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1960s Jim Steranko Comic Book Covers
by James H. Burns

With prayers for the fallen, and the families and other loved ones of those harmed Friday night, in Colorado.

I can't help but think how heartbroken Bob Kane and Bill Finger, the creators of "Batman" (and native New Yorkers), would have been over the Colorado movie theatre murders. The comic book they created was meant to bring joy to children, and the young at heart, everywhere.

It's tragic for those slain and wounded, and their families, but also--to a much lesser extent, of course--for those of us who associate our super heroes with the brighter days of summer, and not the darkness of certain souls.

No matter how incongruously, I've also been remembering the thousand-plus of us who crowded a Long Island movie theatre parking lot in 1966, waiting to see a personal appearance by Adam West, to promote the new "Batman" movie, at the height of "Batmania."

That was a very different Batman, of course, for a very different time (and no matter that West never actually made it to the old Belair theatre, due to a scheduling snafu).

I'm sure the anticipatory excitement we felt over forty years ago was not terribly different from that of those opening night moviegoers in Colorado.

It would be a mistake, of course, to blame these murders and attacks on the darkness that is now most often portrayed as part and parcel of the Caped Crusader--if only for the obvious fact that hundreds of millions watch or read this character with no apparent ill effect.

It's also important to remember that even the most nihilistic of our current super heroes still tend to preach what can seem the most elusive of modern qualities: personal responsibility.

Pundits--and gun lobbyists--who have noted that nothing can stop a lunatic may well be right, that he'll always find a way to devestate.

But I was stunned by those last weekend who said that a metal detector would do no good in these situations, because such precautions HAVE worked at movie theatres across the nation that have experienced gun and other violence.

Over twenty years ago, I came within minutes of attending the late night Christmas screening of "Godfather 3" at the Sunrise Multiplex in suburban New York, at which youth gangs began shooting at each other during the movie.

That event--a very different outrage than this more recent assault--seems to have been forgotten by some of our media, as has the fact that the theatre immeditely took successful measures to make sure that no one carrying a gun or knife would ever be able to gain entrance again.

There's also a rather low tech solution for this modern menace, one that those over the age of 40 may well recall, as it used to be featured in nearly every movie house in the land: an usher in the theatre. The attendant may well need now be armed, (and a video camera should also be installed as an added precaution, including any possible malfeasance by the attendant)...

The only reason not to take these measures would be theatre owners' hesitancy to absorb the cost.

But if patrons will pay a few extra dollars for one-time use of 3D spectacles, wouldn't most of us be willing to cover a security surcharge?

James Burns- James H. Burns


(James H. (Jim) Burns, a writer/actor living in Long Island, has written for such magazines as Gentleman's Quarterly, Esquire, Twilight Zone and Heavy Metal. More recently, Jim has made several contributions to Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, become active in radio, and written Op-Eds or features for Newsday, The Village Voice, TheSportingNews.Com. and The New York Times.) You can read more of Jim's articles at The Thunderchild.

 

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