These Things I Believe…
I believe that comic books matter. I believe that they bring us hope, a hope for the future, a hope that things will get better, a hope that the good guys will, eventually, win.
Comics give us hope, because if people in that world, that artificial reality, can face disasters much worse than the disasters we face and not only survive but also learn to thrive again. So too should we be able to thrive, because we are not so different from them. To the extent that the world of comics reflects our world, it can suggest ways of dealing both every day and major problems. For example, almost every comic book incorporated the events of Sept. 11, 2001, into its next issue. These episodes offered ideas for coping with this tragedy, and added the real-life benefit of donating a large percentage of the proceeds to charities that aided the survivors.
Comics also make us laugh. It is still amusing to watch Archie fall on his face even though you have seen him do it a thousand times before. Reading Spiderman’s witty banter while he battles ninjas or super-villains still makes me chuckle. It gives me hope that I could be like him, because I know that, inside the costume, Peter Parker must be scared out of his mind and yet he is still able to sling verbal darts while throwing punches.
Comics also scare us, and not just because of the bad guys. When Wolverine goes into a berserker rage or when Batman breaks someone’s wrist for information, you still feel that little chill up and down your spine, because you see that, like real people, heroes have their moments of error. If a super-hero like Superman can kill, how are the rest of us supposed to restrain our anger all the time?
Yet another thing that is scary about comics is that sometimes they can be more realistic. The good guys don’t always win. People do die (although in comics, they can get better). Therefore, if a super team, like the X-men or the Justice League can be defeated, what’s to stop normal people from succumbing to evil as well? Yet even though the bad guys might win temporarily, and the Justice League might disband occasionally, they get back together once again when a universe-spanning crisis happens, and save the day.
In comics, we see that even normal people, without super-powers, can occasionally be heroes. Look at Batman and Robin. They don’t have super-powers, yet without this dynamic duo, the world would have been engulfed by fear many times over. Jimmy Olsen, a young photographer at the “Daily Planet,” often helps Superman by distracting the villain or by digging up information at Superman’s request. In both of these ways, Jimmy Olsen saved many lives. What Robin and Jimmy Olsen do are jobs that any of us could handle; if they can do it, so can we.
Comics give us hope, they make us laugh, they scare us. Even more, they are important because they show us a different life. They give us something to strive for. “I want to be as good at martial arts as Robin.” “I want to be as strong as Superman.” They give us goals; they shape what we would like to be. Comics show that humans, super or not, can save the world.
I believe that comic books allow us to find the limits of our imagination and then push those limits further.
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