Some of my best friends as a kid wore capes. No, I’m not talking about my neighborhood pals Eddie, Gary or Ethan. Well, sure, we all dressed up as superheroes at some point I’m sure. But what I’m referring to are the caped crusaders, the men of steel, the living legends who filled my head with stories of sacrifice and glory. Yes, I most definitely grew up on comics.
I don’t recall when I started, but I definitely remember having an actual “collection” by the time I was in 3rd grade. I may’ve only had a few dozen issues, but they were bagged and boarded and I loving showing it off to my friends and family whenever they asked about my comic books. My collection grew to a few thousand books and while most of them are long gone now, the memories of reading all those certainly aren’t. Nothing beat a rainy day in the summer growing up, where I’d just lie on the couch with a stack of that month’s (yes, I bought them monthly, not weekly in those days) unread comics on the coffee table beside me.
Comics didn’t just keep me occupied and entertained as a kid, though. They also taught me a lot. There were plenty of history and science lessons, as well as some literary ones. (I think I first learned about Sherlock Holmes from his team up with Batman of all things!) But as my parents can attest, reading all those comics did one other important thing for me: it helped me learn to read. Yes, I learned the ABCs in elementary school, but my love of comics drove me to read more and more, both comics and actual fiction books. And with the help of scientists like Reed Richards and Norse Gods like the Asgardians, I learned some pretty big words too. Words like molecular, Ragnarok and even adamantium were as common to me as dog, cat and house.
So obviously, like any good GeekDad, I’m hoping to turn both my sons into comic book readers. They already know all about tons of superheroes and villains thanks to lots of picture books, games and toys. But actual comic books I haven’t been able to break them into… until now.
The other day my wife came home with the trade paperback “DC Super Friends: For Justice,” which collects the first seven issues of this kid-oriented comic. I hadn’t even seen the regular issues, so I was excited to read it to my oldest (he’s 6 ). That night, instead of his normal bedtime books, I read him the first two issues… and that’s all it took. He was hooked. Sure, he wasn’t doing any of the actual reading (though he may’ve been following along a bit), but the characters and stories completely hooked him in. His eyes wide open, he couldn’t get me to turn the pages fast enough.
I give full credit to DC and writer Sholly Fisch for not “dumbing down” a young kids book with super cute, babyish tales. This book was packed with legitimately fun and entertaining stories of the Justice League. Yes, we’re talking Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, and even the mostly useless Aquaman. But the villains were fantastic. Lex Luthor and the Joker show up, of course, but so do Amazo, Gorilla Grodd and the Key!
Besides just good ol’ action-packed stories, though, there’s plenty of fun and games throughout. Even the “Next Issue” blurbs are written in a super secret code that you have to decipher. That (and the story about the Super Friends fighting dinosaurs) was my son’s favorite part. The second volume collecting issues #8-#14 is due out on July 15, and you better believe I’ll be picking it up. Uh, to read to my son I mean. It has nothing to do with the fact that Starro’s one of the bad guys in it…