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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Bob Booker, who is commonly known by his super-heroic name "Blindshot," can be classified as a "super-hero" by virtue of the fact that he apparently has at least limited super powers, wears a colorful costume, and is a resident of Neopolis, a city in which virtually all of the residents are comic book-style super-characters.
However, Bob "Blindshot" Booker, the "Zen cabby" (as he and others call him) might not classified a "super-hero" in the strict sense of the word, because he doesn't engage in typical super-hero activities. Because the entire population of the city of Neopolis is super-powered (or a "science hero" or something similar), there is little or no need for individuals whose sole role is to act as a super-hero. The residents of Neopolis must find regular jobs. Blindshot is a taxi cab driver. Although he is blind and wears a blindfold, Blindshot relies on his "Zen senses" to guide him when he drives his taxi cab.
Blindshot was one of the major supporting characters in the colorful and critically-acclaimed Top 10 comics written by Alan Moore and published by America's Best Comics. The original stories were illustrated by Gene Ha and Zander Cannon. The original Top 10 series ran for 12 issues, and has since been followed up by two additional 5-issue limited series, a graphic novel and a few other stories set in the same universe.
Blindshot frequently encountered the police officers who worked out of Neopolis Tenth Precinct, known by the nickname "Top 10." He was a comic relief character whose dialogue and behaviour was typically quite funny, but he was also something of a buffoon. His "Zen senses" did not appear to be entirely reliable, and while driving he always seemed to be on the verge of an accident, and he sometimes ran into things.
Nevertheless, Blindshot did seem to be able to take passengers where they wanted to go, or sometimes where they needed to go. Although he apparently had no idea where he was going, his Zen senses led police officers to a museum where they found the very suspect they were looking for.
Blindshot was not simply a character whose powers were derived from a religious source. The character was sincerely devoted to Zen Buddhism. Blindshot routinely spouted Zen Buddhist aphorisms and he verbally expressed faith in and devotion to the Buddha as a deity. (This is a doctrinal point that likely distinguishes Blindshot from many fellow Zen Buddhists, who are far less likely than non-Zen Buddhists to regard the Buddha as deity or a figure of veneration.)
In fact, Blindshot's Zen Buddhist religious affiliation was his most important characteristic. He was essentially a one-dimensional character who had few other notable characteristics other than his Zen Buddhism.
In the Top 10 comics, this character was a laughing stock and his Zen Buddhist beliefs and utterances were played for laughs, but it does not appear that author Alan Moore was in any way trying to use the character to denigrate Zen Buddhism in general. With Blindshot there was no real attempt to portray a real-world contemporary Zen Buddhist, whether for the sake of criticism, praise, exploration or any other reason. Rather, Blindshot seems to have been based on pop culture perceptions of Zen Buddhism, as drawn from pulp fiction, comics, B-movies, martial arts films and television.
Above: Bob Booker, a.k.a. "Blindshot" is a Zen Buddhist cab driver who claims his "Zen senses" let him navigate the streets of Neopolis despite his blindness. [Source: Top 10 #1; written by Alan Moore, pencilled and inked by Gene Ha, layouts by Zander Cannon; published by America's Best Comics: La Jolla, California (1999); page 3.]
The first appearance of Blindshot
Because Blindshot was first introduced on the third page of Top 10 issue #1, he was actually one of the first characters introduced in the "Top 10" universe. In the first seven issues, Blindshot appeared numerous times and had a pivotal role in some of the police procedural stories presented in the series. Blindshot was not a star of the series by any means, but he may be the most significant supporting character who did not for the police department work at Precinct 10.
This first appearance of Blindshot set the comical and devoutly religious tone for the character that would be followed throughout the series. From: Top 10 #1; written by Alan Moore, pencilled and inked by Gene Ha, layouts by Zander Cannon; published by America's Best Comics: La Jolla, California (1999); page 3:
TOYBOX (Robyn Slinger): [hailing a cab] Hey, taxi?
[Toybox gets in the cab. The cab driver is a middle-aged-to-older man, balding and scruffy. He is smoking a cigarette. His low-rent "super-hero"-style costume features an eye logo on the chest.]
BLINDSHOT (Bob Booker): Where we goin', lady?
TOYBOX (Robyn Slinger): Uh, I need to get to the police precinct house, on Pike Street? I think that's Level Four . . . Excuse me, but, uh . . . that thing around your eyes: Can you see?
BLINDSHOT (Bob Booker): Nah. Got Zen senses instead. I follow the car, y'know? Where we end up, that's where I'm meant to be! Bob "Blindshot" Booker, that's me. Say, keep that box off the seats, willya?
[Outside the cab, a bicycle rider slams on his brakes and damages his bicycle tire in order to avoid an accident that was almost caused by Blindshot's erratic driving.]
bicycle rider: What the . . . ?
BLINDSHOT (Bob Booker): I mean, no offense, but I can smell you got oiled machinery in there, and this cab, it's my livin' y'know?
TOYBOX (Robyn Slinger): Uh, sure. I'll keep it in my lap. This precinct house . . . Is it far?
[A train-like truck with a "Fly-State Dry Cleaning" logo on it veers off the road, onto the sidewalk, and crashes a lightpost and a street light in order to avoid hitting the taxi cab that Blindshot is driving erratically.]
truck-train driver: Aaagh! Jesus!
BLINDSHOT (Bob Booker): Hey, all distance is as nothing in the mind of the Buddha, know what I'm sayin'? We'll be there in about ten minutes, dependin' on traffic.
[The next panel, on the next page, shows Blindshot's cab stopped in front of the entrance to the 10th Precinct. Toybox is walking away from the cab toward the entrance. This is the only appearance of Blindshot in Top 10 #1.]
Webpage created 30 March 2006. Last modified 21 June 2006.
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