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  Weekly Feature (December 4, 2004)

Comic Book Heroes



You have all heard of Spiderman, Superman, Batman and The X-men. Before they were blockbuster movies they were great comic books, enjoyed by millions of people around the world. As a young boy I waited eagerly for my monthly comic to arrive in the mail. I was mesmerized by the colourful drawings and ongoing stories of heroes with fantastic powers.

I wondered if I might possess a super power. At one point in my youth I believed that, with practice, I could possibly break glass with a high-pitched scream. I spent hours screeching at the dishes as I washed them hoping to find the right frequency to shatter a drinking glass. The only thing that shattered was my dream as I entered puberty and my voice deepened.

Perhaps, I thought, I could be super fast or super strong. I ran everywhere and lifted weights, but I never was quite able to break the sound barrier or lift the family car.

Some heroes, like Batman, do not have super powers. He uses his intellect to solve crimes and invent technologies to keep one step ahead of the super villains. He has trained himself to be the best acrobat, gymnast and martial artist but his physical abilities are not superhuman. Unfortunately, every year a few children are injured trying to fly off the family roof.

In addition to their obvious entertainment value, many comic books have educational value. Imaginative adjectives are used in the titles: the ‘Amazing’, ‘Spectacular’ and ’'Sensational’ Spiderman, the ‘Incredible’ Hulk, the ‘Uncanny’ X-men are a few adjectives that come to mind. My knowledge of Viking, Roman and Greek mythology improved by reading Thor, The Avengers and Hercules. Every comic story has the main elements of a short story: protagonists, the heroes, antagonists, the villains, settings, conflicts, rising action and a climax. I think my own stories became more imaginative and entertaining by borrowing ideas and vocabulary from the comic books I read.

Reading comic books is a better use of your time than watching TV, playing on the computer or hanging out at the local mall. Doing those activities will not improve your reading and writing skills, but reading a good comic will. In addition, comics can help you appreciate the important elements of art.

I don’t buy comic books anymore. They are much too expensive these days and there are so many spin-off books that it is nearly impossible to keep track of all the adventures. I still browse through them at the store, but the art style has changed and the heroes themselves have developed their own emotional problems.

All in all, many comics are worthwhile reading for children, teens and adults. Although I prefer the superhero genre, there are comics for every taste. There are romance comics, historical comics, war comics and humorous books There is even a series of books that tell of the adventures of Louis Riel, a Canadian hero and villain.



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