Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My favorite comic book characters

I love comic book characters. Granted, I didn't read the comic books as a kid or even now. But I watched the cartoons and I've seen the movies. It also helps that I married a man who is a fan of comic books. There are many reasons why comic books are so loved and have endured as literature. Fan boys and fan girls have lively debates about their favorite characters, comic and even comic company. The DC verses Marvel debate can get pretty heated online. My husband will often commit “Oh he’s a DC fan, no wonder he hates it.”

Why are comic books so popular? If you were ask comic book readers, you'll get thousands of different answers but I think it boils down to three reasons. First, the fantastical adventures. Who doesn't want to go into battle with the X-Men and fight the Brotherhood? Or join Superman in his unending fight with Lex Luthor. Second, who wouldn't want superhuman abilities like flight like Superman or psychic abilities like Professor X? How about cool gadgets like Batman and Iron Man? Third, the comic book stories will display real human emotions and real human consequences to the actions of its heroes. For instance, Spiderman must live with the guilt over Uncle Ben’s death. Or the X-Men must learn to live in a world that doesn't accept their differences. Batman must deal psychological effects of seeing his parents killed before his eyes. 

I grew up a Superman fan. I've seen all the movies and I've enjoying watching the Lois and Clark and Smallville TV shows and have all the DVDs. Who didn't grow up pretending to be Superman? Flying around with a towel or sheet tied around their neck like a cape? Everyone knows Superman aka Clark Kent aka the Man of Steel. He has been a beloved character since his introduction in 1938. Even the men who portrayed him have become legends themselves, namely George Reeves who played him on TV in the 1950s and Christopher Reeve who played him in the 1970s movies. However, many people don’t know that I am a fan of a few more characters.

Gambit aka Remy Etienne LeBeau who has the power to tap into the potential energy of any object and use it as a weapon. He has the hypnotic charm in order to persuade people and superhuman agility and dexterity. He is often seen using playing cards as weapons and carries a telescopic bo staff. He has burning red eyes that glow brighter as he uses his powers. I’m not sure why I enjoy this character so much. Maybe because he’s French Cajun or maybe because all his life he was used for evil means and he has struggled in his life to use his abilities for good when he joins the X-Men. Of course, it doesn't work that way.

Hawkeye aka Clint Barton. I was first introduced to this character in the Thor Movie and again in The Avengers. I enjoy a character who uses archery as his weapon of choice. I want to learn more about him and look forward to seeing him in future movies. 

Another archer, the Green Arrow aka Oliver Queen. This archer, martial artist and wealthy man had to fight his way back to civilization after being shipwrecked. He is seen as the modern day Robin Hood who fights for justice and protects those who cannot protect themselves.

The first Saturday in May every year is known as “Free Comic Book Day” and our local comic book shops are flooded with fans. And don’t assume that comic books are only for kids. In a recent poll, 75% of men and 25% of women are comic book readers and it’s about 50/50 between single (not in a relationship, engaged or in a relationship) and married. The average age of comic books are 18-45 year old!! The comic book companies are actually trying to find ways to bring in younger readers, i.e. a digital comic book for iPads and other eReaders. Overall, comic book characters are as complex as characters found in traditional book literature. They have their strengths, their flaws, their good deeds and their mistakes. They go on adventures that the reader can only dream of.