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Hopeless Youth: Are our superheroes leading us astray?

August 7th, 2013 by Jake Tanner 2 Comments

Hope. Only in today’s busy, cynical world can such a small, simple word be so complex and so delicate. Times are tough for a lot of people, and it seems most have lost hope that things will get better. Gone are the symbols of hope from our past and there’s really only one thing to blame…we as a generation lack substance.

First and foremost I want to point out that we do indeed have modern-day heroes. I can’t express enough how grateful I am for our armed forces, police officers, firefighters, ambulatory EMT’s, etc., it takes a special kind of person to sacrifice so much for people you’ve never met. The world could use more of that.

With that being said, we come from a generation that cares more about what the hottest reality stars are doing than the fact that a great man like Nelson Mandela has been laying in a hospital bed, dying for over a week now. (That certainly doesn’t apply to everyone, but definitely does to the majority).

In days past, when things seemed bleak and we had no one to look to for hope, we always had our heroes to turn to for strength. A hero can be anyone, but I’d like to explore the ones that represent the very sense of the word, our superheroes…

Our superheroes have always been the embodiment of our greatest aspects as human beings. They aren’t perfect by any standard, but they’ve always stood for honor, justice, and doing heroic things. Not for the glory, but for the betterment of humankind.

Somewhere along the way, our heroes’ stories became more about their imperfections than about their heroic deeds. (Look at Death of the Family as a for instance). While I’m not disputing that these are terrific stories that we’re reading (I actually quite enjoy them); they’ve become more about character flaw than what’s really important: super heroes doing super-heroic things. Our comic book stories have become a reflection of the time we live in. They’re dark, kind of depressing, and lack real substance to their very core.

Our heroes affect almost every aspect of modern society. Even for those that don’t read books they provide entertainment via movies and TV, they create jobs and generate tons of revenue, and they’ve given us plenty of ‘water cooler’ moments to talk about over the years. We owe it not only to the characters we love, but to ourselves to do better…to be better. We too can be heroes, and we as a generation can follow in the footsteps of those that came before us…I hope you’ll all join me in taking the first step!


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I'm 25 years old and I'm hugely passionate about comic books and I also LOVE gaming. The birth of my daughter, Abby, rekindled my passion for comic book stories. I grew up on them and I want nothing more than to share that passion with her! I'm a pretty typical guy, I love sports. (NHL-Blackhawks, NBA-Lakers, MLB-Cubs, and NFL-Daaaa Bears!). I've been writing for a pretty big portion of my life, and I've been nominated for multiple awards for some of the poetry I’ve written! Happy reading and follow me on Twitter @xJatmanx.

  • CJ Wheeler

    *SPOILERS!* Good call Jake. I blame the focus on movies lately for pushing superheroes to be more “realistic”. When my wife and I saw Iron Man 3 we both found the sky-dive rescue sequence to be a rare example of a superhero actually doing something genuinely heroic in a movie. It’s nice to see something impressive like that instead of Superman causing untold collateral damage and choosing to kill people. Too many people who aren’t familiar with comics think that decent, classic superheroes wearing tights are for kids and that dark, gritty armour-clad realism in comics is the only thing that legitimises the medium. It’s sad that so many people have lost their innocence and hope, which are things even a dark and brooding character like Batman represents. Crime fiction, which includes superheroes, is at its most satisfying when it’s about the restoration of order and honesty. To me, that’s the value of the escapism I feel when I read comics.

  • Jake

    I agree, though I think there’s room in our medium for both types of stories. I enjoy some of the stuff being out out now, and we have some of the best storytellers in the history of comics writing for us right now. The industry is just lacking balance right now!

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