Train Spotting: Talking fascism, comics and Batwoman at the Anarchist Bookfair

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Anybody expecting a riot at the Boston Anarchist Bookfair at Simmons College last weekend  left disappointed. But those seeking to discuss progressive causes like veganism, combating rape culture and scaling down the prison industrial complex likely had a blast. Contrary to the violent stigma surrounding the word “anarchy,” most of its advocates seem pretty laid back. Who knew? We hopped the green line over to Fenway to find ourselves an anarchist: 22-year-old Nick Ford, who fused his affinity for anti-establishmentarianism and super people into a presentation dubbed “A for Anarky: Comic Books and Anarchism,” one of the fair’s dozens of lefty workshops. Afterwards, we asked him some stuff about Batman.

Does it bum you out that Frank Miller — writer and artist behind one of the greatest comics ever, ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ —  turned into a total fascist?

I’m not very surprised. Batman’s sense of being against the government is done by different writers in different ways, but the way Miller captures it, it’s the paranoid, kind of “I’m better than you” mentality that seems to come from a conservative standpoint, rather than an anarchist standpoint. I’ve read some articles about Holy Terror, and that is…wow. It’s basically a character who’s like Batman, beating up muslims.

I heard Miller originally planned to use Batman himself instead of a knock-off Batman character for that story. DC Comics is probably happy that didn’t happen.

Yeah, that sounds like a PR nightmare.

Who’s the most socially progressive mainstream superhero?

I think Green Arrow. Unlike Batman, he gave up his wealth and he dresses like Robin Hood. He’s probably the most socially progressive, but that’s not saying much, because comics are very prone to conservativism. The problem is nostalgia and the “status quo is God” mentality. I think we need another ‘Dark Knight Returns,’ or an Alan Moore one-two punch to kickstart comics again. Although Batwoman is pretty cool.

Yeah, but they won’t let her marry her girlfriend, supposedly because she wouldn’t be as angsty or whatever nonsensical excuse.

Bulls—. They let Superman get married. They let Spider-Man get married.

Let her get married and The Joker or whoever can kill her wife next year. BOOM. She’s angsty again.

Having her be a lesbian without being pushy about it is probably one of the more socially progressive things in mainstream comics, but they’re still catching up from 10 years ago.

How would an anarchist superhero behave in the real world?

In general, I think the notion of superheroes is about one person trying to take on the world and save it all by themselves. In the real world, a lot of these people would be psychopaths, especially Batman. But just because it wouldn’t work in real life doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reading about it.


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