Smoke Bomb

Batman Smoke GrenadeResults:
1) The simple saltpeter/sugar recipe worked well. A significant amount of smoke was produced along with a surprisingly large flame. These smoke bombs are definitely not for indoor use. Batman would have to find another type of smoke bomb if he didn't want to ruin peoples' floors. My only complaint is that the homemade fuse sucks. When making a homemade smoke bomb, buy a fuse: don't attempt to make one. I'd suggest maybe a birthday cake sparkler. That probably would have worked quite well.

2) The recipe which added a touch of honey (or cornstarch) to the recipe was far easier to prepare. When it was lit, it behaved very similar to the first recipe (perhaps this smoke bomb burns slightly quicker).

3) The recipe that mixed the saltpeter and sugar into melted paraffin (wax) was a complete dud. I couldn't get it to light at all. Nothing. I suspect that I added far too much wax. If I were to try this again, I would follow one of the other two recipes and then just at a touch of paraffin, just so that it burned slightly slower.

So all in all, these worked surprisingly well. I would suspect that the remains of such a smoke bomb would leave virtually no clues about the user and so I suspect that Batman might actually prefer such simple homemade smoke bombs to more complex (and therefore more easily traceable) smoke grenades.


Batman Builds a Bomb

I'll be doing three different methods: 1 will be what seems to be pretty standard and the other two are variations on it. I have purchased 125g of saltpeter (potassium itnrate - KNO3) and the rest of the stuff can be found around the house. Saltpeter is not actually hard to find. It is used in recipes to salt meats, I guess. But that doesn't mean you will find it at a grocery store. I found some at a pharmacy. Just go up to the counter and ask the pharmist (not the store employee, the pharmist). I probably payed too much ($8) for my 125g but it should be fairly cheap.

Method 1:
Batman ScientistSo I gather everything that I need for this first method:
125g KNO3
old pan
tin foil
paper towel

I poured my self a glass of wine and begin. I don't have a scale because I'm not a drug dealer so I equally divide the saltpeter by volume. I also am doing this indoors because it's winter despite people's warnings.

I pour the 125g into a measuring cup and find it to be 100ml. Therefore the density is about 1.25g/cm3 according to me and that's much different than the value 2.109 g/cm3 given by Wikipedia which probably indicates that it's not very pure potassium nitrate. I don't know what else would be in it but it's worth noting. I split the 100ml into 3 containers.

Next mix in the sugar. There's really a discrepency on the internet. Mostly I read that it's 6 parts saltpeter to 4 parts sugar. But "parts" I always take to mean volume however everyonce and a while I run into people saying things like 60g of saltpeter to 40g of sugar. Now if Wikipedia is wrong and saltpeter isn't 2.109 g/cm3 but is closer to my 1.25g/cm3 and sugar has a density of about 0.7g/cm3 then they are about the same and it doesn't make a difference so I'm going to go with volume.

So that means I need approximately 60ml of sugar (just over 1/4 cup). (People online say not to do more than about 100g per batch since it gets harder and harder to heat evenly.)

So I mix the two together.

As a side note, I'm making the poor man's fuse. So I take some of the saltpeter/sugar mixture and add a touch of warm water, stirring until it's a smooth slurry. Then I throw a bit of paper towel in, take it out and wrap a match in it. Set it aside and let it dry. Tada, the worst fuse ever.

Now I can heat up the saltpeter/sugar mixture. I don't have an old frying pan. I just have 1 frying pan. So I turn the stove on to a very low temperature and put a disposable tin-pie-plate on top of my frying pan which I realize is going to give me less homogeneous heat but I like my frying pan. So that's just the way it's going to be. This is a worry because the sugar is going to carmalize and create a thick mixture which would harden and ruin my one and only frying pan.

Batman BombSo I set the stove on the very lowest temperature and continuously stirred but oh my goodness! When people on the internet tell you this has to be on the very lowest temperature, they mean low like they are talking to 10 year boys who are making smoke bombs (which they probably are) but it isn't really a low temperature. I had to turn it up a bunch of times. For any reasonable person with any experience cooking, this is just a regular low, a low medium.

After about a half hour some yellow started to show. Perhaps the problem was that I was stirring too much. None of the websites said to actually stir it but they said it needed to be evenly heated so I thought it would be a good idea. Only when I didn't stir would parts of the mixture start to brown. Stir perhaps but don't stir continuously.

It really does turn into carmelized mixture. You should be able to get a pretty smooth mixture. Mine didn't start to smoke but it was just beginning to give off fumes.

I took my mixture and split them into 2 smoke bombs by pouring the mixture onto a piece of tinfoil, sticking my homemade fuse into it and then using the tinfoil to wrap it up into a ball. And now they are cooling.

Method 2:
125g KNO3
old pan
tin foil
paper towel

For the second mixture, all the steps are the same but I added a little honey as a liquid fuel. You could alternatively use cornstarch, apparently.
Everything else is the same. Except it seemed to go much faster. Whether that was because it was already at a higher heat or if the honey speeds the process, I don't know.

Method 3:
125g KNO3
old pan
tin foil
paper towel

This method was only found at one place and the guy said it was his own creation so we'll see. For this method, I take two tea lights and I melt them down in the tinplate(actually I melted one and thought it wasn't enough so I melted half of another - so 1 and 1/2 tea lights). Once they were melted, I slowly pour in the saltpeter/sugar mixture and stir it till it's smooth. Pour into tinfoil and add fuse. Done. No carmalizing. I'm worried about these holding together. They're a little bit flakey and not as hard as the others.

And that's our science experiment for the day. Join me tomorrow when I light them and grade the recipes.

Building Batman Builds Smoke Bombs

You're in for a treat.

Tonight the fine people who bring you Building Batman will be attempting to produce homemade smoke bombs. I have the materials, the will and the know-how. What could possibly go wrong?
Batman Smoke Bomb


Now That's Television

Batman The Brave and the BoldAm I the only one watching this or what‽ The last four episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold have been prodigious. Plastic Man for an entire episode, the Challengers of the Unknown getting nailed by a bunch of Starros, a war against the Green Lanterns, Aquaman on vacation with his family AND NOW Detective Chimp and a super entertaining episode with the JSA. And before those we even had a great portrayal of Captain Marvel. This has got to be the best thing on television right now.

And that's right. I did just used an interrobang, baby.


He has a sidekick named after Robin Hood, of course Batman is an archer

Robin and SpeedyA family member of mine had the chance to teach me to shoot a bow and arrow the other day. Once upon a time, he must have been really quite good at it. It was really cool to learn from him.

Would Batman learn archery? I realize that there might be two potential camps on the question. One group would say that modern bows are leathal weapons that the Batman would never utilize in his war on crime and therefore since they are not potential tools would not bother to master. The other group would say that Batman strives to be an expert in all matters that might arise and archery (and firearms for that matter) are no exception. He would train in their use so that he would never be caught without the proper skills needed to solve a problem.

For this blog, I tend to side with the latter opinion.

We started with Robin Hood style tension bows (called a recurve bow). They were made of fibre glass or something but otherwise were exactly like what a merry archer would have used 600 years ago. We then moved on to compound bows. These are modern weapons engineered to be as light as possible and yet give the most kinetic energy possible to the arrow. Deadly weapons.

The obvious:
When you shoot an arrow you stand with your feet perpendicular to the direction you are aiming. If you are right handed, you hold the bow in your left hand and you keep your arm perfectly straight (your arm and your shoulders should form one staight line). You pull on the string with your index finger and your middle finger. Because the string should be hard to draw (pull back), you point the bow up at a 45 degree angle and as you pull the string back you lower bow till you are aiming at the target. Fire. See this link for a crazily in depth description.

Some important details:
Your index finger and middle finger should only just hook onto the draw string. You don't want to grab the draw string with a fist or else when you release the string to fire, your fingers are bound to get in the way. Just hook your fingers onto the string by the top most inside of your knuckle.

If the arrow keeps falling off as you draw the bow, you can hold it in place by your left index finger., just like someone who is just learning pool does to a pool cue. Once the bow is drawn, move your finger out of the way.

Don't grab the bow. Just like how you don't want to grab the string, don't tightly grasp the handle of the bow either. Just let it sit lightly in your hand. The point is that the archer will get in the way of a good shot by not being relaxed. Be relaxed and only have the most minimal contact with the bow.

When you draw the arrow back, you shouldn't pull back as far as you can. It is ideal that the string pass right in front of the corner of your lip.

Arrows have three feathers on the back end to stabilize the flight. Two of the feathers are the same color and the third is a different could. The odd color faces towards you, so that as the arrow leaves the bow, the feather isn't ripped off along the way.

Shoot on an out breath. I hear snipers do this too.

Batman and Green ArrowI don't actually know what else to say. Of all the things I have been introduced to for this blog, I don't think anything was more hands-on than archery. It's not particularily difficult to do but requires infinite amounts of practice to master.

Diagrams stolen from Aliran Tempur Ikhtiar.


Under the Cowl - The Real Bruce Wayne

Clark Leaves SupermanOne often stumbles across discussions about Superman's core personality. Is he really Clark Kent Midwestern farmboy who saw the world needed a hero and took up that social role not because he wanted to but because the world needed him - or - is he Kal-El, child of gods, sent to earth as savior and who as such finds it necesary to take on a human persona to ensure his humanity remains in tact. Although Kill Bill argued for the second, I tend to see Superman as the first.

This discussion is often ported directly to Batman. Is Bruce Wayne the core personality or is the Batman? I think that it is a mistake to even ask this question. Bruce Wayne can be a far more complex character than this debate allows for. Bruce Wayne is a man who choses to dress up as a monster at night and in order to hide this secret plays a fopp to the world at large.

Scary BatmanBatman isn't a personality. He was theatrically designed to be seen as a supernatural force of justice. There is no arguing with the Batman, no talking to him or avoiding him, no getting to know him. You just pray he doesn't happen to you.

The Bruce Wayn
e the world at large knows isn't a personality either. He doesn't have any true intentions. He is a character cooked-up because his wealth makes him a person of interest, interest he wisely wishes to avoid.

Neither is the true Bruce Wayne. The real Bruce Wayne is not the millionaire playboy or the urban demon. He is a man who has spawned both of these characters to achieve his ends. (As an interesting side note, most of the queer readings I've come in contact with start their interpretation with the observation that Bruce and Dick live duel lives: their alteregos being their true selves and their secret identities masks that don't extend to a social life.)

TwofaceIt's very unlikely that DC will ever portray Batman as a villian and as long as he is a hero, they won't overtly give him mental diseases. Therefore, portraits which give Batman a split personality as striking as Two-Face's will never be canonically accepted for long periods. Stories like Darwayn Cooke's Egos which explore to just what extend Bruce Wayne is fractured will continually arise and will always allow us to read between the lines of his dual life but there is a single core personality beneath the masks and cowls. So we must approach Bruce Wayne's personna as a cohesive unit which acts out two roles in order to achieve his ends. What that personna is and what his goals are has been in a state of continuous change since 1949.

Some people look at serial characters, especially Batman, and argue that he isn't anything except what we interpret him as. According to Neil Giaman's 'Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?' the nature of this man is unconsequential as long as he fights the good fight to the bitter end. Nick Mamatas would go even further and said in an essay included in Batman Unauthorized ``Batman is good at being all ... things because he isn't really anthing more than that logo.'' He is a floating signifier meaning that he is nothing but a saved space that can point to anything we want (anything that will make DC money). While I agree with this sentiment to an extent,the serial nature of comic books with it's retrospective retellings by various authors and long established fanbase with it's retention of previous versions leads to more of an evolution of and list of accepted Batman portrails.

Batman's ChairParanoid Control Freak
After this Batman watched his parents' lives ripped away from him, he vowed not to get his revenge on criminals but to remove them all together. This Batman is determined to never let tragedy touch him again by being better and stronger than even the worst villian. The world will not be safe until his war on crime is won. This is the Batman from the one episode “Artifacts” of the TV series “The Batman” who left a digital copy of himself for future generations in case any of his old rogue gallary should be resurected in the distant future. This is the Batman from 'Tower of Babel' and the Batman from 'War Games'. This is the Batman who has a plan for every alien invasion, every betrayal and every improbable scenario. He's an expert in everything. Although this Batman knows the strategic value of working in teams, having allies and training partners, he always keeps himself slightly removed. Losing them as friends would cause him pain so he pushes them away.

bloody BatmanPossessed Meglomaniac
This is the Batman of Dark Knight Returns. He isn't a hero. He's a vigilianty. No, not just a vigilianty - he's the goddamn Batman. The best version of this Bruce Wayne might just be from 'Nine Lives'. This Bruce Wayne isn't above using thugs to protect his interests. The book starts with the words: ``Bruce Wayne was a man filled with anger, spite, and greed... A man obseesed with justice.`` Later the lead character and narrator notes ''He is a cloistered man driven by gigantic - - almost supernatural forces, not simply greed as I thought.`` This Bruce Wayne is not only a violent sociopath but also a ruthless industrialist. His actions may result in a better world and that's how he may justify them but that isn't the true reason why he's become the Batman.

Batman ThinkingHaunted Hero
This Batman can never do enough. He couldn't save his parents when he was a child and so racked with remorse he tries to makeup for that terrible failing by saving others. But it's never enough good to bring his parents back. And so the mission is never over and the war never won. This is the Batman with display cases in his Batcave reminding him of fallen allies and his constant inadequacy.

The White Knight Dressed in Black
Batman OathThis is the Batman seen in 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' and the 1960s television show. He is the direct desendant of Robin Hood and Zorro. Heroes dressed in black. If this Batman began battling crime out of revenge based intentions, he has long since out grown that. He is not morally ambiguous in any way but rather has unquestionable balance, walking the thin line between good and evil perfectly, like some nonchalant tightrope master. It isn't a metastable state: there is never any doubt he will tip towards evil because his perfect balance is unshakable. This is what Luke Skywalker was meant to be. While the priestly Jedi knights religiously gaurded only in the Lightside and the greedy Sith lords took advantage of the Darkside rejecting all selflessness, only Luke Skywalker balanced to the Force.

Everyone Reads Frank MillerSubversive Freedom Fighter
This is the Batman from Batman: Year 100 and Batman Strikes Again. This Batman is about self empowerment. He frees people from control, be that control by the government or control by our fears of criminals. He has bettered himself into a highly skilled adventurer who nolonger has anything to fear from the cowardly criminals who killed his family. This man seeks to be an inspiration to the citizens of Gotham,. His goal is to cause others to also find the hero within themselves. This is the Batman that took Jason Todd under his wing to bring out the hero within him.

Batman's Place in HistoryThis is the Batman Alex Ross showed at the very beginning of 'Kingdom Come', the Batman who is willing to build an army of robots to comb the streets in search of social deviatants. This is the Batman who built Brother Eye. To him the ends justify the means and the only acceptible end is the safety of the innocent. This is the Batman who demanded that Commisioner Atkins allow him command the police during War Games. It's interesting to read “The Cult”, a parable about the censorship of the Comics Code and how moralists shackled and immasculated Batman. In the story and in real life, Batman was able to escape his imprisonment and become victorious. But there is a strange and haunting subtalty in the story. After escaping from the villian who represents the bookburning rightwing, Batman returns in a tank and by force reastablishes the social structure. In two separate occasions, he allows individuals to die for the greater good of the whole and to conclude the matter he burns every the memorial of what happened. He imposes his moral code on others by threat of violence and is constantly sacrificing the rights of indivicuals for the security of the community.
Batman beats up hoboI hope that I have demonstrated that there are certain archetypes to the character of Batman. Clearly, an interesting character is a multidimensional one and so some of the best Batman stories are those that mix these archetypes and put them at odds with one another. If you have thoughts about this, it would be great to hear them. I realize that even in this list foundamental building blocks for an acceptible portrail, there is room for some overlap. For example, this old blog post made me question whether or not my "Possessed Meglomaniac" was actually one and the same as the "Fascist". But after thinking about the definition of fascism and what the blogger was describing I think that he was using the term incorrectly. The Batman he was describing was not a fascist. So did I miss any cornerstones to the history of the character? Or do you think that Batman really can be anyone in the costume?

PS. You really need to check out
Agan Harahap's photos.
PSS. No more Batman Essays in the future. I promise.


Batman Returns

Batman grave
Those of you who have been reading Building Batman for a while will have realized that every once in a while I disappear for long periods of time. I won't bore you tales of assassin cults and deadman spirits yearning for vengeance (ten Batblog-Batpoints for anyone who can correctly identify which Batbook that's a quote from) but unfortunately these periods are going to pop-up every once and a while. That being said 3 months was far too long a period to go without a single entry. Hopefully you'll forgive me for disappearing sporadically.

I may have let down my blog but I certainly haven't given up my training. For physical work, I've still been swimming and jogging. I got my yellow belt in Jui Jutsu. I've gone bouldering a handful of times. As for mental training, I've begun reading Grey's Anatomy and preparing little summaries which I've been writing as review but which I'll post on Building Batman for your pleasure. I've been introduced to archery for the Building Batman blog and tried throwing the bo shuriken. I'll write entries for these over the next couple of days.

My mission to become Batman continues.