Sunday, November 14, 2004
Legion of Super-Heroes V4. #31
Ever go back and reread something you read at a much younger age? I've been doing that recently with my Legion of Super-Heroes run of titles, with special regard to Volume 4 of the series which started in 1989. I didn't start reading the series until V.4 with issue #38 where they blew up the Earth.
The audacity of that storytelling really impressed me, because it was something daring (to me) at the time. For the heroes not to always win and diversity of all the characters intrigued me. So I went back and got all of the issues I could find of that run a few days later and read them in just about one sitting. (I was a freshman at college and had hours between classes)
Reading them then, without a lot of history with comics and absolutely no knowledge of the LSH at all, I filled in a lot of gaps myself. Building in my mind the great history around all of the little tidbits, which made for a deeper resonance for the series because I felt sort of connected to it.
Over the course of the past decade since that time though, I've filled in my knowledge of superhero tropes and the LSH history is one I've become fairly well versed in. So when I went back to reread these issues recently the magic was sort of gone, as I knew the characters and the odd side trips just seemed forced rather than an imaginative misdirection as it seemed in the past.
Also the "steals" of past origin stories, like Laurel Gand's origin is for Supergirl's, just seems more unimaginative rather than the fun playfulness it seemed to be when I read them with no prior knowledge.
Yet there are other things that work even better, because I'm a more mature person who has gone through a lot more that that young "innocent" of that time long ago. #31 is a prime example of this, as at its time it just seemed an odd story about a guy who wanted to be with a man he loved. So made himself into a woman in order to attract that person's attention. That odd sci-fi slant was interesting, but nothing that truly hit any emotional buttons for me.
When I read it again last night though, it was an entirely new experience. The idea of wanting something or someone so badly, that you would do anything to try to get what you want was something that I could relate to now. I've wanted things and more importantly attention or affection from people which led me to doing things I didn't really want to.
The theme explored here just really hit home, about how no matter how much something or someone meant to me. That it would never really be worth it if I had to be so untrue to who I am in order to achieve even a glimmer of it. Making me realize that I had to be true to myself, and have whatever happens after happen.
Which when I think on it is a pretty darn impressive feat for a comic to have such a big impact for me. Which comes at a good time when I started to wonder why bother with comics, given how so little I like ever seems to last for any period of time. This helped remind me of the sheer joy and thought a good comic can bring to me, and makes me glad for rereading all those old back issues now.