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A guest post by Alex Jarvis.
Batman won’t be dead forever.
I am not, to the best of my knowledge, a GeekDad. I am (as of this writing) a twenty-year-old
GeekSon to a somewhat repressed GeekDad. He is decidedly old-school, not entertaining any infatuation with technology (despite dipping his toe into Lake Myspace), instead focusing his nerd-inertia (inerdtia?)
on movies, music, and comic books, the latter being an arena we continue to share, and occasionally do battle in.
My real first interaction with hardcore comic books is shamefully recent: for
Father’s Day 2007, I bought my Dad his weekly comic pulls as part of a larger gift. I took the brown paper bag home and put it on the table, writing "Happy Fathers Day!" on the outside. One of the books must have fallen out of the bag, or perhaps I could peek at the cover of one of them through the bag itself. When Dad actually did return home, the bag was empty, and I was hooked.
I tore through his collection, wiki’ing any plot points that I missed, learning the importance of the players of the DC universe ( we keep a DC house here; no Marvel allowed, save for the occasional zombified tale) as fast as I could. I tore through his original copies of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, and every Crisis in between. I poured over ‘Hush’, ‘Birthright’, ‘Red Son’, ‘The Killing Joke’,
‘Emerald Twilight’ the Deaths of Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Superman, and
Knightfall. I inhaled ’52′ in a single night (I know!) and once I was all caught up, I still hungered for more.
And my father? Could not be more proud. After all, he had been feeding me a steady stream of comic-knowledge for years. When I was younger, night-time stories were often set in
Metropolis or Gotham, talking about the villains that Batman would vanquish, with me as the impromptu stand-in for Robin. In the basement, his collection of various action figures combined with mine to create fantasy narratives where it was cool if Swamp Thing teamed up with the Green Ranger (driving the Batmobile) against Lex Luthor. I’d don capes and masks made of laundry, using curtain rods as lightsabers against "Darth Jarvis." As we stopped by Eye Opener Comics and Cards near our house, I’d get a Sonic the Hedgehog comic, or sometimes a Star
Wars book (Crimson Empire was a personal favorite). As I grew and it became more and more obvious that I would be a Nerd for Life, his comic book hobby continued, and mine began to blossom further.
It is at this point that we both began to realize our differences in comics: my father prefers grand narratives, where there are dark secrets and twisting plot lines, but at the end of the day, the heroes are the heroes: He wants to see Superman fly, see the Flash run, and He wants Batman to be right (and, where warranted, kick a little ass).
Canon isn’t important: the ins and outs of the story should always be set within a fairly constant world. This makes a lot of sense, considering that it is pretty much how comics were written in the
Silver and Bronze age books my dad would read. Sure, Speedy would have a drug problem, or the Teen Titans might shake up their roster from time to time, but there are always constants to fall back on: Bruce
Wayne is always Batman, and Clark loves Lois Lane.
I prefer to dig deep with the characters: I want to see them change from issue to issue. I want to see the world as a cohesive, changing unit, where things can really shake up something from book to book. If I drop a stone in the
Justice League pond, I want to see its ripples in Action Comics. So for us, events Like Batman R.I.P. are really brutal. Whereas I love to see the experimentation with a character, he will decry it based on years of experience: "They’re just doing it to sell comics. He’s not gonna die forever." Other times, he’ll lament the erasure an important memory of his — when Barry Allen came back to life, I saw him unleashed.
"Lets get this straight: Barry Allen dies twenty years ago, comes back, but they can’t get Barbara Gordon out of the F*@#ng wheelchair?" (It’s sentences like that that make me proud to be 50 percent him).
He is somewhat ashamed of his hobby, even now that I buy him his books every week, spending more on it than he does. He has joked in the past that my rabid geekishness makes him regret ever reading comics, lest he become what I so clearly am. I’ve absolutely surpassed him in that aspect- he is not entirely sure what a blog is, or how the Internet works. Still, comics have given us something important — a shared lexicon. Every Wednesday, without fail, he’ll knock on my door:
"Hey – books come in?"
"Yeah. Titans, Detective, and Final Crisis. Last one is a doo-"
"Shh! Don’t tell me. We’ll talk about it after."
"Alright, it’s awesome though."
And twenty minutes later, without fail, we’ll argue about it. Maybe we didn’t get one part of the story, maybe we didn’t like the ending. But those conversations are the geek version of male bonding, a natural extension of his bedtime superhero tales. So what, we rarely threw a ball around in the backyard — I had Darth Jarvis, and Darth Jarvis was pretty cool. Being the Son of a Geek is a great thing, especially when you consider the action figures and archive of readily available comics. If I do half of as well of a job with my offspring one day as he did, I’ll consider myself lucky.
So long as the little guy doesn’t F#*@ with my action figures unsupervised.