Friday, July 09, 2004


As I walked out of a downtown building the other day, I heard sirens coming down the street to my left. I glanced, saw the fire trucks screaming down the street, and didn't give it a second thought (sirens and emergency vehicles are a too-common sight in my town; they quickly blur into the background). I turned to the right and began walking down the sidewalk just in time to see a running man disappear into the alley. Black dress slacks, blue shirt, glasses, dark hair. Somehow I knew that as he jogged through the alley that he was pulling his dress shirt open to reveal a red "S" on blue background. I avoided looking into the alley as I passed. I wanted my imagination to remain my reality. I want there to be superheroes flying around the city, forever one corner out of view.

Remember when comic book and movie heroes fought the bad guys because they were good, and noble. They fought because evil was evil and they didn't need any more reason than that. Now they have to have a personal stake in the battle. The hero's girl must be kidnapped by the bad guy. Someone close to him must be hurt or killed to provoke vengeance. Why doesn't the good guy go after the bad guy simply because he's bad and it's the right thing to do?

There's a wonderful moment in Spiderman 2 where, having given up the role of Spiderman because the toll on his personal life is too heavy, Peter Parker comes upon a burning tenement building. Someone says that there is a child trapped inside. Selflessly, Peter runs inside and, using only human courage and none of his Spiderman skills, he rescues the child and brings them both out ok. But later, after choosing to resume being Spiderman, Doc Ock kidnaps Mary Jane, and that provokes Peter to action. It would have been so much better if MJ had been left out of it and Spiderman had gone after Doc Ock simply because he's a raving lunatic who's going to destroy the city.

Somewhere out there the heroes of my comic book youth are patrolling the cities and the skies, looking out for you and I even though they don't know us. Naive perhaps, but the idea of a world where we are all on our own is too discouraging.


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