The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Captain America

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Even super powered humans die. Captain America was killed by sniper fire a couple of days ago. I can’t say that he was my favorite Marvel super hero. Spiderman has that place in my heart, but Steve Rogers earned a lot of my admiration when written by J. Michael Straczynski in Bullet Points, and after seeing his reaction to the injustice in Civil War. Some better commentators than I have gone on to say that his death is a metaphor.
I spent most of the afternoon walking through my local chain bookstore wondering what the demise of the Captain meant. I talked to some people who didn’t really care–one of my students even said that “super heroes are old school.” Others were receptive to the point of correlating his death to the apocalypse, and one of my coworkers made my day by asking if we could spend some time creating a lesson plan around the event.
The most moving account came from the person who told me about the fictitious incident. I say moving, because I could tell that he really cared about the Cap. He had been his favorite hero since he was a little boy, and being that I have gotten in to serious arguments with my fiancee whenever she disrespects Spidey, I can relate.
To some of us, fictional characters are pivotal. Spiderman has been a part of my life, in one way or another, since before I could read. I know that many of my readers have at least one imaginary friend whose fake life they follow. Most geeks do. We are a lonely bunch, at least until we meet other geeks. When we do, our common friendships hold us together, because they tend to be based on common heroes. I have friends who were literally distraught when Dumbledore died, and I’m not even talking about the actor. The interesting part is that our lives are a lot shorter than the lives of our imaginary friends. Spidermam, and even Captain America will be alive long after I’m gone, much in the way in which that Hercules and Leonidas still are.
A lot of people will tell you that things like The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, the Marvel and DC universes, and Star Trek are a new mythology.
In a secular world, we find that heroes are a guiding principle that brings light and guidance to our lives.     The twentieth century has seen the raise of science and the fall of superstition, so that we need to imagine new heroes and new possibilities. Maybe that explains the success of NBC’s Heroes (which has a strong comic book background).
In all likelihood, however, I’m just a geek who never outgrew the small pleasures of his early years. Comics made my life more tolerable and, eventually, gave me something in common with some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I am going to resist the temptation to speculate about the Cap’s return. What matters is that he kept us company since 1941. He inspired us, or, at the very least, blew our minds away when he kicked Red Skull’s butt.
Every character that made us feel safe when we were scared, accompanied when we were lonely, and who gave us something in common with those for whom we care the most has done it’s job. So thank you Cap, and thank the rest of you, imaginary figments who add meaning to our geeky lives.

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Written by Hector

March 11, 2007 at 5:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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