In the course of every man’s life, things come and go that effect how he will be perceived upon death. Parents, friends and media that one consumes all have a hand in influencing the conduct and morals that we follow and govern ourselves by. On the 28th, I will be paying tribute to the media that influenced me the most by honoring Jack Kirby, the legendary Marvel Comics artist.
More so than anything else in my life, I am the man I am today because of the super hero media I was exposed to as a child and continue to be exposed to in our present time. Where my parents presented me with basic rules and morals to live by, the works of Mr. Kirby and others like him encouraged me to aspire to something bigger and better than the lives of those I grew up around.
From Captain America and the X-Men, I received my views on how to treat people who are different than me and learned that one must never fraternize or enable those who engage in bigotry and persecution of any form. Whether it’s Cap going underground rather than working to compromise civil liberties or Deadpool giving strength to a child who wonders if he’s beyond redemption, these characters are at their best when they stick up for the downtrodden.
Batman and Spiderman, well, they taught me to never give up and that no matter how difficult it seems, any one person can make a difference. From seeing Peter take on an angry mob rather than let them murder a criminal to watching Batman refuse to give in to the Jokers cruelty, I became a patient and strong man thanks to Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker/Miles Morales.
And then, there’s Superman. The original of the bunch, the one people under 30 usually find dull and far too over-powered to write anything interesting for. To me, Clark Kent taught me that one must go to great lengths to help others, even when it means putting aside your own needs to do so. Originally, before the character became a continuity cluttered and god like figure, he was more down to earth. In early stories from Siegel and Shuster, he would take on corrupt politicians, those who abused their spouses and other social ills of the late 1930’s. Currently, some people have kicked up a stink at a recent issue where he fights police on the streets of Metropolis, but those people are wrong to be upset. Social consciousness is Superman’s core.
Ultimately, what I hope you take away from this piece is that these properties are more than just kids movies that greedy companies pump out and subsequently don’t compensate their creators for. To people like me, kids who grew up or are currently growing up in places where they are not accepted by their peers and are shunned for being different, they’re a source of inspiration.
They’re a symbol of hope in very dark and dreary times.