indi.ca

Views from the third world. Earth.


An Army Of Batmans

Graffiti on the wall around the Gaza ghetto

My kids like ‘Batman’ but Batman sucks. A billionaire, cop-collaborating vigilante? Bleh. So I made up my own Batman, a poor hero whose parents were killed by the cops, and who lives in a junkyard, fighting the capitalist Penguin and helping people unionize and burn debt records. It’s my kid, why not. The kids still likes Batman, and I daresay I like my version more. I’ve told them it’s not canonical, they can figure it out later.

The boy wanted another Batman story tonight but my mind is honestly spinning, so I just told him what’s on it. I told the history we’re living through as a story. I rebooted our Batman as a Palestinian, leading an army of Batmans against great evil. Which is really what’s going on. Here’s the first episode:

Once upon a time, there was a village, where the villagers grew oranges and olives, dressed in beautiful colors, and ate delicious food. They prayed and they played and life was good. Sadly, however, magic ooze was discovered all around the village, and the ooze was as powerful as it was poisonous. Men put the ooze into machines and this made the machines move on their own. These machines dug up the earth (to find more ooze) and plowed through the ocean (to move the ooze) and even the poison even oozed into men’s hearts, making them machines also. Suddenly olives and oranges were not food, the only color that mattered was money, and the little village had to be obliterated. There were bigger plans afoot. So the men brought in foot soldiers, to kick them out.

The men from the White Empire brought in a tribe they had long abused, and gave them a license to abuse even more. They gave them weapons to do it, and words to cover it up. That tribe hit and killed the villagers, drove them into a narrow strip of land, and built walls all around them. It was an open-air prison, and into this prison Batman was born.

Batman lived with his parents for only a few short years before they died in front of him, when his home was bombed. Then Batman was an orphan. Batman grew up alone but with his people, he grew up weak but strong, he had nothing but he had it all. He learned how to avoid the flies with many eyes buzzing overhead, and the ever-crushing fists of bombs. Batman quickly learned that nowhere was safe, except the sand that he played in, which gave him an idea. And so behind and beneath the rubble, he started to dig a tunnel. And soon enough, other orphans joined him. An army of orphans, digging an array of tunnels. Any army of Batmans, underground. But soon enough they would come flying out, out over the walls.

They flew out through the air, they crashed through the walls, they attacked the people attacking them and then escaped, as many as they could, underground. Where Batman bade them wait, while the bombs crashed all around, crushing homes like they’d crushed Batman’s, creating more orphans. But Batman and his Batmen were the orphans they hadn’t killed. And they were ready.

So when the tanks and troops came into the prison, Batman and his Batmen were waiting. They poked out of the tunnels, they ran up to the tanks, and they blew them up with their bare hands. From scraps of metal and morsels of powder they made ‘bows and arrows’, and pointed them at the metal monsters, flowing on ooze, tearing through the prison within the village that was. And they chased them out. Tearing and screaming, bombing and blasting, murdering and maiming, the metal monsters and the monstrous men went out ugly, but they went out, and they went out afraid. They were afraid of Batman and his Batmen. The orphans they didn’t kill had become an army, an army of Batmans.

And that’s about as far as I got, in this episode. I think you know the history behind it all. The occupation of Palestine, the creation of orphans, the rising of those orphans into an army, surviving in tunnels until they flooded out in the Al Aqsa Flood of October 7th. The horror of ‘Israel’s’ existence and the bravery of Palestine’s Resistance has been running through my head since then, and through my tear ducts as well. When I give my children water or tuck them in, I think of the thousands of Gazan children who go without and my heart breaks for them. Then I think of the children have no hands at all to hold them at all, however empty, however cold. I generally tell my kids what I’m thinking, and that’s what’s going through my head. Might as well come out in stories. So I tell my boy the story of an army of Batmans, rag-tag orphans fighting for justice, against impossible odds. He asked if it was true, and I told him yes and no. When he’s older, he can figure it out.