It started simply enough, a new neighborhood, a new friend and new beginnings. I was seven, so was my new neighbor, although he lived on the other side of the block and at least six houses down from me, we became quick friends. We built go carts and bikes together, Mark also introduced me to superhero’s. His preference, Spiderman.
I remember clearly Mark handing me a trade paperback with at least a dozen stories of the Web Slinger in it, with a reserved attitude as he said “This is the beginning of Spiderman, the greatest superhero ever.” He said it with such conviction, such seriousness and such respect that I immediately began to read the tome. It told the origin story of Peter Parker becoming Spiderman and as I read about the death of his Uncle Owen I cried, and of his victory over the Vulture I applauded and yet I felt bad for Aunt May.
Mark and I shared many adventures both fiction and non-fiction while he lived on our block and when he moved away I lost my comic book buddy. I still read them after he was gone but I kept it quite so as my new friends wouldn’t rag on me. But that first introduction to comics in Mark’s messy bedroom filled with Six Million Dollar Man action figures, comic books, and pre-adolescent debris I found something that would impact my life even up to today.
Heroes that come in all shapes and sizes. Heroes that fight for earth, heroes that fight for the lost and even heroes that fight for people like me. Later on in life I discovered the X-men, Alpha Flight, The Avengers, Iron Man, Fantastic Four and my all-time favorite Batman. This of course was in the 1980’s and I really didn’t understand why I still read the stories since I was devouring books by Heinlen, Tolkein, London, Salinger and some new writer named King. I just know that when I read the comics, I felt better.
Fast forward to the mid-2000’s and comic hero movies are everywhere, the geeks and nerds have inherited the earth and our love for action, super-villians and the heroes that stomp the living guts right out of them have inherited the earth. We are legion and we will not be denied. It’s a good feeling sitting in a dark theatre with like minded folks watching as our childhood heroes do good. Fight the good fight and overcome the evil of the world and universe by giving of themselves selflessly.
Then I turn on Netflix. You know the site. They stream movies and such for a price anytime, anywhere for anyone.
Now, lately I’ve become a documentary junkie. I love them. True tales of real people doing good or bad. It’s an addiction to me that is as real as the cigars I smoke and the metal and jazz music I need to get through my day. Just like the daily reading of what is going on in the world of Bruce Wayne. I need these good thoughts to help me cleanse my mind of evil thoughts and believe there are better things out in the world.
So, where does that leave me on my Netflix list? Simple, there is a documentary about real life superheroes across the landscape of America that are trying to do the right thing for the repressed and downtrodden.
At first, I was skeptical and thought about how sad some of these people were, living their lives trying to do good in a world fill with skepticism and loathing. Unfortunately as the show progressed with interviews from the heroes, psychologists, and the people they helped I felt a sense of awe over how selfless some of these people were. They were giving out clothes, food, water and most importantly their time.
They actually helped people. Gave people hope where there was none to be found. It was inspiring. Not enough for me to don a mask and cape and walk around the streets in the middle of the night. Nah, that is just ain’t my style. But I slept a bit better last night knowing that there are people out there in the world who are at least trying to make a better community for themselves and their fellow citizens.
I still think most of these people need help, but they seem pretty harmless and they are doing good, more good than most. I say, let them be. If all they do is manage to make the downtrodden feel better and give them hope. I say Kudos and Thank you.
Have a great week.