You know you’re getting old when you read the comments about superheroes and villains on fan pages and YouTube, and discover that you don’t know what characters they are on about, because some of those characters were created after you stopped reading comics.
Case in point for me is Harley Quinn. I continually run into references to her online, especially now that there is an upcoming Suicide Squad movie. People keep referring to her as a “classic” villain, but she was only invented in 1992. And I stopped reading comics around 1985. At least now I know why I’d never heard of this so-called classic. (I don’t have much confidence in the Suicide Squad movie. Jared Leto is one of those actors who make me go “Huh”… Aging pretty boy that he is, I think of him like a male version of Kristen Stewart… good to look at but capable of only one or two facial expressions, and nothing spectacular in the way of acting chops. The movie is likely to be all hype, promising much but delivering little.)
What prompted this post was this article I read online. It’s about the latest Superman issue, which contains many flashbacks and references to previous incarnations of the man of steel. What grabbed my attention was a reference to the Superman of the 1970’s, with Julius Schwartz as editor, and the fact that he did away with many of the silly plots of the decades before and introduced a more “human”, powered-down Superman.
While I had hundreds of Superman comics and annuals, including old ones from my father and from a “swap-shop” where I used to swap bad comics for good ones, most of my comics were from the time when Julius Schwartz was editor. So it seems that my understanding of the character of Superman came from that period, which was relatively short and unpopular with many fans. By the time I stopped reading comics, Superman had become ridiculously over-powered once again, to the point of being totally unrelatable as a character. (Spellchecker, why do you insist that “unrelatable” is not a word? I can not relate to that.) When I stopped reading those comics, he was involved in battles with Lex Luthor and Braniac, who wore gigantic armoured suits, and were equally over-powered so the whole thing was silly. Also I was twelve years old and had moved on to reading Stephen King.
Just after that, the character was rebooted, but I know nothing of any of the “newer” comics. So, as somebody who did read comics for many years, I feel kind of sad when the online comments about classic heroes and villains, as well as about famous series known to “all”, come from a generation after mine, who seem to know nothing about the comics and characters that I regard as classic. Am I that fucking old?
So bear that in mind – when I criticize other superhero movies in future (and I will), my context, my point of reference for those characters, is pre-1985.
On a lighter note, as a child I was always amused by the note at the top of the first page of Superman comics, which reminded me in a way of the Nicene Creed we used to recite every Sunday in Mass. (It started with “Rocketed to Earth from the exploding planet, Krypton” and read very much like the Creed.) It reminded me of the Christ-metaphor built into the story of Superman – the saviour.
In 2010, right after I came out of rehab, I modified my “About me” section on Facebook (which I don’t think anyone has ever read) to be a little joke about this. It’s not very good, but it was supposed to be a combination of the Nicene Creed and the Superman comic starting blurb. Here it is, since I figure nobody has ever read it:
Almost rocketed to Earth from the exploding planet Krypton,
he was not born of the virgin Mary, nor any other virgin, and made man.
After a more or less average life for thirty-odd years,
he suffered, lied and was buried in a methamphetamine addiction and descended into Hell,
but on the third month in rehab he ascended into a normal place in society once again,
which was heaven by comparison.
And there he hopes to remain.
I wrote that as a little joke because at the time, being frustrated with the nonsense of NA meetings, I used to tell everybody that I was my own higher power. (These days I don’t agree with the concept of a “higher power” being necessary at all.) I figure I could do a much better job rewriting that now… but rather not.
And there I did not remain… I did descend back into hell for a while, but next week I will be normal for 2 years and three months. This time I’m definitely sticking around up here…