It has often been said that life’s real heroes don’t need capes, masks, or superpowers in order to fight for the values upon which our country was founded. They are the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect civilian life and who are sent to fight conflicts abroad for the sake of defending our allies. Their sacrifices often take place out of sight and out of mind of the people whose idea of a rough day occurs when they have been given a triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato when they had distinctly ordered a tall, non-fat latte with caramel drizzle. Fortunately, for some of the real-life servicemen and servicewomen who appreciate comic book heroes, the United Service Organizations (USO) and DC Comics have joined forces to bring them something special. On the occasion of Batman’s 80th anniversary celebration, the USO and DC have brought a sort of mini-Comic-Con to 12,000 service members stationed in Kuwait.
In honor of service members, a variety of DC project artists, writers, and actors journeyed to the Middle East. Among them were the prolific comic-book artist / writer / editor / publisher, Jim Lee; Batman writer Tom King; Black Lightning actress Nafessa Williams (Anissa Pierce / Thunder); and The Flash actresses Candice Patton (Iris West Allen) and Danielle Panabaker (Caitlin Snow / Killer Frost). Also in tow was Batman’s Tumbler (from Christopher Nolan’s trilogy), which the service members were invited to climb into.
Other perks of the DC / USO tour included cosplay contests, an art masterclass with Jim Lee, panel discussions / autograph sessions with the actresses, and a panel with Tom King, who recalled his former career as a CIA counterterrorism operations officer and his transition into writing comic books. Additionally, the service members were given an exclusive first look at the new Pennyworth television series, which revolves around Bruce Wayne’s future butler / partner in crime-fighting, Alfred Pennyworth and his relationship with Batman’s dad, Thomas Wayne. [The series premieres on EPIX on July 28, 2019.]
The tour conisisted of stops at five military bases, including Camp Buehring, Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem, Camp Patriot, and Al Jaber. “It was an absolute honor to meet with brave service members that exemplify real life heroism,” said DC Chief Creative Officer, Publisher, and artist Jim Lee. “These heroes inspire the world every day with their valor and commitment to freedom, the same courageous qualities that Batman has symbolized for eight decades. DC is extremely proud to have joined forces with the USO to deliver an unprecedented Batman experience to our troops.”
There are already additional plans in the works for continuing to bring comic heroes to real life heroes as a special treat. According to a DC press release, later this year, DC and the USO plan to bring Batman “to service members around the world with a special Batman-themed USO2GO kit featuring comics, movies, TV shows, games and more.”
While the 80th anniversary Batman tour, which was held in conjunction with Military Appreciation Month, represents a touching tribute to the real heroes, it is affirming to know that the touring comic-con was well-received by troops who are just as much a part of the community of film and comic geeks as the rest of us — when they are not risking their necks to defend our way of geekdom.