Batman And Robin #7 – A British Glossary
So you've enjoyed Batman And Robin #7, featuring a run around London's supercriminal backstreets… but did you get every local reference? I'm sure I didn't but here's a few to help out.
Page One – That's The London Eye, the ferris wheel built on the South Bank of the Thames, near Waterloo station. Great views, was also used as a bomb target by Warren Ellis in an episode of Global Frequency. See the distinctly old fashioned streetlamps still used here.
Page Two – Squire is racing past Buckingham Palace. W1 is the postcode area for central West London, the tourist/shopping/media centre of the city.
Brisey in the comments points out though that Squire and Batman are both in SW1…
Batman is running along the Thames river to Waterloo Bridge.
Page Three – And under, and over and along. Note the traffic stays on the left hand side of the road. Also Batman jumps onto the discontinued Routemaster bus, still an icon of London, and used for open top tourist trips now. Note it's raining but there are still a few tourists up top with umbrellas. Ha ha.
Page Four – Batman rushing past Harridges, a DC stand-in for Claridges and Harrods? It doesn't seem to be near either…
Page Five – And down into St James Park tube station, part of the London Underground. The subway.
Page Six – King Coal – As in the children's rhyme;
Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he, he called for his pipe and he called for his drum and he called for his fiddler's three.
Smooth Eddie English, The Pearly Prince. Pearly kings and queens are a small, rather embarrassing tradition in London, working class families that covers their clothes in patterned pearls and wander about raise money for charities. There's been a bit of a schism of late with rival pearly families. Looks like this one went a bit far. Smooth Eddie, that's a rather fifties-style nickname, and Eddie does have a fifties haircut.
Page Seven – That's the Tower Of London, traditional prison for the King's enemies, and current location of the royal Crown Jewels. Basement 101, a reference to Room 101 in George Orwell's 1984, filled with the thing you fear most. The Tower is run by specially appointed ex-armed forced guards in ridiculous clothes, the Beefeaters. Who seem to be running this prison.
Greymattersplat points out in the comment that this is, of course, The Beefeater from Justice League Europe, a superhero modelled on John Cleese.
Dai Laffyn – Dai is a traditional Welsh name, as is putting too many consonants and letter Ys into words.
Big Don Drummond – a reference to Bulldog Drummond, a patriotic hard-fighting fictional private detective.
Has been pointed out that this is a character created by James Robinson from his Superman run.
The Morris Men – traditional southern English activity, dressing in white, in hats and with handkerchiefs, dancing with sticks and inflated bladders, occasionally near a maypole. Just for tourists and mad old colonels.
The Highwayman – again, a traditional British villain. Dick Turpin was the most famous.
As for Ghost Radio, Metalek and Galaxy X… ring a bell anyone?
fcfanatic in the comments points out that Metalek is Scoop from Bob the Builder.
The Pearly King of Crime – merging The Pearly King with The Joker, Clown Prince Of Crime.
Page Eight – And the Batman/Joker face-to-face scenes are reflected here. The Joker plays with cards, the Pearly King plays with dominoes. Pearly is talking with an extreme, even comic, East End London Cockney accent. This might help you out.
Cuppa – cup of tea
Bovver – bother
Summink – something
Street royalty – the pearly kings and queens. England is traditionally split, culturally, socially, and financially into the North and the South. Much like the US, but with the stereotypes reversed. Newcastle is a northern English town, known for mining, hence the phrase "it's like taking coals to Newcastle" – pointless activity.
Davinas – Davina McCall is the presenter of Big Brother in the UK. So in rhyming slang, Davinas – Davina McCalls – balls. Except it's not, Grant is making it up. And Donna.. no idea. Means his wife/GF I reckon but… Doner kebab? Donna Noble? Could it possibly be Bella Donna? Anyone?
Mexican Train is a solitaire game of dominoes, spokes snaking out from a central point – dominoes are also called "bones".
Shove'a'penny or shove halfpenny is a game played with small coins. Ludo is a board game played with dice.
Page Nine – royal china there. Made by a firm that have a contract with the Royal Family. So entitled to use the crest.
"My old man said follow the van and don't dilly dally on the way" – old London music hall song.
Page Twelve – Ley lines, meant to be mystical lines of force tied up with primitive Britons, druids, seasonal highlights and stone monuments, circles and lines. Like you see here.
Mrs Thatcher – Margaret Thatcher, Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 and Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1979 to 1990. Famously took on the mining unions by shutting down coal pits and kicking off the Miners' Strike. Caused poverty, unrest and social devastation that still remains today. But also reduced Britain's carbon footprint dramatically.
Page Fifteen – Oxford Street. London's biggest, busiest retail area.
Hammer Horror – a series of classic horror films made in London by Hammer Studios. Christopher Lee seemed to be in most of them.
Also notice, specifically at Grant Morrison's request apparently, no appearance of the Houses of Parliament or Big Ben Clock Tower. It has been a cliche in US superhero comics that when they come to England, you can always see Big Ben out of every window…
So… anything else I missed?