Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Why I need Superheroes

There have been several things said about Superheroes over the years, and I'm probably going to repeat some of it in this essay. There are a few poor, unfortunate and sometimes ignorant souls that don't see what the big deal is with superheroes, or just flat out think that they're silly. I want to make a case for their importance, and in using my own personal experiences I hope to do just that. 

I was about thirteen or so when I really started to get into comic books, I can remember vividly my first purchase: New X-men volume 1. I had grown up with the x-men and justice league cartoons and I was basically brainwashed into loving these characters. I can remember really connecting to both Wonder Woman in the Justice League and Jean Grey of the X-Men. When you're a kid, you don't really have a concept of these connections; you just like them because they're cool and they kick ass. I wouldn't realize how much I would need these characters, how much they would mean to me, and how closely I would be able to relate to them.

When my mother died, I was thrust into a world of darkness and pain. I'll skip the grim details, but needless to say it was a bad time. This is where the purchase of that X-Men comic comes into play. I can remember the cover:

I was afraid of ridicule because at that time, comic book people weren't really that cool. In fact they were labeled as nerds and outsiders. Being thirteen, self-conscious, and concerned about what people thought I hid my adoration for this series. I can remember being excited about Jean Grey's revival, see she dies...several times. It's a long story, just check out this article on Wikipedia and you'll be set. Anyway I was so very happy that she was back. It meant more to me because the sign of the Phoenix was a very powerful one for me. See everything that I was, all of my being was wrapped up within my mother. She was my idol, she was my best friend and she was the only person (besides my father) who really understood me. When she died, I lost everything. I didn't really know who I was or if I could do anything worthwhile. Jean Grey struggled with the forces inside of her; she struggled with her dark side. The Phoenix Force proved to be both a blessing and a curse. Her mind gained great power, her telekinesis grew, and she ultimately became the most powerful being in the Marvel universe. However this power came at the cost of her sanity, her husband, and eventually her life. I could relate to that. Even not having powers, I could relate to the human struggle with darkness inside. Jean was able to rise from the ashes eventually but the darkness was always there. It always haunted her. I can relate to that. 

Along with Jean Grey, Diana of Themyscira AKA Wonder Woman also gave me hope. If you've seen my previous blog post about Diana, you'll see that it's no secret that I adore her. She gave me hope, she gave me peace, and she allowed me to believe that I could do anything despite what circumstances life had put me in. Wonder Woman gave me a reason to believe again. 

Superheroes are our mythology. The Greeks and Romans had their gods and we have ours. They are modern mythology in motion. I will never believe that Superheroes serve no purpose. They were born out of the Great Depression, when America needed an ideal to live up to, they needed something to give them hope. Superman did that, he was the first. He never let us down and still continues to give us hope. 

I don't want to live in a world without them. I don't ever want to go to a city or a town and not find at least one comic book shop. I want to share these stories with my kids. Superheroes are coming back, the recent box office shows that. People want that ideal to believe in, that there is something good and just in this sometimes shitty world. They want to see Captain America, or Thor, or Superman come in and save the day. They know that these guys will never let them down. 

That simple belief, is the reason why I believe Superheroes will always live on and why we need them now more than ever.