I loved walking in the uneven disowned parking lot. Cigarette butts and the smell of booze littered the pavement that grounded an assembly of stores. Left, just look left. A big house that sheltered all my weird hobbies. Comics, video games, action figures, t-shirts branded with a character from the Marvel Universe. Hastings had the nook and crannies that satisfied my thirst and hunger for collecting odds and ends. Saving my money instead of spending it at Hastings would be wise. The senior center only paid me nine dollars an hour. Five hundred dollars in a check is unthinkable. I get three hundred if I am lucky. Yet I continued to spend like an alcoholic pounding down the booze and liquor. Spending money on my short and very brief addiction towards comic books lasted most of my freshman year in college.
The newest additions are always resting on the display shelf near the storefront. Older editions are grounded and stored away inside drawers available for public access. Digging through the older comics is going to give me arthritis. Things were supposed to be alphabetized. Yet the comics were always scattered and confusing just like the store. It was a pain flipping and pushing through the comics to search for Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man. Star Wars, Hulk, Iron Man, Batman, Captain America, all the comics that involved a superhero, Hastings had. However, Hastings always had a dearth of Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man comics. It was Superman this, Star Wars that, all the superheroes were flying off the shelf for enthusiasts and addicts like myself.
So why are people addicted to superheroes?
I love Star Wars. Going to Blockbuster and renting movies was a tradition. My dad, my sister, and myself searching for the next group of rentals. Tiny fingers would weave through the pile of movie rentals. Hands gripped the boxed hot tamales candy. But I always felt like I was waiting. Just waiting. Waiting and waiting for the next Star Wars prequel. Waiting for the Revenge of the Sith. Hurry up already. Shelf yourself away into stores for everyone to see. Surpass your original counterparts.
My favorite movie out of the original trilogy was Return of the Jedi. The training, the build-up, the tension finally had closure. I found my little pupils addicted to the large TV screen. It showed a duel between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. A battle between good and bad. Between father and son. A battle where the son superseded the father to become a superhero.
A superhero “is someone who becomes a hero by superseding the hero who inspired him or her.” In Star Wars: A New Hope, Luke Skywalker inspires to become Obi-Wan Kenobi, the hero. Obi-Wan embodies a hero for his wisdom and for being part of the Jedi counsel, forces of good. It is also Obi-Wan Kenobi that began Luke Skywalker’s training. Obi-Wan Kenobi perishes in a duel against Darth Vader. The hero against the villain. The hero failing to supersede and defeat the villain. The death of Obi-Wan was the beginning of Luke Skywalker embarking on a quest to become a superhero. For Luke to defeat evil, Darth Vader, Luke must supersede Obi-Wan Kenobi to restore peace to the galaxy. To supersede the hero, Luke must mature and grow.
It finally arrived at my Blockbuster. Revenge of the Sith in my Blockbuster. Hyped, popular, and gone. Gone on release. Gone and I had to wait another week to watch it. Long and painful days were ahead of me. I wanted to watch the damn movie.
I finally watched the movie.
Master Yoda is a badass. You don’t mess with the midget goblin. Yoda is the strongest, coolest, and wisest Jedi. I wanted to be like Yoda, to grow up and become wise, strong, and good: a hero, and receive recognition for my outstanding achievements. I loved Revenge of the Sith. A movie featuring a battle between the true masters of good and bad projected on my wall. Master Yoda vs Emperor Palpatine. The ultimate battle of good and bad. A battle between the wisest hero and the wisest villain is one of my favorite Star Wars duels of all time. A duel of fates. It is also the wisest hero that helps train the superhero.
To defeat evil Luke must train and become a superhero. To become a superhero Luke must also mature and grow. Maturation is not an achievement that can be accomplished once and for all but is, rather, an ongoing process in which we must continue to confront and find our way through the challenges that face-and in many cases follow from- our current self-understanding.
Master Yoda helps Luke mature while additionally train Luke on how to confront and overcome the challenges of evil.
However, every hero must fall and face defeat to mature.
The Empire Strikes Back shows that Luke, the hero, must continue to mature and grow. It also shows that the hero is not always perfect. The duel with Luke and Darth Vader on Cloud City shows the imperfections and the fall of the hero. Luke ends up losing his right hand in a duel against Darth Vader. Symbolically, the right hand represents justice. The loss of Luke’s right hand reminds the audience that justice does not always prevail. Vader’s victory reminds the audience that a hero can fall.
My little kid self could not handle the plot twist. The plot twist involving the fall of the hero traumatized me as a little kid. Shouldn’t the hero always win? No, not always; in fact, Luke’s fall and defeat to Vader is extremely important. The fall of the hero shows that the hero faces an obstacle and, must confront and overcome this challenge. Thus, Luke must continue to mature and grow to overcome this obstacle.
The VHS tape continued to scroll a new journey. A new and final journey of Luke Skywalker. A journey that involved Luke finishing his training. Training that reached a conclusion. I hated the conclusion of Luke’s training, especially as a little kid. Even the best will fall to the hands of death. Master Yoda completes Luke’s training and maturation process then dies of old age. My childhood shattered and ruined. Yoda’s death was greater than a cardinal sin. My childhood died right in front of my eyes. Despite Yoda’s death, I still found myself rewinding, rewatching, and rinsing through Return of The Jedi.
So, why did I like Return of The Jedi? I wanted the hero to win. I had a simple mind and wanted justice to emerge victorious. Justice must prevail right? Luke trained, trained, and even lost the first duel against Vader. I found myself wanting the hero to succeed due to the build up and, tension leading up to the final battle between Luke and Darth Vader. This build up and, tension shows great character development. I became obsessed with wanting to see Luke succeed because of excellent character development.
In the end, Luke defeats Darth Vader, his father. After defeating Vader, Luke becomes a superhero. However, it is not until the conclusion of the final duel that Luke becomes a superhero. The defeat of Vader shows that Luke has superseded Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan also is the hero that trained Luke. While additionally, Luke became inspired to supersede Obi-Wan. Luke becomes a superhero because he superseded Obi-Wan, overcoming the obstacle the hero could not.
So why do I like Luke Skywalker, the superhero?
Everyday I go to the University to learn. I want to learn from my teachers and, sap away the rich nutritious concepts from my teacher’s mind. However, “one repays a teacher badly if one always remains nothing but a pupil.” I must strive and grow to surpass myself, my teachers. I envy Luke Skywalker. Luke surpassed his teacher, Obi-Wan. However, it is my envy towards Luke that makes me like him. I want to grow and become better than my teachers, like Luke.
Nonetheless, I envy Luke when he becomes a superhero. When Luke becomes a superhero, he defeats his father in combat while surpassing him. As a boy I wanted to surpass my father. I wanted to do better than my father and exceed his expectations. I’ve been taught and trained to achieve more than my father. I must supersede my father. Luke supersedes his father. I can connect with Luke which is why I like his character.
My friend once told me, “It’s either comics or drugs. Or really smoking. Hell, comics are like my cigarettes. I’m not going to stop at one. I buy comics in bulk, packs, knock one out less then thirty minutes across the day”.
Boxes looted and crated with pounds of stories. Stories about the superhero and his journey. Comic books. My friend is addicted to comic books. My friend, addicted to the superhero. I am addicted to the superhero. We are addicted to the superhero because we want to see the superhero grow, we want to see the hero grow into a superhero, we want to see the development and character of the superhero, we want to relate to the superhero and want to strive to become a superhero.
Why are you addicted to the superhero?