It might be easy to write off this whole thing as a marketing gimmick, or to write off this week’s installment as the musing of a nerd who spends way to much time with the funny books. But before you do that, please listen. Maybe it’s just a guy thing, or a young adolescent thing, but there’s something about superheroes, when they’re done well, that goes way beyond bodybuilders in tights…
Superheroes do for us what grand Shakespearian tragedies did for that audience. They do for us what the Iliad and the Odyssey did in their time. I’m sure I’m not the only kid who noticed the parallels between what he heard in Sunday School, and what he read about the noble son of a planet called Krypton. Almost everything I know about honor, integrity, and justice, I learned from the likes of Bruce Wayne, Kal-El, Peter Parker, Diana Prince, Charles Xavier, and of course, the late Steve Rogers. What I mean is that superhero stories are like great myths—morality plays—they touch us at the core—they show us what we wish we could be, they show us what’s worth fighting for, and what’s not. They show us our faults, our glories. They catch us when we fall, and lift us on to greater heights than we ever thought possible.
The emotional ties that us “nerds” develop to these heroes isn’t a sign of social reclusion, or geekdom, or perversion… These ties we develop are the resonance of something powerful and true that we see in these stories: struggles of morality painted on a gigantic canvas of grand powers and responsibilities.
I’m sad to see Cap go, and while I figure Marvel will bring him back eventually in some form or another, this is a great reminder of what he, and those like him represent to us. A reminder of the power of mythic storytelling at it’s best. So take some time this week, and read a comic—really sit down, and lose yourself in a superhero tale, as if you were 10 years old, eating it up. Give it a try, in remembrance of Cap. We miss ya, big guy.
Special thanks to the Marvel crew for their years of greatness. I don’t know who all was involved in Cap’s death, but special thanks are due to: Stan Lee, Ed Brubaker, Brian Bendis, Brian K. Vaughn, Warren Ellis, Joss Whedon, and of course all the artists who made the visions and stories of these men come to life. Thank you for telling your stories. And showing this boy what it means to fly.