Way back when I had a disposable income (back before my children disposed of it completely), I was a frequent customer at our local comic book store, where I could pick up the latest issues of “Reed Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman”; “Sandman”; and, my personal favorite, “Hellblazer” (don’t even talk to me about Keanu Reeves’ recent bastardization of one of the greatest comic book characters of all time, John Considine.).
My husband also bought comic books; however, his tastes were almost wholly different from mine: whereas I liked “Hate”, he like “Wolverine” and “The Punisher”–a type of comic I could never abide. It wasn’t that they were too violent (nothing’s’s more violent than Reed Fleming), and it wasn’t that they were too dark (the cheeriest character in “Sandman” is his sister, Death); it was just that, inevitably, at some point in the story, there would always seem to be the cheesy grunted out Superhero soliloquy.
“Must…get…out…of…here,” the hero would gasp to no one in particular, as the last of his ebbing strength faded away during yet another cliffhanger ending. (Be sure to rush out and buy the next issue kids, and get two–one to read, and one to keep “mint”).
“How cornball can you get?” I would think. “That is so unrealistic.” (Unlike the story of a man who goes to hell and fights the devil, but still.)
And then I had children, and both the Superhero bits and fighting the devil seemed so much more real.
Until I had seen an 8-year-old attempting to put dirty clothes in the laundry basket, I had no idea that people really do react like dying Superheroes when they find that, for whatever reason, their strength has suddenly deserted them. Anyone watching my daughter, Clementine, trying to carry a dirty sock across the entire length of the living room would think that the sock in question was a actually filled with Kryptonite, so frequently is she forced to lay it down and walk away from it for a “rest”. (Come to think of it, I wonder why Lex Luther never thought of placing a dirty, Kryptonite filled sock in Superman’s living room; although it was probably because Superman would have never noticed it: Super or not, he was still a man.)
As a matter of fact, it was witnessing Clementine’s epic struggle with the aforementioned sock that led me to believe that “Superheroism” might be the root of her problem Suddenly it all made sense: not only is she a Superhero in disguise, but dirty sock’s are her alter ego’s Achilles’ heel.
Unfortunately, though, for Clementine’s future as a Superhero, it’s not just socks that have this effect on her, but also dirty dishes, scraps of paper, and grocery bags. It would seem that none of these items can be carried for more than three yards before they must be set down and abandoned.
One time we were walking home and I asked her to carry my hat. When we got home and I asked her for it, she looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “I set it down somewhere, “she said, clearly bemused that I had forgotten about her “Super Weakness.” This, in fact, was the very incident that finally convinced me that my husband’s Superhero comics had had the characterization right all along,: not because I got to see a real live Superhero, complete with Super Weakness, but because I finally witnessed the Archvillian dancing an impotent jig of rage at being thwarted by the Hero once again: it was me.