I’ve spent a week trying to write a poetic and profound introduction to an article about Batman #44, which features a story that involves the murder of a black teenager at the hands of a police officer. But after my fourth time reading the issue, I realized that there’s no kind, poetic or soft-handed way to go about this and that I should approach this review with the same amount of honesty that Scott Snyder approached Batman #44.
If you’re a fan of VixenVarsity.com then you know how fervently we preach the gospel of diversity in comics. We don’t just want stories about marginalized people, but stories written by those same marginalized groups. And if you follow me on Twitter, then you probably remember me (at various points over the last 2 years) tweeting in all caps, “STOP TELLING OUR STORIES!”. While I stand behind that point of view, I realize that I should start approaching this topic with much more nuance than I have in the past.
Batman #44 is, for the most part, a story about police brutality, gentrification and the effects of white privilege on the inner city penned from the point of view of a privileged white man.
This has been over done in mainstream media, and when I heard what the issue was about, I was admittedly apprehensive. While I appreciate when “Allies” devote time, money and their platforms to address these kinds of tragedies, they usually lack the lived experience to properly tell these stories.
Scott Snyder, on the other hand decided to approach this issue from a slightly different place; his own. I imagine It would have been much easier to write a story about Batman bringing another crooked cop to justice, but instead Snyder forces the readers to confront their own privilege and examine their participation in the racism and violence that plagues our inner cities.
One of the most interesting parts of the issue, is the amount of confusion and concern in Batman’s response to the realization that he, the protector of Gotham and bringer of justice, had a hand in not only the murder itself, but the deterioration of the worst part of the city. There’s no doubt that Bruce Wayne’s intentions were pure, but his refusal to listen to the pleas from the actual people stuck in these conditions may have indirectly led to a horrible string of events that ultimately ended in murder.
It’s a refreshingly honest take on a topic that is usually that’s usually met with a heavy dose of naivety and white guilt. Snyder doesn’t have all the answers and neither does Batman. It was really exhilarating to see people in positions of power admit that. The first step in making any kind of progress, is listening. And I’m glad see both Snyder and Batman doing so.