Super Powers & the Powerless
It makes perfect sense that the appeal of “Super Heroes” appeals to the most “powerless” namely children and the generally downtrodden; it makes sense that the “powers that be” often write the genre off as trite and even silly, but it’s value is to inspire or at least to escape in a world where many of us spend most of our time feeling helpless.
It might seem like out of character sentimentality coming from someone like me, a burnt out former bouncer, a grumpy blue collar smart ass who is cynical on a cellular level; but a good superhero comic is probably my favorite form of entertainment, possibly even my favorite thing in the world.
When I was a child I was especially powerless, I was a fat bespectacled kid with weird behaviors and dangerously severe asthma. When I look back on being a child, or more accurately the reason I don’t look back, is that barring a good comic book, my toys or cartoons, my life was essentially a cycle of being viciously teased and bullied, punctuated by an inability to breathe. Taking this into account, it comes as no surprise that the idea of having the power to do good or fight evil looked great to me.
As an adult I often feel even more powerless than that fat kid face down on the blacktop in front of St. Helen’s School suffering one classic bully humiliation or another. Instead of dreading yet another “wet willy”, “Indian burn” or “pink belly” (the one I hated the most by the way) I have to worry about bills, a lack of health insurance, or worst of all my kids and their well being. I have a fat awkward son of my own so I know the indignities he’s about to go through and I can’t really do a damn thing about it, so even now the idea of “powers” still is appealing.
My least destructive coping mechanism to this day, is to hide out in the graphic novel section and binge on comics (for the record I leave the area considerably neater than it was when I arrived; since I can’t afford to buy anything more than a cup of coffee so they don’t throw me out) and while I’m reading them– I feel better.
Yeah, probably, but I walk away back into the terrors of the real world feeling inexplicably refreshed.