You have no doubt seen somewhere, be it television, newspapers, or the internet, the story of BatKid saving San Francisco-turned Gotham City from the likes of The Riddler and The Penguin this week.
If you haven’t yet heard about it, take a second and Google “BatKid” and read a few stories about it and come back.
No worries. I’ll wait. I’ll even have a cup of tea while you do so.
(((sip of tea. moment to ponder. another sip of tea.)))
Okay, you’re back. Pretty wild stuff, right?
There’s not much I can add to this. Writers, journalists, photographers have covered pretty much every angle of the day. All I want to say is that I can not, for the life of me, think of a comparable time when I’ve seen that many people gather together on a mission of goodwill and making a child feel like a hero. Not only that, but my Facebook newsfeed blew up that day with people sharing links to stories, photos, and just generally being excited that this kid’s wish to be Batman came true. It came true courtesy of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and many, many volunteers and supporters. That last word is key though – supporters. You can throw all the money in the world at something and it may not resonate with anyone.
What is it about this young boy, this dream come true to be a hero, that led so many people to take part, stand in the streets in support, or just generally get excited and invested in his heroics that day?
It gives me a little hope for the world. I’m often accused of being much more cynical as I age than I was a decade ago., but something with all of this just struck a chord. Maybe, just maybe, we’re not all the judgmental, polarized, cynical, hopeless lot that so many come off as day in and day out. Could it be that deep down we all want to feel the joy that comes with seeing a five-year old save the day? That inside, we want to have that sense of triumph that was felt that afternoon when young Miles stopped The Riddler and foiled a plot by the Penguin and was then given the key to the city?
I say yes. We do. But don’t let it stop there. Don’t bottle up those feelings now that the event is over and the news stories begin to die down. No, no! It’s like people who only open their hearts at Christmas.
Rip them open, my friends! Find that hope once again, believe in a better world. Why? Because what’s the alternative? Five year old Miles is a hero and gained the support of a city and a nation. Isn’t it time the rest of us started living every day with our hearts open and were heroes as well?
Although I am admittedly a huge fan of purging and ridding the house of things that take up unnecessary space or has just accumulated over the years, there are still a few things that I know I will just always hold on to. Case in point, a particular piece of comic book art hanging in our home office that my son loves to stare at, reach for, and make noises at.
It’s been hanging on my walls in one residence or another, ever since I was 13.
It’s an image of Batman, as depicted in the never-to-be-surpassed Batman: The Animated Series of the 1990s. In it, he’s holding up a confused Riddler by the scruff, ready to cart him off to prison once again.
This isn’t an eBay or comic convention find. No, this was, and still remains, a large memory of my childhood. I won it, you see, in a letter writing contest in 1993. Yes, back in the day when letter columns were still a regular feature in all comic books. The Batman Adventures comic book would hold a contest each month, where the editor would pick two published letters in that month’s column and award the writers of those letters a piece of one of a kind comic art. It was an amazing concept for a young comic fan.
Well, one of those months, a letter of mine had been printed and chosen, and the result was this one of a kind piece, penciled by the late, great Mike Parobeck and inked by a wonderful artist in his own right, Rick Burchett.
Parobeck, a brilliant artistic talent, whether it be from his work on Batman, or my favorite modern-day run of the Justice Society, sadly died in 1996 from diabetic issues.
The work of Rick Burchett has gone on to have graced many a comic page, including a later Batman animated comic series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and a slew of other DC Comics over the years. His art is graceful and beautiful stuff.
This powerhouse combination of artistic talents wowed me as a kid when I read their comics, and sent me over the moon when this piece of art arrived in the mail. I’m glad to know that their talents continue to be appreciated by my little guy, and hopefully many others in his generation and generations to come.