Sunday, March 20, 2016

BATMAN came to Beirut and worked with the Mossad

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Batman, the dark knight himself, came to Beirut in 1988 in pursuit of the Joker and joined forces with a Mossad undercover agent.

In Batman's classic "A death in the family", published in 1988, the cape crusader travels to war-torn Lebanon and hooks up with Mossad undercover agent Sharmin Rosen. Together, along with Batman's friend and sidekick Robin, they try to stop the Joker from selling a nuclear missile to "Shiite terrorists" who plan to use it against Israel. After they manage to thwart his plan, the unthinkable happens: the Joker kills Robin and flees to Ethiopia. There, he meets with Ayatollah Khomeini (!) and gets offered a job as Iran's ambassador to the UN.

Besides the poorly researched material, this classic Batman adventure can be seen as a piece of propaganda in a time when Iran and the US were mortal enemies and the painful memory of the 1983 US embassy bombing in Beirut was still fresh – using DC Comics superheroes to participate in US war efforts is not unusual: it started as early as the late thirties when Superman fought the Nazis and the Japanese. 

"A death in the Family", despite its many qualities – it's ranked #15 on a list of the 25 greatest Batman graphic novels – is undeniably biased: Arabs are poorly treated (to say the least), Iran is presented as the mother of all evil (how ironic this looks today!), Lebanese speak Farsi and Iranians dress like Arabs.

Below is a summary of the graphic novel. If you want to read it in full click here.

Lebanon in other DC Comics graphic novels

Actually, this wasn't the first time Lebanon was featured in a DC Comics graphic novel. A year earlier, "Suicide Squad's Serpent of Chaos" started off in war-torn Beirut. 

But since, DC comics has made amends (so to speak) and created a superhero of Lebanese origin: Simon Baz, a new member of the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League. Baz is known to have the word "courage" in Arabic tattooed on his arm. 

Suicide Squad's Serpent of Chaos:

Green Lantern Simon Baz: