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Archive for Monday, February 23, 2004

Comic book superhero uses powers to save inmates on death row

February 23, 2004

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— The comic book world has a new superhero whose focus isn't fighting crime, but fighting the death penalty.

Like some other comic book heroes, Windman has superpowers. He can fly, pass through solid objects and move heavy objects without lifting a finger. Rather than helping damsels in distress or saving Earth from an extraterrestrial threat, Windman uses his powers to aid inmates on death row.

Windman, which was produced by the Western Missouri Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, is the brainchild of Independence resident Bob Myers. Jose Tello drew the book and Joshua Bourland did layout.

Myers said he wanted the book to be a detective story, but one that communicates the idea that the death penalty is misguided.

The cover of the comic book's first issue shows a woman crying out, "Windman! Come back! We've found the missing witness!" Below her, two death row inmates say, "Can anyone hear me? I'm innocent!" and "I'm giving up my life so a prosecutor can brag he's tough on crime." Windman flies overhead, his speech bubble reading, "I've barely got time to stop the execution!"

Joseph Amrine, who sat on death row for 17 years before being freed in July, is skeptical about whether Windman will change any minds. Amrine, who works with the Western Missouri Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, was released after the state Supreme Court ruled that there was an absence of credible evidence against him for the 1985 stabbing death of inmate Gary Barber.

Amrine, of Kansas City, said the comic book might be a bit too didactic.

"The middle classes won't go for it," Amrine said. "I think the money could have been better spent. We could have set up a hot line for families. Or staged a rally."

Myers said he wants the comic to be an alternative to comic book portrayals of violence and vengeance as something normal and justified, a viewpoint that he feels is shared by supporters of the death penalty.

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