Too late to save another member of the superhero group the Kingdom, David Zavimbi alias Batwing shares a reverie with the reader that explains why he feels less than a hero.
I'm not really into darkness. I like a story where good triumphs over evil. I'm seldom interested in shades of gray or when the central character is a criminal. Ultimately, I feel such things can be seen on the news. I read books and watch movies and television for escapism, not to see a reiteration of today's events.
That said, I can appreciate a tale that weaves in a realistic backdrop so long as it fits into the context of the shared universe. The crippling of Barbara Gordon didn't fit. So I rejected everything associated with that old universe. This New 52 reflects our world without losing the gusto of the superhero.
David Zavimbi comes from a background that's pure Africa. Winnick did his research. It's all here. As a youth, he and his brother Isaac served a nutso doppelganger of Joseph Kony, the bastard of history that leads the Lord's Resistance Army, comprised of child soldiers. General Keita's targets sometimes used human shields, that are also afflicted with AIDS, epidemic in Africa.
Winnick further darkens the conflict by suggesting that David and his brother Isaac knew exactly what they were doing when they killed for Keita. He suggests that David and Isaac saw family in Keita, since they were orphans, and they killed in part to please their foster parent. It's an unsettling supposition.
Atonement is where the book departs from realism. We overlook these past atrocities in the same way we shunned Xena's past crimes. The fact is that if these people were in our reality, we would want them behind bars, but in the confines of fiction, we can forgive Xena and focus on the person that she is now. Fiction allows us the opportunity to believe in a character's purity in the present. The same can be said for Batwing. We know this man must be good because he and his brother set limits for themselves; a patent near impossibility and another example of the departure from reality.
David and Isaac were not for example child killers or rapists, and when Keita betrays them with his lack of morality and trust in them, they turn on Keita. First Isaac pays the ultimate price. No real spoiler. In any case, ChrisCross, Ryan Winn and Brian Reber make Isaac's death so horrifically realistic, the shock of the visuals will absorb any foreknowledge. Here again is an example of an African prevalence. The way Isaac dies mirrors the way countless met their demise in modern tribal warfare.
Young David sets into motion vengeful events, but he makes a vow. This glimmer of honor in a cesspool of deceit attracted Batman, and we trust in Batman because that's what fiction allows. Because we place our faith in Batman, we know that David is a good man, and although he's “better at terrible things,” we know this history created the hero we have now.
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.