Who was your favorite childhood superhero, and why?
I dithered over whether I would opt for fanciful or choose to be a bit grittier for this one. I tend do to err on the side of the light-hearted surface in this journal; I understand that it may make me a bit difficult to relate to, but that doesn't bother me, really. I've seen too many times how too much relating can cause too much mess, and I'd usually rather count myself out of it.
Life's too short, sort of thing.
But...it being a new year and all, perhaps just this once I might go away from my trusty rule.
To put it in brief terms, I had a Problem with comic books. This isn't to say that I mortgaged the farm and sold all of my teeth to buy them, but rather it got too easy to dissolve into the worlds certain of them portrayed. Not that they were better worlds, really - I mean...people joke about what to do when the dead rise, brandish knives and forks, and demand chunks of the living's grey matter, but who really wants to go there? Never myself, for one (or however many). All the same, these worlds spoke to me, and their words proved so much seductive poison (sure, drama, trust me when I say it was on the cusp of going very wrong).
I can't exactly recall what possessed me to cough up the dosh for that first one. Come to that, I can't actually recall where I was at the time. (Got a theory, so for argument's sake, let's have a look at that, will we?) I do recall the book. It was the fourth issue of a 'Teen Titans' mini series. The one about Starfire
. Go on. Have a look, and a bit of a chuckle. It's nigh unto thirty years gone, pointing out the absurdity of it isn't going to vex me. Hell's afire, I'm doing it myself, right?
Starfire. Tall, curvy, about as clever as my cat Cleo, named for a spice, and emits ginger coloured vapour trails out the back of her hair when she flies. Seriously, the sheer daft
of the lot of that is enough to make you laugh till you puke. I mean, come on? What's with the frigging coiffure smoke
? You could never nip off to Paris for a secret weekend rendezvous, could you? The paparazzi would follow your damned hair straight to the Seine. And that name - in Spanish, she's known as 'Cilantro'? Who thought that was a good idea? The writers partook of an especially heavenly garam masala and felt compelled to somehow honour the experience?
The world may never know.
But what I knew is that this character represented everything I wasn't (and still am not, come to that), yet desperately longed to be: tall, lovely, and able to fend off attackers. That she came from space and could fire lasers from her own hands were the icing and the sprinkles on the cake. I'd spent so much of my life (and do yet, come to that) feeling so incorrigibly other
...at least if I'd come from space, I'd have a reason not to think like the rest of yez. (Assuming that's true. At the end of the day, we all keep ourselves to ourselves, so I've no honest way of knowing how anybody thinks, so.)
Despite our many obvious differences (pretty versus plain, from space versus from earth, fictional versus real), we did have one thing in common: a particular tormentor with an almost identical motive. Starfire had a elder sister called 'Blackfire' (ever seen black fire? 'S really difficult in the dark - och, these names are enough to make your back teeth vibrate). Through some political intrigue involving the sister having been born unable to fly (sure, why not), Starfire was slated to become Queen of Everything. Blackfire (who's actual name is too eejity to speak) being the jealous sort didn't much care for this change in plans, and fairly vowed to hate and menace her sister for All Aeternity (raaar). As ye do, like.
As ye do, indeed, actually. So...as Starfire had Blackfire, I had Alan
. Alan is my auntie Kathleen's younger son. He's two years (I think) my senior. As of this writing, I'm wrestling with a revelation that has the potential of distilling Alan's behaviour down to a two-word diagnosis. But never mind what I think of that for now - it's fresh yet, and I can't quite make myself not hold this grudge. I know. In time. Possibly after a few well-aimed verbal chain shots at his main mast, but in time. Sure. Why wouldn't I? As Starfire shook up her sister's world when she came along, as I did to Alan's.
After I was born, my mum fell grievously ill and went into hospital for a little while. In all truth, I cannot recall whether it was for a couple of weeks or a couple of months. It was the seventies, so easily it could have been a month or more. She'd had a haemorrhage and was showing signs of potential cancer. You know - nothing at which one might sniff. As a result, for the first little while of my small life, it was Kathleen who cared for me. And because she'd had no little girl of her own, doted over me.
Alan, you could accurately surmise, was livid and fairly vowed to hate and menace me for All Aeternity. I'm not going to bore anybody with a list of grievances beyond me saying that there was violence done me again and again, and when we met as children, I was usually assured that it would eventually not go well for me at his hand. Even as we've met in adulthood, the teeth have been bared. Telling him off Once and for Dyin' All is on my 'bucket list', no lie.
I read that first Starfire book till it disintegrated. At the end of it all, when I purged my 'collexion' in self defence to a fellow at school, that one was scarcely fit for a birdcage. I recall poring over it in an upstairs room at my great aunt's house. My great aunt's house was in Grove Avenue in the Fan District
, so the chances are high that I bought the book in Richmond. The chances are higher still that I bought the book out of a childish, hopeful desire to relate to my cousin. He was mad for comic books at the time (for all I know he is yet) - truth be told, he was mad for collecting things of many ilk. This particular time, it was comic books.
I can even clearly recite one line from the book that stood out: she was my older sister, I wanted her to like me.
And as proud as I was, and unaffected as I wished to seem, as much as I felt compelled to get the upper hand of him just once
, that line struck me.
He was my older cousin, I wanted him to like me.
Ah well, it's good to want things, innit.
I read comics voraciously till It All Unravelled, and I realised with some surprise that I'd lost my head, sort of thing. Whether that should have happened with or without comic books to reveal it...can't say, really. I do know that I've been suspicious and resistant to that sort of escapism since then. My reality is tenuous at best, it'll ill serve me to stretch till the point that it's transparent, yeh? So discussion of childhood 'heroes' is a bit of a steep drop for me.
Unless, of course, we're talking about Pippi Longstocking...but hers isn't the story wanted telling today.