(Dead) Men In Tights

I vaguely remember that I got my first super-hero comic as a second choice. What I wanted was a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge comic, but there weren’t any at the stand that I hadn’t already read. So I half-grudgingly accepted a copy of Spider-Man. 

It was okay. I didn’t fall in love, but it was fun enough to lead me down the path of exploring the superhero comic book genre. 

It’s some years later, and Marvel Comics are ending. In Portugal, anyway. Or maybe it was just in my region? I was a kid, and this is about my memories, so it’s not worth the hassle of researching. I don’t know if it was local or national, I don’t know if it was due to the comics not having enough of an audience to be financially viable, but I do know that my usual comic books stands were to stop getting the Brazilian translations of the comics I so loved. 

In a way, it was pretty cool. They timed it with the storyline where Legion erases the universe. Closure. 

Several years pass. At the end of a Magic The Gathering tournament, my card shark introduces me to the new, shiny, European Portuguese Marvel Comic translations, published by Devir. 

One of the local Magic players is buying one. The first (EU Portuguese) issue of The (something or other) X-Men. It looks beautiful – the form factor is the correct American comic book format, much larger than our smallish Brazilian imports put together with a paper that was barely a grade above toilet paper.

In my excitement, I put my shoulders on top of the counter, trying to get a better look. My shoulder crumples the edge of the mint issue that my player friend had just brought. He immediately panics, frantically trying to smooth it over. 

I had two younger brothers. I was used to everything I owned being destroyed. The concept of “collecting” had never entered my mind before them. I was puzzled but felt bad for the guy, so I offered to buy him a new one and keep his copy for myself. 

Just like that, I was back on Marvel Comics.

Stan Lee, the man whose name adorned the covers and many of the headlines of all these comics, passed away on the 12th of November of 2018. 

I barely read comics now, and when I do, they aren’t Marvel Comics. I feel like I’ve read them all. There’s no closure. Every plot is regurgitated. Every hero who dies valiantly or tragically eventually resurrects, by the grace of some Deus Ex Machina event. 

Maybe someday, we’ll figure out how to bring people back from the dead and old Stan will be resurrected, like so many of the heroes that he had a hand (or two) in bringing to life.

(And yes, I know that the fact that heroes come back from the dead is supposed to be a metaphor, but it happens too bloody often!)

Stan Lee died on that day. Him, and 155519 other people. Probably more, because I doubt non-western countries are as accurate in their statistics. I always think about this whenever someone famous dies.

We like to claim that we are all worth the same. Yet the people who claim that loudest are the first to come out in sorrow for the one famous person who passed away on that particular date, with nary a prayer for all the other poor, unknown souls who shared the same fate.

All people are important. All people have a spark of the Divine within them. This is the basis of many of the systems that make our western society work. But not all people touch us with their work; not all people can be known to us. Stan’s work touched a lot of people in a lot of different ways. I wasn’t a fan of his work for most of my life, but I’m grateful for the brushes I’ve had with the children of his creativity.

He envisioned, imagined, created immortals. I wonder how long will his own immortality last.