Welcome to the first weekly installment of Monday Musings, where I shake off the hunger pangs of another hardscrabble weekend to bring you whatever crosses my addled brain. For this initial article, I want to tell everyone out there that they should really read some comic books already!
This may not be that left-field of a thing for me to say. After all, I write in the superhero genre, one born from the comic books. What’s different here is that I’m saying that you should read not superhero stuff, or watch comic-book-inspired movies, but to read actual, real comic books. Why?
Look, they aren’t all good. Many are actually pretty bad. However, there are some truly remarkable stories told in those four-color pages and, more importantly, they are our modern mythology. They are our Greek gods, our legend makers. It isn’t ‘David and Goliath’ anymore, as much as Spider-Man freeing himself to save his Aunt May in Amazing Spider-Man #33 (websearch it if you haven’t seen the pages before and don’t be surprised if you HAVE, just didn’t know the exact source).
Just open your eyes and see that quite a few superheroes ARE the gods of old. Thor, Hercules, Odin, Loki, Ares, and many more hobnob with the new colorful pantheons we have created. Even more are closely connected with the old mythology. Wonder Woman, Shazam, and countless others herald back to the Greek, the Norse, the Egyptian, and so many other collections of gods and heroes. Our comic books are inheritors of thousands of years of tradition, history, and introspection.
Don’t buy it? Comic books have been with us now for decades and those characters and stories that resonate with us have never faltered for that entire history. The archetypes, the parables, the lessons those pages hold connect with the same stories man has told in thousands of ways since the dawn of time. Comic books reflect the times they are written in, but still contain the same messages and characters they have held since their inception.
There must be something culturally vital for what began as children’s entertainment to still be so important to us over seventy years later. There must be something critical for us all to glean from something that was considered as indispensable to many soldiers during World War II as anything else in their care packages. Our culture, our history, our hopes, our dreams, and our nightmares are in the colorful pages you can get at any comic book shop. We just have to take the time to read them and sort the good from the bad.