Comics Roundup 6/25 (CS)
Obviously, the Batman movie is out. You can find any number of reviews online, I'll simply say that i thought it was friggen awesome. Batman is usually the closest we get to an "everyman" hero, since he's one of the few out there without super special powers beyond those "endowed by his Creator." Certainly, he's the only mortal man out there with a seat at the table. So I suppose it's not too far a stretch to say that successive incarnations of Batman often give us a good picture of the atmosphere we humans are experiencing at that time. Thus, i particularly liked this essay by Pete L'Official (can that name be for real?). Here was a particularly fun little snippet that really got me:
If there's a Bat for every time, as O'Neil suggests, what does ours look like?
Let's see . . . a wastrel with bottomless bags of cash, tormented by the desire to honor his family legacy, out to change the world through stubborn force of will by utilizing the power of fear to distort, disorient, and thus control his enemies? Sounds like B . . . ruce Wayne to me! (Jaws may drop when Rutger Hauer tells lil' Brucie, "We'll be watching the empire. When you grow up, it'll be waiting for you.")
But as much as I love Batman, Captain America was always my guy (it's the one book i've consistantly subscribed to). And I think Captain America is rarely more entertaining than when he's butting heads with the government he represents. That sort of story can be tiring if done all the time, and the Cap books have been turning more towards his past w/ his former sidekick, Bucky. But more of that conflict between what America represents and what it does (especially behind the scenes) can be seen developing in the pages of The New Avengers:
Captain America lives under a burden few other heros have. Mutants face racism, Superman is an alien, Spiderman gives us the line that applies to all of them, "with great power comes great responsibility." Most of these guys (and gals) are idealists in their own way, but Captain America wears the symbol of an ideal that hits closer to home than most. An ideal (and a country) that almost anyone in the world is familiar with and has an opinion about. The sad truth of the matter is, especially for Cap, the country he represents sometimes does not (and some would say rarely ever does) live up to the symbol he wears and the ideal he stands for.
There are all sorts of issues, past and present, where this division can be illustrated. The gap between the thinking of the government and its understanding of the symbol/ideal certainly underscores the current argument regarding flag burning. But i guess one of the big topics du jour is the prisons we run in Gitmo and Iraq, where the US has finally admitted to torture. The US also insists, however, that these prisoners are "enemy combatants" and that as such they don't qualify under the Geneva Conventions. Also, the argument will be made that certain measure must be taken in the interest of national security.
I do not doubt, for a second, that there are some nasty elements out there that intend to harm us and that we can use whatever advantage and tools we can get. However, I've learned a lot from my heroes. I think Captain America would be disgusted with torture or anything resembling it. I think he would see to it that it would be stopped. But he would also see to it that we were still safe. He would find another way. He would keep his ideal AND our safety intact, letting himself take the big risks, if necessary. He would make sure that we kept intact that thin yet all important division that "makes us better than them."