Friday, March 16, 2007
Apologies ahead of time. I'm going to lapse into what a math-teacher friend of mine calls "geek-speak." You know, the kind of talk that demonstrates that I really did get the inside joke in an episode of Star Trek, or that I really did play Dungeons and Dragons (both of which are 100% true). Today's nod to nerd-dom: comic books. Like most kids, I had some. Unlike most, I collected them until my 20s. Just recently, I finally passed what's left of the collection along to a nephew. And I didn't collect them because they would eventually be worth money--I was into the stories. As an aside, that's why I LOVE the recent resurgence of comic movies, from Superman Returns, to Batman Begins, to Spidey, X-Men, and even Ghost Rider. They finally have the ability to do the special effects to do justice to how I always dreamed those guys would look in live-action. Well, a favorite of mine bit the dust this week. I haven't seen the comic yet (and by now it will be an expensive item, so I likely won't), but the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed this week on the death of Captain America. I always liked Cap. As the article points out, he has been used to reflect the cultural and political sentiments of the comic writers all too often, but I never minded that. What was cool about Cap was that, like Superman (my favorite), he remained, at least through my youth, a throwback to the notion of heroism born in the "greatest generation." In the 1960s (the "silver age" of comics), The Avengers (Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, and the Hulk, who eventually got cut from the team) found a block of ice in the ocean that contained a perfectly healthy and preserved Captain America, presumed killed in the 40s. Cap lead the Avengers throughout my young adulthood, and the running theme was that he was always out of place, or rather, out of his time. Although physically young enough to still kick butt, he was the wise old guy who reminded brash, young, more-super-powered heroes than himself what a real hero acts like. The older I get, and as I continue to work with kids, I know the feeling of being "out of time." Whether it's my clothes, my flattop, or the music I listen to, I'm becoming just as much an anachronism as he was. My values are also increasingly dated. But like Superman and Captain America, I know that the world changes, but Truth doesn't. They killed Superman off, too. He's back now. And Cap, he's been dead once before. He won't be gone that long this time. You can't keep a genuine hero down.