Batman's Anarchist Buddy
I know that most of you will scratch your heads about this post, but it's part of what I try to talk about regularly at this blog.
What makes a hero? Well, for starters, they do heroic things--saves lives at great risk to their own. But more than that, they have to be heroes in their other actions as well. Heroes are like Boy Scouts: They are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
They don't have to be all those things, of course. All heroes of fiction have some flaws. But they can't be made up of flaws completely; the overall package has to come down on the good side.
Over the last 20 years, DC comics has appeared to be determined to create a hero made up of little but flaws. This is chiefly a problem for me because they chose my favorite comic hero to do it with: Batman. And for an example of how they've been doing it, consider Detective 608-609, from 1989. (Note: You can click on any of the images in this post for a larger version).
The person at the bottom of the picture is Anarky. When first we meet him he has encountered a drug-dealing rock star who managed to get away from Batman:
Okay, so maybe Mr Vomit gets what he deserves (he's not killed but definitely incapacitated).
The next appearance we begin to see that Anarky is one of those Noam Chomsky-type anarchists, spouting communist claptrap:
He proceeds to attack the owner of a chemical manufacturing plant. We don't see the action much onscreen, but get this bulletin the next day:
Well, unconscious and dying certainly sounds to me like Anarky is guilty of attempted murder at best, right? Bruce/Batman recognizes this, but still gets a little squishy:
And believe it or not, for the rest of Anarky's appearances, that seems to be the common take. "Gee, I agree with his objectives, just wish he wasn't quite so cold-blooded about it."
Anarky returns a year later as a hacker who's stealing money from wealthy people and distributing it to the poor. And once again, we hear the "We may sympathize with his objectives, but we deplore his methods" crap:
This is how you run down a hero; by making him sympathize with idiots like Anarky.