At last, a fun one...
All right, we're into the final week here. Today: "A picture of your favorite super hero, and why."
I have an uncle who's eight years older than I am, and three male cousins who are from one to six years older. When my brother and I were kids, they gave us their comic books. (Probably after they had gone on to read the scandalous stories in 'True Detective' or something.)
By the time we were nine or ten (we were less than a year apart in age) we had sporadic allowances, or maybe birthday money, or sometimes could cadge a quarter from my parents. If we had a quarter each, we were rich.
A comic book cost 12 cents, plus a penny tax; but if you bought two, it was still only a penny tax - so you could get two comic books for a quarter.
Every so often my mother would take us to Murphy's, and while she was getting whatever household gizmos she needed, we would go over to the comic book rack.
[You would've loved this old Murphy's. The place was probably built around 1900, with a really high ceiling - maybe tin - complete with schoolhouse-style pendant lights and wooden floors. The bulk candy case was inside the front doors, and you could smell the popcorn and Spanish peanuts as soon as you went in. Comic books to the left, seasonal stuff to the right, toys in the back right corner, pets along the back wall - mostly fish and baby turtles, with a few birds and maybe the random hamster - this place was wonderful. Woolworth's and McCrory's were relatively newer stores, in newer buildings, that is. They were 5&10s; Murphy's was a treasure house. But I digress.]
When we had money to burn (!) we would spend a lot of time choosing our comic books. First, we had to identify any that uncle / cousins had recently given us. That was good for eliminating a few.
Of the ones that made the cut, we then had to delete Junior Classics Illustrated. They were for little kids, after all, and we were in an entirely different league, being connoisseurs of big-kid comics. We'd even read some of the 'Tales from the Crypt' and 'Vault of Horror' genre. (Though our aunts and mother and grandmother would tell 'the guys' not to give them to us. We had nightmares more than once.) Classics Illustrated could work, especially things like The Travels of Marco Polo and Oliver Twist and The Time Machine. Junior CI were usually fairy tales and a bit simplistic.
Back to Murphy's: we had to make sure to get two different ones, of course, but also we wanted to pick out comics that both of us would enjoy. This entailed some discussion. If we had a quarter apiece - the wealth of four comics - we had to be extra careful. It took a long time.
Sort of like getting to the point of this blog.
We had many discussions about the comparative qualities of superheroes. DC / Action comics had it all over Marvel. Oh sure, we read the odd Spiderman or Fantastic Four now and then, but neither of us was a fan, especially. Superman, Superboy, Wonderwoman, Batman, the Justice League - that's where the good stuff was.
My favorite? Batman. No, not the caricature the (relatively) recent spate of movies has created; not even the campy Adam West version from the old television show.
I tried to find an 'old' picture of the cartoon Batman, from the '50s or '60s. Most of them seem very recent and look strangely drawn to my eyes, but then, I'm an old lady now, not a kid caught up in comic books. Haha.
Besides the fact that I enjoyed the stories on the whole, there was a dimension to Batman that appealed because he was human: forget the superpowers. He didn't have x-ray vision, and he couldn't fly, and he couldn't break the sound barrier just by running. He hadn't been bitten by a radioactive spider, and he didn't come from another planet.
He had to rely on his wits, his muscles, and his ability to out-think his opponents as much as his strong-arm tactics.
There was one comic that featured Batman and Superman in a sort of competition. They wanted to see which of them was the better crimefighter. (I mean, get a load of this: the story has stuck with me for over forty years.) The contest involved solving a mystery and catching the perpetrator.
The deal was, Superman wasn't supposed to use his superpowers - he was supposed to participate like a 'human being,' and use only his natural abilities. Equally, Batman had to work without his 'sidekick,' Robin, so it would be a true one-on-one test.
The upshot was Batman won. And at the end, he let Superman think HE had won!
Afterward, Robin asked him why he'd done it, when he had won the contest fair and square. Batman said something like 'I felt it was more important to let him think he had the edge on me. I wanted him to feel confident inside, rather than being confident just because he has superpowers.'
Wotta guy. So you see why I like Batman best, of all of them.
Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!