Monday, August 4, 2014

Opening doors for the next generation. Introducing my nephew to comics.

I had received a phone call from my sister a few months ago where she started to ask me questions about comic book characters.  For those who do not know of my background, I used to really want to be a comic book artist and had dedicated a good amount of time in pursing that dream when I was younger.  I had a dream to pencil comics for Marvel or DC or Image comics and join the ranks of the esteemed artists like Jim Lee, Scott Clark, etc…  As time went by, reality set in and the acknowledgement that the job market for comic book artists is not that great, I decided to put that dream to bed while still enjoying comics.
So getting back to my sister’s phone call, my sister calls and asks me “So John, what is your favorite comic book character?”  To someone that is not a comic book fan, this seems like a rather innocuous and normal question.  I do not think my sister was prepared for the events that followed.
I responded to my sister with the question “What universe?”
“What?” she asked?
“What Universe?  Marvel?  DC?  Image?  Which comic book company/universe?”  I replied.
“Uh…Which one has Spiderman?”
“Marvel” I responded.
“Ok, Marvel then.” She said.
“Great, my favorite Marvel characters go in this order...” I began.
“You have more than one?” she asked.
“Yes, shush.” I said “Ok, so number one is going to be Sabretooth.  He is by far my favorite of all the Marvel characters.”
“Why, who is he?  What is his super hero power?” my sister asks.
“Oh he’s not a super hero.  He’s a psychopathic killer who is Wolverine’s nemesis.  He was in Weapon X where the government trained him to be a super powered assassin who delighted in slaughtering and slaying while on missions.  He has the same healing factor and regeneration ability that Wolverine does but is far more feral and destructive.  He’s also like 6’6” and his name is Victor Creed.  He’s totally bad ass and he’s fought Wolverine tons of times in the comics but currently he’s dead which makes me sad.”
“Uh…ok…that is your favorite guy?”
“Yeah!  He’s awesome!!!  Ok so next in line has got to be Moon Knight.”
“Moon Knight, he’s kind of like the Marvel version of Batman only he receives his powers from the Egyptian Moon god Khonshu.  He serves as an agent of retribution and vengeance and is just merciless as a vigilante.  His name is Marc Spector and he’s wicked awesome.  His costume is all white and pale like that of the moon.  He’s also extremely brutal when dealing with enemies.  After that I would have to say The Punisher is number three.”
“The Punisher?  What is he?” asked my sister.
“So the Punisher is a vigilante named Frank Castle who’s family was murdered by gangsters and as a result he wages a one man war on crime.  He kills a whole lot of criminals in his books.  He fights crime and punishes wrong doers to ensure that there is justice and punishment.  He’s a really awesome complex character but also deadly.”
“Uh John…”
“So next in line I’d have to say Deadpool.  Deadpool is pretty awesome.  He’s a vigilante or an assassin, depending on who is writing the comic.  He also breaks the forth wall and talks directly to the reader.  His name is Wade Wilson and while his body is ravaged by cancer and scar tissue, he has regeneration abilities much like Wolverine and Sabretooths.  He too was in Weapon X but at a different time than Sabretooth and man he’s just so awesome as an assassin, he kills so many people and is hilarious!”
At this point I should have picked up the note of irritation in my sister’s voice but I did not for I was lost in the excitement of talking about comic book nerdyness.  But alas, I did not.
“So…John.  You have a psychopathic killer, 2 vigilantes and an assassin as your favorites.” Asked my sister; “How about…DC”.
“DC? Sure.  My favorite is Green Arrow.  His name is Oliver Queen he’s like Batman with a bow.  He is a vigilante that goes around fighting crime with his unique arrows and archery.  Think of him as a Robin Hood for Star City only he’s pretty brutal in a fight.”
“Ok…go ahead.”
“Next up is Batman, you know who he is so I’m not going to go into detail on him.  So after Batman, I’m going to go with Grifter from Team 7 and WildC.A.T.S.  he originally was from Image comics but Wildstorm comics got bought by DC. Grifter’s name is Cole Richards and he is a Black Ops assassin with telekinesis and telepathy and was trained by a group of ninjas called the Coda, he…”
“Ok stop, are you trying to tell me that all your favorite comic book characters are psychopathic killers, vigilantes or assassins?” barked my sister.
“Well…yeah those types of characters appeal to me.” I replied.
“How are these to be role models for your nephew?”  She responded angrily.
“Oh, is that what you wanted?  Well hell, there are tons of options!”  I then went into the Avengers, Justice League, the X-men and who existed in each universe and team.  I then provided my sister with a “Play list” for watching all the movies in chronological order.  I do not think my sister had expected the extreme level of detail I had provided her and even then it was only a minute amount of the years and years and years of panels stored in my head from reading them. 

                So for the past few months I have been able to connect with my nephew on an entirely new level which has him completely excited about comic books, his heroes and me.  After speaking with my sister, I became very excited for helping mold this young boys imagination and in time I’ll give him access to my Marvel account where he can read all the comics he wishes.  I guess you begin to take for granted the impact that comics have on a young child’s mind as you get older.  I grew up in an age where we had the first run of Superman and Batman movies, where my imagination was sparked by Star Wars, Transformers, Thundercats and comic books.  Where I could watch the Hobbit as a cartoon and then watch the Superfriends on Saturday morning television.  So seeing my little nephew now beginning to cross that threshold of interests that I had at his age is really one of the more exciting things I’ve had a chance to be a part of as an adult.  It makes me super eager for when my niece and my daughters get to his age and I get to repeat this entire journey with them as well.  My sister is almost as excited about this as I am because she can't wait for me to sit down with my nephew and just talk about comic books and the movies and all that stuff with her son so that he can share the same experience I had when I first began reading comics.  That sense of wonderment and awe that you feel when you turn the pages wondering what is going to happen to the X-men next, or hoping that Thor gets up after being smashed to the ground.  It's positively awesome.
              My nephew already is super excited about seeing me in November when we fly down to Tennessee and he will be even more excited when I show up dressed up as his hero Captain America.  I have ordered an adult sized costume and a child sized costume so he can run around the house dressed as his favorite comic book hero.  My sister and her husband have been adhering to the Marvel playlist I provided them with great dedication to ensure that they are up to date on all the information that their son is going to be bombarding them with when I am not available for questions.
                I know I generally blog about Wargaming, modeling or D&D related activities but sometimes it’s nice to just reflect on the important things that really make life great.