So I caught this documentary on my HBO on Demand the other night. It’s called SUPERHEROES. If you haven’t heard about it it’s a doc about, well, real life “Superheroes”. In other words, it’s about people who get dressed up in costumes and go out into the streets and fight “crime”.
When I originally tried to check it out my wife and I watched it for about a half an hour and we sat there in stunned silence. Until my wife finally just kind of said out of nowhere, “These are the people that give guys like you a bad name.” I can’t deny that there was a big part of me that knew exactly what she was talking about.
Watching this documentary reminded me of my first trip to Comic-Con. When I was around nineteen or twenty, I was working for a now defunct production company that had a cartoon on CBS that was going to premier that fall. The company was going to promote their show at Comic Con and asked me if I’d like to go and help out. I’d never been to Comic-Con but I’d always wanted to go. So being a big comic nerd I, of course, said I would be happy to.
I was so not ready for Comic-Con.
The short story is that after that Comic-Con I gave up collecting comics for about a year. Being a young man with no sense of real self I was just horrified by the extremism of the nerd-dom on display at Comic-Con. I’m sort of ashamed to say that my first trip to Comic –Con made me embarrassed to be what I was…a comic book nerd. Like I said, young and insecure. Not a good combination.
Obviously I got over that. But this Superheroes documentary gave me flashbacks to that moment in my life. It was a moment when I was ashamed to identify myself as a comic nerd. A moment where every cell in my being just wanted to cry out at the top of my lungs, “I AM NOT ONE OF THEM!!!!”
I mean, look, I appreciate what these people are trying to do, really. By the end of the documentary you see that a lot of these people are active members in their communities that are getting involved in their neighborhood and are trying to do the right thing. They do their best with what they’ve got (which isn’t much) and much of what they do ends up being community activism like helping the homeless or giving speeches to people at schools. So there is a decent uplifting message behind the doc but on the way to getting to that point we are treated to seeing some real oddballs in action. Oddballs with their hearts in the right place to be sure and oddballs who could obviously give me a decent ass-kicking but oddballs nonetheless. And my wife was right, as a comic book fan this is not the sort of thing I’d want to be associated with but by the end of SUPERHEROES I had to admit that I did gain a small amount of respect for these self appointed do-gooders.
That doesn’t mean I want to go out and fight crime in a costume. Hey, I read Rick Veitch’s Brat Pack. I’d like to stay as far away from that scene as possible.