Superhero Fans Wasting Their Lives?

Steve Bennett, a graphic novel retailer with a regular column at ICv2, says in the latest installment:

It’s recently occurred to me the reason I’ve spent so many of these columns ruminating over the nature of superheroes is because I’ve reached the summing up portion of my life and have begun to wonder whether “they” weren’t right all along — that superheroes really are just for kids and arrested development cases with father issues (a category in which I myself am most profoundly damaged). Was I kidding myself all this time that superheroes had some kind of greater “meaning” to them or, as Zippy the Pinhead creator Bill Griffith would be happy to tell me, have I just been wasting my life?

Our Gods Wear Spandex cover
Our Gods Wear Spandex
Buy this book

Of course, he goes on to say “no”, as anyone who rhetorically asks that question does. (Those of us who might feel otherwise, who might hope that those who read comics someday sample the full medium instead of staying stuck to only one, know better than to raise the point, for fear of vengeful attacks from those who have never internalized the message of their heroes to use their powers only for good. Reminds me of my late grandpa, who bought a satellite dish at the time they were the size a person could stretch out in just so he could watch only Westerns on what was then CBN.) He credits the book Our Gods Wear Spandex for reassuring him through the idea that “superheroes are essentially pagan gods redressed for modern times.”

I don’t know that I’d trumpet that too loud, for fear of being accused of idolatry by the fundies, but I’m more curious to read the book now. Other interesting thoughts conclude the column.

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8 Responses to “Superhero Fans Wasting Their Lives?”

  1. Tim O'Shea Says:

    The level of condescension dripping through the phrase “staying pathetically stuck” beggars description. Stay tuned next week for when Johanna drives by the local multiplex on a Friday night, rolls down her window and screams “philistine” (please do note the lowercase usage in this joke) at the folks lined up for the latest Hollywood blockbuster. :)

  2. Roger A Says:

    As far as hobbies go, whether it’s comics or movies or knitting or whatever, as long as you enjoy it, you’re not wasting your life. You’re bringing enjoyment to it and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  3. Chad Anderson Says:

    As far as hobbies go, whether it’s comics or movies or knitting or whatever, as long as you enjoy it, you’re not wasting your life. You’re bringing enjoyment to it and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Roger A wins!

  4. Johanna Says:

    Tim, I prefer blockbusters to art films. :) You caught this post during its brief draft form, and that term was removed as not reflective of what I was trying to say.

  5. Dave Says:

    Thanks for the clarification, Johanna. When I read that comment and scanned back up looking for the word “pathetically” and did not see it, I thought for a moment you had pulled a Bendis on your own blog.

  6. Chuck Says:

    Assuming that superheroes are pagan gods in different outfits, why does that make reading superhero comics a better use of one’s time? I bet if you polled the general populace, reading Bullfinch wouldn’t rate much higher than reading Spawn.

    Personally, i’m with Roger: if it adds enjoyment to your life, that’s good enough. I just wonder why placing superheroes in a slightly different light makes them suddenly legit.

  7. James Schee Says:

    Hmm… perhaps the reasons he’s been thinking so much on the worth of superheroes. Is that he’s not reading superhero books he likes? Goodness knows the content of most DC and Marvel superhero books can make anyone question their worth.

    I don’t get the pagan gods thing, but it does make me curious about the book somewhat now.

  8. Captain Australia Says:

    I think that the very fact that we are all searching for heroes is important to recognise.

    Finding them in comic books and fiction is better than not finding them at all.

    Society is slowly darkening like a rotten piece of fruit, eating itself from the inside – but the cannibalism is reversible if we can find champions to rally to, characters who can be inspirational examples driving us to be better.

    Your friend,

    Captain Australia

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