Thursday, August 19, 2010
I finally get you
Nova, I finally get you.
This morning it becomes an epiphany, dawning like a warm shower on the sense. NOVA is written as it is so that little kids, too, can enjoy it.
Truthfully, many ex-fans cluster here to talk of many things. Or make that, ex-buyers...of comic books, at least. Some of the more popular product amongst people who overlap that crowd are the kid-friendly comics, which seem to have versions of the characters that evoke their sense of wonder and fun.
Now, it’s true, by the time Shooter has Pym losing his marbles, it’s evidence that the path to redemption played over and over again went now into a darkness found in adult life, though these things affect many of the young readers, too. But it’s heavy.
What Alan (Watchmen) Moore grasped was an alternative, which to this post-modernist genius of deconstruction became clear as A-B-C Comics in the decade after his revolutionary masterpiece of the medium. His efforts at straight-up super heroes convinced some more than others, touching upon a richer tapestry of his career for long-time fans---but as J.M. DeMatteis also grasped eventually, you have to be able to leave a comic book lying around for kids of any age to be able to pick up and try to read. It has to be left unattended in an environment where it can be discovered, because not everyone lives a solitary enough existence to put away everything always out of reach.
Now, the nostalgic urge comes early in childhood development. The window for socially accepting “playing pretend” seems to close all too soon. I’ve had it the other way around, where the younger reader fantasizes about being older. But how could I forget? For many reasons, we begin to fondly recall the essence of days of our lives. I was awkward enough, anyway, to really depend on my imagination to prepare me to socialize and visualize. So I spent a lot of time thinking.
I think it was my choice a lot, from early on. So a hero going about thinking, or working through his feelings or trying to make jokes to deal with a lack of confidence---combined with, say, being able to fly and leave a neat trail like some sort of human rocket---would’ve been relatable as soon as I lucked into him.
So in the fantasies of introverts, a bigger kid who isn’t nice to you is a relatable problem. How many kids endured the torment of bullies by thinking of having the power to rise above them...and when you realize sometimes people behaving badly have their own problems or are being used, Condor, Diamondhead and Powerhouse not only embody your dread of being possibly humiliated and driven down a social pecking order, but also, clue you in on how some people like being bossy, like being mean, or might be your friend, but they are in with a tougher group.
Ginger and Rich aren’t meant to be, in the first volume, anything that couldn’t be played in second grade. That they are later shaped by mature circumstances speaks to the idea of appealing to the same little kids who loved Nova two decades before.
Same story, archetypally, is all over the industry.
Ginger is about dreaming you have a cool, understanding friend, that girls can be this. Rich’s never-ending school yard stand teaches you a buddy who likes to make jokes, like Bernie, can lighten a day. It’s about the link between the heart to save everyone you know and the powers we’ve yet to discover.
The super hero can’t complete their becoming, in most stories. It is about the onset of powers and changes within and the search for what is right for one’s actions.
Mature female characters are few and far between for many a year, as they really have no place in that world for long. The costumes are a way of dealing with primordial urges that seethe within our joys of savagery and the fantasy of our overcoming, or under going. Yet sometimes we can’t say if we’re coming or going. Thus, the need for that fountain of youth, the happy memories of our formative years, become a non-judgmental spiritual refuge, and teach us about surrendering to a certainty beneath our silenced minds, while creating a will and habits that bring us what most we seek.
A rich relationship with our inner lives, the time we spend with it creating our way out of boredom, serves us when we grow and seek knowledge. It gives our feelings a blueprint for overcoming adversities in life. It gives us a chance to fly around the yard and pick up Mom’s voice over our helmets, telling us where we need to be, at times. If you grew up old school, you might fantasize about your spanking recovery and its drama about endurance. It’s holding your breath while swimming, and visualizing your shields locking into place automatically. NOVA is a story about moving without your feet on the ground. That is the way of super heroes.
This is a book about being a human rocket. Both human, and rocket. It’s about being a spaceman and an ordinary guy. It’s about a character whose father can send him to his room without supper, who can get in trouble for fighting at school, who looks upon his Dad’s problems and ill temper with compassion. The issue where the Riders talk, though off-panel, contains a significant step, where the son takes up the leadership to say, “Dad, let’s talk.” It is a fantasy about having a power over meaningful things. It is a game you can play: one friend is Caps, kidnapped by Mega Man, and the other one is Nova, rushing to the rescue from his space ship. It says adults have complicated lives. But if you can’t read but the barest few words, there’s the man in the golden helmet, flying like blue blazes. And he is just a school kid, like you.