Gotham’s dark knight is going into Black Lives Matter mode. DC Comics’ latest issue of Batman tackles police brutality and features clear allusions to the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and and Eric Garner in New York City.
Lead writer Scott Snyder’s flashback story focuses on Gotham police veteran Ned Howler’s decision to shoot a teenager named Peter Duggio before he has a chance to follow commands. The boy is an innocent victim who came out of his father’s business after an altercation with a local gang.
The story begins, however, with the image of a young black boy shot in the stomach and left “for the crows.”
“Of course you want Batman to beat this officer up, and be like, ‘How could you?’ But the point of the issue is that wouldn’t solve the problem. Batman throwing the officer off a roof, or throwing the officer in jail, it wouldn’t get to the heart of the matter at all. And that’s the thing I think is ultimately infuriating,” Snyder told the Guardian on Tuesday.
The paper reported the issue depicts Batman on rooftops, “staring out at a city that no longer makes sense to him, as fictionalized versions of newspaper articles on police brutality, institutionalized racism, poverty and gentrification swirl disorientingly around him.”
In “Scam: How the Black Leadership Exploits Black America,” Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson – a true black leader whom many affectionately call “the other Jesse” – shows how the civil rights establishment has made a lucrative career out of keeping racial strife alive in America.
Comic critic Emma Houxbois of Rainbow Hub blog cheered DC’s writers for making “race, and the impact on black children in specific, central” to Batman #44. She said the book holds “white readers accountable for their complicity in the real-world situations that the comic analogizes,” the Guardian reported.
The current arc of DC Comics’ Batman was crafted with the help of Chicago-based writer Brian Azzarello, who told the newspaper racial themes will not disappear from the title after one issue.
Azzarello plans to revisit such ideas in an upcoming collaboration with one of the industry’s most famous writers, Frank Miller.
“Batman is learning he can’t solve problems in the ways he thought he could,” Snyder said, the Guardian reported. “It’s much more about understanding what people face in their everyday lives: knowing their fears, knowing their anger, and trying to show them, in a way, that they can and we together can fix, or hopefully make baby steps in fixing these problems that seem intractable, entrenched and impossible to overcome.”