Where Have You Gone, Batman?

As a young boy I enjoyed all things Batman. I owned t-shirts with the bat-logo, the first Batman film on VHS and assorted figurines of the “caped crusader” and his arch enemies.

Looking back on it now, I can understand why I appreciated everything to do with The Dark Knight – Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s creation was an imperturbable defender of the weak and a principled fighter against corruption in a city awash in it. (Curiously, although Kane receives all the credit for Batman’s creation, many have successfully argued that Finger deserves more recognition for the creation of Batman.)

Some may consider such an affinity towards a fictional character to be wholly unjustified and romanticist. I am of a different opinion. Like other comic book creators, Kane and Finger found a way to promote moral themes through the “comic strip” medium to children. Surely, their narratives weren’t as thorough in their examinations of ethical subject matters like a Charles Dickens or Charlotte Bronte novel, for example. However, it cannot be overlooked that they found a creative way to spread the message to children that the average person should seek justice and live honorably while doing it. (Additionally, it is praiseworthy that Kane didn’t espouse the current societal, socialism-inspired contempt towards the rich, as Bruce Wayne is a billionaire philanthropist and crime fighter.)

Yet I have taken a step back and observed, with a sense of sadness and anger, that throughout the years many have corrupted one of the comic book heroes of my youth.

As with many things that have been made with good intentions, Batman’s wholesome image has become tarnished due to unsavory characters “reinterpreting” the World’s Greatest Detective.

As a child, I can recollect adults talking about Tim Burton’s adaptation of the DC Comics character as being “dark” compared to the original plots found in the comic books. While it is true that Burton “darkened” Batman for adult audiences, one must look back a year earlier, 1988, in order to find that the character and associated storylines were already descending to abysmal levels of smut.

Enter Watchman creator Alan Moore. Moore and co-writer Brian Bolland, both British, were hired by DC Comics to furnish their own interpretation of the Dark Knight universe. What was eventually published was titled Batman: The Killing Joke, a retelling of Joker’s origins and his sadistic attempts to drive Batman collaborator and police commissioner Jim Gordon insane.

Even though the final version that was initially mass produced contained adult themes, it has recently been discovered that part of Moore’s original script contained a very sadistic scene which was eventually edited due to DC Comic’s concern that the material would cause a scandal, to say the least.

Said passage features Barbara Gordon, Jim’s daughter, being surprised by Joker as he unwelcomingly shows up at her apartment with his henchmen. After Barbara inadvertently opens her door, the Joker malevolently smiles and then proceeds to shoot her, paralyzing her in the process because the bullet penetrates her spinal cord.  The Joker then strips her of her clothes and snaps pictures of her disabled, nude and bloodied body. In an ensuing scene, he traps Jim and cruelly shows him the pictures of her brutally victimized and fully exposed body.

When asked about the reason why he would include such a grizzly and debauched panel to the overall plot, Moore replied that the particular portion of the story contained “no important human information”. In other words, he included it in the story for the supposed fun of it.

This revelation shouldn’t surprise most people because Moore has a history of reprobate behavior and thought. During his first marriage, both he and his wife were engaged in regular ménage a trois sessions with another female – even though he had children at home! Moore has also dabbled in the occult, including Kabbalah studies and Aleister Crowley’s Thelema, and included such motifs in his comic book writing.

He is quoted as saying:

“I believe that magic is art, and that art, whether that be music, writing, sculpture, or any other form, is literally magic. Art is, like magic, the science of manipulating symbols, words or images, to achieve changes in consciousness … Indeed to cast a spell is simply to spell, to manipulate words, to change people’s consciousness, and this is why I believe that an artist or writer is the closest thing in the contemporary world to a shaman.”

In other words, he intentionally seeks to corrupt his intended audience’s minds.

Social conservatives who are familiar with the American comic book industry point to The Killing Joke as one of the primary red lines that were crossed which opened a figurative Pandora’s Box within the business. Eventually, writers and illustrators whom espouse perverted social attitudes and inclinations would pervade the industry altogether and pepper such reprobate material throughout their work.

Marvel’s X-Men would feature the first homosexual marriage within their publication during Obama’s presidency. Batwoman was to become a lesbian and live with a female police officer. Archie comics would also feature a homosexual kiss within its pages. Captain America had too much “white privilege” and therefore was made black. Even Batman hires a Sunni Muslim by the name of Bilal Assela to become France’s resident vigilante by night.

Since nothing is sacred to those who indulge in sin, eventually even works of fiction for children were targeted and taken over by this abominable bunch. What was originally meant to be a lesson in truth and morality via diversion was wickedly and intentionally converted into propaganda glorifying immorality.

Christ’s words about the impressionability of children and the care we must take to guard their hearts and minds fits well here:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Folks, considering the generation we were born into, we must be extra vigilant about the material both we and our children consume. Let it not be that we ignorantly assume something to be wholesome, only to be surprised by secretly infiltrated leaven that germinates into full-fledged sin. If these guys can corrupt Batman, they can corrupt anything.

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