Saturday, April 25, 2009

In need of a hero

FACT #1: Spider-Man is my favorite super hero.
FACT#2: I hate the administration of Sonoma State University.

That's about all you need to know going into this article.

With Sonoma State in the state it is, with problems ranging from economic issues to the ever present problem of campus diversity, do we need a trouble-maker like Spider-Man stalking our campus? The answer, in this person’s opinion, is a resounding “NO!” Spider-Man is no hero; Spider-Man is a menace!

We need a real hero, someone who doesn’t have to wear a mask to make an impact. People like President Rueben ArmiƱana, who spends every day making an impact at this university. We don’t need people running around, subverting authority. We don’t need people going around trying to help people, asking for nothing in return. Nor do we need people who act in a ways that point out the flaws in this institution, trying to show the hypocrisy of people in charge. Those kinds of people cannot be called heroes. They are deviants, rebels. They disrupt systems and what good is a system if it is being disrupted by these kinds of people? A system cannot be used if it is being disrupted and people like Spider-Man know this.

What we need are the heroes who are already in place, chosen by the institution to represent the student body. People who tirelessly work for the student body during their 9 to 5, Monday through Friday work week. We don’t need someone like Spider-Man making a mockery of the standard work day by always being around, always being a menace no matter what time it is during the day (or even at night). If students are already spending hours upon hours outside of class to get their work done, how can we expect the people in power to do the same?

There is a phrase I have heard. “With great power comes great responsibility.” In this time of economic hardship, we need people who understand what that means, who make the hard choices for budget cuts and are rewarded for their efforts with raises. We need to remember that we are in a country that rewards excellence. Thankfully we have an administration that honors the very system this country was built on. They have used their great power to enact great change it is the responsibility of the university to reward these brave souls. The administration holds the power while the rest of the university holds the great responsibility. Spider-Man is destroying this system. This “hero” attempts to take all the responsibility as well as all the power that comes with it. That is just selfish. If the people in power take all the responsibility, there will none left for the students who have no power.

And this Spider-Man is creating a terrible example for the students. He is teaching them to take matters into their own hands and go against the grain. That is being a vigilante. This is not what students should be learning. They should be learning from books. They should be learning from teachers. They should be learning for the administration. What better examples are there? Students need to learn that in order to make a difference, you need to be put into a place where you can affect the lives of many by bettering your situation at the expense of others. That is the message the administration is giving these students and it is a fine one.

In conclusion, the example of Spider-Man needs to be taken away from the students. He is brainwashing them into fighting things that don’t need to be fought. Why would anyone fight anything in this school? Classes are still being offered so who cares that there is less of them. The general education classes cover longer periods of time meaning that they are teaching students more. So what if fees are being increased? If one pays more for something, that makes it more valuable and what is more valuable than an education. Less services offered leads to less confusion on where students need to go. Unit caps mean classes are more abundant for students to choose from and gives the upper classmen a chance to be more generous to the lower classmen.

People like the menace Spider-Man spit in the face of this. At this time, Sonoma State doesn’t need people who are hurtful to the student body, people who show no regard or care to the needs and concerns of students. There is no need for people in power to shirk their responsibilities and continue to pass blame. Thankfully, this school does not have anyone like that because they are not what is needed. What Sonoma State needs right now is a hero.

The Batman is Dead; Long Live Batman

Gonna try something a little different. As some may know, I am a writer for my school paper, The Star. Usually, I will write about some happening on campus, but this week, I got the opportunity to write about Batman and the current mini-series "Battle for the Cowl". Now, I love comics, so this was awesome and easy to do and also figured that this could be a good forum to post it at. So, here is my article:

Bruce Wayne is dead. In a recent story line called “Final Crisis,” the hero was killed in an epic battle between good and evil, leaving his friends and his city, Gotham, alone and in need of a new Batman. That is the premise of the current mini-series “Battle for the Cowl,” written and drawn by Tony Daniels.

Recently, Batman has found a new wave of popularity in the past year with the release of “The Dark Knight.” The legend of Batman/Bruce Wayne has returned to popular conscience, a tale as old as the medium of comics: Young Bruce Wayne was born into an idyllic world, with loving parents and a golden spoon in his mouth. But all that came crashing down, as one night while coming home from the movies, Bruce’s parents are killed in a robbery. The event causes him to train his mind and body and he becomes the protector of Gotham City, Batman. Over the years, Bruce Wayne’s life has been hard. His back has been broken. He has gone through three Robins, his kid sidekick. The second Robin, Jason Todd, was killed, only to come back to life as a psychopath killer. His other crime fighting partner, Batgirl, was crippled by the Joker. And now he has gone down in the line of duty, but just because Bruce Wayne has died, does not mean that Gotham City does not need a protector.

The three people who are vying for the cowl are the three Robins. Jason Todd, the psycho, is the first to take the mantle, but he also brings a pair of guns with him, throwing out the idea that Batman doesn’t kill. Tim Drake, the current Robin, also dons the mantle to take down Todd which ends with less than stellar results. While this goes on, Dick Grayson, the original Robin, has to figure out if he wants to remain the man that he has become, the one who fought hard to be his own man outside of the shadow of Batman or don the cowl and take over for his fallen mentor. But the looming question over the whole thing is: Who could possibly take over for Bruce Wayne? For 70 years, Bruce Wayne has been Batman. He has evolved from a pulp avenger to a symbol of the will of man. Bruce Wayne can stand up to Superman and not back down. He has fought gods with nothing but his own strength. Who could possibly fill those shoes?

The structure of the “Battle for the Cowl” is compact. The main story line is a mere three issues, but the story of everyone involved is much bigger. There are also two more three issue mini-series, one starring Barbara Gordon, the paralyzed former Batgirl and the other stars Azrael, a religious vigilante who takes protecting Gotham as a holy crusade. There are also seven single issue stories that focus on all the major protectors of Gotham, from Police Commissioner Jim Gordon to Man-Bat, an actual bat man to reporter/Bruce Wayne love interest Vicki Vale. As Gotham crumbles and the Robins fight for the cowl, it is these people who are the ones that have to hold it together in the city. These are the people who the fight the fight alongside of Batman.

As this story line goes on, Batman is given a hero’s funeral in a separate two part story called “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” written by acclaimed writer Neil Gaiman, with pencils by Andy Kubert. The title is a reference to a classic 1980s Superman story “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” by Alan Moore and Curt Swan and serves the same purpose. “Man of Tomorrow?” was viewed as the last Superman story and “Caped Crusader?” is the same thing: the last story of Bruce Wayne as Batman.

The story has a simple premise. Batman has died and a funeral is being held in his honor. Over the course of the story, all the major characters in Bruce’s life are mentioned or appear or even perform a eulogy. It is in the eulogies that the purpose of the story is seen. “Caped Crusader?” is a deconstruction and analysis of the life and importance of Bruce Wayne/Batman. All of the eulogies are about events that never happened, but may as well have. They show the character of what kind of man Bruce was. During Bruce’s butler Alfred’s eulogy, Bruce asks “Do you think [Batman would] give up? That he’d lie down and die?” Alfred responds “No, sir. I do not believe the Batman would EVER lie down and die.” To his dying day, Batman was a committed fighter for what was right and would never surrender. When Superman speaks, he tells of a fabricated time where the villains had teamed-up in Gotham and had turned the city against Batman. Superman tried to convince Batman to not go back, as they would kill him. Batman responded “Well, while they are trying to kill me, they aren’t going to be killing innocents.” That sums up the man Bruce Wayne was. He was still that boy whose parents died and he would do everything in his power to make sure that what happened to him would never happen to anyone else.

But his fight is over…for now. In comics, death has never been permanent. Characters that have been dead for decades have come back recently. Batman’s publisher, DC Comics, has already made allusions to the possibility that Bruce Wayne could/will return eventually. But for the time being, Gotham needs a protector and the only mystery is “Who will end up with the cowl of Batman?”