Writer Judd Winick portrays David Zavimbe (alias Batwing) as a hero arising from a tarnished Africa. Normally, I'd refer to him as a tarnished hero or tainted knight, but can children be held responsible for their actions, especially when they have no choice in a hostile environment? A Joseph Kony type recruited David and his brother as children into an analogue of the Lord's Resistance Army. The real life Kony is no better than offal. His child abductees commit heinous crimes against humanity, yet they are as much the victims as those they destroy.
One of History's Bastards
The doppelganger in Batwing operated the same way, but this is a comic book, and Batman chose David to be his agent for a reason. In this issue, we learn the whys of Batman's decision. What separated David and his brother from the pack? What shred of optimism did the brothers rescue?
As an adult, Batwing fights for the life of Thunder, a former hero and part of the heretofore unknown super team the Kingdom. As he fights, he remembers Batman's tactical advice. Batwing's strategies translate into Ben Oliver's remarkable illustrations.
Batwing Aerial Assault
These ploys however won't give Batwing or Thunder an easy victory. Massacre's toughness reflects his willpower. He's not merely a psychopath it seems. He fights for a cause.
Massacre's cause, I suspect, mirrors the horrors that David faced as a boy. If so Batwing becomes a meditation on the nature of the hero, whether or not heroes that kill can still be considered champions of truth and justice, culpability, atonement and finally forgiveness.
Ray Tate's first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, "Spider Without a Web," published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in Biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups, where he reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he's young at heart. Of course, we all know better.