The Honorable Thing

DC have announced earlier this week that in the wake of the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, that they are delaying the shipping of Batman Inc. #3.

Out of respect for the victims and families in Aurora, Colorado DC Entertainment has made the decision to postpone the release of Batman Incorporated #3 for one month because the comic contains content that may be perceived as insensitive in light of recent events. We request that retailers do not make this issue available as previously solicited. Its new on sale date is August 22, 2012. This includes all versions of Batman Incorporated #3, previously set to go on sale 7/25 and arriving at retail on Tuesday 7/24 and Wednesday 7/25.

I think in the face of what has occurred, yet another tragedy after the accident at San Diego Comic Con just a few weekends ago, that DC is to be applauded in taking this action. It rather reminds me of the cancellation of the then planned Spider-Man movie after the devastating attack of 9/11, although somewhat less drastic an action than the entire cancellation of a project.

Now, by the very nature of the medium, portrayals of violence cannot be avoided, and since the abandonment of the Comics’ Code back in the Nineties, there is no longer always the rule that the bad guys get their just comeuppance, although the cost of their actions can be illustrated quite dramatically.

Now do comics have a responsibility to tone down the violence they portray? Surely only as much as Hollywood and the major TV studios do, maybe even less so. One could say that there is even more control with age targeting of comics audiences than with television audiences. After all, who goes to buy your comics? You do. Or at least you send someone who knows what it is they are picking up, who is likely to be of a similar age to yourself. I wouldn’t trust my mother to go pick up my comics for example, but then the first thing she noted about the perpetrator in Aurora was that he was ‘obsessed by comics’ (not A comic, one that many of us have critically acclaimed, the writer not actually included, just ‘comics’ in general), a fact that she found worrying.

Not the fact that it was a seriously disturbed guy with a gun, but a comics fan. I wonder how many others take that opinion? It harkens back to the days of the Concerned Mothers Of America.

Do comics have a responsibility to issue a message of hope, that the bad guys are always brought to justice? If you ask me, then yes. I suppose the true answer is yes and no; I am now a mature adult and want to read stories that have a degree of realism (spandex and cosmic powers aside). It is a sad fact of life that the bad guy doesn’t always get it.

However, one of the many qualities that led me to fall in love with the world of comics as a child, a love that has lasted my entire life, was that message of hope, that eternal belief that there is justice in the world, and I would hate to see another child fan lose out on that. Conversely, I would hate to see another ‘Seduction of the Innocent’ episode where comics are forced to tone back their creativity.

To allay such suspicions of the non-comics-initiated is it not time to return to age-specific labelling? At the very least, the ‘Suggested For Mature Readers’ label? I, for one, would support this.

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Darren Burr

A devoted follower of the comics industry and their characters since a child, Darren now plays in many media but always returns to characters in skin-tight costumes beating each other up on the page. Radio host, blogger, fanfic author and producer of You Tube content, Darren idles away his days until his digital conquest of the world is complete.

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