FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid

Poor Jesus and the Virgin Mary. From the perspective of the “kids” (what family, mostly my sister, called my two brothers and me when we were still cute), no gods from religion’s orthodoxy could compete with the superhero gods from Marvel Comics. And unlike the Biblical gods, superheroes did not demand worship, although worship them we undoubtedly did. Iron man and Thor and Captain America invited us to revel in their sagas, serialized stories of mounting peril and unerring redemption. We also imagined ourselves as Thor, Captain America, and Ironman; no religion allows you to step into God’s shoes.

Our only problem is that we were too poor to afford comics. Enter Amparo, a real life Santa Claus. One of my mom’s oldest and closest friends, Amparo would show up (always on foot, few people owned cars in el segundo) with a bag stuffed with magazines (Mad, for example) and lots of comics. All in good condition. She never explained how or from whom she acquired her stash. No one in our neighborhood could afford them, much less throw them out.  She was as poor or perhaps even poorer than us, but looking back, I would not be surprised if she bought the comics. Like I said, she was Santa Claus. Her hair was always unkept and short (she scratched her head to coax out answers and memories which came out in slow chunks) and her face was chiseled into a welcoming grin. She cussed like a cholo, especially to one of my older brothers with whom she joked. Amparo means protection or shelter. It should have meant education. The only thing we read growing up were comics, and mostly comics that Amparo brought. (She would also bring news, like she woke my mom one morning to tell her that RFK had been assassinated). The language of comics was grandiloquent which demanded from the reader a certain mastery of English. Reading comics explains why I tested far beyond my expected reading levels and why a teacher asked if my family read to me (they did not).

If Amparo was Santa, Stan Lee was Santa’s master elf, the mastermind behind our superheroes. Each Marvel comic book had a column by Mr. Lee which he signed with Excelsior, which he interpreted as “Onward and upward to greater glory!” I read each column and was warmed by his optimism. Marvel so motivated me that I once wrote in and Marvel published my letter to the editor in Doctor Strange. At least I think it was Doctor Strange. I kept the edition for years, but lost it decades ago.

Now we visit New York City often and, given the opportunity, we go the rooftop to be awestruck by the panorama of lights, the iconic skyline. I also invariably imagine myself doing impossible feats of parkour, of scaling walls like Spiderman, of hurdling obstacles like Daredevil, and of making things right for humanity.  Excelsior, indeed.

Oscar Gonzalez lives in Allen, Texas, a town with tons of comic books that he hasn’t read. He can be reached at: jog707@yahoo.com.

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
stclair
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
stclair
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
Renee Parsons
The Supreme Court and Dual Citizenship
Eric Draitser
On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”
Elizabeth Keyes
Broadway’s “Hamilton” and the Willing Suspension of Reality-Based Moral Consciousness
David Underhill
Optional Fatherhood Liberates Christians From Abortion Jihad
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail