http://morgansplacedogrescue.com/c We tend to like heroes that portray something that we aspire to be. Peter Parker was always my favorite superhero growing up. He was a bit of a photo-geek (like me) who just wanted to go out with Mary Jane Watson – the pretty girl who was out of his league (also like me). Then he was bitten by a radio-active spider and gained superhuman powers. He also had the scientific aptitude to create his web slingers, which I wish I had.
Archie Andrews was your all-around nice guy and a bit of a klutz (also like me). Somehow he got the two prettiest girls at Riverdale High to vie for his affections (not at all like me, sadly). But he continued to choose poorly (very much like me at times) and missed out on spending his days in love with Betty.
Captain America was one of those guys I could look up to, because he stood for all that was right and noble. But I didn’t want to be an all-American guy because I grew up overseas, so I felt more European that American. Iron Man was cocky and arrogant, Batman sullen and haunted, Superman was almost unapproachable for me. Johnny Storm (The Torch) of the Fantastic Four was always in trouble for goofing around, so I could totally relate to that. Ben Grimm (Rocky/The Thing) always felt uncomfortable and unlovable, which I could also relate to.
These comic book characters helped me understand a world that didn’t make a whole lot of sense as a young man going through puberty. When my voice could span six octaves in the two syllables of “Hello” I could relate to Peter Parker trying to understand what was happening to him. When girls and dating sent me into a massively confused state, Archie always had it worse than me. And better. And worse.
Many people see comic books and these stories as just mindless entertainment, but they’re much more. These are layered stories, like modern myths, that help us grow through periods of life where there are few guides (at least not many that are moderately acceptable to a teenage boy). And when you’re an introvert on top of being a bit of a geek, Peter Parker, Archie Andrews, Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm can be your best friends after homework on a school night.
Not a bad bunch of friends when you think about it.