I hate to admit it, but I'm more familiar with fictional comic book countries like Latveria, Santa Prisca or Canada than I am with the actual international politics of the real world. Today, however, something came across my desk that blurred the lines between fiction and reality in a way that I wasn't expecting: A series of photos in the Atlantic in which Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin -- seen above just before Roger Daltrey started yelling -- is apparently training to become Batman.

Seriously, it's at the point where the you could swap out the captions listing off the 58 year-old Putin's adventures with Frank Miller's lines from The Dark Knight Returns or Batman: Year One and they'd work perfectly. Which is why today, I've done exactly that.


Actual Caption: "Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wears a helmet and the uniform of the Renault Formula One team before driving a F1 race car on a special track in Leningrad."

Batman Caption: "The engine, angry, argues the point with me. The finish line is close, it roars. Too close. The left front tire decides to turn all on its own. I laugh at it and jerk the steering wheel to the right. The nose digs up a chunk of macadam. I look at it -- then straight into the eye of the sun. This would be a good death.

But not good enough."


Actual Caption: "Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on a boat on Lake Ladoga, as he visits the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Monastery on Valaam island."

Batman Caption: "I have wealth. The family manor rests above a huge cave that will be the perfect headquarters... even a butler with training in combat medicine. Yes, father, I have everything but patience."


Actual Caption: "This picture taken on September 19, 2009 shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looking at a leopard."

Batman Caption: "I come in close on the one who looks the strongest -- throw him a growl I've brought all the way from Africa -- and suddenly everything falls to pieces."


Actual Caption: "Vladimir Putin participates in an arm-wrestling contest during a visit at a summer camp run by the Nashi youth group at Lake Seliger in the central Tver region."

Batman Caption: "I can't think of a single reason to let him live. Except... except he's got exactly the kind of body I wish he didn't have. Powerful, without enough bulk to slow him down. And he's young. In his physical prime. And I honestly don't know if I could beat him."


Actual Caption: "Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attempts to bend a frying pan with his bare hands during his visit to the summer camp."

Batman Caption: "From the beginning I knew... that there's nothing wrong with you... that I can't fix... with my hands."


Actual Caption: "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks at a bear."

Batman Caption: "You don't get it, boy. This isn't a mudhole. It's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon."

(Via Josh Krach)