Comics haven’t been a part of my life for as long as a lot of my co-workers. Growing up, we didn’t really have a lot of access to comics, outside of the occasional Archie digests from the grocery store, and garage sales. Comics weren’t a big thing in my family. We knew that they existed, and that they were the basis for the cartoons we watched, but we didn’t seek them out. We didn’t go to comic shops when I was a kid. The X-Men show from the early 90s, Batman and Green Hornet ‘66, and every version of Spider-Man were the staples of TV favourites, and basically what set the tone for the heroes I would eventually start to love.
The first comic that I actively remember reading was Silver Sable and the Wild Pack, where they were infiltrating Doom’s lair for some reason or another. I’m very open about this fact. My comics access was almost nothing until I got a bit older, when I started reading Fantastic 4 in high school, and came back to the X-Men around the same time.
My favourite superhero is a loaded question for someone like me. It changes with the seasons. In writing this piece, I cycled through my favourites, The Fantastic 4, but especially Johnny, Nightcrawler, Silver Sable (but really because she was weirdly prominent in the stuff in the 90s when I was a kid,) Doctor Doom (because he doesn’t deserve all the hate,) Doctor Strange (but really only because of that one run,) the X-Men in general (but really only in the 90s TV show,) Blade (but really just because of the movies,) Captain America, Thor, Hercules…
And it dawned on me. Most of the reasons why I love these heroes isn’t because of a lasting love of comics. It’s
because they’ve all come into my life at a specific time when I needed them. I didn’t know it at the time, but each of the stories that I think of when I go back to explaining who my favourite hero is, is one from a specific run or a specific area of my life that resonated with me at just the right moment to capture my heart and imagination.
Hercules replaced Thor when I felt alienated, and was a fun romp of a story that was tragically cut short because of Civil War II. The Fantastic 4 and Doctor Doom reemerge in my life in ways that I don’t expect and remind me that I have the power to achieve my dreams, and that family isn’t just about blood. The X-Men resurface in my life when I feel powerless and hopeless about my situation, reminding me that my worth isn’t dictated by the colour of my skin or my sexuality. (Although Magneto is a whole other kind of motivation and a weird kind of love that… well, basically that’s a whole other opinion piece I might need to write later.)
The long and short of it is that, my favourite superhero isn’t just a single superhero. I have many. And they all encompass different things and are there for me when I need them. And isn’t that what being a superhero is all about?