Comic Review: Doing the Dishes with Batman

DDWBcoverComic, Scott Marshall,, 7-391 Division St., Kingston, ON Canada K7K 4A6, $2

The most interesting superheroes are the ones who must suffer through the mundane: oil changes, grocery shopping, traffic jams, and — most certainly — washing dishes. Presumably they will experience most of these banalities in the guise of their secret identity, but they experience these moments nevertheless. This is precisely why in the pantheon of interesting superheroes Batman looms large. Fans of Batman have seen him humanized in many ways: psychologically complex, mysterious, driven, and certainly in possession of clean dishes.

Marshall lightheartedly riffs on this Batman potential by teaching the Dark Knight, and all of us, how to wash dishes. A classically rendered version of the hero (with a somewhat rounder head) is the foil to an unnamed, straight man host who cheerfully welcomes the reader to the day’s dishwashing instruction session. The square-paged, black and white mini-comic is realized with charming expertise. Marshall is clearly a seasoned comic artist, informed by golden/silver age comic style. He has a knack for carrying the action along with expressive faces and physicality from his characters.

The comic is kind of a two-for-one: the dish-washing lesson is actually instructive! It’s a DIY home skills zine wrapped inside a respectable superhero parody. Marshall’s helpful dishwashing instructions and graphics alternate with the Dark Knight’s gradual emotional devolution: his steely, lone wolf exterior breaks down into traumatized sobs as the reality of Alfred the butler’s unyielding and taken-for-granted support suddenly hits home. All that menial work for the orphaned kid turned billionaire turned vigilante! I was struck by how well this concept would work as a Saturday Night Live sketch — a superhero reduced to emotionally fraught tears after being unwillingly cajoled into serving as the host’s dish drier. I loved this. Well worth checking out. (Joshua Barton)