Superheroes, Volume 1, Issue 1
Every boy want to discover his super power: express his X-gene, absorb too many gamma rays, get bit by that radioactive spider, get selected to receive the power ring, participate in a super-secret project, anything. Then to put on that cape and start making sure everything goes the way it’s supposed to, protecting the innocent, preventing disasters. And you had better believe that if the wish came true, they would be sure to save their friends and family. That would be awesome. Right?
None of the superheroes seem to have an uncomplicated situation regarding family and friends though. They all seem distanced from everyone else. They have people they care about especially, and they do take special care of them. Supe always saves Lois, Spidey always saves Maryjane, Logan’s always looking out for some protégé. But there’s always a distance, isn’t there? Is the power to protect the ones you love worth the isolation from them?
Just to be clear, no one’s considering asking me to join a League or Friends of any sort. The Avengers don’t need me to help them. Well, maybe if Cap rolls his ankle, or if a shoulder problem is preventing Tony Stark from patting himself on the back, they should consider calling. Otherwise, not too many super villains are going to respond to a stern talking to explaining the error of their ways. Their Dad should have done that for them before it was too late. I know about the distancing effect though, and I was reminded of it last week.
Manda and Emma and Aurora and I were all out riding bikes – Aurora rides in a trailer behind me calling out to every puppy we pass and occasionally calling out to see if Mama is still there. We were going for a ride out to dinner. It was a great evening for it, not stiflingly hot and humid like it had been for what had seemed like weeks. Amanda and Aurora love getting out to bike; Aurora only needs to catch a glimpse of the safety flag out the window to get worked up and start demanding to go out to the “B-Ikes!” and if she finds where the helmets are hidden she wants everyone to put them on. Emma especially likes bike riding too, and I love sharing that with her. We were all having fun and happy. In the comics or the movies, you’d know something was about to happen.
We’d almost gotten there, about another half mile to go, when I heard something bad. I don’t know if it was Emma or Amanda that I heard call out, but it was a sound that made my heart stop, and jerked my head back over my shoulder. I also don’t know exactly what I saw: it happened fast, some of my attention was still on controlling my bike, and everything was in my peripheral vision. But what I know I saw was Emma’s bike with the front wheel turned awkwardly as she was going down, and Amanda right behind her ditching her bike to keep from hitting her. The power of flight didn’t come to me, I had no webbing to shoot out to cushion their landings, no mysterious green force field emitted from my ring to catch them up before they hit the ground; if I had any super power, it would have come forth unbidden at that moment. Absent that, I could only watch them fall. And be horrified. For a moment. And then I shoved that down somewhere it couldn’t get to me. I had to keep it together right now, had to make sure everything went the way it’s supposed to, protect the innocent, prevent disaster.
I grabbed Aurora out of the trailer and ran back. They had both sat up or rolled over. They were both stunned, not really sure of themselves. Emma’s knee was bleeding. She didn’t cry, but I could tell she was scared, that she was going to hurt when she was done considering it. Amanda was still being careful, and a bit dazed from hitting her helmet on the pavement (yes, HELMET, wear your helmet people. I’m not just talking about the kids; parents’ brains are important too.). I checked Emma out – nothing broken or dislocated – and helped her to the side of the trail to clean out her knee with some water. Not that deep. She started to get a little shocky – her vision was getting dark – but cleared right up with a position change and a little breathing. Amanda had scraped her hand, and her foot hurt, and she was going to have some colorful bruises too. In the end, we got everyone up and walked that last half mile, and I kept a watch on them while we waited for my mom and brother to come pick them up and take them home. All the while I had that superimposed detachedness, still not feeling safe to let that down and be myself. That part of me that loves them and aches to have to see them hurt or scared had to make way for my alter-ego who’s not too paralyzed by that to be able to think clearly and help.
|Emma's knee a few days later...looking a lot less scary.|
|Amanda's forehead from the helmet/ground collision.|
|The tools of a superhero?|