Kevin Sacco’s Josephine (2017) is poignant and moving. Told only through sepia colored panels, without words, the semi-autobiographical Josephine centers on a seven year-old protagonist as he navigates Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1960s, guided in part by his Black caretaker, Josephine. Josephine is, as Sacco notes, a melding together “of my caretakers. . . Leonora, Cleo, Mildred, Louise, and Josephine.” Through Josephine, Sacco’s tale explores familial relationships and racial relations in America, specifically New York, during the 1950s and 1960s.
Last post, I wrote about the ways that David F. Walker’s Nighthawk lays bare the tendrils of racism that work at various levels to suffocate and oppress people of color in America. Today, I want to expand some on this and look at how Raymond Kane confronts issues of racism and subjugation. I want to explore, briefly, the moral tensions that Kane encounters as he works to combat and eradicate social injustices throughout the city. In many ways, Kane resembles Batman in his origins. Seeing his parents killed by white racists, Kane, as Walker says, “blames the racist ideologies that inform our society for their deaths” and his parents for their pacifism. As such, he becomes driven by rage, and he channels that rage in different directions. This is where the moral quandaries of killing or leaving individuals alive enters into the equation.
Recently, I read David F. Walker’s Nighthawk series “Hate Makes Hate.” This is the first time I had heard of Nighthawk (Raymond Kane), so I do not know much about his backstory except what I have looked up online. Even without that knowledge, Walker’s series can stand on its own because it focuses on current issues that plague or nation today: police brutality, the rise of white nationalism, class divisions, gentrification, and countless other issues. I do not want to delve into each of these topics today; instead, I want to look at a couple of aspects from the first few issues of the six issue series that really stuck out to me. Ultimately, I do not want to give away the ending of the series because the ending, and the lead up to it, presents readers with very important questions about morality in the face of social injustice. The series never really answers these questions, and for me, that is a strength because it causes readers to decide what kind of superhero Nighthawk really is, which, in turn, makes readers question what kind of people they really are.