Why do I like Superman so much? Well, it’s complicated. Calling myself a fan of his doesn’t quite do it justice. Of course, I am a fan, but well…he’s more to me than just a cool character. The thing is, he’s done so much for me, both in my childhood years and even today, to help me live my life and become a better person. I couldn’t begin to list all of the wonderful things that he has done for me, but I can at least say the #1 most important thing:
Superman saved my life. Genuinely, literally, 100%.
I suppose I should start from when I was a mere toddler. Of course, even then, I loved Superman. I had an old videotape of the 1940s Fleischer Studios cartoons that I watched so much that it actually fell to pieces. I had Superman pajamas, Superman toys, was Superman for Halloween, the works. When Superman: The Animated Series was on, I watched it. Of course, I loved other stuff too, but Superman was always a cut above the rest. Although I never really read any comics at this point, he was still my number one.
However, as time went by and I progressed through grade school, Superman began to sort of fade out of my life. Now, don’t get me wrong – I still loved the guy. But it was to less of a degree than it used to be. Perhaps I had thought I outgrew him, perhaps it was because the other kids in school didn’t think he was cool. But that’s not really very important now.
My life in grade school was relatively uneventful, and I went up through fifth grade without incident. However, naturally, sixth grade rolled around after that, and that’s when things started to take a turn for the worse. At this point, cliques had formed and were well-established in the school, and all of them had one thing in common – hating my guts. I was ‘that weird kid’, the one who always sat at lunch in the corner while everyone else laughed at him, who just for some reason never quite belonged. Though I did have one friend, Joey (who I’m still very close with today), his help wasn’t enough to stave off the constant barrage of hate and ridicule that was directed towards me, and which ranged from hurtful comments to physical abuse. Adult figures were of no help to me (my parents wouldn’t listen, and the teachers just didn’t seem to care), so I was essentially left to fend for myself.
As time went by, the bullying only worsened. The taunting became more frequent, and the physical confrontations more intense. I began an emotional spiral farther and farther downward, and there seemed to be no end in sight. By 8th grade it had reached critical mass, and I finally decided that enough was enough. I made the decision that I was going to commit suicide around the time that Christmas break began that year. The idea had been floating around my head for a time, and the beginning of 8th grade was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me.
However, that’s when Christmas came around and I got a certain gift. This gift was a graphic novel by the name of Superman: Birthright. To this day, I cannot explain why this book had the effect on me that it did. I have read it time and again, and I never get any closer to the answer. What I do know is that it made something stir inside of me. It changed everything. It made me cry, knowing that there was just this perfect being that uses his tremendous gifts only for the benefit of others, even if they potentially reject him. It gave me a feeling of life again, of hope; of the possibility there they may yet be something good over the horizon. It made me realize just how important being a truly good person is in today’s world. And most of all, it made me realize the true purpose – and the necessity – of Superman.
And I’ve never looked back.