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Jackie Hope: Happy birthday, Batman!

Dickinson,North Dakota 58602 http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/sites/all/themes/thedickinsonpress_theme/images/social_default_image.png
The Dickinson Press
Jackie Hope: Happy birthday, Batman!
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Don’t you already miss July? All those cool holidays? Like the Fourth of July, and Canada’s Fourth of July, which is July 1 for them. And France’s Fourth of July, which is on July 14. Ooh! Ooh! Don’t forget World UFO Day on July 2 or Video Game Day on July 8.

But this year’s best July holiday was a one-of-a-kind, we’re-goin’-to-Comic-Con-for-this-one, 75th anniversary lollapalooza celebration: Batman Day. Oh yeah! Holy holidays, Batman, you don’t look a day over 30.

Batmaniacs have been celebrating the big 7-5 all year, but DC Comics set the date of July 23 as the B-man’s official anniversary. That’s when they partnered with comic shops and bookstores to offer freebie comics and un-bat-able entertainment. Holy cyberspace, Batman, can I get those comics on my iPad?

DC’s website gave a shout-out on the 23rd, asking Batty look-alikes to tweet selfies. Ya, you Bat-cha. Billions and billions of Bat-poses, Bat-posts and Bat-photo bombs. Now, bat that around in your brain for a while, and remember this name: Louie.

Holy coincidences! Bat-snap! Batman Day just happened to come during Comic-Con. The San Diego Comic-Con, which is the granddaddy of all Cons — comic, commercial, computer-generated and always uncommon. Well, we were lucky enough to snag an interview with someone, right from the floor of this year’s Comic-Con.

John Odermann, co-owner of Dickinson’s Badlands Comics and Games, talked with us about DC Comics’ booth at Con, and their Batman memorabilia. They had every single Batman costume, from the 60s TV series through the Christian Bale incarnation. Suits, accessories, capes and cowls. John did not say whether he was sizing himself up against the costumes, to see if he was more jacked than Bale.

DC’s booth was full of Batmaniacs, all day every day, and John said the booth was “a Batman history lesson.” And you thought you hated history. He believes Batman has become “modern mythology” while going through many “redefinitions as a character, and as how people see him.” From comics, to TV campiness, to Tim Burtonesque darkness, Batman has survived. And “… that he survived speaks to the quality of the character. The comic … comes back to the core of the character. He is human, like the rest of us.”

John also stressed it is not just Batman himself who is popular, but the entire Batman family of villains and sidekicks as well. The Batman rogues gallery has become well-known throughout culture. Even to the point that Harley Quinn, Joker’s girlfriend, is one of the most popular characters at both Comic-Con and in John’s store. Harley was invented in the animated TV universe, not on the comic pages. So she is a friend-of-a-friendy-enemy, created in a ‘90s reincarnation of a Baby Boomer TV series. Today’s Batman isn’t just for boys, baby!

Batman made his first appearance in 1939’s “Detective Comics” No. 27, in “The Case of the Criminal Syndicate!” His true identity of Bruce Wayne was revealed to all the readers, but no one else in Comic Book World, not even Commissioner Gordon was let in on that Bat-secret. And back in those days Batman did not have a Batsignal, a Batcave, a Batmobile or a Robin. He did have a sweet hyphen, however. His name was spelled Bat-Man in the early days.

The Bat-site tells us Batman has a boatload of powers. But even the DC folks don’t call them superpowers. They tell us he is an “exceptional martial artist,” and has “combat strategy, inexhaustible wealth, brilliant deductive skills, advanced technology,” but no supernatural abilities. Batman also has his own Facebook page, with 12½ million “likes.” Heck, that’s supernatural, if you ask me.

But philosophers continue to debate that age-old question, “Can a hero without superpowers be a superhero?” This presses greatly on the minds of scholars. Especially late at night, after they have marathon-watched all the Batman movies, from Michael Keaton to Christian Bale. With a side-trip to Robinville, so they could nap for a couple of hours during “Batman and Robin.” And it is natural that great philosophers think Batman is super.

Holy Bat-attitude, the arguments get supercharged when you start comparing Batman to Superman. See, Superman has all these superpowers going for him, ‘cause he can fly and all. And the Superman camp contends Batman is nothing more than a rich-boy Rambo. Well, there ain’t been no Superman Day, dawg. Except in Cleveland last year, for the S-man’s 75th. But now Cleveland has LeBron, so neener, neener, Superman.

Great Batminds like Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lawrence and John Odermann have gone on record as preferring Batman to Superman, even with all his Supermanly powers. And Stan Lee, Mr. Marvel Comics, says, “No doubt about it, Batman …” is way cooler than Superman. Well, there you have it, and what’s cool for Stan Lee is super for me.

Batman Day selfies. Holy doppelgangers, Batman! We were all over that, because Louie is a Bat-mazing look-alike. Louie is a loner. He stays up all night, patrolling perimeters like a caged lion. If he senses danger, then, “Thump! Bump! Pow!” he is on the case. He plays clutch. Louie works security around our household. Louie is a rabbit. But Louie knows he is the baddest rabbit in the neighborhood.

So what side you coming down on? Superpowers, or powers that are super? Superman or Batman?

Well, if you are prowling around the area of 13th Street West late at night, and you encounter a black-masked bunny, just ask, “What are you?”

“I’m Batrabbit!”

Nuf said.

Hope is Our Town’s resident comedian and waxes poetic (and sometimes not-so poetic) about the lighter side of current events in Dickinson, the Oil Patch and the world.

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