25 July 2008

Bruce Wayne and Dick Cheney

Porch Dog does some more thinking about the political ramifications of Nolan's The Dark Knight. I think he (and Matt Yglesias) are pretty much spot on: it's about political themes without being about our specific current political situation vis-a-vis terrorism, surveillance, etc.
I would discourage people from trying to find the exact, real-world fit for the commentary made in The Dark Knight…it’s fantasy….real over the top, adolescent-inspired fantasy. The main character is a ninja that dresses up like a bat. The main bad guy is the lead singer of the Insane Clown Posse. It’s not that comic books can’t offer commentary on the real world, but their ability to offer commentary is constrained by the superhuman nature of their main players.
One quibble: comic books aren't constrained in this respect by the superhuman nature of their main players. Superhero comic books are constrained by the nature of their main players. DMZ has no such limitations. Scalped has no such limitations. Y: The Last man had no such limitations. Ex Machina plays off those limitations and turns them into strengths. I know Porch Dog realizes comics are not synonymous with superheroes but many do not and I am on a mission to stamp out this misconception wherever is festers.

Yglesias also points out that concerns about Batman being a Fascist super-vigilante are overblown in the context of the DC Universe, where he's actually one of the least powerful guys running around in tights beating up bad guys.
You don't look at Batman and say "no man should wield this much power" in a world where Superman can see through walls.
That's why I'd like to get the caped crusader and Green Arrow together. Just two costumed ninja bandit billionaires going about their business. No big deal. I know the traditional set up is liberal Green Arrow and conservative Green Lantern but you have the same power imbalance thing you have with Bats and Superman. I'd much rather see the idealist Green Arrow and pragmatist Batman team up and/or face off more often.

Special Comic-Con Addendum: I have just learned that Kevin Smith, who wrote 15 issues of Green Arrow, will be writing a Batman miniseries featuring a Green Arrow villain, Onomatopoeia. So close to what I wanted, yet not at all the same. (Via io9)


  1. You're absolutely right, I should have clarified...as a chronic reader of the early 90s Joe Matt and Dan Clowes stuff I should know better than to just say "comic books" the way I did. I'll correct it in my post straight away.

  2. Since you're a comic book reader, I feel compelled to recommend my own company (HeavyInk) for all your graphical entertainment needs. 20% off everything, and free shipping on every order...plus a lot more.

  3. HeavyInk does look like a great service -- I've been highly tempted to join before. Unfortunately my grad student finances limit my comic reading to the trades I can get from the public library and the occasional floppies I can mooch from friends. If I was a regular subscriber to monthlies I would already be a customer.