Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Bound to the Past: The Incredible Hulk

I'm getting older, but I still love comic books.  I love them every bit as much as I did when I was ten years old, Marvel and DC alike. Batman, The Hulk, The Flash, and Captain America.  The four color messiahs.  The new stuff's cool and all, but I still lean back into that "bronze" age as it's called, probably more for the nostalgia of it, but there it is.  My enjoyment of the medium is unchanged.

Too bad everything else about me is aging.

About 5 years ago my eyesight, until that point an easy 20/20, went to shit.  Suddenly, almost overnight, text messages on my iPhone were blurry.  I had to squint to read novels and magazines. Menus were becoming an adventure.

"I'll have the fried mussels."
"Sir, that says the menu was printed in Brussels."

What the hell was going on here?

I suddenly felt like my mother, who I once took this book to for spelling clarification...

"Ma, what's that word there?"
"Ah, hell, I can't read that!" she replied reaching for her glasses.

Now I can't either.  Seriously.   Even with readers on it's a struggle to make out the damn microscopic print on the sacred panels of this book.   The book discussed here is Volume 1 of the Marvel Comics paperback, "The Incredible Hulk" which compiles the first 6 issues of the great green beast's adventures in one stupidly tiny paperback.

These things, these amazing dead sea scrolls of books gone by weren't available just anywhere, you know. You had to make a pilgrimage to one of "them malls" to get one.  In this case, Northridge Mall in Southern Wisconsin, which I believe was located somewhere in the Himalayan mountains just between Valhalla and K'un Lun.  That's what I thought at the time anyway.

Remember that?  Remember The Mall?

Before the internet, before Amazon, there was this magical place called The Mall, and within its grand confines were places like Waldenbooks, Camelot, Sam Goody, and B. Dalton, where things you didn't even know existed could be purchased.  I found AC/DC imports at these places.  There were Starlogs and Mad Magazines.  There were Razzles and Marathon bars. I found Matchbox cars that looked like the 69 Dodge Charger Peter Fonda drove  in "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry", by God.

And I found the paperbacks of dreams.  Now, the old Batman compendium I still have is non-linear and non-specific in its chosen reprints,  but the panels were large enough that my old ass can still read them today.

Too bad they're black and white.

However, the Marvel ones now take an effort just as superhuman as old green-skin himself to read. But they're in color. What a paralyzing trade-off.

It's hell getting old.  Now I feel like my mom did, visually flailing away at these miniscule words that only a kid can see, but is too young to read or at the very least understand.  Bumbling to make out the images of Jack Kirby's seminal art.  But I tell you in all truthfulness, this book is every bit as cool as it was 37 years ago when I first got it.

No, you can't have it.

Is that the trade off the universe gives you?  You suddenly start to really appreciate the things you took for granted as a kid.  The wonder of comic book art.  Through a painful squint or expensive eyeglass prescription.  The power chords that were cool as hell are now are legendary, but surrounded by the tinnitus you obtained in your 20 hard years of labor in the printing industry.  The amazing spin kicks in Kung Fu movies that inspired you to take martial arts classes, that if you attempted now would result in you throwing your back out like a dumbass.

The powers that be giveth perspective as they take away, but who knows, maybe it helps you appreciate things all the more. That's what I'm trying to do.

Now where are my glasses, damn it.

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