Intermission- Some People Just Want to Watch the World Burn

(I apologize for the departure in tone today.  Normally I would happily write a cute story filled with sci-fi possibilities or a will they/ won’t they couple.  But today I’m not feeling happy or creative, so you get this.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring happier thoughts.)

For those not well-versed in their comic book movies, the subject line is a little too appropriate for today.  The quote comes from The Dark Knight, and it serves as a description for a villain who kills and causes terror just for the sheer fun of it.  Tragically, the world was served a reminder this morning that such people exist outside of comic books.

I’m sure the final count and details are still being worked out, but I know enough to be horrified at the tragedy.  Twelve people were killed and thirty-eight people were injured when a man came into a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, dispersed smoke, and opened fire.  Police apparently have a suspect in custody.

I don’t know very many people in Colorado.  I would never claim that I will be as impacted as the friends and loved ones of that theater audience.  On a much smaller scale though, I will claim that the room was filled with my people.

Comic book nerds are an interesting breed.  We have a reputation for being anti-social.  I’m here to tell you though; one of the quickest ways to get in our good graces is to read comics, to be one of us.

I work in a comic book shop.  There have been many occasions where I have heard guys and gals say, “Yeah, I just moved to the area.  I needed to find a good shop.”  We leap to make connections with fellow nerds.  We want to share stories and opinions about the latest issue back and forth.  I’ve sold comics to young and old, rich and poor, gay and straight.  Some are of a minority race, and some are classified as disabled.  We don’t care what the world thinks of you, we just like that you enjoy comics.  It’s hard to care about race or religion when the fate of the world is in jeopardy on the four-color page.

That is why I mourn the crowd in Colorado.  I don’t know you folks, but I like who you are.  When we see each other on the street with our mutual comic book t-shirts, we exchange a knowing wink and nod.

In addition to working in a comic shop, I also work in a movie theater.  It’s a giant, six-story screen that is, not surprisingly, playing The Dark Knight Rises.  Last night, when the world was getting ready for bed, I was strolling around the lobby in a Batman costume trying to get people ready for what I think is a pretty great film.  There was a Joker, several Batmans, and a Catwoman in attendance.  We gave away posters and comic books.  They just wanted to watch an epic movie and have a good time.  Hopefully they did.

What do I do today?  The rain was falling as I left the apartment, but I didn’t reach for my standard Superman cap to keep me dry.  I need a time to feel dreary.  I’ll call it a win if no one on the bus recognized that I was about two seconds away from breaking down.  I have to go to work and decide if I really want to dress up as The Dark Knight and possibly put people on edge.  Yesterday they would have enjoyed the silly guy in a black costume.  Today they might pause and ask themselves what kind of person is really under that mask.

I’m sure action will be called for.  The police and the legal system will do their thing.  Undoubtedly conversations will occur about whether or not we should screen bags at movie theaters or if movies about crowds taking over a city encourage violence.  And I would guarantee that there will be one more argument for gun control.  I’m not saying any of those talks are good or bad.  I’m saying we all have our own ways of dealing with tragedies like the one that happened this morning.  In one way or the other, the guilty will get what’s coming to them.  Maybe it will be in the court of law, maybe it won’t.

“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” -Romans 12:19

Myself, I’m going to be in mourning.  I called up the gal who’s been on my mind this week and made sure to tell her that my life is better with her in it.  I’m going to try to find a comic book that I feel like reading.  A Batman comic wouldn’t feel right today.  Maybe it will tomorrow.  I’m supposed to dress up as Batman tonight and I have no idea whether it’s the right thing to do.

To me, Batman is one of the most hopeful characters ever created.  Every night he goes out trying to keep anyone else from suffering like he did.  The odds are impossible, the circumstances are out of his control, but he still keeps fighting.

No, I’m not going to stop reading comics.  No, I’m not going to give up movies.  I won’t be scared or bullied into worrying about my safety.  I may take a little break from celebrating and Bat-festivities, but I won’t give in to the misguided.  If Batman can have hope in a city like Gotham, then I can too.  The world can break my heart with its cruelty, but it’s not going to keep me from enjoying the good things in life.  Hopefully the darkness will be a little less so tomorrow.

Tales from a Batsuit

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Tales from a Batsuit

It’s not who you are, it’s what you do that defines you.” –Batman Begins

There is an experience that only a select group of individuals have been subjected to.  Granted, the choice is usually their own, and in theory they take up the mantle willingly.  Still, the argument can be made that only those that go through this act of lunacy comprehend why they do such crazy things.  I am of course, talking about dressing up like a giant bat.

Other costumes exist and other heroes can be portrayed.  Spider-Man is especially fun because one’s entire face is covered.  Anyone can be Spidey.  Plus, the more you leap up on random objects and take on wacky poses, the “better” you are at being the Friendly Neighborhood wall-crawler.  I think Superman is a little harder to pull off.  If you don’t have the chiseled jaw and black hair, not to mention the muscled physique, then the whole thing can just come off as a sham.  (The attempt to pull Supes off led me to dying my hair, including my eyebrows, black.  The less said about the whole thing, the better.)  Sure all the kids love a good Superman, but one has to be able to pull it off.  Iron Man, Captain America; they’re all well and good.  In the end, nothing tops Batman.

The only trick is finding the right suit.  Thanks to the wonders of built-in padding, all ages, genders, and builds have portrayed The Dark Knight.  As someone who has dressed up for several movie openings at work, Batman is, no contest, seen as the coolest.  It helps if you have extra gear like batarangs or a Joker to chase around, though it is hardly necessary.  People see Batman, and they smile.  Fist bumps, photo opportunities, high-fives; all are common occurrences when a guy is dressed as Batman.

This is not to say that adopting the cape and cowl is all perks.  First off, the ears are floppy.  Have you ever seen a cool Batman with floppy bat-ears?  No, you haven’t.  There are ways and tricks to fixing them, such as ironing them stiff or inserting bits of cardboard, but it all seems rather silly.  Due to the open nature of Batman’s face, facial hair is simply a no-no.  If you’re going to play Batman, you’ve got to shave that beard off.  However, Batman is a creature of gruff and scruff, so stubble is quite okay.  Also, let’s just come out and say it.  The Bat-Booties don’t really cover up one’s shoes all that well.

Then of course, there’s the heat.  Batman movies have this annoying habit of coming out in June or July.  I may not live in the desert, but it feels like it in the suit.  The thing is all black and multi-layered.  The next time that you are going to the beach in your swimsuit, consider putting on a full-body, tight-fitting costume, then go ahead and drape an extra layer over your back.  Top that off by covering your hands and head.  The whole thing gets mighty toasty.  However, the kids like it, so it’s worth it.  And they’re not the only ones.

It has been said that, “Chicks dig the car”.  Well, the same can be said for the suit.  I don’t pretend to understand it.  Maybe women really do like dark characters.  Maybe Batman is fun for all ages.  Maybe we all want to be a little silly and leave our worries behind.  But for every guy that wants to hug, hang out, or take a picture with Batman, there are five females that feel the same way.  I have heard squeals of excitement, off-color comments, and then there was the gal who ran and literally jumped into my arms.  (Happily she wasn’t heavy and I wasn’t holding anything when she leapt at me.  That gal was either a little too excited or quite brave.  Or both.)  They smile, they wink, and sometimes they get a little handsy.  It’s odd, but also highly entertaining.

That perk is rather nice, but it is not the reason why I spend several minutes putting on a decidedly high-maintenance suit.  In the end, I think some movies deserve a little more effort.  I like romantic comedies, but those don’t really require anyone detaching their mind from reality.  Action movies are fun, however for those you mostly just have to turn off your brain.  Comic book movies; well there’s a certain suspension of disbelief that folks have to adopt.  If there’s a guy in a Batman costume waving and shaking hands, then it all becomes a little more plausible.  Really, I fell that folks want to have fun and I think some big goof in a costume helps that along.  Of course, none of them will ever know that fear the constantly haunts me.

They can’t see the run in my bat-tights, right?  I sure hope not.  The Bat-Sharpie only fixes so much.

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