Sunday, February 04, 2007

Is there a Darkness Greater than Death?



The Batman/Bruce Wayne put on the cape and cowl to become a vigilante after the murder of his parents to protect the people of the Gotham City. To become the Batman, he has trained and mastered his body in many types of martial arts, became a master detective and the terror of the criminals. The Batman, created by Bob Kane, was one of the three most respected and well known heroes of the comics fandom. The other two being Superman and Wonder Woman. Unlike these two, the Batman does not have superpower.

One of the sacrifices that the Batman/Bruce Wayne has to make is to master his emotions. Whenever the Batman leaves the bat cave, he reminds himself of some ground rules… “never go out angry”… “never go out reckless”… “never, never make it personal.” These are important ground rules if the Batman wants to stay alive.


What happens if the Batman breaks his own ground rules? What happens if the Batman let his emotions affect his judgment? This was explored by comic writer Bruce Jones and Ariel Olivetti in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, issue 207-211 (Aug-Dec 2006). The artwork by Mauro Cascioli was superb.

The story arc starts with a depressed Batman asking himself, “Is there a darkness greater than death?” Janie Rutledge was kidnapped and Bruce Wayne was asked by her sister, Lilith Rutledge to help. In the process, Bruce fell in love with Lilith. Another girl, Miriam Hargrove also went missing. The story picked up its tempo when the Batman went in search of the missing Janie and during the process struggle with his love for Lilith. The kidnapper kept sending fingers of their victim to Lilith to force her to pay the ransom. In the meantime, the Batman tangled with Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin), Greasy Lee, Tiki Rivera (and her snakes) and Bedham in his effort to rescue Janie. In various stages of the story, the Batman find himself answering his own question, “Is there a darkness greater than death?” In…the darkness of peace…the darkness of defeat…and its name “love”?

In the end it turned out the whole kidnapping was a con planned by Lilith to steal money from Bruce Wayne. The fingers were not from the kidnapped victim Janie (who was part of the con) but from Miriam. Unfortunately, in the final confrontation, Lilith died in a car crash.


A desponded Batman/Bruce Wayne knelt by her body and the question was answered.

Is there a darkness greater than death? Yes. Greater than the darkness of loneliness… Greater than the darkness of peace, or fear, of defeat…The blackest darkness of all…the unending nights and restless unanswered dreams…of that which might have been.

This is so true. One of our frailties of being thinking beings is our ability to imagine the future and our past. Many of us are haunted with what might have being, a road not taken. Regrets of things not done, opportunities not seized and relationships not developed, now lost forever. In a way, there is a darkness greater than death.

This is one of the better story arc of the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. The questioning and the struggling of the Batman/Bruce Wayne of what it means to be human is a valuable background to the ‘slam/bang’ of the comic pictures. The drawings added a valuable visual assets as it shows a macho muscular Batman struggling with his emotions.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Sora said...

Cool! An interesting batman arc. Must read when I go back home. Including the House of M of course.

And whatdayamean by Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman being the 3 most respected and well known heroes of the comic fandom? What happened to Wolverine, Captain America and all those Marvel heroes ;p

6:20 PM  
Anonymous alwyn said...

gosh, don't u just admire the way they draw the bods on those pages? it's like the characters have 5 times more muscles than us normal dudes! ;>)

10:46 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

sora,

Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are the first rankers. Ask anyone. For wonder woman, ask any man. Wolverie is a late comer and Captain America is a wimp. Whatda mean you want to touch my comics! It's mine, mine, mine...

alwyn,

these drawings are fantastic. In real life they will not be able to stand up. Their muscles will weigh a ton. :)

11:19 PM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

I like batman .. he's human.

My favorite batman movie is batman begins. All pastors need to watch that movie.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

sivin,

I am curious. Why do you think all pastors should watch the movie, Batman Begins?

6:16 PM  
Blogger Sivin Kit said...

alex, apart from entertainment value, there are some interesting themes on fear, anger, identity,self-awareness, mission etc which are useful for self-reflection.

From a movie making (cf. storytelling) point of view, I enjoyed how the franchise was reinvented for today's audience. So, I picked up some lessons in the way we communicate the stories from Scripture and the Gospel! :-) I know I'm stretching it but then again I have a wild imagination - and I've embraced it as part of me and the way I function!

10:22 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

sivin,

I liked the movie too. I agree with you that there are themes in the movie Batman Begins that are avenues fo theological reflections.

6:11 PM  

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