Precinct1313’s Heroes From The Dark Side: The Crow
“Suddenly I heard a tapping, as of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door”
What makes a hero? is it their ethos of putting others before themselves, sacrificing all they hold dear to uphold what is right and just?, their ability to rise from the ashes of defeat and fight on, even knowing that it may ultimately be in vain? Hero is a rather broad term overall, is Batman a hero?, technically his primary raison d’etre is revenge, to right the wrongs done unto him as child when his parents were brutally murdered before his innocent young eyes.
So does revenge equal heroic action?, Batman of course has utilised this pent up rage and guilt over his parents untimely passing to help protect the innocent and downtrodden of Gotham from a variety of low level street thugs and malicious SuperVillains. Revenge may have been the basis for his beginning as a costumed crimefighter but his actions since have definitely propelled him to use his uniquely acquired skills for the common good.
Which brings us to the Precinct’s newest series of articles, a look at the darker side of heroics, a series that will present to you, fellow agents, our favourite broodingly sullen and ominously pessimistic characters from comics and beyond. And I can think of no better persona to begin this concatenation than vengeance driven, death cheating wraith, Eric Draven.
Now, unlike most comic book persona, The Crow shares tragedy both on and off the pages of the classic revenge tale, with the character himself emerging from the mind of his creator James O’Barr through a tragic occurrence that happened to his fiancee in 1978. Almost curse like in its nature, this tragic sequence of events followed the story of Eric Draven into the first live action depiction of the character when young and upcoming martial artist/actor Brandon Lee (son of Bruce Lee) was killed on the set of the movie. It’s these decidedly devastating moments that propel The Crow to be the first of our ‘Heroes From The Dark Side’ recipients…
I love the The Crow, both the original comic book and (probably even more so) the first movie. I am a Goth, have been since I was about 12 years of age, and even though I’m no longer 12, I am still a Goth (once a Goth always a Goth, as the old saying goes!) and Eric Draven is the Ultimate Goth, so when I first discovered the character way back in the early 90’s it was a revelation… a Superhero variant of me! so cool. I have also been a massive fan of Brandon Lee since… forever, the man inspired me from a very young age, it was through my admiration of the actor that I initially started practising martial arts (Kenpo Karate) in my mid twenties, and when he was tragically taken away from us, it profoundly affected me, almost as if I had known him on a more personal level than that of just a fan.
Brandon died from a gunshot wound on March 31 1993 at a film studio in North Carolina, an accidental shooting on the film set of The Crow. A .44 magnum revolver that was loaded with blanks was used in the fatal sequence, but the revolver had been used in a previous scene where it was loaded with dummy cartridges, one of these had become lodged in the barrel of the gun, so when the gun was discharged the force of the blank primer forced the dummy cartridge from the barrel, fatally wounding the young actor. Brandon was rushed to hospital, where he underwent six hours of surgery, however the attempt to save his life was unsuccessful. His death on the set of The Crow draws eerie parallels to the Eric Draven character himself, and unfortunately Brandon’s full potential as an actor and martial artist was cut tragically short.
The cult film was based upon the equally cult comic book series by American writer/artist James O’Barr. Debuting in 1989, the classic story follows Eric Draven, an undead vigilante brought back to the land of the living by a mysterious crow, to avenge his murder and also that of his fiancee.
James O’Barr’s creation of the character was for the specific reason of coping with the loss of his fiancee, Beverly, who was killed by a drunken driver in 1978. After the death of Beverly, O’Barr enlisted in the Marines and was stationed in Germany, his talent as an artist was utilised by the military, for whom he illustrated a variety combat manuals. A further inspiration for the characters contained within the series was a story he discovered in a Detroit newspaper, the murder of young couple over a $20 engagement ring.
The initial comic series gave way to the aforementioned Brandon Lee film, some rather terrible sequels (that are best left forgotten… trust me) a television series starring martial arts actor Mark Dacascos which aired in 1998 and ran for 22 episodes. Plus several novels and follow up comic book series, that while good, failed to match up (in my opinion, of course) to O’Barr’s original, lacking the emotional punch of his work. There is talk (ooooh, what a surprise!!) of a Hollywood remake of the first film, though I personally believe the movie is perfection and stands the test of time beautifully, plus I detest soulless remakes of great films from my youth.
If you are in any way shape or form, a comic book fan (you’re reading this so I’m going to assume so) then I heartily recommend the original series by James O’Barr, an emotional and poignant tale of revenge and redemption, plus the Brandon Lee movie is more than worthy of your attention, a dark gothic fairytale, with a groundbreaking performance from its young and talented star.