Some years back, I watched the deCappuccino version of The Man in the Iron Mask. The movie was okay, but one line caught me. It’s near the end, the second in command of the palace guard points to a dying d’Artagnon (it’s not a spoiler at this late date, is it?) and says, “All my life, all I wanted to be . . . was him.”
Damn . . . that moment.
You see, I grew up with heroes. I grew up with comics during the late Silver Age, Superman was the Big Blue Boyscout, when Batman wasn’t the cowled psychopath, when Robin was starting solo adventures with Batgirl (and while I knew I could never be Batman, I thought maybe Robin was achievable). I wanted to be the hero, dammit, or if not the hero, at least a competent sidekick.
Then I grew up and got “respectable”. But a part of me never quite grew out of that.
And so I like to write about heroes that are really heroes because I figure that there are other people out there, like me, who want to read about them.
I gave up on comic books, not because I outgrew them but because they “outgrew” (if you can call it that) me. In the interests of being “real” and “relevant” and “real” they wanted their heroes to be “flawed” by which they meant “scarcely better than the villains”.
I saw it in prose fiction as well. Bleah people living bleah lives with not a hero to be found.
When I saw the movie, I wrote out an anguished essay on the usenet group “rec.arts.comics” titled “Where have all the heroes gone.” The one line just struck so deeply to the core of my being.
I will never be that hero. I like to think that the dream, however, might make me a better person than I would have been.
And that’s why I love the idea of Human Wave.
And so I leave you with this musical interlude: