There is something from one of my two previous posts that raised some skepticism. Can there be a sacred bond between the reader of a comic book and the comic book hero? Isn’t that carrying it just a little bit into the “Yeah, right” zone?
I completely agree.
But then again we aren’t dealing with a regular Joe kind of life here are we? We are talking about life-and-death situations around every corner, about choosing between which loved one will live and which has to die, between which girl to date and which girl to be best friends with. These are choices that we’d normally have to make once in our life, at the most.
So when you get transported into the comic book world (and you do, you see it all happening in motion, not as single panels) you become part of an adrenalin-rushing, deciding-on-the-spot kind of world where your hero is getting into kinds of trouble you would never want to on your own. But by being in this world, reading this comic book, you are in a way right alongside him/her as all the adventure unfolds. You are an invisible presence in their world. Taking one of my favourite action heroes, Spiderman, let me explain how it works, at least in my mind.
In the books, or in the 2nd movie, he is reviled by many, including his own aunt, as a menace. Many people hate him, don’t know who he is or why he indulges in such wanton, paranormal activity. Peter Parker (the boy behind the mask) is limp with helplessness faced with detractors who he cannot defy, loved ones he cannot confide in and an identity that he cannot bear to keep or afford to disown.
But guess what?
I know that. I have been there with him through his every trouble, when the spider bit him, when his uncle died, when his aunt maligned him and so on. And each time I have suffered for him for I see his pain and understand it. I am privy to it all, something that his aunt, best friend, girlfriend are not. And I want to catch him each time he falls or to reassure him each time he fights alone.
I know that that sounds unbelievably corny, but that’s how I feel when I am reading the books. Of course I am spelling it out here, where it may just take a second to go through all these feelings. But that’s just the way the bond works. For when I am a reader, I am in their world and not the other way around.
It is a similar situation with all other comics, and that certainly is the purpose of all good art as well. You must be able, if you allow yourself, to get lost in it. There is a sense of sharing a great outdoors scene with Vincent van Gogh when you see his ‘Starry Night’ just as there is a sigh of relief when you see Archie choose to spend an evening with Betty rather than Veronica.
What is of the essence is that you believe, in your mind, that it’s you and him/her against the world. And that is a special bond.