Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote (and I am paraphrasing quite liberally here) that people put together their notions of an ideal person, into the Ubermensch. The Overman. The One Who Exceeds the Herd. Yes, The Superman. He believed this person embodied our goals, our aspirations, our dream of one day conquering the worst of who we are.


This weekend, a trilogy concludes. Not just the Dark Knight. There were three successive blockbuster superhero movies we anticipated, saw, debated on, tweeted, and couldn’t wait to spoil for others on Facebook. The Avengers – the much-awaited coming together of our Marvel Heroes. The Spiderman reboot. And The Dark Knight Rises. 

With these reinventions/re-imaginations, it occurs to me that we seem to be humanizing our heroes a lot more. The Avengers were a dysfunctional family that couldn’t seem to have saved a dog from its own tail. Spiderman was an adolescent who was trying to find himself. And The Dark Knight continues to chronicle the hero who painted the word “hero” in a hundred shades of gray. We seem to be trying to make them a bit more relate-able. To make mistakes. To fall in love and not get the girl. To bleed. To perspire. To be arrogant. To lose faith even in the people they swore to protect.

They say every hero, every Ubermensch is created by a generation to answer the needs of its collective psychosis. The first Superman arrived during a time when we needed a creature who was way, way beyond human giftings. We needed to trust in someone who can save us. Then we turned our heroes into flippant cartoon characters who threw puns with their punches. We needed them to be entertainers, and so they gave us that. Now, what do we need them for? Do we need them to be a bit more fallen? Do we need them to be a bit more believable? Do we need their costumes tailored more for a time where everyday is a battle against despair? So that we too, who bleed, could aspire to fly? So that we too, who fall, would know that we could also rise? So that we too, who doubt, can find faith?

That even if we are faced with the real horror of gunmen in a theater, we will not lose faith in humanity.


And that in the end, good will win.



the long and winding line…

Free Comic Book day, a phenomenon imported from the US, and found its home in Fully Booked, was celebrated today, and both Stan Lee and the Simpsons’ Comic Book guy would have been proud. It was celebrated on epic-line levels, with up to 50% off on some graphic novels, 20% off on all other graphic novels, the opening of Comic Odysssey INSIDE Fully Booked (you read it right), other stores like Filbar’s trying to follow suit, Sketch Requests for Charity, and of course, the free comic book (one had Adventure Time with Jake and Finn back to back with Peanuts. Sweet.)


I was very happy to see that its success has not waned, and that Fully Booked takes this responsibility very seriously (after all, as the comic book character says, “with great power…”). I wasn’t happy just for the geeks (and closet geeks like myself), for the artists, the industry, or the fans who finally got to shed the mothballs and cobwebs out of their Batman and Flash costumes.

I’m happy not only because everyone turned out – the hardcore fans, the hardcore-but-trying-to-play-it-down, the costumed, the families, the ones who read a hundred, those who’ve read only one. Everyone turned out. After all – weren’t we all hooked or gripped by one of these characters in one way or another? Weren’t we who are artists influenced by a certain style or storyline one way or another? Weren’t we who claim to read boring lives desperate to at least emulate the Avengers with our lunch group?

I’m happy not only for the fact that it keeps all our inner children happy. I was glad because a lot of us still know the value of comic books in our society. And we aren’t about to give that up.

I’m happy because days like these, that many will count as mere frivolity in the height of impeachments and impending wars, remind us that we have not given up on the power of imagination. On the idea of superheroes. On the notion that we can call upon the best of who we are, and in some way, at the last frame, overcome evil.

sketch for charity

We all know that Superman might not swoop down today and solve EDSA’s traffic problems (thought I definitely wouldn’t mind that). But days like these give us hope. We all know the X-Men won’t show up in the Senate on Tuesday and shut them all up, but days like these give us endurance.

Yes, one free comic book at a time.