5.02.2009

You can't cast aspersions on someone just because they're wearing a cape

I met Steven in the first grade. I had just transferred to a new school half way through the year after my family moved, so I didn't know anyone. Steven says that, at our first encounter, I took his jacket and threw it on top of the softball backstop. I don't remember that, but somehow (in spite of any such imagined cruelty on my part) we became friends. We frequently ended up in the same classes at school, and shared other interests (like marbles, and music, and memorizing all the US presidents by quizzing each other from his collection of milk bottle caps that were imprinted with their portraits), and we maintained our friendship off and on until high school, when we drifted apart. We still saw each other on occasion, but we had different interests. After high school, we did a few things together, and then he moved to Los Angeles or Mars or somewhere. Except for a bit of catching up at our 10-year high school reunion, I knew not whither he had gone or what he was up to.

Then, decades later, through the miracle of Facebook, Steve contacted me. Isn't it amazing to meet up (virtually or in reality) with old friends? I think it is. I think old friends are wonderful because you can get together and talk like nothing has happened in the intervening years. There's a kind of loyalty in friends like that that I really admire. And that's partly why I got so angry when I was looking recently at a graphic novel called "The Dark Knight Returns". I thumbed through it and I may be wrong but I got the very strong impression that Batman was trying to kill Superman, in a very cruel way. What is up with that?

I don't read comic books or graphic novels much anymore. But I used to. Once when I went to Steve's house, I noticed that he had stacks and stacks of comic books. He loaned some of them to me, and I got hooked on a few series. I had already read plenty of comics as a youth (and the Batman and Superman tv series were viewing staples for me - in fact, I went through a phase where I wanted to be Robin), but Steve's example inspired me to begin collecting on my own. My specialty was Wonder Woman, although I liked a few other things, like the Fantastic Four, Hawkman, Huntress, and Batman and Superman, of course.

It all came to a crashing halt back in the 80s when DC did that crazy series where they destroyed the superhero universe and killed off (among others) Wonder Woman. I was so angry I just walked away from it all. I gave my Wonder Woman collection to my younger sister (actually, all my sisters are younger sisters) and never looked back. I bet I haven't read more than 3 or 4 comics since then.

Thumbing through "The Dark Knight Returns" made me glad I had made that decision. Seeing Batman and Superman at odds like that is just wrong, wrong, wrong. It would be like if Steve and I met up again after so many years and I took his head and threw it on top of some softball backstop.

I am definitely a Golden/Silver Age type comic book fan. I still go to the superhero film adaptations (except I haven't seen the film called "Dark Knight". I think there's some crossover contamination from that horrid graphic novel in my reluctance to see the film), but I don't have much to do with the comics anymore.


Batman: War on Crime

Superman: Peace on Earth

So who's your favorite superhero or heroine?

8 comments:

Shannon said...

I think Superman is my favorite because he was born into his role and (from what I can tell) has the purest intentions...and he's an alien and does a great job fitting in as a man, although he does the least to disguise himself. AND his powers are just awesome.

Baxter Bugs said...

Mary Embry.

Don't know her?

Hancock's lady.

Baxter Bugs said...

Sean says, "That's not a question I've thought about since I was ten." Then he answered:

I'd be Superman. He's a good guy. He's not creepy. He's straight forward. He's diligent. 'Course he's not human...

Leah said...

For me it's a tie between Superman, because he stands for truth, justice, and the American way, and Wonder Woman, with her bracelets and golden lasso.

And thanks for the comic books. I still have them.

Zach and Kelly said...

As clich├ęd as it is in pop culture right now, my favorite is and always has been Batman. I went through phases of really being into Spider-man, Superman and the X-Men, but I always came back to Bruce Wayne. The thing that is so appealing about him is that he has no superpowers at all, but he can still hold his own with the likes of super-human people/aliens who have God-like powers. He is the ultimate symbol of what can be done through pure self-discipline. Other than his access to limitless amounts of money, in theory any one of us could do what he does if we were to work hard enough. Plus, he has hands down, the best rogues gallery of any superhero - The Joker, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, The Scarecrow, Ra's Al Ghul, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, The Ventriloquist, The Riddler, and even the whole mob of Gotham City.
As far as The Dark Knight Returns having any connection to the movie The Dark Knight. There is no connection. The biggest comic influences in the movie are from The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb, and the first few appearances of The Joker in Batman and Decetive Comics. Batman Begins was heavily influenced by Batman: Year One by Frank Miller. Even though he wrote The Dark Knight Returns, the two graphic novels are very different. Batman: Year One is probably the best graphic novel I have ever read.

Jared and Megan said...

Spiderman. Cause... he's a nerd. And even though I'm not a scientifically smart nerd, I can relate to that. Plus, he's got the whole tragic-hero thing going (which they all have, of course) and I... uh... admire? that?
I kinda like the Hulk, too, and Wonder Woman, but I don't know as much about them.

friezen said...

Hmmm. I think Iron Man is pretty cool. I really like how he invents all of his stuff and, like others have said about Batman, he doesn't have any superpowers per se. Plus he can fly.

eric and adrien said...

i pretty much love the x-men. although i've never read any comics and don't have any reason for them being my favorite except that i think it would be awesome to live in a world where you have these crazy powers and most others around you don't. and you get to go to a cool mutant school.
that and i just saw the wolverine movie last night. hah.