Comic books, those pictured sagas that span the DC and Marvel Universes and their characters respectively, have the power to drag a person away from the mundane aspects of life. Events like the San Diego Comic-Con (Comic Convention) have been around since around 1970, which allow folks of all ages to walk the convention halls and meet pop culture icons, trade collectible items and receive a glimpse of the world of fantasy over a four-day period. According to Forbes Magazine, the convention is “the largest convention of its kind in the world.”
I have never been to a comic convention. I have a few friends who have visited, dressed up for the event and have come back with amazing photographs and interesting stories. You see, I had forgotten about the world of comic books because, well, life is always life and those things we might have done as a child get relegated to the back burner until there’s “more time.”
As a child, I was often found perusing the comic book section of the North Village Green’s Drug Store. Dad often picked up prescriptions or sundries in the store and I always rode shotgun with him. After weeks of saving my allowance, Dad allowed me to purchase one comic book. “You have to learn the value of a dollar and it’s important to save your money, too,” he often quipped.
There were several circular iron racks in the back corner of the newspaper section, where I found issue after issue of books I had not yet read. In the beginning, I purchased Peanuts comic books by Charles M. Schultz, or Dennis the Menace comics by illustrator Hank Ketcham. However, after I had exhausted the collection, Dad pointed me towards the iron round of DC comics. Whenever my sister accompanied us, her first choice was The Archie comics. I read them but longed for something a little meatier.
Green Lantern seemed interesting and he had a nice coif, so I plunked down my coins upon the counter. Once I got home, I found my favorite corner of our upstairs den and curled up on the sofa to read. By the time I finished the comic, I was thirsty for more. The Green Lantern Oath, “In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might beware my power…Green Lantern’s light” became etched on my brain.
During this DC phase, Mom took us to Woolworth’s and gave us each a dime to purchase something from the gumball machine. I desired one of those tiny troll dolls, but instead, a bright green ring popped out of the machine. I wore that ring every day until it fell apart. I also bought enough Green Lantern comics to paper my walls at least once.
Justice League of America soon became one of my favorite comic books and I read many of those as well. This morphed into as many Wonder Woman comics as my meager allowance could afford. I absorbed every book, digested it completely and counted my coins for next week’s purchase.
Some years passed and I stopped reading comic books. Movies arrived on the scene, but I had little interest in them. I was working full time and taking care of a family, so down time was minimal. As time went on, I forgot about the DC world and reading entirely. I have no idea whatever became of my collection of comics.
Several episodes of The Big Bang Theory began to ignite the buried tinder of comic book adoration in my heart. A friend, who is a professional baker, made cakes with comic characters neatly illustrated upon them. Little by little, the door I had closed on the comic book world had slowly creaked open.
Last year, my husband and I made the decision to download Disney Plus to watch Hamilton. The plan was to watch the musical and then cancel the service. Sometimes, the best laid plans go awry for good reason.
Last year, Disney Plus released a nine-episode series called, WandaVision. Friends and family raved about it, so I gave it a whirl. However, I was five minutes into the show and almost turned it off. It was silly, dated and had not drawn me in as I had hoped. I gave it another five minutes. I’m glad I did, because the show turned out to be a dissection of grief and love everlasting. It also introduced me to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and provided a missing piece of the “story” of the Marvel world.
After watching the finale of WandaVision, I realized that I was completely out of the loop. I also found my old love for the comic book world, which I had buried deep inside. Suddenly, my love for comics burst back on the scene like a green flash of light from Green Lantern’s ring.
Disney Plus has most of the Marvel movies on their service. They offer them in chronological order as well, which is where I am right now. I just finished watching Guardians of the Galaxy, a film about a group of criminals in outer space who steal a powerful artifact. Subtle humor is often found in the Marvel films, along with cameos by Mr. Excelsior, Marvel’s co-creator, Stan Lee. Waiting until the end of the credits yields a bonus scene, which has enabled me to piece together a sprawling story that has entertained millions of people worldwide for decades.
While I will always remember DC comics fondly, I am a recent Marvel convert. The appeal comic books hold is their ability to allow ordinary folks to become superheroes and battle the evil of the world. As Stephen Strange, better known as Dr. Strange once said, “Do you know what is the greatest gift anyone can receive in his lifetime? The greatest gift we can receive is to have the chance, just once in our lives, to make a difference.” The world of comics has made a difference in the lives of millions, my own included.
Patty Servidio is an Anton Media Group columnist.