Last week in the comics, Batman was murdered by evil itself and Spider-Man got to meet Barack Obama. So, three guesses as to what gets all the attention: Batman’s smoking corpse (yeah, they have a body. Yes, it’s really Bruce Wayne. Yes, he is quite dead by comic book standards) or Peter Parker’s brush with His Majesty, the most beneficent King Barack the First?
If you have to ask, you haven’t been hanging out here long enough.
In addition, The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan’s excellent analysis of the War on Terror was snubbed for a Best Picture/Best Director Oscar. The Dark Knight, cleverly disguised as befits a superhero genre flick, pointed out that sometimes in order to fight terror, we must sometimes do things we don’t want to do as a free society in order to stop the threats that we face to life and property. In fact, a review in the Wall Street Journal observed that you didn’t need to squint real hard to see that the Bat Signal looked a lot like a “W”. In the movie, Batman must become a scapegoat so that order can be restored- Sounds a lot like George W. Bush’s brand of morality. Bush didn’t/doesn’t allow his own ego and desire to be liked to stand in the way of defending American society. He (like Batman in The Dark Knight) was willing to be reviled to keep citizens safe.
And now, Batman is dead. On the last page of Final Crisis #6, Superman holds the burned… almost mummified… corpse of his friend who died while confronting the ultimate villian in the DC Universe: Darkseid. In his death, Batman proved the very premise of his creation: That proper preparation and training and hard work can make any man superhuman, capable of great good and able to confront even the greatest evil, and triumph.
Down the road at Marvel, Spider-Man is glad-handing Obama on the cover of his comic book. First, I can’t really comment on the book. I couldn’t hold my gorge back long enough to thumb through it, and didn’t feel like vomiting over the back issues at my local comics retailer. The very fact that Marvel sees fit to cash in on politics is kind of repulsive- I mean, we’re not going to see Sarah Palin on the cover of Sensational She-Hulk, right? Dan DiDio (Editor in Chief at DC Comics) said in a Q-and-A at www.newsarama.com when asked what the plans were for incorporating Obama into the DC books:
"There are no plans at all. The reason why is that over the past ten or more years, we have never gone to any lengths to include actual political figures into any of our books, and see no reason to change that right now. The world that our characters exist in is a fictional world that touches upon ideals and sensibilities of the real world, but we don’t like to mix it to any great level in regards to real people and real events. My feeling on it is that I have always preferred that the President in the DC Universe, if not one of our characters such as Luthor, be a character that reflects the sensibilities and attitudes of the current Administration, without ever featuring individuals in the books themselves. It’s just my opinion. I’m pretty comfortable with how we do it, and even though it seems to be the flavor of the day in a way, I prefer just to concentrate on the books we’re doing and the stories we’re telling now." SOURCE
It’s the timing of this that kind of strikes me odd, though. The week that Bush leaves office, the character that most personifies his approach in the comics is murdered in a method that may take the folks at DC a few years to reverse, if ever. And his successor is touted in their cross-town rival’s books. All within a week of the coronati… I mean inaguaration.
And which comics story does the media decide to cover? Again, if I have to answer that one, you’re not paying attention. The Obamasm cover of Amazing Spider-Man has gone into three reprintings. There were lines at comic stores…
In one of the most telling lines from The Dark Knight, Harvey Dent says “You either die the hero, or live long enough to become the villian”. Well, Batman (and by extension and metaphor, Bush) has now managed to do both. Bruce Wayne as Batman may be very much part of the past; George Bush as Batman… definitely. The Batman-metaphor-for-War-On-Terror died with the character. Hollyweird is trying to forget The Dark Knight and bury the movie’s caped crusader along with his pulp inspiration.
And nobody noticed.