Monday, February 25, 2008

The Dark Knight

My first formal introduction to Batman was through the completely corny TV serial that ran on Star Plus in the early days of cable television in India. With the "Kapow", "Bang" graphics during the fights and 'Boy Wonder' Robin's frequent "Holy Cow", "Holy Horror" dialogues, it was highly popular amongst kids back then and I too was caught up in the frenzy. But only when I graduated to the more 'real' Batman comics and the really edgy "Batman - The Animated Series" on Cartoon Network, did I start appreciating the dark, combative nature of the character.

Here is a comic character not based on the fairytale that only good things happen to good people. Victory when it finally comes to the side of the good is not without its bitter aftertaste. All characters in the strip are in various shades of gray and it does lend a very morbid and brooding atmosphere to every story. But then that's what makes it stand apart. In every struggle against his inner self or his half-mad adversaries, Bruce Wayne a.k.a Batman finds himself more in touch with his darker side. Yet his justice is not one stained with malice or grim satisfaction for the injustices life has wreaked on him, its a course correction duty that he himself would love to pull out of. His optimism even when he is at his depressed best stems from the fact that if he doesn't do the job, who else will?

Being on the right side of justice has its own heavy price to be paid, but on the other side of the fence only means a lifetime of fear and eventual, inevitable defeat. Up on the highest skyscrapers of Gotham City atop a stone gremlin, with his silhouette framed against the full moon, he represents the trials and tribulations of an active conscience to perfection. Possessed by an unshakable belief in the invincibility of his cause and powered by sheer grit, the world rests easy because it knows that justice is now an ally of the night.