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Jason and Scott, Lieutenant Marvels

Comic books were a huge part of my childhood, but for the most part I wouldn’t let my boys near anything printed today. A while back Jason took an interest in Superman and had me read him some vintage stories, but he was pretty unsettled by certain aspects of the legend, especially the destruction of Krypton and deaths of Superman’s parents, and Luthor’s efforts to render Superman equally deceased.

Recently I found a site with downloadable comic books from the Golden Age (the 1940s, mostly) and Jason and Scott have been after me all the time to read the stories to them off the computer monitor. Jason quickly changed his allegiance from Superman to Captain Marvel (“Shazam!”), just as millions of other kids did back in his grandfather’s day.

Finally a week or so ago I broke down and printed out a few stories for the boys to enjoy in something like their original paper format, and I have to say it feels good to pass the passion on. Maybe someday they’ll impress their friends with the kind of useful trivia I learned from comics at their age, like the fact that a telegraph bird makes a sound very much like a rattlesnake, that it’s possible to escape quicksand if you refrain from struggling and swim out, or that tying a wet leather thong around a victim’s neck and leaving him out in the hot sun is a way to slowly strangle him while you’re off somewhere establishing an alibi. Okay, so maybe they don’t need to learn that last one. But maybe someday, like me, they’ll be the only kids in first grade to use “witless cretin” as an insult over, say, “Doo-doo head.”

Jason’s already figured out that no matter how many times he says “Shazam” he’s not going to get superpowers, but he does use the word as a talisman to ward off Mommy in her “Kissing Bandit” persona. Meanwhile Scotty, after briefly flirting with the idea of being Captain Marvel, Jr, has now decided he’s going to be Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny.

Holy Moley!

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