Thank you, carolandtom, for the delectable virtual chocolates!
Today, I happened to be at the bookstore getting some last little gifts for the Romanitas, when I decided to wander over to the graphic novels section. I flipped through a few, wondering if I should be selfish and pick something up for myself today as well (self love, yay!).
And you know, the *last* place I would expect to find homoerotic Bruce/Clark subtext is in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. I'm serious! It just jumped off the page and bitch-slapped me every which way. I just...what? Miller? So it must be completely unintentional. But man, does Bruce come off as this closeted ass.
There's this full page spread, the first we see of Clark in the series, where he's standing in a meadow, riding boot on a rock (because he and Bruce have been horseback riding, I kid you not!), shirt half-way open, hair blown back. He looks like every airbrushed romance novel cover. Clark Kent a la Fabio. And there are butterflies. Butterflies! Bruce is just staring at him, human and miniscule in the distance, and has this inner monologue (paraphrased):
It's a glorious day. It's as if the sun and the sky, all of it, exist just because of him. Perfect. And then he has to ruin it by opening up his mouth.
They have ideological differences yadda yadda. Clark warns him that someone in authority might send him after Bruce. Bruce is all yeah, whatever, you *beautiful* idiot, we're in the middle of nowhere can we not talk shop and get down to monkey business now? He doesn't say that of course. But the subtext *screams* it. And Clark is just blissfully unaware. He takes off to do Superman stuff, leaving Bruce with his hard-on and horses and gritting his teeth in frustration. Because Clark Kent's an idiot. Why is he an idiot? Because he works for The Man now? That's what Bruce tells himself. Then why is he dragging Clark on long horseback rides to begin with? No, Clark's an idiot because he won't drag Bruce away from his veneer of homophobia and cynicism and beg Bruce to fuck him. Bruce sets it all up, picnic basket and everything, and Clark just flies off like the idiot he is.
Later, they do have the big showdown. Bruce expects it, but he still takes it a little personally with his little inner monologues. (And really, here I thought Jeph Loeb invented the alternating inner monologues between these two. No, it was *Miller*!) They're pounding the heck out of each other:
We could have changed the world, Clark.
(Baby, we could have been something. Why didn't you let me fuck you? Why?)
But no, you sold out.
(You took up with that *bitch*!)
Years from now, I want you to remember my hands around your neck, the man who finally beat you.
(If this is the way I can have you, fine. I'm going to get inside you and you will remember my *name*!)
And Bruce's heart gives out (This is the end, for both of us.). But it's all a ruse, his current Robin comes to retrieve him from the grave as Clark is the last one left in the cemetary, mourning Bruce. Clark hears the heartbeat start and winks at Carrie as he leaves. Because Clark's not an idiot, he knows what's up (except for the Bruce lusting after his ass part) and lets Bruce get on with his new life.