[Although there have been many developments in the story of the Dark Knight shooter, we’re only going to update when things are more definite. In the meantime, long absent Beat columnist Rich Johnson is back with a story about his son, Batman and what today meant.]

by Rich Johnson

I haven’t written a post for The Beat in quite some time; I have been working, writing and trying to start up some new businesses – but more on that another time. I am writing because of what happened in Colorado and because today is my son’s birthday. And for those of you I don’t know – I am a former DC Comics employee.

My son has been looking forward to both his birthday and The Dark Knight Rises. In fact he has invited a few of his friends to go with him tonight to see the film. As I write this he is playing Batman: Arkham City, and when I got home last night he was watching The Dark Knight. I also noticed a stack of Batman graphic novels stacked on the dining room table.

This is a kid who I would occasionally bring into work at the DC offices. He would walk the halls as my co-workers would heap comics, books, games and toys on him. He walked around knowing his father was a life-long fan of comics and Batman. When he was five or six he would tell his friends and their parents that his Dad “worked for Batman”. One smart ass father replied, “Yeah? What’s his name, Alfred?”

One of the lessons he learned by reading and watching  Batman is that he never should use a gun or kill someone. Pretty important lesson for a child.

The talking heads on the news have begun to spin their usual garbage after this type of incident. One woman on CNN this morning said she is sure that the killer was “sitting in his room alone playing video games, first person shooters, killing people and planning this.” Mind you, this was said before the police made any statements about what was in his apartment. I heard of another talking head referring to the fans of Batman as a “cult”. If indeed it is a cult, then I have been a proud life-long member. Any “cult” that teaches that the way of killing and guns is wrong is fine by me. In fact the cult’s “leader”  has dedicated his life to preventing incidents like this from happening.

But back to my son. Has been immersed in this culture from almost the time he was born and I can’t imagine having a better son. He is thoughtful, decent, caring, and a whole bunch of other adjectives I could add here, but I don’t want to embarrass him.

It troubles me that so called “experts” immediately look to games, comics and movies as the inspiration for senseless acts of violence. Charles Manson said that the Bible and the music of The Beatles spoke to him and were the reasons he killed. When you have something inside of you that makes you walk into a crowded movie theatre with the sole intention of killing people, the simple fact is simply that there is something wrong with that person. Something is in his brain, his DNA, his soul that tells him that violence is the answer to whatever is troubling him.

As for me I am going to give pause and be thankful that both my son and daughter are good people and have learned some of their values from Batman. I’m also going to be thinking about the victims and their families of this horrific event. Tonight I will celebrate my son’s birthday with pizza, cake, gifts and a trip to see The Dark Rises with him and friends. Peace.


  1. Rich,

    I think not talking about the fact the shooter identified himself to the police as “The Joker” cheapens this column a little bit.

    Batman being anti-gun is all warm and fuzzy and whatnot, but come on. The guy wasn’t dressed up as Batman.

  2. I disagree. Even with the Joker bit, the point remains the same – there was something wrong with the kid’s wiring, not corrupted by a medium/genre. And bringing it up would have only muddled the clarity of his point.

  3. @Chaos

    Wouldn’t a Joker cult encourage this behavior? A Batman cult obviously wouldn’t. But the guy wasn’t dressed up, as I said, as Batman. I was referring to that half paragraph of Rich’s piece.

    Though apparently, the NYPD Commissioner is unconfirmed in his Joker report now too.

  4. Rich, my comment was meant to show agreement with you. I think Mr. Mckenzie is spot on-the guy was just not wired right. Who the hell but a severely damaged person, would do such a thing like Columbine, Oklahoma City or this event in Colorado?

  5. While the level of violence and sexism displayed in a good number in our (US) entertainment can give one pause, a mass murderer identifying themself as a villainous fictional character shouldn’t be taken at face value.

    If suicide bomber yells Allah Ach Bar before setting of a bomb, I don’t look at them as a Muslim.

    If someone fire bombs an abortion clinic and sprouts out how their doing something in the name of God, I don’t think of them as a Christian.

    I view them as someone who’s sick and hasn’t dealt with their issues in a manner that helps them function in society.

  6. Really well put. Anybody who really took a good look at Batman knows that he’s about saving people, not killing them.

    It’s such a tragedy what happened, and snap judgments are always such a shame.

  7. Um, the Son of Sam said his dog told him to kill people. If you are listening to some mentally ill person tell you “The Joker” told me to kill people or I model myself after “The Joker” then shame on you. I expect more intellectual capacity out of you.

  8. The Joker comment comes from the NYC Police Commissioner apparently, who wasn’t there and despite everything I’ve heard about how the shooter didn’t say a thing during the attack this person apparently knows better.

    I’m going to ignore this rampant speculation by the media. Soon enough we will all know what happened and nothing we know will fix it or help us make sense.

  9. Lovely sentiments, Rich. Thank you and happy birthday to your boy and happy birth day to you and your wife.

    I am also happy that I am able to raise my kids in this culture and that they also say their folks work for Batman.

    Even after designing countless Superman collections, I never “got” Superman until I had a son. I’ve always loved Batman, but now that I have a crafty, wily kid who was undoing childproofing at 18mo? I’m ready to dig that kid a Batcave. (I actually just bought him a microscope.)

    Let’s not let the otalking heads take away what’s grand about ur heroes.

  10. On the home page it said “by The Beat” and it said “my son and Batman”. I was like, when did Heidi have a kid!?!

    Great article Rich. Agreed on all points, especially your comment on Manson.

  11. Also, all accounts have this guy with RE hair calling himself the Joker. A real fan would have painted his hair green.

  12. Brian Spence: I thought the same thing. The hair should be green.

    Rich: Thanks for the column. I enjoyed reading it and you articulated a few of the thoughts that have crossed my mind since this maniac attacked those innocent people.