Friday, February 8, 2013
Comics and Parenting
Much like Frank, I recently began getting back into comics. I didn't start with DC's "New 52" but with the "Marvel NOW" campaign. This was mainly prompted by my 10 year old son's new-found interest in all things Marvel due to, what else, The Avengers. What I didn't expect was for this child, who will staunchly defend Transformers 2 as a fine piece of cinema due to the amount of explosions and robots present, to critique these titles with something almost close to maturity.
We started, simply enough, with three titles of his choosing Iron Man, The Uncanny Avengers and Fantastic Four (not FF), as well as a few old issues of Power Man & the Iron Fist (the kid loves the Iron Fist for some reason). He was was very excited to start the Iron Man series, as that is his favorite superhero, but after the second issue he put it down frowning and said "I don't think they tried their hardest on this." This puzzled me because usually anything with explosions and robots is Oscar worthy in his mind. When asked why he felt that way his response was "Tony only seems to have two expressions...it's like they copied the same picture over and over again, and the story isn't very strong." ( this is the type of vocabulatory nugget my kid will pull out every now and again (after I finally got him to try some onions I had caramelized he exclaimed "they're so rich with flavor!!" he was 7 at the time).) WHAT!?!?! Who is this child? I whole-heartedly felt the same way but from him this was a mammoth leap forward in critical thought. His reasoning was that compared to other versions of Tony Stark that he's seen this one was "kinda whiny and boring." I love this kid!
Later, on advice, I picked up the Thor: God of Thunder title. This is, in my opinion, a very well done work so far. Not wanting to let my opinion slant his, I told him I had not had a chance to read them yet and for him to tell me what he thought. This title had him completely engrossed. From the non-standard "comic book" art ("It's like reading a painting at a museum!") to the very compelling story line ("If they don't put out the next issue soon I'm gonna die from suspense!") the boy was hooked.
As a parent, I am VERY proud of this change in perspective and actually a bit regretful that I didn't introduce him to comic books much earlier. In just the last few months I've seen a big improvement in his ability to retain information, due to having to remember from one issue to the next the details of the plot line, and the rekindling of his imagination which I was starting to think he had outgrown. In his words "Reading comics is better than books because I can see what's going on but it's better than cartoons because I can make the action however I want it on the TV in my head." I couldn't have said it better.