“Am I my brother’s keeper?” — Genesis 4:9
A few words about the tragedy in Aurora, Colo.:
In “Dark Knight Triumphant,” the second chapter of a four-part Batman graphic novel, there is an incident in which a goggle-eyed, mentally disturbed young man with orange hair shoots up a movie theater. Three people are killed.
That scene, published in 1986, carries a new and frightful resonance now. How could it not? Last week in Aurora, a goggle-eyed and perhaps mentally disturbed young man with orange hair allegedly shot up a theater playing a midnight showing of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” A dozen people were killed, 58 wounded. Life imitates art imitating life.
That graphic novel was a sensation far beyond the comic book shops. Rolling Stone noted its “bold thematic twists.” The Los Angeles Times called it “a vivid psychological study.” The Washington Post praised its “edgy realism.”
Writer and artist Frank Miller pictured an aged Batman coming out of retirement to save a Gotham City overrun by nihilistic terrorists. Batman’s town had become a lawless place where the good people were cowed mute by fear. It was a new take on the ancient central conceit of the American superhero myth. Meaning the idea that we are watched over from the rooftops above by a man (or woman) with powers and abilities beyond those of mortal men and women, a capable somebody who will fight what we cannot. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s somebody who will see that the bad thing doesn’t happen and that the bad people get what’s coming to them, somebody who will, just when things look hopeless, save us.
Lord knows we could use some saving.
Could have used it at Columbine and at Virginia Tech. Could have used it in Tucson. Could have used it last week in Aurora.
You know what happened there, of course. How a man left the theater and returned through the exit door wearing body armor. How he threw smoke grenades. How he started shooting.