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The Great Escape – Why I Am a Comic Geek

If you are reading this, then I can only assume the world did not come to an end on Saturday, and no earthquakes swallowed us whole like Rosie O’Donnell at an all you can eat buffet.

Luckily for us then, Reality is still pitching a shutout against Reverend Crazy Pants.

Harold Camping, 0. Reality, 2.

Last week, I brought my 22 month old daughter to the comic store to pick up my eternally massive pull list and treat her to a comic of her own.

Given the choice, she loudly proclaimed that Spider-Man would be the pick of the week and she proceeded to “read” it the entire way back to the car, and then the whole way home.

Each night before bed, I must read at least one chapter of the Superman: Emperor Joker trade (because, really, what says children’s bedtime like a story about a sociopathic villain remaking the world in his image, am I right?) or one of Ana’s other “special books,” as she calls them.

People have asked me why. With all of the things to read to her, why comics? And why do I, at 32, still read them daily?

I have my reasons.

First off, we do read her a ton of “real” books, too. Well, if one considers books like “Where’s the Baby’s Belly Button” a “real” book.

Seriously, it is like eight pages of crazy, creepy illustrations of babies that look like they came out of a Stephen King novel.

Your belly buttons are how we steal your souls…
But, really, it is because they have always been the greatest of escapes.

See, I read “real” books. A lot. I majored in English Lit and eventually wrote my own book on terrorism and foreign policy.

But comics have always held a special place for me.

My grandfather learned to read English from comics when he first came to this country, working in a factory out in Pennsylvania.

Every He-Man toy came with a comic book of the character you were getting.

The Adam West Batman was always in reruns for me to watch after school.

Some days, you just can’t find a good book!

And, perhaps most of all, I was a scrawny little nerd as a kid.

I mean, the nose in a book with glasses that were thick enough that if I turned my head a certain way I could check out some of Saturn’s moons type of nerd.

So, when I saw Clark Kent whipping off his glasses to not only become a hero, but the greatest hero, it made me believe that one day, maybe I would be able to do the same.

Comics became my escape from a world that I felt, in my melodramatic teenage angst, feared and hated me.

My mutant power was apparently thinking everything was always about me…

They became my 15 minutes away from the stresses and pressures of school, of track, of awkwardness and depression, of all those things that made so much of growing up a living hell at times.

Sometimes, I would grab a stack of old X-Men comics and let Claremont take me away to Shi’ar space. I would cheer as Captain America gave Nazis a thrashing, while Batman beat up a group of White Martians with little more than a Zippo.

And at those times, it was enough.

I was able to temporarily forget about my troubles, to rediscover my center, to remind myself that bad days are there for everyone, even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but in the end, contrary to Dark Helmet’s proclamation, evil will NOT always triumph over good.

Fibber!

And today, I still do all of that.

I am no longer the scrawny nerd in glasses; I am just a regular sized nerd that benefitted from Lasik.

But with the career path I chose in which a mistake on my part could literally mean life or death, and with constant studies of the dangers of war, and terrorism, and of the world, I am faced regularly with the daunting reality that the good guys do not always win.

But at least every Wednesday, I can get away from all of that.

I can temporarily forget the al Qaedas and Irans and economic woes.

I can get lost in Metropolis, wrapped up in Utopia, become immersed in Oa.

Most importantly, I can share all of these worlds of wonder with my daughter.

When I see her get excited for Superman cartoons, when I hear scream, “Oh, Batman is winning,” and when she asks me to read “just one more,” I have new reasons to treasure my collection.

And that right there is worth everything.

Like I said, I have my reasons.

And, really, what greater reason is there…

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