Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day Twenty

A Hobby of Mine

About the only hobby I've had in my life that I've stuck with would be comic books. And my reasoning is the same now as it was when I was a kid. I like the stories.

These are the stories of men and women with extraordinary abilities who save the world on a monthly basis. Sure, a lot of the time they're fighting against other men and women with extraordinary abilities who are bent on world domination on a monthly basis. But the point is, these super-heroes are constantly fighting a never ending battle and these illustrated stories have the capability of inspiring some hope in an otherwise hopeless world.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make comic books out to be some kind of gospel that people should start adhering to religiously. Like any work of fiction, their value is purely for entertainment. I spend money on these things and if they're not fun to read, then they're not worth buying.

And I feel the need to be specific in what comic books I purchase. If you've read this blog long enough, it probably comes as no surprise that I prefer DC Comics over the Marvel Comics. Then again, there are probably a lot of you out there that have no idea that there's a difference. Believe me, there's a difference.

It's the same way you can separate people by what kind of cola they prefer: Coke or Pepsi. Or what sort of computer they use: Mac or PC. I'm a Coke. I'm a PC. I'm a DC.

DC Comics, to me, are a more optimistic brand of comics. My experience with Marvel's characters is that they all seem to be dealing with a lot of inner turmoil. And I get that it's gritty and realistic in the way those characters are portrayed. No one in the real world is perfect, why should we expect our heroes to be perfect as well?

The DC stable of heroes has its share of imperfections, but on the whole, they're a bit shinier and more often think about how their actions will affect the innocents around them. Look at their flagship character, Superman. Hollywood has a hard time coming up with a good movie for him because they have a hard time trying to make him relatable to the average movie-goer. He's the world's oldest living boy scout and has nearly flawless integrity when it comes to doing the right thing. People view him as perfect, so how can anyone relate to that?

But it's an idea that's stuck around for more than 70 years. It's an idea that can inspire hope and optimism where there may not be much to go around. Superman's the kind of character that doesn't give up hope, no matter what may be happening around him. And, in most of these DC stories, he inspires his fellow heroes to stand up and fight, despite the odds. To me, that's how the DC Universe works.

I haven't had a lot of exposure to Marvel's way of doing things, but what I've gathered is that their heroes do what they do for very different reasons than DC's heroes. Superman does what he does because he can. He was raised as Clark Kent and was instilled with a sense of morality. He helps people because he's the only one who can do the things he can do. Why does Spider-Man (a Marvel hero) do what he does? I think it can be argued that he does it out of a sense of guilt. Early in his career he allowed a criminal to escape because it wasn't his problem. Later, that same criminal killed his Uncle Ben. And so he lives his heroic life by the immortal creed, "With great power comes great responsibility." Peter Parker is constantly trying to atone for his inaction in the murder of his uncle. Even so, how many times over the years has Spider-Man tried to quit being a hero? It's not something he wants to do. He seems to be pretty unwilling to don those blue and red tights.

So what if Superman was a Marvel character? Would he mope around, whining all the time about how he's the only one of his kind? "There are no more Kryptonians and my parents sent me to this primitive mudball. Woe is me." Would Batman still place value on human life if he was a Marvel character? Would Batman have become a killer if Bruce Wayne's parents had been gunned down in the Marvel Universe? Just some thoughts.

But anyway, yeah, I collect comic books. I'm thirty years old. Do I think that they'll retain some kind of incredible monetary value over the years? Do I think I'll be able to sell them all one day and retire comfortably? Absolutely not. Like I said, I still get them for the entertainment value. I think there will be a handful that may be worth something to collectors one day. But since I'm a collector, there's a good chance I won't want to part with them.

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