June 24th, 2005

Batman vs. Invisible Man

Let me first say that I have been schooled; kevil informed me that Raz Al Gul/Ras Al Gul/Ra's Al Gul is indeed a character from the Batman comics.

But when I first heard the name Ras, and associated it with a man who was kind of/sort of on the same side as Bruce Wayne but really his enemy, how could I not think of Ras the Exhorter/Ras the Destroyer from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man?

When it seemed Bruce Wayne was on an endless quest to find his own true identity, how could I not think of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man?

When the character deep in the basement of Wayne Tower was named Lucius, how could I not think of Lucius Brockway in the basement of the Liberty Paint in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man?

When there was the riot on the Narrows and Scarecrow was on horseback [where did they get a horse?], how could I not think of, again, Ras the Destroyer on horseback and the riot in Harlem at the end of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man?

At the time, I wanted to run home and, you know, skim the 600 pages or so looking for other similarities. I thought that Batman Beyond might have been—in some skewed way—an attempt at retelling perhaps the greatest American novel ever written. I mean, issues of identity aside, what kind of sick bastard would cast a rich cracker as the protagonist in Invisible Man?

I was unable to find my copy (perhaps it has become invisible?), and after a good night's rest I have come to the realization that it was just a really fantastic superhero movie without such literary aspirations.