When discussing comics, especially superhero comics, the big question seems to be whether one sides with the Marvel-verse or the DC-verse. I'll happily admit that I prefer DC Comics, because I grew up reading my father's old, beautifully drawn Superman, Batman (I mean, who doesn't love the classic TV-series?) and Justice League comics from like... Well, must have been early 60's. I used to study the outfits of the women very closely. I wanted bouncy hair, miniskirts, turtlenecks and tiny boots, too. Still do. It's a fantastic style.
However, it wasn't that kind of Superhero that made the most impact on me. It was a whole other kind of super, a legend, a ghost... I talk of course about The Phantom, the Ghost Who Walks. I'm not entirely sure why the Phantom mesmerized me so. I agree that for a superhero he's rather silly, and apart from having the strength of ten tigers and a voice that will chill the blood of evil men, his powers mostly lie in a massive fortune and the asset of having a quaint little jungle tribe do his biddings. But... I think his strength lies in the very, very elaborate myth. A 25-generation-myth (if I'm not mistaken, counting Phantom 2040 and the father of the first Christopher Walker, who naturally features in the myth), which gives us numerous opportunities to - pedagogically but fun - learn things about history! And was I ever a history freak, growing up... There is something amazing about reading a story set in shakespearian London one week, and in the next issue you time-travel to our days and exotic places.
My sisters and I have always had a bit of a fascination for the Phantom's rings. You know, the rings with the good mark and the bad mark (I know embarrasingly much trivia about these rings - who allegedly made them, how the Phantom avoids giving villains a good mark when hitting them with the left hand, what jungle berry juice is used to tattoo the marks on the recievers, etc...)? My youngest sister actually wears a trinket scull ring that came with the subscription some time ago. I used to have a good mark key ring, that I loved. We've all talked about how cool it would be to have the good mark tattooed on the insides of our left wrists. Since that's where the Phantom puts the mark when he marks someone as his ally, someone who's saved him or helped him. Alas, the mark is easily mistaken for a swastika, so that's out... I still think it would be cool, though.
I do like other kinds of supers too, mind you. I still am very fond of the old school DC's. And I'm starting to see the point of X-Men, although I'm a movies convert, so I'll have to get into the paper comics eventually, I guess. But lately I've endulged in podcasted short fiction and novells, and I've been ecpecially happy when I've found super-related fiction. At Escape Pod, there are a number of short stories called Union Dues, by Jeffrey R. DeRego, set in a not-too-distant-future, where all kids with superpowers are rounded up by the Union and educated by them. Think Charles Xavier School for Talented Kids gone institutionalized and somewhat askew... And what happens when the "normals" arent too impresed, but rather intimidated and scared? How do you cope? The incomparable Mur Lafferty explores a similar future in her short story Barry Koleman, Hero, featured in the pod collection Voices. What happens if you're a late bloomer? Or if you have a power that you yourself think is cool enough, but the authorities think is pretty low grade? Not everyone actually gets to wear the spandex suits, it seems... Another cool, very X-Men-like, novel is the pod-novel Brave men Run, by Matthew Wayne Selznick. You've always known you've been different. But you've always thought you've been alone...
That'll have to be all for now. But remember to look in again soon - same Drakona-time, same Drakona-URL!