Saturday, May 7, 2011

Batman and the Terrorists



With terrorism being atop the news again this week, I thought I'd take a look at Batman's encounter with Islamic radicals in Detective #590 (September 1988).

The story starts out in a Vietnam veterans club in Gotham City, where a couple of uninvited guests start shooting:

Batman learns from Commissioner Gordon that the killers got their guns from Abu Hassan. He tracks the gunmen to the London Embassy of the fictional country of Syraq. He fights with Hassan:

At first Batman responds with a sneer, refusing to take morality lessons from a murderer, but then he hesitates:

And that hesitation almost costs him his life, as one of Hassan's goons sneaks up behind with a garrotte. Batman foils the master plot (a project to blow up Parliament), but afterwards he muses:

There's a pretty easy response to that; our country did not bomb women and children intentionally. And the idea that women and children would be better off under the kind of radical Islamic regime that the terrorists would like to impose is unlikely at best.

But more important, it is inappropriate for Batman in particular to have this kind of morally relative reflection. He must see the world through a black and white prism, because otherwise he would become paralyzed. Can he battle crooks and hoods if he's busy wondering about how their deprived childhoods led them to a life of crime?

4 comments:

  1. I was extremely fond of Norm Breyfogle's art and indeed the entire Wagner, Grant, Breyfogle run on Detective. As I recall, this issue introduced me to Guy Fawkes Day- I wouldn't end up reading V for Vendetta for another decade.

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  2. There's a pretty easy response to that; our country did not bomb women and children intentionally.

    Well, of course it sometimes has. And even when it hasn't, when such bombing is done knowingly and willingly, just how much does it help, morally, that it's not done intentionally?

    And the idea that women and children would be better off under the kind of radical Islamic regime that the terrorists would like to impose is unlikely at best.

    True. They might be better off under radical Islamism than being blown to bits by American bombs, though. And radical Islamism might be less popular if there were fewer American bombs acting as recruitment tools.

    But more important, it is inappropriate for Batman in particular to have this kind of morally relative reflection. He must see the world through a black and white prism, because otherwise he would become paralyzed. Can he battle crooks and hoods if he's busy wondering about how their deprived childhoods led them to a life of crime?

    He can grant Hassan's main point without sacrificing his black-and-white morality. He can say with perfect consistency that it's immoral for A to bomb innocent people in B's country, and likewise immoral for B to retaliate by killing innocent people in A's country -- essentially the same attitude he would have to a turf war between Penguin and Two-Face.

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  3. Wow! I am the only one impressed by Bruce´s body at the end? Look at the armpit! Really cool!

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  4. Bruce got careless. He should shave under his arm.

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