Police brutality is a very real issue in our nation. The sheer number of people wrongfully killed at the hands of law enforcement rises by the day. Every medium seems to have tackled it in some fashion or form and now it looks like its time comics take on the issue. Enter Batman! In the opening of Frank Miller’s latest installment of The Dark Knight series, Master Race, he stops a group of policemen from killing an unarmed African-American teen! The action and social consciousness does not just stop there as over half the issue is dedicated to him stopping a series of potentially fatal course of events all dealing with police brutality.
What better superhero to handle an issue this complex, this dark, and this dangerous than The Caped Crusader? Although it was created earlier, this issue is released on the heels of officer Jason Van Dyke being charged with the first-degree murder of an African American teenager, Laquan McDonald, who died in a shooting caught on graphic video (See below, graphic footage. Viewer discretion is advised.)
This issue also marks the return of Frank Miller, the original writer of The Dark Knight Returns, nearly thirty years ago. That epic comic is heralded for birth of dark, gritty, and realistic Batman of modern times and resurrecting the character from near obscurity. Frank is an amazing writer, the way he begins the story with a Black teen, “Squid,” in a hoodie narrating/rehashing the events of really hit home with recent headlines.
From The Washington Post:
As Comic Book Resources points out, colorist Brad Anderson uses only “police reds and blues” in this scene to illustrate the closeness of the cop car.
Two police officers emerge from the car with their guns pointed at him. Aghast, Squid responds by showing them his open palms.
“Getting arrested,” reads a text bubble from Squid.
“4?” his friend asks.
“The man dont need no reason [sic],” Squid responds in a panel showing the barrel of a gun.
“I was waitin for the shot,” he continues in his recollection, “BANG last sound id ever hear. Instead i heard a snap and i turned to it.”
Enter the superhero of the hour, a dark caped figure who swoops in and immediately shatters one of the police car’s front windows. He starts beating the officers who had their guns aimed at Squid.
This is not the first time Batman has taken on the issue of police brutality. September’s issue of Batman #44, Dark Knight III co-writer Bryan Azzarello opened with an image of a dead Black youth in a hooded sweatshirt. The issue goes on to follow the story of a Black fifteen year old who is shot in the stomach by a Gotham police officer. Comics are familiar territory when it comes to tackling issues society finds tricky and murky to say the least. Still, when it comes to Batman it is good to know the answer is clear, Black Lives Matter; and murder and injustice must be stopped!