Monday, June 7, 2010

A hero named "super"

"What hero would you be if you could have super powers, Dad?"

At age 9, I read a story in a FLASH comic book pitting FLASH against an unbeatable, twisted anti-hero named "SUPER" who was an offspring of the imagination of a struggling comic book artist (boy, can I relate to that one!). He materialized when the artist was asleep. The title of the story was "A Hero Named Super." An odd but compelling story about the power of the imagination, which naturally led me to engage my own.

I couldn't believe that at age 40 I had four children genuinely interested in my answer to the favorite hero question. No geek-Dad could be more proud than when his progeny asks such a noble and important question. The answer is immaterial, to me the story lies solidly in the question itself, but the answer(s) were just as telling.

Since age 7 I have been a voracious comic fan, reader and would-be writer & Illustrator. MAKE MINE MARVEL was my slogan as a kid; The AVENGERS, The X-MEN, IRON-MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, NOVA, MS. MARVEL, The Incredible HULK, JUSTICE LEAGUE, GREEN LANTERN and on and on. Couldn't get enough. Cool dudes, hot chicks, laser guns, mutants, bionics, alien invaders, kung-fu, morality, cautionary tales... why every parent and school didn't mandate the reading of comic books, I am at a complete loss. It has everything you could possibly want to catch and keep the attention of adolescent boys. And for the girls? Kick-ass heroines, strong female role models, love triangle, adorable side-kicks just name a few. It's where I learned about classical literature, Oedipus Rex, Dr. Faustus, genetic mutation and female empowerment. No joke!

All this will come as a shock to those who didn't read them. Easily dismissed as silly nonsense or "funny books" as my Mom would call them (no wonder she & I don't get along), comics were seen as a variants of pulp fiction (analogous with soft core adult literature and suppressed or covert platforms of porn in the 1950's which I won't elaborate on here), comics have had, at best, a fringe, cool-shouldered reception in mainstream media. At least until recently.

So, in true parental spirit, I turn the questions on my kids, "which hero do you think I am?" mind you, while far less informed than their Dad, my kids have a far-better-than-average understanding of the super hero universe than most kids or adults for that matter). Without batting an eye-lid, Antonio, one of my twins, blurts out "HULK!" When I asked why here's what I got; "well, you're big and strong, and you're pretty smart but when you get mad, you growl a lot like he does" Guilty as charged. Alex, the other twin chimes in "I'd say Booster Gold!" (Booster Gold is a character who endorses products and wears corporate logos when out battling bad guys) "Because he works in advertising like you." I'm proud of that one. My oldest son, Aaron was up next "I'd say the Beast (a furry blue, ape-like super-agile, super strong mutant who is also a biologist, an inventor and a member of the X-MEN)" I couldn't wait for this explanation; "because he's strong, smart and likes to goof around and plays practical jokes." I sit in dumbfounded awe at these assessments.

Then my daughter, the oldest, brings it to closure "...well, I would have to say Green Lantern." Interesting, I inquire further; "Why baby?"
"Well, he uses his imagination to be creative and to solve problems... kind of like you do in your business." I was speechless.

In their own way, each of the kids had nailed a terribly accurate assessment (although not so sure about the big and strong part) and they were able to assign those traits to fictional characters I have spent my whole life following. It was hard to argue with any of their choices. Proud and honored to have each of them as my kid, I proceed to unveil my answer.

As it turns out, my favorite super hero growing up was the VISION, a long-time member of the AVENGERS, he is tragically cool character. An Android, infused with the Brain-wave patterns of another dead Hero, he was originally engineered to destroy the same heroes he joined and in love with a beautiful Schizophrenic Mutant woman whose nervous breakdown in later years almost destroys the world. A love-sick android built for destruction and death, finds validation through love in a search for true identity. Come on, who can't relate to that guy?

And if you were able to wade through this thick soup of geeky irrelevance, then this one should send you scurrying for the back button: my daughter identified that I was the John Stewart Green Lantern, not the Hal Jordan Green Lantern.

Ah, now that's my girl!

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I can recall being introduced to Blue Beetle and Silver Surfer on a long bus ride to Wayland MA...the beginning of my long and everlasting love of comics...:-)

    John Stewart...good pick!