I can't help myself: I love comic books.
I have a collection of super hero movies, play HeroClix (a super hero game) and find a way to insert super heroes into every life lesson I teach my daughters. I grew up on comic books, still read them today (although not as many) and consider myself one of their biggest fans.
Comic books remain a unique story-telling mechanism. They present opportunities which no other medium makes available and their pantheon of characters is such that you can find someone dealing with just about every conceivable situation a human being might face (and a bunch that they likely would never face.)
Comic books represent our modern mythology. Not since the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans have we had so many characters, so well loved by so many. I challenge you find someone, anyone, who doesn't know who Superman is. Or Batman. Or Spider-man. Or the Hulk. Even if they have never read a single comic book or watched a single movie, or even a television show, they still know who these characters are because they form the basis of our global consciousness.
That's the first time in two thousand years we have had stories which transcended national boundaries; cultures, and have been embraced by a multitude of people from around the world.
Does that mean everyone loves comic books? Of course not. Just like anything some people like them and some people don't. But the legend of Batman is now as ubiquitous as the legend of Ulysses, so are at least aware of the stories and characters, which says a great deal.
Some comic books are good, some are great and some, well, not even a fan would plunk down $2 to read them. But as a whole, the genre is strong. No matter how many times I read about Spider-Man saving Manhattan or Batman battling the Joker, I'm always ready to read another one. I don't need these characters to grow old, die or retire. I just need them to exist, somewhere, even if it's only in my imagination.
And maybe that's what makes super heroes so awesome. They spur our imagination and get us asking lots of "what if?" questions. What if there really was a Superman? What would life be like if there was a global champion of justice? How would that change our world?
Because questions like these lead us to seek answers. And the answers, when we are dealing with super heroes, always lead us right back to ourselves: What if I was more like Superman?
So, a tip o' the hat to all the thousands of men and women who helped forge the metal of our new mythology. I thank you, my daughters thank and millions of other people around the world, thank you.