Alright, I’ll admit it: I’m a huge nerd.
When most people watch superhero movies like Thor: Ragnarok, they’re just settling in for some mindless fun. But, to a geek like me who’s been collecting comic books since the tender age of 23, these are so much more than stories about men in spandex dishing out fistfuls of justice and clever one liners. I just can’t understate how huge an impact comic books had on my awkward, post-adolescent years.
I couldn’t help but relate to Peter Parker, whose struggle to balance his personal and professional life with his responsibilities as Spider-Man mirrored my own struggle to manage my punk band while navigating unemployment insurance.
Batman, who turned his fear of bats into a symbol of justice, inspired me to turn my fear of women into a one-man show.
I even sympathized with villains like Thanos, whose persistent romantic advances on Mistress Death were met with scorn simply because, like me, he had an aggressively receding hairline.
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I remember spending tens of minutes in the comic book section of Amazon.com, splurging on hardcover trades of Sandman or Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil with the allowance my parents sent me for rent. While other kids my age were out partying or getting engaged, I was digging through the Marvel Unlimited back catalogue.
People think comic books are just silly entertainment, but the medium is filled with serious explorations of profound themes. Before discovering V for Vendetta, for instance, I genuinely thought the best way to make a political impact was through voting. Now, every year on election day, you can find me outside the polling station in a Guy Fawkes mask, demanding the corrupt political establishment relinquish their power.
So maybe you’d smirk at the stacks of comics on my bedroom floor and the Funko Pop! action figures that line my windowsill in lieu of potted plants. After all, I’m 29: in the eyes of the law, I’m technically an adult!
And sure, more traditional books for grown ups might teach me about personal finance or the economic impact of urban planning. But Marvel and DC taught me about myself. I owe comic books for guiding me through the trials of love, identity, and all the other challenges that come with not growing up.