder by some Americans, and it's not like there would be any motivation for a DA to indict and try her. And what's 20 years to an immortal if she did go to prison and declined to break out? There would be about 4 opportunities a year to earn a pardon by helping save the world if the governor didn't give her one or at least a commuted sentence because she finally killed the friggin' Joker! Much the same goes for various other Leaguers.

I didn't mean that Batman kills people, but he does take part of the "judge" role in that he gives himself leave to make invasive searches and holds people against their will for considerable times on occasion. He's not an executioner because he doesn't kill, but he does usurp the perogative of a jury when he decides to let some minor baddies go or leave them to their fate instead of taking them in.

And all superheroes do this to some degree; they all draw a line somewhere between the laws they feel okay in breaking and the laws that they won't.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 4th, 2010 05:27 am (UTC)
Some of those Americans who would care have names like "Batman" and "Superman", so I'm not so sure she'd blithely dismiss the opinions of Americans. And YES she WOULD likely be indicted, like she was with the murder of Max Lord. One of the key roles of government is monopolization of violence and it's a role they traditionally take very seriously - certainly the US government does. As a Westerner, it is superficially easy to find many cases of vigilante justice being met with overwhelming government force even when the victim of the lynching was guilty of serious crimes - crimes as serious as the Joker's, might I add.

And, no, breaking into people's houses and interrogation techniques that quite often go into assault territory is both morally and legally different from premeditated mass murder - which isn't just committing a crime but becoming the government. It is quite literally taking the law into your own hands, which is why it would be treated far more seriously than the B&Es and violent interrogations that Batman does. It wouldn't be walking in a moral gray area, it would be undermining the foundations of the state and quite likely to turn the people against them because in a democratic state we don't really like that kind of thing.

You can't just handwave away the differences between some B&E and simple assault and undermining the authority of the state. The differences are real and really there - and they are as "there" for WW as Batman. So, yes, they all do draw the line at what laws they're willing to break and there are a . . . lot of very good reasons for them to forgo taking the law into their own hands, which is a direct challenge to government authority and taken extremely seriously for a whole raft of reasons.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 4th, 2010 06:22 am (UTC)
Superman? The guy who was party to emplacing an orbiting strategic laser weapon and firing it into the territory of the United States? And hoards god knows what kind of advanced alien technology? He's one to talk about undermining the authority of the state.

Not necessarily premeditated mass murder. She could be out to apprehend the Joker and when he reaches to spray gas on the crowd or to set off a detonator, she used lethal force to stop him.

Or she could be on the government's side. After the Troubalert flashes the Joker's eleventh escape from Arkham and subsequent hostage situation, she decides its time for woman's touch and offers her services to the governor, and he deputizes her and sends her in to neutralize the Joker so no more policemen or hostages have have to die.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 4th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)
Are you honestly saying that Superman would be comfortable with Wonder Woman murdering people? Also, two wrongs do not make a right. (And I'm not sure if we're talking about the Timmverse or regular continuity Superman, here. It is my recollection there was considerable backlash for using the big space weapon inside the US. Which more speaks to my point, that if they started behaving beyond the law in a frequent way there would be a tremendous backlash.)

Well, that would be murder. Because, frankly, the Joker couldn't hurt Wonder Woman at all would mean she would be morally and legally obligated to use a minimum of force in her apprehension. Her tremendous power would be a factor in her restraint, which would certainly be the case if she was a law enforcement officer.

I don't think you've levelled a serious justification why superheroes - or anyone else - could take the law into their own hands, either in a moral sense, a legal sense or in a practical one. The essence of your argument seems to be that once a criminal becomes sufficiently awful that it's okay to just murder them, which is both illegal and immoral. The other end of your argument seems to be that since superheroes already break the law that it would be acceptable for them to break this law, which is an argument of absurdity - there are compelling moral and legal differences between breaking into someone's house to look for clues and taking the law into your own hands to dispense private justice (by which I mean murder).
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 4th, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
Dude, this is superhero comics - airtight moral justifications are not required to motivate the protagonists, in fact some of the best stories are about them struggling with conflicting motivations. While all of what you say is true, it needs to be overtly addressed at some point. Providing a pretext of the kinds I've mentioned lets you have a story about the attempt to deal with the "Supervillian Problem" and end the stalemate. Would you find it more thrilling to read about off-duty Leaguers lounging around the satellite on a slow weekend having a beer-fueld bull-session about the hypothetical moral dilemma above, or to see a splash page with WW marching into a bank, stringing up the Joker with her lasso, and drawing back for the coup-de-grace and before going into a flashback to show how it all happened to that point?

Flash and Green Arrow burping about moral philosophy, or 22 pages of suspense over 'My God, is Wonder Woman really going to kill the Joker?!?!?'

(And of course the Joker could hurt Wonder Woman, she breathes like everyone else, and dropping a building on her could kill her, as would enough bullets.)
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 4th, 2010 11:11 pm (UTC)
*watches the goalposts shift* Oh, now we're talking about what makes a good story?

It is my opinion that the reason the Joker isn't dead is because he's the greatest supervillain of all time. If he were killed, no one would believe he would stay dead - and, indeed, he has appeared to have been killed on numerous occasions. So, since there is no chance whatsoever that DC is going to let the Joker stay dead, as a matter of fact I would definitely prefer it if they didn't kill him. I strongly dislike comics that fake ass kill characters without acknowledging something even more profound than the inevitability of superhero recidivism - which is the resurrection of characters. I would much rather see the recidivist Joker than the back from the dead Joker.

And while it is true that moral quandaries make for good stories, that was simply not what you were attempting to originally address. Sure, I like to see moral quandaries, but that wasn't the way you presented it until just now. Before, you were, y'know, that someone should "take care of the Joker permanently" - no moral quandary involved. We have spent most of this discussion going over the fact that there WOULD IN FACT BE a moral quandary and everyone wouldn't just cheer the newly minted murderer. Which means that this will probably be my last post on the subject because you're now trying to get me to agree to a whole different conversation - one that has no relevance to this conversation.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 5th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
*watches the goalposts shift* Oh, now we're talking about what makes a good story?

I have been all along, starting with the hypothetical plot in my first comment: "...why doesn't Green Lantern or Dr Fate or anyone else with ineffable powers say, 'Batman, let me help you with that Joker problem.'..."
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 4th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)
I picked the Joker because he's the most visible, most accessible, and least powerful, so there's a very low barrier to entry to encountering him. Plus, he's pretty erratic and random in his targets, unlike the rest, and has no particularly placatable psychology, but you are correct in that Two-Face and the rest deserve some attention as well.

I doubt Wonder Woman would care that destroying such a depraved monster would be considered murder by some Americans, and it's not like there would be any motivation for a DA to indict and try her. And what's 20 years to an immortal if she did go to prison and declined to break out? There would be about 4 opportunities a year to earn a pardon by helping save the world if the governor didn't give her one or at least a commuted sentence because she finally killed the friggin' Joker! Much the same goes for various other Leaguers.

I didn't mean that Batman kills people, but he does take part of the "judge" role in that he gives himself leave to make invasive searches and holds people against their will for considerable times on occasion. He's not an executioner because he doesn't kill, but he does usurp the prerogative of a jury when he decides to let some minor baddies go or leave them to their fate instead of taking them in.

And all superheroes do this to some degree; they all draw a line somewhere between the laws they feel okay in breaking and the laws that they won't.
Your Obedient Serpent: facepalmathelind on May 4th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
Homework Assignment
I picked the Joker because he's the most visible, most accessible, and least powerful, so there's a very low barrier to entry to encountering him.

In other words, because he's right up there at the top of the slippery slope, just like he was in Kingdom Come.

Have you read that? You should; consider it your homework. It's all about "superheroes" who do just what you're talking about.

It's not the only example, either. DC has revisited the idea of costumed vigilantes resorting to murder again and again in the Iron Age, and they've done it at least twice right here, right here in Gotham City, with a capital "V" and that rhymes with "B" and that stands for "Batman". The whole point of Knightfall was a response to the readers who kept insisting, as you do, that Batman needed to "take things seriously" and act more like the Punisher.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 4th, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
Re: Homework Assignment
I was thinking about Kingdom Come when I wrote about Wonder Woman hauling out the sword. The Joker's extreme randomness and lack of coherent motivation (outside of jacking with Batman) make him more frightening to the general public and a larger source of distress, insecurity, and fear.

who kept insisting, as you do, that Batman needed to "take things seriously"

If you can find where I said Batman should change his behavior in any way in this thread or anywhere else and link to it, I'll kiss your foot. Without Batman's restraint from killing, the temptation to kill on the part of another hero is much less alarming.
Your Obedient Serpent: causticathelind on May 4th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Homework Assignment
If you can find where I said Batman should change his behavior in any way in this thread or anywhere else and link to it, I'll kiss your foot.

ONOES A TECHNICALITY ALL MY ARGUMENTS ARE INVALIDATED NAO

Your Obedient Serpent: Superboy Punches The Universeathelind on May 3rd, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC)
There was a long period from, oh, '64 to '73, where the Joker was simply not used, because the harmless-trickster version imposed by the Comics Code was simply too goofy. After Denny O'Neill essentially created the modern Joker in 1973's classic, "The Joker's 5-Way Revenge", they still used him in relative moderation, only publishing a Joker story every couple of years.

The people who snark about how Batman needs to "take it up a notch" don't really want an effective Bat. Batman was at his most effective during the period that everyone reviles. Those late-'50s/early-'60s stories where he's always running off to travel in time or deal with aliens are also the ones in which Gotham is depicted as a safe, pleasant place to live, and Batman is given full credit for cleaning up the town.

The push to make Batman more "realistic" and "gritty" by amping up his opposition and emphasizing the endemic corruption of Gotham has just made him pathetic and ineffectual. Using his Rogues Gallery as a supporting cast just exacerbates this. A confrontation with, say, Two-Face should be a Big Event, something to make the readers think, "oh, CRAP"; instead, he's a regular character, an established Gotham presence who appears in every issue.

The real solution to the "Joker Problem" is BETTER EDITORIAL CONTROL, and, maybe, keeping writers on the books for more than six months at a time, so they don't feel pressured to get THEIR Joker story squeezed in right after the LAST guy's.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't have a problem with the way the Joker's handled by Batman and by Batman's editorial in Batman's books, I just have a problem with the other do-gooders never (or rarely) taking an interest in stopping the extreme recidivism, or just running up a score. As a fearless GL used to worrying about the latest plot from beyond the stars, I would have no problem neutralizing the Joker by suspended animation, converting him into energy and letting him spend a million years traveling to Andromeda, or anything else Batman might find suitably sublethal if it could free up enough of The World's Greatest Detective's time to help me figure just one mystery that typically endangers millions to trillions of lives.
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on May 3rd, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but all that only becomes a problem when the Joker pops up every other storyline. Put him away for five years at a time, and it's suddenly a LOT less annoying.

Besides, it's not like Supes has any room to criticize, given how Baldy hasn't spent more than twenty minutes in custody since 1985.
leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on May 3rd, 2010 08:31 am (UTC)
Besides, Joker is too popular a villain to be given the final solution.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 08:48 am (UTC)
Marketing realities are acknowledged, but that's not a reason for them not to try.
eggshellhammereggshellhammer on May 3rd, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
Athelind, tell us about how you resolved the Joker Problem in your DCU RPG.
Your Obedient Serpent: Superboy Punches The Universeathelind on May 3rd, 2010 05:39 pm (UTC)
The Joker died of a brain tumor in 2001. He was in his eighties.

I should note that I also solved the Batman problem in my game, by postulating that three different people wore the cowl over the years (not counting occasional stand-ins):

Bruce Wayne was Batman from 1939 to 1964. He married Selina Kyle around 1950, and Bruce Jr. is born around the same time.

Dick Grayson adopted the cowl in 1964, in his mid-30s. (I'm not sure if he was "Robin" in his 20s, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't wearing short-shorts and pixie boots). Bruce Jr. becomes his Robin. Dick's the Bronze Age Batman, the the Brave, Bold globetrotter who doesn't limit himself to Gotham City, has good working relationships with the rest of the superhero community, and is willing to get an expert opinion when he's over his head.

Dick dies around '85, killed by a two-bit thug named Miller who got lucky. Bruce Jr. takes over. He starts right off by getting Jason Todd killed, gets his back broken, names some loon off the street as his successor, takes the role back, comes up with intricate "contingency plans" that ALWAYS blow up in his face, (including methods to disable his closest friends and allies), alienates everyone around him by acting like an uncompromising martinet, and lets his most dangerous adversaries establish themselves solidly as untouchable crime lords. This is the Post-Crisis Batman, the grim, gritty paranoid obsessive.

And he's a total fuck-up.

Edited at 2010-05-03 06:32 pm (UTC)
eggshellhammereggshellhammer on May 3rd, 2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
Dick dies around '85, killed by a two-bit thug named Miller who got lucky.

Is Miller a reference to a writer?
Your Obedient Serpent: hoard potatoathelind on May 3rd, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC)
DING DING DING DING
Yep. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns was a great story, but it established "Asshole Batman", and laid the base for twenty-five years of missteps that dragged the character down into his current paradoxical status of Short-Term Canon Sue Invincibility and Total Ineffectualness.

See, this is the kind of Comic Book Guy stuff I carefully suppress at work.
eggshellhammereggshellhammer on May 3rd, 2010 07:11 pm (UTC)
Re: DING DING DING DING
Ha ha, I can imagine why. The arguments that would ensue!

So who's the Grant Morrison Batman?
Your Obedient Serpent: grognardathelind on May 3rd, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)
Re: DING DING DING DING
Probably a mix of Bruce Jr. and Tim Drake; Grant started writing Bats at right around the point that events on Legacy Earth stopped following those of Post-Crisis Earth/New Earth. Legacy Earth just doesn't have a Batman or a Superman after the Crises of 2006 and 2008.

There's more commentary here, which you may have seen before; it's friends-locked cuz it's chock fulla campaign spoilers, and I don't want gatewalker stumbling across it accidentally (or having the Big Twists become a topic of conversation here on AtheJournal).

Edited at 2010-05-03 07:44 pm (UTC)
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 08:40 pm (UTC)
interesting mashup - Is there a Dick Jr or Bruce III with Talia?
Your Obedient Serpent: hoard potatoathelind on May 3rd, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
I haven't decided yet, honestly. It's both in character and solidly in the purview of the Good Ship Fanfic for Dick-as-Bronze-Age-Batman to have had a relationship with Talia, and it might be for BJ-as-Bronze-Age-Robin/Nightwing to have had one with Koriand'r, as well.

On the other claw, the needs of the game require a Gotham without a Batman for more than a decade, an old and bitter BJ sitting alone in his mansion, and a Wayne lineage that's at an end.

Oh, something I didn't mention: the world at large assumes that Batman was a single, long-lived metahuman who just changed his costume and improved his technology over the years. The idea that different people took over the role is dismissed as a goofy conspiracy theory.
Your Obedient Serpent: tell it like it ISathelind on May 3rd, 2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
The Joker has appeared to meet his end any number of times, starting with his very first appearance, only to prove far more resilient than anyone suspected.

Frankly, I think the pasty bastard has a Wolverine-class Healing Factor. If Bats breaks his neck, alá The Dark Knight Returns, he's just gonna Get Better.
Stalbonstalbon on May 3rd, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Joker keeps improving his ability or set of abilities with each writer/scenario. If I recall correctly, Hush more or less opened up and removed parts of his brain only to have Joker survive with new psychic-bird powers. And as much as the Kevin Smith Batman was just...odd...the monologue Joker gives to Batman while lying in a hospital bed at the end is point-perfect. It more or less explained things in such a way as everyone wanted to hear them explained, which is Smith's greatest weapon and most glaring flaw. But yes, I miss Bane.
Moral Explorernotthebuddha on May 3rd, 2010 07:59 am (UTC)
I can see Superman being gripey, as he is not accustomed to asking for help and putting together the League has resulted in the escalation of some other things that he definitely can't handle alone. Instead of being a distant inspiration and role model, he now has to be an authority figure for for his peers.
leonard_arlotteleonard_arlotte on May 3rd, 2010 03:41 pm (UTC)
Maybe Batman's cheerfulness is him continuously singing in his mind, "I have a plan to take you all out!"
Your Obedient Serpent: facepalmathelind on May 3rd, 2010 05:40 pm (UTC)
Giggling helplessly now.
gatewalkergatewalker on May 3rd, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Nah, I'm fairly sure it's the oogling Wonder Woman. <_<