It’s been a struggle, hasn’t it? I think it has been. Remember Joaquin Phoenix’s wheezy, scratchy laugh in Joker? That’s been Mother Nature’s soundtrack, exhaled in one continuous blast throughout much of 2020/1. It hasn’t so much cleared the cobwebs as it has cocooned us in them, waiting for the face huggers to skitter into view.
Truly hopefully though, you’ve had some capacity, no matter how small, to let some goodness in; like discovering an ace comic run (see: Cook and Paton’s Killtopia) or a favourite character has been attached to a movie and things are panning out nicely (see: Catwoman and The Batman). These are things to be satisfied by, with culture endeavouring to nudge us along and cheer us on.
Yet, when it comes to selecting one media-related subject to be especially thankful for, for myself there has only been one real contender to take me up, up, and far away: Superman.
Oddly enough, I’ve chosen him not due to any contentious movie or palate-cleansing television show, as enjoyable as Justice League and Superman & Lois are. Rather, I’m thankful for Superman being there at all the moments where he wasn’t expected or invoked like some great god of all solutions. I wasn’t caught falling from any helicopter from any great height, but this year, my life was certainly cushioned by his presence.
I made a list of the key positive things to have happened to me this year. (I’m contractually obliged to state that my wedding anniversary is a given and not up for debate.):
- Started a video game collection.
- Spoke at a conference about Superheroes.
- Been working on my writing about superheroes.
While it all involved Superman, none of it was about Superman.
I wanted to build a small game collection, because I had to clear the spare room for Working From Home and realised some of it could store more media. Let the cheap shelves buckle, I wasn’t going to squander this precious gift. Of all the titles I could have bought, one of the first I wanted to own was Superman (1979) for the Atari VCS. Yes, I do have the ancient console hooked up to my modern television, so I can enjoy the flickering sprites in sub-optimal conditions if I really wanted, but, dear reader: I don’t want to. I just wanted to own the object. While I have games playable in rotation, this five-dollar forgotten classic, the first superhero game ever made, has instead become my totem of sorts. It hasn’t fulfilled any fantasy of my becoming Superman, but it has been instrumental in allowing myself to create a mental and physical space where I could return to my love of video games and superheroes, and to build out from there, learning more about them, and paving the way for Living From Home.
Outside of the domestic space, while he hasn’t scooped me up in his arms and taken me places, Superman has been low-key instrumental in the locations that I have visited. One week this year, the furthest I had travelled was to the corner shop, and honestly, that terrified me. The next week I was on a taxi, train, airplane, train, taxi adventure that had deposited me, over the course of twelve hours, in a foreign land called Germany for a number of days. This was for the the 5th annual Superhero Project conference, a prestigious event on my entirely empty calendar, and I was there to give a presentation on the representation of women in DC Comics’ video games…
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