With this year's consistent headlines covering officer-involved deaths of unarmed suspects and the growing protests that followed, police brutality has spent more time in the spotlight than ever before. The suspicious deaths of Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, and other black individuals at the hands of white police officers has sparked a nationwide conversation on race, power, and law enforcement.
The most basic objection to these unfortunate deaths centers around one simple point: police should not have a license to kill in circumstances that don't require deadly force. Now, a prominent figure who's always been against flagrant killing is taking a stand against police brutality, and that person is none other than Batman.
Check out the first issue of 'The Dark Knight III: The Master Race'
Frank Miller's seminal comic series The Dark Knight Returns gets another follow-up nearly 30 years later with The Dark Knight III: The Master Race. The sequel, co-written by Miller and Brian Azzarello with art by Any Kubert, features an opening scene with text message-like speech bubbles and a young black teen getting arrested by cops.
Based on the heated panels, the cops are more than ready to fire their weapons than detain their suspect, and the boy prepares himself for death. That's when Batman—who's spent most of his career working alongside Police Commissioner Gordon—arrives to start wailing the misguided officers.
According to Vulture, who also released these pages, this confrontation with police is not just limited to the story's introduction. In fact, Batman has his own run-in with police on the attack.
In the closing scene, Batman gets jumped by an immense group of cops
At the end of this first issue, Batman is completely surrounded by a group of police officers hellbent on revenge. The closing panels show them relentlessly pummeling the Caped Crusader with their batons—making no moves to arrest—before one officer scoffs at Batman's unmoving body and says, "Had enough?"
The initial meaning is pretty clear: racism and institutional violence are just as villainous as Batman's recognizable foes, but they are an awful lot more difficult to lock down and penalize.
It's a real-world issue that deserves more attention
Of course, The Dark Knight exists in the ever-seedier Gotham, but The Dark Knight III has some actual (if a bit obvious) implications in reality.
According to Vox's Dara Lind, who analyzed available FBI records on officer-involved homicides, black people are killed by police at a disproportionate rate to whites and Hispanics. What's more, the 2010-12 report found that black teens were 21 times more likely than white teens to be shot and killed by police. The numbers are even starker when taking unarmed figures into account, with racial minorities making up 62.7% of unarmed people killed by police (despite being only 37.4% of the population).
Though there's only been one issue, Batman may turn out to be a great contribution to this conversation. For starters, he proves this discourse is not an indictment of individual cops, considering he's worked alongside many good, honest, and industrious men in blue for years. Instead, it's a matter of unchecked, overly aggressive force and subconscious biases. Now that Batman's on the case, this conversation will only continue.